Panel supports driving fee

Traffic experts propose charging people based on where, when and how far they drive as a way to reduce the number of cars in Copenhagen

A government-seated panel responsible for solving traffic congestion issues in Copenhagen has indicated that it is considering a GPS-based system that will serve as an alternative to the toll-style congestion charge that the government was forced to abandon in February.

Also known as road pricing, the GPS system has been criticised in the past, but now it has the backing of the Trængselskommission, which in a report released on Thursday, called it “the best system” compared with other available models.

“I’ve actually become more optimistic about opportunities road pricing offers,” panel member Per Homann Jespersen, a Roskilde University traffic researcher, told Altinget news service.

The panel also indicated that widening roads and adjusting synchronised traffic lights could also help alleviate congestion.

In January, the Trængselskommission is due to deliver a catalogue of proposals to reduce traffic congestion, noise and air pollution in the Copenhagen area. The commission will present its final strategy in August.

The goal of road pricing is to charge fees for car use, not car ownership, as is the case under the current taxation structure. A GPS system would register a car’s activity and calculate costs based on when, where and how much they drive.

Yesterday’s recommendation comes despite an announcement in October that the panel was having difficulty identifying solutions that were acceptable to all those that would be affected by them.

Panel chair Leo Larsen, the managing director of Sund & Bælt, which maintains a number of major bridges, told the Ritzau news bureau that those conflicts still existed. Technological hurdles, he added, would also prevent a permanent solution from appearing any time soon.

“Road pricing will first be implemented when the necessary technology is available, so we are looking at six, eight or maybe ten years down the line,” Larsen said. “Until then there are plenty of short-term strategies that can be utilised to reduce congestion. Charging people to drive is a good way to solve congestion issues, but it is a long-term solution.”

The government created the Trængselskommission in July and tasked it with solving the traffic congestion issues in Copenhagen.

The Trængselskommission consists of 28 members from academia, the private sector, local and regional governments and NGOs.

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