Challenge for Europe

The urban infrastructure is largely car-oriented (width, slope and design of the roads; traffic light sequencing; parking devices etc). This bias is sufficiently endemic that it requires a deep transformation of urban transport towards the use of more efficient resources (surface area, energy, emissions of greenhouse gases)

Proposal

We propose to fund this adaptation by introducing urban car tolls in European cities, and using the subsequent revenue to fund the construction of transport infrastructure for non-motorised transport modes, and to increase social housing grants in city centres.

The amount charged will be linked to the amount of engine use. The hourly rates will depend on the following parameters:
– The driver’s ability to pay. The rate will be higher for wealthier drivers
– Location / time / day / season / weather or pollution.

The driver’s ability to pay will be defined by the amount of income tax, or vehicle tax they pay. The rate may be higher for the first few minutes of use (for the most polluting vehicles). Similarly, the rate may be higher in the city centre (where public transport exists) than in the outer suburbs.

The presence of congestion charge equipment in vehicles will be mandatory, and will be marked with a sticker, which will be checked annually. The tax sticker will allow the police to monitor and enforce the payment of the charge. Its absence will result in a penalty equivalent to N (TBD) hours of movement.

The congestion charge:
– Reduces congestion on the existing road infrastructures. The need to build new roads decreases or is canceled.
– Allows for the efficient and rapid flow of over-ground public transport. There is less need to build underground or to build specific roads. This will also generate savings.
– Reduces pollution and increases the overall speed of urban transport.

The transport links from suburb to suburb increase the real supply of attractive housing. The price of housing in the downtown area thus decreases.

Subsidies, financed through the new revenue, will provide access to downtown housing to the poorest populations.

It is legitimate that car drivers, who personally never use public transport, pay a tax to fund them, because they derive direct benefit from their existence; as illustrated by the huge traffic jams when there are public transport strikes. Public transport provides a considerable service to drivers: they clear roads. The daily gain is the difference in journey time between a day of general strike of public transport and a “normal” day.

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