20 January 2009

Decongestion is not for Manchester

While many people are happy to proclaim their green credentials, ask them to vote for measures that might actually achieve something and they seem less convinced. Voting for congestion charging, for example, brings out dirtier tendencies.

Working on a comment piece for the IET's "Transport sector," The wrong medicine to clear congestion, turned up evidence that even Swedes, often seen to be greener than many, will reject such proposals.

When asked for their views on congestion charging in Stockholm, there was a narrow vote for the idea in the middle of the city, but suburban Swedes were heavily against the idea.

As an aside, these commuters would not have had a chance to vote under the original plan. It was only when surrounding municipalities decided to hold polls that the rest of the region got a chance to vote on the plan.

In the event, Stockholm got its congestion charge because it was down to the parliament to make the final decision. That should be a lesson to others who want to implement green measures.

As in London, the charge brought positive benefits. But it seems unlikely that this will carry any weight with voters in other cities.

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