The Italian city of Milan’s ‘Area C’ urban road pricing scheme has won the 2014 Transport Achievement Award presented by the International Transport Forum (ITF) at the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development); an intergovernmental organization for the transport sector with 54 member countries. One of the most car-dependent cities in Europe, Milan is one of the few on the continent to have introduced a road pricing program. Known as ‘Area C’, the scheme was introduced in January 2012, following a referendum in which 79.1% of voters supported the upgrade of an existing, limited charge to cover more vehicles and also a wider area. Popular support in Milan for a comprehensive road charge was considerably higher than in other cities that have introduced road charging by referendum. A referendum in Stockholm saw 51% supporting road charging, while UK voters in Manchester and Edinburgh have rejected charging schemes. The London congestion charge was introduced in 2003 without a referendum.
Cars entering Milan’s ‘Area C’ are detected by a system of 43 electronic gates equipped with ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) technology. The fee charged per entry is EUR5 (US$7), with exemptions for mopeds, motorcycles, electric cars, vehicles for disabled drivers, as well as some other categories. Residents have 40 free accesses per year and pay EUR2 (US$2.80) thereafter. The program has reduced congestion, with vehicle accesses to ‘Area C’ falling by 28%. Demand for on-street parking is down by 10% and productivity for freight deliveries within Milan has increased by 10%. The number of road crashes with injuries fell by 26.3%. Vehicle emissions were also reduced: Particulate Matter (PM10) by 10% and CO2 by 35%. The speed of public transport increased (bus: +6.9%, tram: +4.1%). Cars using ‘Area C’ were less polluting, with the share of cleaner vehicles rising from 9.6% of the total to 16.6%.
The ITF jury recognized Milan’s successful introduction of a comprehensive road charge as, “a significant achievement in improving the urban transport system”. The jury was particularly impressed by the way Milan succeeded in obtaining the political support of citizens, commenting, “After identifying that the existing congestion pricing scheme was no longer achieving its objectives, the Municipality of Milan had the foresight and political courage to design a more effective replacement, and the capability to implement this successfully.” Milan’s Mayor, Giuliano Pisapia, said, “This award is one of the most important recognitions for one of the main actions undertaken by our Municipality in order to improve the citizens’ quality of life. Milan has proposed a model that has immediately become European and global best practice. In a very short time, we obtained very satisfactory results in terms of traffic reduction and lowering of pollutant emissions. Another positive new trend is that citizens, tourists and city users are increasingly switching to public transport, which has been improved by the ‘Area C’ model.”
May 21, 2014
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