Toll Ring Leads to Improved Public Transport
Over the past years, establishing a toll ring has been discussed in many European cities. In the Norwegian capital Oslo such a toll ring was put in place as early as 20 years ago, and the City Council has just decided to prolong the system for another 20 years.
The capital of 560,000 inhabitants is beautifully situated at the head of the Oslo Fjord surrounded by forested ridges, and this very location makes it possible go skiing and kayaking, make excursions to an island or go ice skating – all by using public transport.
Income Pays for Improvements
The toll ring has reduced road traffic volumes in the city centre by an estimated 3-5 per cent. But first and foremost it has raised money for public transport systems and service, as 45 per cent of the revenue from the toll ring is reserved for improving public transport systems and service.
One of the most recent improvements is the Oslo Package 2, a large portfolio of public transport development projects in the Oslo area. The project took off in 2002 and will be completed in 2011 at a total value of NOK 15.6 billion (1.85 billion euros).
Better Public Transport
Completed projects under Oslo Package 2 include a new metro ring, the construction of bus lanes, improvements to the reliability, user-friendliness and attractiveness of bus and tram networks, and the modernisation of stations.
Currently, drivers of passenger cars pay NOK 25 (approx. 2.8 euros) to enter the city centre and lorries pay 8.4 euros. This means that for every passenger car passing the barrier, 1.26 euro is put aside for improving public transport. For every lorry the amount is 3.8 euros.
The number of public transport passengers increased by 7 % last year, whilst the amount of cars entering the toll ring was reduced by 1.5 % i the same period. The positive changes were stimulated by both an increase in the toll tariffs and a reduction in the public transport fares. The picture shows a couple of electric cars, which enjoy free passage of the toll ring and free parking in the city.