Environmental zones, diesel driving bans, noise protection zones, city tolls? It reads like a chronological sequence of horrors. For years, every driver has been tormented by a wide variety of bans and charges. Will a congestion charge now be the crowning glory?
Driving bans are part and parcel of Europe, and each and every one of us has had to come to terms with them for better or worse. But some cities are trying to find alternatives: at the expense of all our wallets, of course! When will this madness end? An end seems unforeseeable. Commuter traffic in big cities is enormous and a huge burden on nerves, time management, health and last but not least our environment. Quite a few international metropolises have a city toll, but the model has so far been controversial in Germany. The two largest cities in Germany, Berlin and Munich, are now thinking specifically about counter-models to driving bans - and are seriously considering charging a fee to enter their inner cities by car.
The Bavarian city has now commissioned an institute to calculate how much a possible city toll would have to be in the Munich area for the system to pay off. The toll, which the renowned ifo institute has somewhat brazenly or hypocritically called an "anti-congestion fee", could thus amount to between 6 and 10 euros per day and per vehicle in the Bavarian metropolis. In the same breath, the institute also calculates a so-called invoice value of almost 30 percent, by which the inner-city traffic volume could potentially be reduced. "This would enable us to get the congestion problems in the city centre under control," confirms Oliver Falck, Professor of Economics at LMU Munich. Reduced traffic in the city centre would enable other road users such as taxis and logistics companies to get through the streets faster, and the resulting reduction in traffic jams would save 204 million euros annually in Munich alone, according to calculations.
Berlin's traffic senator Regine Günther (Greens) is also openly considering such a charge (we reported) and is being approached critically and in all severity from many sides, including within the party.
Is the congestion charge really the salvation charm conjured up from many sides and a realistic alternative to the unpopular driving bans, or is it just another scam to take our money out of our pockets? How much more are we supposed to put up with?