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Frankfurt: City toll only the beginning?

The traffic turnaround in Germany is only making slow progress. In order to reduce traffic in Frankfurt's city centre, a city toll is now to be introduced. This should also avert the threat of diesel driving bans.

In future, drivers will have to pay a fee to enter Frankfurt's city centre. The Greens, as the strongest force in the parliament of the city on the Main, want to introduce the city toll in order to advance the traffic turnaround. The toll is intended to reduce car traffic in the city, which is currently completely overloaded due to commuters. The toll is also intended to prevent the threat of diesel driving bans, as the reduction of traffic overall would make the air cleaner and reduce CO2 emissions. The Greens want to use the revenue from the toll to expand and reduce the price of local public transport.

The potential coalition partner Volt is also in favour of the toll. This would advance the mobility turnaround, which is about combating climate change and improving the quality of life in Frankfurt.

Critical voices, such as the voters' association ÖkoLinX-Antirassistische Liste, criticise that the toll excludes socially weaker citizens, as only those who can afford the toll can continue to drive into the city. Martin Huber, city councillor for Volt, argues that a reliable and affordable public transport service is precisely important to ensure mobility and access to the city centre for all social classes.

Whether the toll can actually prevent the impending diesel driving ban remains to be seen. The Hessian Administrative Court had ruled that diesel driving bans would have to come into force from 1 July this year if air quality did not improve to below the limit values. The Greens would therefore have to act quickly to avert the driving ban.

It is not yet clear whether the toll zone will cover the entire environmental zone or only the city centre itself. According to Volt, there will not be a completely car-free zone in the city centre, at least for the time being, because residents, commercial traffic and emergency services, as well as people with limited mobility, are dependent on cars. However, one would then have to pay for the privilege of driving into the city in order to protect public space.  The Greens want to at least make the Mainkai car-free again. This was also an issue for the Greens in the election campaign.

Since other potential coalition partners of the Greens, such as the SPD, are not opposed to the toll, there is hardly anything standing in its way. So things could soon change in the metropolis on the Main. If the toll does what the Greens promise, the city will become greener, cleaner and quieter. In this way, Frankfurt could soon be a pioneer for other large cities and the traffic turnaround in Germany could gain momentum.