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Road pricing policies

Bologna

Bologna aims to redefine and update its current road pricing in response to traffic indicators and to allow more flexible access control.

Implementing sustainable mobility

In 2006, Bologna was the first city in Italy to implement a road pricing policy based on an intelligent transport system (ITS). The revision of the system will finalise the strategy as part of the city’s urban traffic master plan. The system will focus on the “real” external costs of journeys made by private car and make regulations and access control more flexible accordingly.

The main objectives of the measure are to:

  • Guarantee flexibility in regulations and access control;
  • Improve access policy of the limited traffic zone (LTZ) based on economic incentives or disincentives and the support of electronic instruments;
  • Demonstrate the effectiveness of urban mobility management through regulatory measures;
  • Introduce a semi-pedestrian area within the LTZ;
  • Promote public transport, cycling and walking; and
  • Reduce polluting emissions in the urban area.

As part of CIVITAS MIMOSA, Bologna conducted a study to develop an IT system that can identify and distinguish vehicles according to different parameters such as vehicle models, size and emissions. Such a study and the implementation of a road pricing system based on such a system are an innovative endeavour in Europe’s urban transport arena.
Before MIMOSA, access to the limited traffic zone has largely been based on an authorisation process that grants access to public transport operators, residents and freight deliveries. To make the system more flexible, the road pricing scheme foresees the possibility for occasional users to enter the LTZ by paying an access toll.

How did the measure progress?

Bologna started the measure with a preparatory study that included a situation and scenario analysis for access to the LTZ and road pricing, as well as various research activities. The city also concluded a testing phase that ran from July to September 2010. During this time frame, the LTZ was opened to private car traffic from 18:00 rather than 20:00. The municipality also encouraged debate around access regulations in the city centre among different stakeholders with opposing views. A final report on the testing phase concluded that the earlier opening of the LTZ did not cause a significant increase in traffic. In winter 2009/10, the city held four car-free Sundays that were accompanied by awareness campaigns on urban sustainable mobility. On these occasions 21,800 flyers and 7,300 leaflets have been distributed. In 2010, Bologna also awarded a tender for the renewal of its database and for the software to manage parking and access permits.
The final decision on a potential opening of the LTZ from 18:00 onwards had been delayed until after the local elections in spring 2011. The new mayor elected in May 2011 and the vice mayor for mobility stopped access to the LTZ both at Christmas time (as it usually happened in the past) and after 18:00. Furthermore, they are committed to reducing the permanent access authorizations to the LTZ (more extensive application of Road Pricing) and to extend the semi-pedestrian area model that has already been introduced in the University district, and the pedestrians area model already implemented in some streets in the city centre. After concluding studies and researches dealing with the enlargement, the semi-pedestrian area in the University  District has been enlarged accordingly. A further analysis is being conducted on the extension of the road pricing system (modifying rules and fares for entering the LTZ) and of the car-free areas. Public transport vehicles and motorcycles could be prevented in the future from circulating in the central streets called “T”. Freight operators circulation in the LTZ could be also limited. To lead by example, access by city councillors’ to LTZ (where the Municipality Head Quarter is located) has been cancelled.
Activities are ongoin to improve the actual road pricing system as well as enforcement activity to manage access within the Limited Traffic Zone and the University Area. Awareness raising actions, such as public events, conferences and media actions, in favor of the social acceptance of road pricing and traffic limitation measures, have also been completed. A training course on the new software  has been organized for users and new operators.

What were the outcomes of the measure?

In designing the measure, Bologna expected that the new road pricing system would have significantly lowered the circulation of the most polluting vehicles within the LTZ and the semi-pedestrian area.

The final key results of the measure implementation, according to the impact evaluation, are the following:
- Decrease of all pollutant emissions (CO, CO2, NOX and particulate), due to reduced  access to the Limited Traffic Zone;
- stability of accesses  to the Limited Traffic Zone at the lower level after the ITS introduction;
- significant reduction of vehicle access to the semi-pedestrian area (-69% between 2006 and 2012).
- excellent citizens’ awareness of road pricing policies resulting from the two surveys, with most people very well informed.

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Mobility Department Director