Sustainable congestion charging
Some of the most innovative cities in Europe have demonstrated that congestion charging schemes can have a real impact when they are tailored to the local context. Ljubljana is striving to be among those forerunner cities. The municipality is aware that it will need to achieve a common understanding and awareness among all stakeholders on the problems of congestion, air pollution, noise emissions and the decay of urban space.In Ljubljana, the problem of congestion related to traffic streams is compounded in peak hours (7–9 a.m. and 3–5 p.m.), especially at the highway exits to main roads towards the inner city centre as well as in the city centre itself.
Implementing sustainable mobility
Ljubljana used the knowledge and experience from other countries and explored the possibilities of using a road pricing tool to reduce traffic. The aim wasn’t to implement the congestion charging scheme, but to prepare it in order if the implementation will later be needed, i.e. if all other measures for sustainable mobility wouldn’t “suffice”.
The main objectives of the measure were to:
- Achieve a common understanding between all actors that congestion, air pollution, noise emissions and the decay of urban space are serious and increasing problems that need strong measures to decrease car traffic;
- Kick-off a constructive dialogue between actors on local, regional and national level on the potential of a sustainable congestion charging scheme in the urban agglomeration of Ljubljana;
- Achieve awareness and cooperation among national, regional and local decision makers that urban transport needs to become a high priority and an essential part of the national transport agenda;
- Define road pricing as part of an overall strategy to reach significant changes in urban and regional areas in favour of sustainable transport modes;
- Thoroughly study different options of congestion charging for the Ljubljana region and to identify the most appropriate road pricing scheme (organisational and technological);
- Achieve public acceptance through a dialogue with citizens;
- Reduce traffic congestion, noise and air pollution.
It aims to kick-off a constructive dialogue on the potential of a sustainable congestion charging scheme between actors on the local, regional and national level. Citizen dialogue will seek to gain public acceptance. Ljubljana will thoroughly study different options for congestion charging in Ljubljana that can complement the introduction of vignettes on the motorway ring around the city.
For the implementation of the road pricing scheme, Ljubljana cooperated closely with national authorities and authorities in the region. The goal of this collaboration was to come to a formal agreement on a congestion charging scheme in Ljubljana. The proposal for the scheme to be implemented was prepared at the end of the project. It required careful analysis of travelling habits and demand managing possibilities in order to change the prevailing car use towards a more sustainable use of different and diversified ways of travel. Within the new traffic management and routing scheme the road pricing concept was proposed.
Ljubljana expects the congestion charging scheme to positively influence the public towards higher awareness of urban transport related problems in order to slowly change the current behaviour of excessive car use. In the long run, Ljubljana expects from the congestion charging scheme and joined effects of related measures:
• 15 percent decrease in private car traffic;
• better balanced modal split with a share of public transport of 20 percent;
• 20 percent reduction of congestion on motorways and in the urban area;
• 15 percent decrease of pollutant emissions from traffic in the city centre.
The final goal of the measure was to achieve a formal agreement on a congestion charging scheme for the Ljubljana region between relevant decision makers at local, regional and state level and stakeholders. In order to achieve that, several technical studies on suitable congestion charging options were made. That would help the decision process to implement the congestion charging scheme after the CIVITAS ELAN lifetime.
For the most suitable congestion charging scheme for Ljubljana a proposal on the basis of two measures was made: (a) the introduction of a new City vignette for the entire urban area within a ring and (b) the introduction of a workplace tariff to be paid by employers offering free parking places for their employees if the first measure would not bring proper results. 23% of the questioned participants of the dialogue events in May 2011 and 20% of the questioned participants in February 2012 agreed to implement congestion charging. The results from the surveys to the general public show very similar acceptance of proposed measures related to the implementation of selected congestion charging schemes.
The proposal for a congestion charging scheme developed for Ljubljana in this ELAN measure has also been incorporated in the City’s “Transport Policy Proposal until 2020”. Having in mind the slow process of changes of travel habits on the one hand and EU directives on PM10, air quality and noise on the other, congestion charging may be the only way out not only for Ljubljana but for some other cities in Slovenia as well.