Congestion charging could bring the state more than EUR 100 million every year
Motorists to pay EUR 140 to 270 million annually, while mayors fear that funds would flow to provinces
It has been proposed that congestion charges be imposed on all private cars in the Greater Helsinki area during rush-hours. The purpose of enforcing the charges would be to reduce the use of private cars at peak periods.
According to the information gathered by Helsingin Sanomat, all three congestion charge models examined at the Ministry of Transport and Communications indicate that the annual funds to be collected from motorists would clearly exceed the costs of the new system.
Depending on the alternative, congestion charges would bring an annual sum of EUR 140 to 270 million, while the cost estimate for the maintenance of the system and for the increase required in public transport would be around EUR 26 to 63 million.
In addition, the technical implementation of the congestion charge collection system would cost another one-off charge of EUR 37 to 178 million.
In other words, when it is up and running, the proposed system would bring an annual yield of EUR 100 million at the very least.
According to Helsingin Sanomat, the mayors of Helsinki and Vantaa strongly oppose such charges, while the Espoo mayor could not be reached for comments on Thursday.
The mayors say that the congestion problems in the area should be resolved in some other ways, for instance by increasing fuel taxes and by developing the public transport system in the region.
The mayors are also worried about the division of the collected funds. If the proposed congestion charges are introduced, the municipalities are to pay for the costs caused by the increase in public transport, while the yields will be pocketed by the state.
They also fear that the state intends to use the congestion charges collected in the Greater Helsinki area as a tool of regional politics, while the funds would flow to the provinces.
”If such a model is to be implemented, the absolute principle is to be that all collected funds will be allocated to the development of traffic in this region”, argues Helsinki Mayor Jussi Pajunen.
Pajunen also regards the proposed congestion charge system as inefficient and old-fashioned considering the disintegrated town structure in the area.
The ministry’s working group does not intend to take a stand on which alternative if any should be selected and implemented.
The most cost-effective and the easiest to maintain would be either a ring model or a line model.
The basis of the ring model would be the Outer Ring Road (Kehä III), with pay points installed inside the Outer Ring Road. Crossing Kehä III would cost EUR 2.00 in rush-hours and EUR 1.00 between peak periods. The maximum charge would be EUR 6.00/day.
According to the line model, motorists would be charged every time they cross a specific line along which a number of pay desks would be installed to collect fares. The main lines would follow the Outer Ring Road (Kehä III) and also the immediate downtown area. In addition, there would be two transverse lines. Crossing the line would cost EUR 1.00 in rush-hours, and between peak periods EUR 0.50. The maximum fare would again be EUR 6.00/day.
The third alternative is a so-called zone model. According to this alternative, the fare is based on kilometres. The model includes two zones: the inner zone is confined to the Outer Ring Road, while the outer zone extends from Kirkkonummi to Sipoo. During rush-hours, the charge would be EUR 0.10/km in the inner zone, and EUR 0.05/km in the outer zone. Between peak periods the fare would be EUR 0.05/km in the inner zone, while the outer zone would be free of charge.
In all alternatives, no charges would be collected in the evenings, at night, and at weekends.
The technical implementation of the congestion charge collection system includes two alternatives. The ring and line models could use microwave technology, while a satellite navigation system based on the use of GSM/GPRS networks would be appropriate for the zone model.
The Ministry of Transport and Communications is to release its report in the week preceding Midsummer.
The potential introduction of congestion charges is up to the politicians, while decisions are to be made in the next decade at the earliest.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Helsinki to study introduction of congestion charge (25.1.2008)
Ministry of Transport and Communications