Inner city toll

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The inner city toll , also called city toll , is the collection of charges ( toll ) for the use of inner-city traffic infrastructure . In Switzerland , the English term road pricing (road usage fee ) or mobility pricing (fee for road and public transport ) is mainly used. In England itself, however, the inner city toll of London is referred to with the term Congestion Charge . The first city toll worldwide was set up in Singapore in 1975 .

There are various inner city toll models that differ in terms of the assessment and payment of prices or fees, the spatial implementation and the method of charging. Projects implemented so far have often implemented a cordon system, that is, the entrance to a certain inner-city area (so-called “toll ring ”) is subject to a fee. Charges can be collected, for example, via vignette, toll station (manned or unmanned), in-vehicle (on-board unit) or external to the vehicle (post-pay procedure).

"Electronic Road Pricing" in Singapore


The main practical goals associated with the introduction of urban road user charges are:

  • Increasing the quality of life in the city by reducing the volume of traffic. Associated with this is the improvement of air quality through lower pollutant emissions such as carbon dioxide , soot particles and fine dust as well as a reduction in traffic noise
  • Improvement of the traffic flow through the temporal and spatial control of the traffic demand (congestion reduction or more efficient use)
  • Additional income for municipalities
  • Financing of road construction projects.

Economic theory

From the point of view of (neoclassical) economics , roads are public goods that differ from private goods in terms of non- excludability and non-rivalry. This means that the good is not "consumed" through use and individuals are usually not excluded from use. For this reason, roads usually have to be built by the state , because the market itself does not provide them in sufficient quantities.

However, on a busy street, users hinder each other, creating a certain rivalry. If an individual user now uses this road, he thereby affects others, but does not include this in his calculation. An external effect arises which, without intervention, prevents a welfare-optimized decision and leads to market failure . A city center toll can remedy this deficiency. In order to achieve this, it should be exactly as high as the hindrance to third parties caused by the user, which the user must include in his calculation.

Ideally, the fee should therefore be adjusted to the current traffic load. For example, it should be significantly higher during rush hour than at night with little traffic. A toll with a fixed fee, such as the London Congestion Charge, only partially achieves this goal, as it does not vary during the day and the extent of the third party disability (e.g. the duration of the journey) is not taken into account.

In connection with private transport , there are other external effects such as environmental pollution with a supra-regional impact (e.g. carbon dioxide emissions), which can, however, also be absorbed by a general mineral oil tax .

From the point of view of the orthodox (neoclassical) economy, it generally makes sense to levy a toll for the use of congested roads.

Location in different regions

There is a city toll in 14 European cities.

German language area

  • In Germany , the introduction of a city toll in several major German cities was discussed in the course of the EU's air quality regulations with regard to fine dust and nitrogen dioxide . However, in the course of the discussions, the model of environmental zones has meanwhile established itself . With this solution, non-polluting vehicles are not allowed to enter inner city areas. Additional specific plans for the introduction of inner city toll systems have been postponed for the time being. The political discussion about this continues, however. The Allgemeine Deutsche Automobil-Club is critical of the model of the city toll for German cities.
  • Vienna: The Greens are also calling for the introduction of a “city toll” in Vienna . This should be due as soon as you cross the belt in your car and should be staggered depending on the time. The mayor has already strictly rejected this request several times. This was justified with other measures to reduce traffic, especially parking space management in the inner districts, which was only extended in time in September 2007. Therefore, a city toll in Vienna does not seem to be politically acceptable at the moment. From February 11 to 13, 2010, a referendum was held in Vienna in which the introduction of a city toll was rejected. At the end of May 2018, the Vienna City Councilor for Transport, Maria Vassilakou of the Greens , brought the proposal of a city toll back into discussion, this time for commuters , valid in the morning hours, but already valid from the city limits.


  • Bergen: The Norwegian coastal city of Bergen was the first in Europe to introduce a fee for entering the city center in 1985 (25 kroner - approx. 3 euros) with the aim of financing road construction in the difficult geographical location (steep cliffs).
  • Oslo: The city center toll has existed in the Norwegian capital Oslo since 1990. The income is used to finance road construction work in Oslo and the surrounding area.
  • Trondheim: Even for Norway's third largest city , the financing of the road construction was the actual motivation for the introduction of the toll in 1991. Since the roads were fully financed, the toll was abolished as planned after 15 years at the end of December 2005. In 2010, the toll was reintroduced as part of an environmental package ( Miljøpakken ).

Great Britain

  • Durham: In Durham , drivers have to pay two pounds (about three euros) to enter a small area of ​​town on weekdays between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. In addition to camera surveillance, bollards are also used here, which are automatically lowered after payment when leaving the zone. The trial proved successful as it reduced traffic within the small zone from 2,000 to around 200 vehicles per day.
    The Durham model is seen as a rehearsal for London.
Inner City Toll Zone in London until February 18, 2007
  • London: Since February 2003, a “ London Congestion Charge ” has been introduced in London for an area of ​​22 km² in the city center. There is a £ 10 charge (£ 5 until July 2005) to enter this area Monday through Friday 7:00 am–6:00pm. This fee is payable once a day, which means that further journeys are covered. All trips within the zone are also not subject to tolls. However, there are numerous exceptions and exemptions from fees. A third of all vehicles that drive into the city center every day (around 39,000) are exempt from the toll. These are: emergency vehicles, breakdown services, vehicles for the disabled, taxis, vehicles with more than 8 seats (including buses), vehicles with gas, electric, fuel cells or hybrid drives, two-wheelers. Residents of the toll zone are entitled to a 90% discount on their vehicles. The effects of the substantial fee are nevertheless clear. In the first six months of traffic within the zone by approximately 15% decreased (accident down 20%), with 50-60% of failing to MIV DUTY on public transport have shifted. A comprehensive evaluation is still pending. Ken Livingstone was re-elected Lord Mayor in 2004 despite the toll he introduced. On February 19, 2007, an extension of the toll ring came into force (Western Extension), as a result of which the toll city area has almost doubled. Then there were the western districts of Kensington, Chelsea and Knightsbridge. However, this western expansion was lifted on January 4, 2011.
  • Edinburgh: The introduction of a city center toll was considered in Edinburgh . However, the proposal was clearly rejected by the residents of Edinburgh in a referendum in February 2005 with a rate of 74.4% (voter turnout 61.8%).


  • Bologna: Since May 2006, an inner city toll has also been levied in Bologna .
  • Milan: A city ​​toll was introduced in Milan in January 2008 to reduce air pollution and traffic congestion . The toll applies to cars, trucks and coaches from Monday to Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. This toll also applies to foreign vehicles. The entry and parking permits (Gratta e passa) can be purchased at the post office, in tobacco and magazine shops and at the information points of the Milan public transport. There are 43 electronic entry checkpoints on the outskirts of the city center.
  • Rome: In the historical center of Rome there is a complete driving ban on private vehicles. Entry is only permitted for taxis, buses, vendors, and holders of an entry permit. This permit costs 360 euros per year


Traengselskatt 2007.jpg


The big attempt in 2006
2006 saw the first practical attempt to introduce road user charges in the city center in the Swedish capital Stockholm . In 1997 a proposal to introduce fees (the so-called Dennis agreement) failed. For this purpose, the social democratic leadership of the city decided under great pressure from the social democratic government in 2003 to introduce road user charges provisionally as part of an attempt, the so-called Trängselskatt , loosely translated traffic jam tax. This started on January 3, 2006 and ran until July 31, 2006.
The experiment provided in detail:
  • A toll cordon is drawn around the city center. Every crossing over this imaginary border is connected with the payment of a congestion tax. A commuter pays both to enter Stockholm and to exit.
  • Depending on the time of day between 1.10 and 2.20 euros congestion tax for entry and / or exit into the city center.
  • Fees are due on weekdays from 6:30 a.m. to 6:29 p.m. A maximum of 60 crowns (around 6.65 euros) per day and vehicle must be paid
  • the targets of reducing traffic by 10–20 percent and significantly increasing average speed
  • reduce the health impact of pollutants, soot particles and carbon monoxide on residents
After six months of trial run, the following results were found: 23% fewer cordon crossings (15.5% fewer kilometers driven within the cordon), 13% fewer fine dust emissions in the city center. The immission situation remained relatively unchanged. The decreases were up to 2 micrograms per cubic meter of air, depending on the measuring point.
Following the trial phase, a referendum ( referendum ) on the permanent introduction of road user charges took place in the city of Stockholm on September 17, 2006, together with general elections . The majority, 53.1% of the votes cast, was in favor of the introduction. The residents of the suburban communities were excluded from the vote. However, several local votes were carried out in the region that were consistently against the introduction. In the meantime, however, there is also a clear majority in the region in favor of maintaining the toll.
The whole project was controversial for several reasons. Contrary to the express promises of the local social democrats, it was introduced under pressure from the social democratic government to secure a majority in the Reichstag for the social democrats (building on the votes of the Miljöpartiet de Gröna ). The referendum was limited to the city of Stockholm, although the cost of the attempt was borne mainly by residents of the wider region. With Stockholmers the project was controversial in terms of practical handling, which also contributed to the great loss of social democratic votes at local and national level in the 2006 elections. In 2010 around 70% of Stockholmers supported the congestion tax.
Final introduction 2007:
After the 2006 elections, it was unclear whether the city center toll would come back. Within a month, however, the new bourgeois majority decided to start the permanent system from August 2007. The income should primarily flow into the maintenance of the road network. Foreign cars, emergency vehicles, public buses and cars of the severely disabled were exempt from the toll until December 31, 2014, and have been recorded since January 1, 2015. The exemptions for cars with alternative drives and taxis have now been abolished.


A congestion tax based on the Stockholm model was introduced on January 1, 2013 in Sweden's second largest city, Gothenburg .


  • Prague: In December 2009, the Czech capital, Prague, plans to introduce a toll in the city center. Due to necessary changes in the law and tenders, it has not yet been implemented (as of March 2017). It is planned to charge 100–120 CZK (approx. 4–5 euros) per day from motorists driving through the historic city center . In total, revenues of CZK 1.8 billion (approx. EUR 72 million) and a reduction in traffic of 20% are expected.
  • Budapest: An inner city toll planned for Budapest in 2007 has not yet been introduced. However, in 2012 another type of toll is being considered, but only a monthly user fee for each vehicle owner in Budapest at the equivalent of 35 euros.
  • Singapore: The world's oldest city toll system is in Singapore , which was introduced in 1975 and expanded considerably in 1998. Prices vary depending on the vehicle, route and time of day. The most expensive tariff is debited between 8:30 and 9:00 a.m.
  • Hanoi (Vietnam): A research project carried out by the Institute for Transport and Development (Bremen) proposes an inner city toll for Hanoi ( Vietnam ).
  • Valletta (Malta): Since May 1st 2007 there has been a city toll in the Maltese capital Valletta . The toll system is implemented via ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition). Entrance into the inner city area is subject to a charge Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The first half hour is free, after that you pay € 0.82 to a maximum of € 6.52.

Modifications of the inner city toll

In contrast to the area-wide city toll, there are various other variants of a toll in cities, which are usually tied to certain routes (not areas). Examples:

  • San Diego (USA): Since 1996, an extra lane for cars with at least two people has been set up on the city freeway in San Diego . Cars with only one person have to pay a toll depending on the traffic density and time. Most of the toll flows into local public transport.
  • Seoul: In 1996, Seoul introduced a toll for two tunnels connecting the north and south of the city. It is only valid in the morning peak (7–9 am) and only when there are fewer than two people in the car. As a result of the toll, the occupancy rate of the vehicles increased significantly.
  • New York: In New York there are the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels between New Jersey and Manhattan , for the use of which only eight dollars (approx. 5.50 euros) per trip are collected in the direction of Manhattan. The Lincoln Tunnel (three tubes with two lanes each) is the busiest tunnel in the world with 120,000 vehicles per day. One lane is reserved for buses in the morning peak (6 am–10 am). The Hollandtunnel has two tubes with two lanes each.


Political level

Not only on the political side are there major reservations about a city center toll. On the one hand, many politicians are afraid that if they introduce such measures, they will not be re-elected due to the low public acceptance . On the other hand, the vote in Stockholm (see above) and the election campaign of London Mayor Ken Livingstone show that acceptance is increasing and that political majorities are now even possible.

Economic theory

A common objection to road tolls is that they favor rich drivers and disadvantage poor drivers. Because a usage fee of z. B. two euros per trip has a different value for a person with a low income than for a person with a high income (decreasing marginal utility of money). It is therefore important that the revenue from a city toll does not flow into the general budget of a city, but is invested in the improvement of local public transport, so that it can be classified as a local transport tax. This way, those who do not drive because of the toll can be compensated. On the other hand, all citizens who do not even have a car benefit from the better public transport connections. This must be taken into account in the overall social assessment of a toll.


Web links

Wiktionary: Inner city toll  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

References and comments

  1. «It is wrong to demonize the car», article from July 4, 2016
  2. Mobility instead of road pricing, article from February 13, 2014
  3. Overview of Urban Road Tolls
  4. Report for Hamburg on the introduction of a city toll, 2011 (261 p .; PDF; 6.6 MB)
  5. ^ Final result of the city electoral authority of the 2010 referendum on the website of the City of Vienna
  6. Vassilakou wants city toll for inbound commuters (accessed on May 28, 2018)
  7. Overview map of London with the current toll city area BBC
  8. Report by the City of Stockholm on the Stockholmfösöket (PDF; 1.8 MB)
  9. Staffan Kihlström: Clearly yes i hela länet till trängselskatt . In: Dagens Nyheter , September 15, 2006
  10. ^ Congestion charges which save lives . ( Memento of May 7, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Royal Technical University , January 22, 2010
  11. Stockholm and Göteborg: City tolls now also for cars from abroad . Travel EXCLUSIV magazine website, accessed January 27, 2015.
  12. Matthias Breitinger: City toll: "The Germans are doing the wrong thing" . In: The time . March 18, 2013 (Interview with Jonas Eliasson, Director of the Center for Traffic Studies at the Royal Technical University )
  13. ^ Stockholm congestion tax in the English language Wikipedia
  14. ^ Gothenburg congestion tax in the English language Wikipedia
  15. Motorists in Hungary should pay public transport debts in Pester Lloyd of January 30, 2012, accessed on February 12, 2012.
  16. Singapore Area Licensing Scheme in the English language Wikipedia
  17. ^ Karl-Hans Hartwig: City Toll: an Efficient Policy Strategy for Hanoi? (PDF; 4.4 MB) In: Hans-Heinrich Bass, Hans-Martin Niemeier (eds.): Institute for Transport and Development, Annual Report 2011/2012 . University of Bremen, Bremen, pp. 26–34
  18. ^ Malta: Valletta - Charging Scheme