With German cities now legally allowed to ban diesel cars from urban areas to reduce pollution, lawmakers are scrambling for ways to appease driving constituents. Politicians in Singapore, Sweden and the UK may have the answers: Singapore wants to launch a satellite-based toll system in 2021 to bill drivers by kilometer and minute, and Sweden and London already charge drivers who want to enter urban areas a premium at peak times.
“In terms of traffic policy, Germany is stuck in the age of Adenauer,” says Andreas Knie, a mobility analyst at Berlin Thinktank InnoZ. Konrad Adenauer was the first post-war chancellor and ran West Germany from 1949 until 1963, when no one was worried about pollution. But Germany is now facing driving bans and the only answer Berlin has provided is a €1-billion joint fund with automakers to improve traffic management, replace diesel buses with zero-emission models and promote battery-charging networks.
While Singapore’s proposal would force drivers to pay for the exact amount of infrastructure they use and provide compensation for their pollution, Stockholm, Gothenburg and London prefer to instead provide financial incentive to not drive. Stockholm’s congestion charge, introduced permanently in 2007, levies €3.50 to enter the center during rush hour and just €1.10 between 9.30 a.m. and 3 p.m. London charges £10 (€11.33) from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Both have proven effective in reducing traffic.