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Stockholm Congestion Tax Remains Unpopular
A new poll shows a majority still oppose the congestion tax in Stockholm, Sweden.

Annika Billstrom
Two months after Stockholm, Sweden imposed a special tax for the privilege of entering the city, a majority still oppose the program. In October of 2004, 43 percent said they supported the tax but now that number has only increased to 44 percent with 47 percent opposed. The Temo poll of 1002 residents was conducted on behalf of Dagens Nyheter newspaper and has a 3.5 percent margin of error.

"We are now doing this trial with a modern, exciting, new system which the rest of Europe and the world can learn from," Stockholm mayor Annika Billstrom said. Billstrom had reversed her position on the tax in order to gain the political support of the Green Party.

About 350,000 cars travel through the toll gates daily, generating between 3,500,000 and 21,000,000 kronor (US $500,000 to $2.7 million) in daily revenue, not counting the funds generated from the 630 kronor (US $77) fee charged to those who forget to pay the tax. The system has been responsible for a drop in 100,000 cars entering the city but an increase of only 40,000 using public transportation. The net effect is tens of thousands of people avoiding the city.

London's Chamber of Commerce reported that 84 percent of retailers saw a significant drop in business when the UK capital adopted a congestion charge. Sweden's congestion tax faces a public referendum on September 17. In the only public referendum on the congestion tax issue to date, seventy-four percent of voters in Edinburgh, Scotland rejected a congestion tax proposal in February 2005.

Source: Support rises for congestion charge (The Local (Sweden), 3/10/2006)

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