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Oslo Conservatives mull congestion charge

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A traffic jam outside Oslo - Kristin Kokkersvold
11:27 CET+01:00
Norway's Conservative party is considering backing plans for a congestion charging scheme in Oslo at a meeting over the weekend, opening the way for road pricing in the capital.
At the Oslo Conservative's annual meeting on Friday and Saturday, party activists are set to discuss proposals for creating a more environmentally sustainable city. 
 
The congestion charge, which has long been blocked by right-of-centre parties in the city, is now back on the table. 
 
"Anyone driving into Oslo in the morning and out in the afternoon can see that we have a capacity problem," Øystein Sundelin, a Conservative member of Oslo City Council, told Aftenposten. "We must get rid of some of the cars that do not need to travel." 
 
Sundelin's group is proposing a congestion charge which will be more expensive during rush periods, cheaper when there's less traffic, and  free at night. 
 
"I have great respect for opposing congestion charging until everything else has been tried," he said. "We wanted to improve public transport rather than charge motorists. But the time has perhaps come to have a fresh debate about this." 
 
The signs of a shift in the Conservative party's stance come after Marianne Borgen, the head of the city's transport committee, in November made a renewed proposal to bring in a scheme. 
 
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The measure was ruled out in a 2010 infrastructure deal between the major parties on Oslo's city council. But the recent success of congestion charging projects in the Norwegian city of Kristiansand and the Swedish capital Stockholm has inspired the council to look again at the policy. 
 
Carl Hagen, the Progress Party grandee who serves as deputy chairman of the transport committee, is dedicated to blocking the scheme. 

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