City government officials in Bergen approved whopping tolls on commuters who opt to drive into the city on days when air pollution levels are high. They’re already being charged NOK 45 (USD 5.30) to drive downtown and that’s set to more than quadruple.
“This is a measure we hope we’ll never have to use,” Harald Berge Breistein of the Christian Democrats said after the city council approved raising the toll into town for private cars to NOK 225 (USD 26.40) during the commuter rush hours. At other times on days with heavy air pollution the toll will be NOK 95 (USD 11).
In compensation, public transport will be free on such days, to encourage commuters to simply drop their cars and ride the bus or tram instead. The problem, according to some city officials, is that Bergen’s public transportation lacks capacity to meet a sudden demand. “This could be a catastrophe,” Henning Warloe of the Conservative Party, Bergen’s former city official in charge of city development, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK).
In Oslo, meawhile, city officials who already have made it much more difficult to use private cars in town, are also planning to reduce speed limits on the main E18 highway through the city to just 60kph (36mph) on days when air pollution levels are high. The goal, they say, is to improve health for local residents.