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Stockholm's congestion tax alleviates traffic, improves environment

By Xuefei Chen Axlesson (Xinhua)

10:40, August 27, 2012

STOCKHOLM, Aug. 26 (Xinhua) -- After Stockholm started to collect congestion tax several years ago, it has played an important role in alleviating traffic and improving environment.

The tax has reduced traffic by 20 percent, improved air quality by 10 percent in the center of the capital city and reduced carbon emission by 10 to 14 percent, said Gunnar Soderholm, director of Environment and Health Administration of Stockholm City.

"We have three objectives: to get better environment, to get the traffic flow and better accessibility for the public transport in Stockholm," Soderholm told Xinhua.

Pilot implementation of the measure started in January 2006 and lasted for seven months. Two months later, a referendum was held to decide whether the practice should continue or not.

A majority of the people voted for a continuation, although 75 to 80 percent of the people were against it before the pilot began. Soderholm said that 65 percent of the people are in support of the program now.

"People like it because they see better environment, less noise pollution, better air quality, better traffic flow, shorter traveling time and less stressful traffic situation in Stockholm," Soderholm said, adding that people saw a totally different city come overnight.

Soderholm explained that in the early 1950s, there was serious air pollution in Stockholm. Due to various efforts, the air quality improved substantially. But less car traffic in the street can make the air quality even better.

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