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Milan's Congestion Charge Halted By Court Action

Milan's six-month-old congestion charge, indirectly authorized by public referendum and by all measures successful in reducing traffic, crashes, and pollution, has been brought to an abrupt end by the successful appeal of a parking garage owner.
August 13, 2012, 11am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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The Council of State, an administrative court, upheld the parking garage's right to appeal, thus eliminating the "charge of 5 euros, or about $6, to drive into the city's core."

The ruling, while "embraced by many businesses in the affected area," was met with anger by environmental groups and cycling lobbies, saying that it suspended what had been a strong effort to improve the air quality and livability of one of the most traffic-clogged and polluted cities in Europe."

Elisabetta Povoledo writes that "traffic is Public Enemy No. 1 in Milan, where it is estimated that 730,000 vehicles, including 460,000 driven by people who live outside the city, circulate each day, jamming its historic streets and slowing public transportation."

"For now, proponents of the fee are emphasizing that the court based its ruling on a procedural matter, not merit, and in November a regional administrative court will rule on whether the parking lot's claims are justified."

Regulating emissions or traffic - different paths taken by city administrations:

"The previous center-right city administration had set some limits, banning cars that fell below certain emissions standards, but after residents overwhelmingly voted in a referendum to diminish the use of private cars, the current center-left government introduced the congestion fee."

Fee opponents noted motorists purchased cleaner cars after the initial ban, and that SUVs and cars would pay the same 6 euro congestion charge.

Planetizen notes that Milan initiated a congestion pricing program in January, 2008.

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Published on Monday, August 13, 2012 in The New York Times - Europe
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