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Last Updated: Friday, 9 March 2007, 13:43 GMT
Traffic solutions
Michelle Mayman
The Politics Show North West

Traffic jam
How should traffic congestion be tackled?

Roads in the North West are become more and more congested. Journeys to work are taking longer and everywhere you go you run into a traffic jam.

Road pricing schemes are one of the answers to the problem but the idea does not get a warm reception from the public, and it seems winning people's hearts and minds is the biggest battle for politicians.

But it can be done. The proof can be found in Stockholm, the capital of Sweden. Last year a congestion charging scheme was introduced in the city for a trial period of six months.

At first Stockholmers were not at all in favour of the charges but a referendum was held at the end of the trial and 52% of people voted to have a permanent road pricing scheme in the city.

That will start on 1 July 2007.

London buses
Congestion charge zones feature in London

Public opinion changed

It is obvious that public opinion changed dramatically during the trial and the figures speak for themselves.

During the six months the amount of traffic going through central Stockholm was cut by 25%, waiting times during the morning rush hour decreased by 33% and in the evening by 50%.

The day the trial finished - the roads went back to being exactly the same.

Lessons learned

What lessons can be learnt from Scandinavia?

The Mayor of Stockholm, Kristina Axin Olin, says that any congestion charge cannot be forced upon people.

They need time to get used to it.

Then there is the issue of public transport.

The network in Stockholm is cheap, clean and safe and runs every two minutes - very different to public transport here.

Unlike Manchester travelling by train, tram, bus or boat is a viable option if you want to leave the car at home.

Munich model

There are other roads we could go down besides congestion charging.

The city of Munich in Germany is considered to have the perfect transport model - a third of people travel by car, a third by public transport and a third cycle or walk, so they do not need to introduce any road pricing schemes.

It is very easy to use public transport in Munich.

It is fully integrated and there is a simple ticketing system - a travel card costs about 2.80 a day and can be used on buses, trams and trains.

The key to successful integration seems to be that they are all owned by a single city authority - about as far away from our de-regulated bus and rail companies as possible.

Home to BMW they really love their cars in Munich. Car ownership is a third higher than here in the North West

So join Ranvir Singh on the Politics Show North West where we have special reports from Munich and Stockholm.

The Politics Show, Sunday 11 March 2007, BBC One at 11:30 GMT.


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