Milan EcoPass: Another Great Idea That Won't Be Implemented Here

By Ben Bull
Published April 14, 2009

Put Milan's EcoPass system into the 'Good Ideas That Will Never Get Implemented Over Here' category.

In response to the Italian's city's dramatically worsening air conditions, the local government has implemented a scheme to toll downtown drivers based on the emissions their cars spew out:

Italy's fashion capital recently decided to continue its Ecopass scheme, a toll based on the emissions a vehicle produces, in hopes of reducing pollution and traffic in its congested downtown core. The plan, also known as ZTL (Zona a Traffico Limitato) was successfully tested last year, and after impressive results, has been extended to the end of 2009.

Drivers entering the eight-square kilometre ZTL are required to buy a ticket daily or an annual pass for a price based on the emissions their vehicle produces.

Drivers of hybrid and electric cars, as well as cars that meet the highest European emission standards, do not pay anything. On each visit, drivers of low-polluting vehicles are charged two euros ($3.23 Canadian), medium-polluting cars cost five euros ($8.08), and heavy or old vehicles with high emissions cost 10 euros ($16.17).

Most of the revenue goes back into Milan's transportation system, including the construction of new bicycle paths.

Sadly, Toronto's transit friendly city councillor, Glenn De Baeremaeker, doesn't think the scheme will fly in the GTA - at least not for a while.

"I don't think the public would accept it yet," he told the Star yesterday. "We may catch up to them about a decade from now."

Ben Bull lives in downtown Toronto. He's been working on a book of short stories for about 10 years now and hopes to be finished tomorrow. He also has a movie blog.


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By Rusty (registered) - website | Posted April 14, 2009 at 12:20:56

While we complement European cities on thier forward thinking ideas, in reality most of them have waited until the situation is at a crisis point before doing anything. But isn't that always the way with politics? Problems are only fixed when they are on the minds of the voters. Problems are only on the minds of the voters when they become a crisis...

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted April 14, 2009 at 18:45:05

Rusty, and of course we're doing the same of course. The comments from the Toronto councillor make it abudnantly clear that citizens here won't support anything until the situation is just as bad as it is in Milan. We're no better at all.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted April 15, 2009 at 08:20:24

European cities have been doing it for ages. London does it to. I'd love to see a city around here try it to see how it goes. Give it a 5 year run and see what the reactions are.

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By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted April 15, 2009 at 09:57:27

While I agree with this in principle, I can't help but worry if something like this would simply turn out to be a tax for being relatively poor-- for not being able to afford the most up to date vehicle, or for being a tradesperson who needs to drive around in a pick-up truck on weekends because he/she can't afford to run two vehicles. An ecopass is a great idea only if it goes hand in hand with affordable and efficient (i. e. NOT the HSR on a weekend afternoon) public transportation. And not first ecopass, then LRT-- because you risk causing real hardship for real people in the meantime.

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