Drivers could face higher costs as Switzerland debates mobility pricing

Drivers could face higher costs as Switzerland debates mobility pricing

A controversial study by ETH Zurich, the University of Basel and the Zurich University of Applied Sciences into “mobility pricing” found that charging motorists to use high congested areas would reduce traffic jams and carbon emissions. The study has restarted the debate on a Swiss congestion charge, with motorists worried the tax would be used to make driving unaffordable. 

Cars cost more to use per kilometre than public transport

The study used commuters in Zurich, Bern, Basel, Geneva, Lausanne and Winterthur to measure their daily commuting patterns through a downloaded app. They found that the total running costs (such as fuel, environmental cost and health conditions caused by emissions) for cars stood at 70 rappen per kilometre, whereas public transport was priced significantly lower. In all, cars cost up to 34 rappen more a kilometre to run.

Once participants were given incentives to use public transport, the report found that commuters made as many journeys as before, but chose to use public transport significantly more often. It is hoped that the findings will convince the government to increase subsidies on public transport and to charge vehicles more.

Study may lead to a Swiss congestion charge

Swiss politicians have been debating adding a congestion charge to major roads and motorways for years, with a "universal congestion charge" expected to come into force by 2030. By charging drivers more, the government will be able to reduce carbon emissions and the number of traffic jams in major cities. The Federal Council has accepted the findings and begun several regional trials of a “congestion charge."

The study has been criticised by road users, who are concerned that the idea would simply allow councils to charge drivers in places that are not affected by traffic jams. However, an environmental economist at the University of Basel, Beat Hintermann, said the scheme had the “desired effect." He predicted that vehicle traffic would drop by 9 to 12 percent during rush hour with the extra charge.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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