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Short Term Impacts of the 1991 Scheme on City Centre Traders

Prior to implementation, there was a lot of concern about negative effects on the attractiveness of the CBD for business activity, and great uncertainty prevailed about the possible effects on shopping trips. For instance, a shopping survey in 1990 concluded that 25% of respondents in Trondheim and surrounding areas were likely to change their shopping behaviour because of the toll ring, by moving their shopping to other destinations or times. The follow-up study in 1992 revealed that respondents had changed their shopping behaviour only modestly (10% rather than 25%).

Trondheim Chamber of Commerce carried out a special sample survey of trade turnover in Trondheim starting September 1991 (one month before the opening of the toll ring) and ending September 1992. A sample of 40 firms representing about 25% of total turnover in Trondheim took part. The firms were located throughout the municipality (both inside and outside the toll ring) and covered the major business sectors. The conclusions from the study was that a long lasting trend of growth in areas outside and decline in areas inside of the toll cordon, levelled out during the study period. During the first months of 1992 there was evidence of some businesses located inside the toll ring losing trade. From the summer of 1992 no distortion of competition due to the toll ring could be read out of the statistics. Businesspeople located in the CBD had prior to the toll ring predicted major negative swings in trade once the toll ring came into operation. The Chamber of Commerce in its own study concluded that there was hardly any effect of the toll ring on trade at all.

A study of retail sales data for the period 1987 to 1997 shows that the CBD did loose trade in real terms in the period 1987 to 1990 (Figure below). Then, starting in the same year as the introduction of the toll ring, city centre trade has in real terms been on a general trend line of modest but steady growth. The loss in market share to other sectors in the municipality is simply a result of these sectors having a faster growth. It can be concluded that in spite of the toll ring, the city centre has had a modest growth in trade.

Short Term Impacts of the Discontinuation of Charging

shows what happened to CBD retail trade in relation to other areas in the municipality since the turn of the century. It should be noted that CBD now has a different definition from the one used in the previous figure. The long term trend of decreasing market shares has continued, even though the net sales volumes have grown modestly. However, the market share did not drop during 2005, and the drop during 2006 was smaller than in previous years. Still, the annulment of road user charging did not lead to an upswing in city centre trade during 2006.


Opinion polls on the attitudes to the Trondheim toll ring indicated decreased opposition after implementation. In April 1991, six months prior to the implementation date, about 70% of the respondents objected to the toll ring. In December 1991, two months after implementation, the negative share had dropped to below 50% (Figure below). During the summer of 1992 the mood was such that slightly more people were positive (37 %) than negative (35 %). However, as time went by, the negative share increased and the positive share decreased until a peak in October 2003, when four times more were negative than positive. The very low support in 2003 is related to negative publicity and discussions at that time about the immediate introduction of five new charge stations close to the city centre.

The November 2005 measurement can be interpreted as a continuation of the long term trend of increasing tiredness and frustration about the charging. The single group being most negative to urban tolling was daily car drivers. The most typical supporters were men living inside the original cordon and driving a car less frequently than on a daily basis. One possible explanation for the diminishing support is the lack of sufficient information and publicity about the purpose of charging, as time went on. Public relations work was taken much more seriously by the authorities prior to implementation and during the first year of operation. 

A strong indication of the importance of information is that when respondents were reminded about what type of projects the revenues from charging were financing, the support increased considerably. This can be seen in the figure below. When respondents in 2005 were asked about their attitudes to urban tolling, taking into account the use of revenues, the negative share decreased from 47% to 38%, and the positive share increased from 19% to 30%. The most typical supporters now were men in the 18-29 years age group.

What is perhaps more surprising, is the delight with which respondents in 2006 responded to the same question, when asked about their attitude to having had urban tolling in Trondheim. The negative share now dwindled to 27% and the positive share increased to 48%. Subgroups having high shares being positive or very positive to having had urban tolling were men, people living inside the old cordon and the 45-59 years old age group. Additionally, support increased with increasing income, increasing education level and decreasing car ownership.