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Context Description

The Oslo metropolitan region is the smallest of the Scandinavian metropolitan regions. Just over 1 million people currently live in the two counties of Oslo and Akershus, which cover a total of 5,400 square kilometers. The region is the national centre of administration and distribution, and the hub of Eastern Norway. Eastern Norway has two million inhabitants, almost half of Norway's total population, and geographically makes up one quarter of the country. Population densities vary within the region, the highest densities found along the four railway lines out of Oslo. Both Oslo and Akershus experienced strong population growth during the 1990s. Efficient, safe and environmentally friendly transport is considered to be essential to growth and development in the Oslo-region.

From 1970 and towards the end of the 80’s the number of cars increased significantly in Oslo. The investments in new road capacity did not reflect the increase in traffic and the results were deteriorating conditions on the roads and for the environment. The general lack of public funds for road investment in Oslo forced the politicians to consider other options. A new initiative was required to raise money for investments, the Oslo toll ring (Oslo package 1).

The Oslo toll ring (Oslo package 1) started in 1990. It was initially planned as an ordinary toll road to finance tunnels under the city centre. However, before it was established, the municipality of Oslo joined forces with the neighboring county, Akershus, and opted for a package to finance several other projects as well. Later in the process, it was also decided to earmark 20 per cent of the revenue for public transport infrastructure investments.

A few years after the toll ring introduced, and following extensive road investments in the region, there was a growing concern about car traffic increasing more rapidly than expected, as well as a lack of infrastructure investments in the public transport infrastructure system. In 1996, the Norwegian parliament invited the local authorities in the Oslo region to develop an enforced public transport plan based on national and local co-financing, to meet this challenge. This plan (Oslo package 2) was launched in 1998 and approved by Parliament and the local authorities in 2001.

Oslo package 2 is a supplement to the existing Oslo package 1 and consists of an increase in the toll of approximately €0.25 per trip making the single fare NOK 15 (approx €1.9). The increase is earmarked for public transport infrastructure investments. In addition, the package includes an increase in the public transport fare of approximately €0.10 per trip, earmarked for rolling- stock investments. The planning of Oslo package 2 involved two counties and several different authorities and organizations. Investment in public transport was expected to double as a result. The main elements in the first four-year period (2002-2005) were railway investments (60% per cent of expenditures), a new metro ring (20% per cent), terminals/stations (11% per cent), and priority measures (9% per cent). The co-financing plan for Oslo package 2 also involved extraordinary national funding and public-private partnership funds from the redevelopment of the old Oslo airport. In the table below, the status quo (ordinary funds) is compared with the extraordinary funds raised by Oslo package 2.

The Oslo toll ring was due to end in 2007. As the end of the toll ring came closer, two alternatives were examined. Either the toll ring could be removed, as happened in Trondheim at the end of 2005, or a new toll scheme, “Oslo package 3” could be introduced. The politicians opted for the latter. Because the planning started late, it was decided to continue the original toll ring (“Oslo package 1”) until a new scheme was in place. The plans for Oslo package 3 were presented by a working group in May 2006. Most political parties accepted the general concept of the package after long negotiations. The final scheme will be presented to the Parliament in two steps. The first step focused on increased fares, new toll plazas and the possibility to use some of the revenue for public transport operation. The new system for urban road user charging passed Parliament in March 2008 and collection started in two steps in July and October the same year. The second part will be presented to the Parliament in march/april 2009 and will focus on the organization of the package and the plans for investment. Oslo package 3 will run until 2027 making 20 more years of urban tolling in Oslo.

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