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Urban Road User Charging Online Knowledge Base
During the period of preparing the toll ring and the investment package, shifting political preferences influenced the plans. Especially, the environmental upswing in the late 80's/early 90's was reflected in a demand management element in the fee structure, as well as in the allocation of part of the revenue to public transport, safety and environmental upgrading. Thus, the debate over the Trondheim toll ring has reflected a variety of arguments over the years. The following pro and con arguments were frequently used in the written public debate (newspaper articles and letters from the readers, information material from the public planning authorities, from 1986 - 1995):
The story of Trondheim's toll ring is a story of twisting and turning political preferences and compromises, and corresponding adjustments of the scheme design. Thus, a major planning challenge has been to secure sufficient agreement on the toll ring through more than a decade of numerous minor decisions. All the City Council debates concerning scheme design and adjustments, revenue disposal and road projects, provided opportunities for the opponents to contest the toll ring principle and the Trondheim Package. The planners' abilities to gain continuing support rest on an understanding of the political climate, close co-operation with leading politicians, and responsiveness to public involvement claims. (The planning and decision-making story, starting in 1985, is outlined in T. Langmyhr and T. Sager: Implementing the improbable urban road pricing scheme, Journal of Advanced Transportation 31:139-158.)
Three main "areas of preference" can be distilled from the public and political debate in Trondheim. Since 1985, no single "interest coalition" has been in the position to take a City Council majority for granted. Thus, some sort of compromise had to be aimed for in planning and decision-making concerning the toll ring. The preferences concern both the charging scheme design and the revenue disposal.
"The mobility interests" prefer to solve mobility problems by expanding road capacity. If road user charges are considered inevitable, the favourite solution is toll roads implying a close link between the charging and the benefit for road users. The demand management effects of charging are largely considered adverse by-products. Revenues should preferably be earmarked for road construction only. In Trondheim the mobility interests included the Conservative Party, the Norwegian Automobile Federation and major commercial actors. It is easier to gain support from these actors when the arrangement is limited in time, and when the local fund raising generates transfers from the State.
"The regulation interests" prefer a transportation system favouring "green" modes. Road building is tolerated as a necessary evil only where substantial environmental and safety improvements to dwelling areas or the city centre are expected. Charges on the use of private cars are considered a feasible means to reduce traffic, and to provide revenue for public transport and environmental improvements. A toll ring is an acceptable pricing system as long as the revenue spending is not too pro-car. In Trondheim, this preference cluster included environmental interest groups and left wing City Council parties. During the environmental turn phase, a major part of the Labour Party sympathised with the regulation interests.
"The carrot and stick interests" house preferences revealing a belief in a transportation system which is both efficient and environmentally friendly. Promoting public transport by improving its quality is preferred to severe restrictions on car use. The demand management effects of the toll ring are nevertheless rated as positive. The revenue spending called for is a "balanced" solution, allocating resources to road construction as well as public transport and environmental improvements. In Trondheim, a couple of parties in the political centre, as well as a varying proportion of the Labour Party have revealed "carrot and stick interests".
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