Trondheim Toll Scheme

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Trondheim Toll Scheme or Trondheim Package (Norwegian: Trondheimspakken) was the result of that in the 1980s politicians and road authorities in Trondheim, Norway wanted to accelerate the investments in roads and motorways around the city through an investment package and toll scheme to ease construction and generate more funds. Between 1991 and 2005 there were more than 20 toll plazas throughout the city that help finance the new roads. Toll plazas will still remain east of the city at least until 2012. The toll collection is administrated by Trøndelag Veifinans.

Project size[edit]

The system financed by the scheme includes a ring road around the city on European route E6, a new motorway east of the city to Stjørdal and Trondheim Airport, Værnes on E6, upgrades to E6 south of the city, including a new intersection at Sandmoen, a new Kroppan Bridge and a four-lane motorway between Klett and Melhus. As of 2007 a road from Ila via Brattøra to Lademoen, named Nordre Avlastningsvei, is under construction with plans to be finished in 2009 while an extension of E6 between the airport and to Kvithamar north of Stjørdal is in the start phase. Projects still not started include putting Osloveien in Byåsen in a tunnel, a new Sluppen Bridge and a four-lane motorway between Tonstad in Tiller to Klett in Leinstrand. There was also a political consensus that some of the money generated by the system should be used to improve public transport in the city. Some environmental projects in the area also benefit from the toll income.

More than twenty toll booths were built, closing off all approaches to the city. It was impossible for anybody driving a car to get in for free weekdays between 6am and 6pm. The charge was NOK 15 for cars and 30 for trucks. The systems has been designed to be user friendly through AutoPASS technology developed by the local company Q-Free, involving a radio-transmitted registration of passing cars, allowing cars to pass the toll booths at 60 km/h (but at most toll booths the speed limit was 50 km/h). All the driver need to do is fit a little plastic device to the windscreen of the car. This communicates with the toll booth when the car passes through, deducting money from the user's account. Those who (intentionally or by negligence) passes a toll booth without an operating toll device (or paying manually where possible) are subject to a fine. Motorists using a toll device are eligible to a toll discount.

The toll ring was not juridically considered a road pricing scheme, since the income from the tolls goes to road infrastructure. To be considered a road pricing in accordance to Norwegian law the scheme must be organised such as to charge most when the congestion is largest, i.e. in rush hour. Secondly a road pricing scheme cannot primarily finance road investments, but must go either to public transport subsidies or to infrastructure for public transport and pedestrians and bicycles.

The system was initially introduced to fund the building of new ring roads so that the heaviest traffic would not have to pass through the city centre. But part of the reason for this traffic is that Trondheim Port is located on an artificial island only accessible via the city centre and Trondheim has yet to do like most cities and move its port out of the city centre, like the London Docklands and Fjordbyen in Oslo. There are ongoing discussions on whether the port should be moved from its current location. The lack of a bypass outside the residential areas, along with less than optimal railroad capacity; also contributes to the heavy road traffic through the municipality.

Criticism[edit]

The initial reaction to the toll system in Trondheim was mixed. Some daily commuters felt the extra cost was unjustifiable, but most drivers were quite happy to pay in order to get some of the heaviest traffic out of the city centre. Ten years on, most drivers in and around Trondheim do not give the toll system a second thought. They have become used to it over time, and the system was also cleverly designed to be extremely user-friendly[citation needed].

The initial development of the project came at the same time as the city council decided to close the Trondheim Tramway in 1988, with arguments that diesel buses are cheaper to operate. Trondheim has a notoriously low public transport ridership, at 11% of the total transport trips using public transport, compared to almost 50% in Oslo. Part of this is credited the low frequency and high time costs of using public transport in Trondheim, partially due to high investments in road infrastructure compared to public transport infrastructure.

After the toll ring was closed in 2005 some politicians, environmental advocates and others have suggested reintroducing the toll ring. While some are wanting to use the funds to complete the Trondheim Package, others are wanting to use it to reduce traffic congestion and use the funds for public transport subsidies.

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