The Municipality of Milan in Italy is the winner of the 2014 Transport Achievement Award for its ‘Area C’ urban road pricing scheme.

The Transport Achievement Award is awarded annually by the International Transport Forum at the OECD, an intergovernmental organisation for the transport sector with 54 member countries.

The award will be presented on 21 May in the presence of ministers from around the world during the opening plenary of their global transport summit organised by the International Transport Forum. 

Huge majority in favour of road charging

The city of Milan, one of the most car-dependent in Europe, is among the few European cities to have introduced a road pricing measure.

This measure, known as ‘Area C’ was introduced in January 2012, following a referendum in which 79.1% of voters supported the upgrade of an existing, limited charge to cover more vehicles and also a wider area.

Popular support in Milan for a comprehensive road charge was considerably higher than in other cities which have introduced road charging by referendum. A referendum in Stockholm saw 51% supporting road charging, while voters in Manchester and Edinburgh have rejected charging schemes. (The well-known London congestion charge was introduced in 2003 without referendum).

Cars entering Milan’s ‘Area C’ are detected by a system of 43 electronic gates equipped with Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology. The fee charged per entry is €5 (US$7). Mopeds, motorcycles, electric cars, vehicles for disabled people as well as some other vehicle categories are exempted. Residents have 40 free accesses per year and pay €2 (US$2.80) from the 41st access.

A measurable success

The programme reduced congestion – vehicle accesses to ‘Area C’ fell by 28%. Demand for on-street parking is down by 10% and productivity for freight deliveries within Milan has increased by 10%. The number of road crashes with injuries fell by 26.3%. Emissions were also reduced: Particulate Matter (PM10) by 10% and CO2 by 35%. The speed of public transport increased (bus: +6.9%, tram: +4.1%). Cars using ‘Area C’ were less polluting, with the share of cleaner vehicles rising from 9.6% of the total to 16.6%.

The jury of the International Transport Forum Awards recognised Milan’s successful introduction of a comprehensive road charge as “a significant achievement in improving the urban transport system”. The jury was particularly impressed by the way Milan succeeded in obtaining the political support of citizens: “After identifying that the existing congestion pricing scheme was no longer achieving its objectives, the Municipality of Milan had the foresight and political courage to design a more effective replacement, and the capability to implement this successfully.”

“This award is one of the most important recognitions for one of the main actions undertaken by our Municipality in order to improve the citizens’ quality of life”, said Milan’s Mayor Giuliano Pisapia. “Milan has proposed a model that has immediately become European and global best practice.”

“In a very short time we obtained very satisfactory results in terms of traffic reduction and lowering of pollutant emissions. Another positive new trend is that citizens, tourists and city users are increasingly switching to public transport, which has been improved by the ‘Area C’ model”, added Mayor Pisapia.

The winner will be available for media after the award ceremony on 21 May at the ITF stand (16:00-16:30h, Level +1 of Congress Center Leipzig)