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Milan is a city in the north of Italy and the capital of the region of Lombardy. Whereas the city has a population of about 1.3 million people, the greater metropolitan region surrounding Milan has 7.4 million inhabitants, being the European region with highest population and industrial density. Milan is a centre for business and finance. As it is also regarded as cultural centre, tourism plays an important role. Milan is an important transport hub. Its public transport system comprises five metropolitan railway lines as well as trams, trolleybuses and buses. The city has been active in promoting public transport and cycling, and will probably continue strengthening efforts in this direction. It became known for introducing the first congestion charging zone in Italy, a concept that should already be enlarged according to a recent public referendum.

Overall Grade: D- 62%

Pie Chart 62
  • Graph Reduction Success Local Emissions
  • Graph Low Emission Zones & Bans of High Emitters
  • Graph Public Procurement Clean Cars
  • Graph Non-Road Mobile Emission Sources
  • Graph Use of Economic Incentives
  • Graph Traffic & Mobility Management Incl. Modal Split
  • Graph Promotion of Public Transport
  • Graph Promotion of Walking & Cycling
  • Graph Transparency & Communication Policy


Reduction Success Local Emissions

Milan has a serious air quality problem, with levels of both PM10 and NO2 by far exceeding EU limit values. However, in the past couple of years there have been signs of improvement in the city. Between 2009 and 2012, there was a decrease in the number of exceedance days of PM10 at the Milano Verziere station, but it and stagnated at the background station Via Carlo Pascal. Milano Verziere, a not representative traffic station (there is limited traffic in the city centre and within Area C), reported 102 exceedance days in 2009 and – after an intermediate high of 132 – this decreased to 94 in 2012. Annual average concentrations of PM10 also show a small but continuous trend of decreasing values. Between 2009 and 2012, values decreased from 44.1 to 42.4 µg/m³ at the traffic station and from 46.1 to 43.5 µg/m³ at the background station. Similarly, NO2 concentration decreased from 56.6 to 50.9 µg/m³ at the traffic station and from 61.2 to 51.4 µg/m³ (2011) at the background station.

Low Emission Zones & Bans of High Emitters

In the last few years, a combined Low Emission Zone (LEZ) and congestion charge has been implemented in the ‘Area C’, a regional collaboration with the city, which is in charge of enforcement. On a trial phase in 2012 and permanent since 2013, Area C covers about 8 km² in the historic city centre. Area C restricts the most pollutant vehicles (petrol Euro 0 and diesel Euro 3) as well as lorries longer than 7.5 metres. From 2017, Euro 4 diesel vehicles without particulate filters will also be forbidden to enter Area C. However, restrictions are only in operation on workdays during the day and the increase to Euro 4 in 2017 will not apply to residents’ and utility vehicles or buses. Area C is controlled through surveillance cameras at its 43 access points. During the first year, the implementation of Area C resulted in a 30% reduction of traffic accesses, which translated to 40,000 fewer vehicles entering the area every day. However, traffic since then has increased again, partly due to the free access to car sharing and other vehicles, as well as changed parking regulations within the area. Also, there are doubts about the efficacy of enforcement of the LEZ. Nevertheless, a public referendum held in 2011 showed that the Milanese population supported an enlargement of the zone. The city, however, with target year of 2022, has a very timid timeline for its extension.

Public Procurement Clean Cars

Between 2009 and 2011, the local transport company increased the number as well as the share of buses with low environmental impact (Euro II and Euro III with particle filters, Euro IV, Euro V, EEV) from 78% to over 92%. There were 417 new trams, metros, electric buses and minibuses purchased for more than 550 million euros. Another 300 million euros were planned to be spent on 40 new underground trains with power recovery through braking. 75% of public transport runs on electricity.

Regarding the municipal vehicle fleet, extensive information was not available. The city of Milan has swapped 40 personal cars for 10 shared cars and thus reduced the entire fleet by 34%. An introduction of a municipal bicycle sharing system will further reduce the car fleet.

Non-Road Mobile Emission Sources

There is no general local legislation which regulates the emissions of non-road mobile machinery. However, when Environmental Impact Statements or Assessments need to be undertaken for certain projects, the public authority often mandates the use of particulate filters. Also, the city is evaluating the possibilities for local regulation within the current legal framework in Italy.

Use of Economic Incentives

Milan has created a combined Low Emission Zone (LEZ) and congestion charge called Area C, a regional collaboration with enforcement responsibility in the hands of the municipality. Area C is controlled through surveillance cameras at its 43 access points. From 2017, hybrid vehicles, methane-powered, LPG and bi-fuel vehicles will also be subject to the charge. Daily charges range from €2.00 for residents to €5.00 for external or service vehicles. Some car parks offer combined tickets for accessing and parking in Area C. Violation fines differ in winter and summer time and range between €75.00 and €450.00. About 800,000 violations were detected in 2013. In 2012 and 2013, all 29 million euros of revenue from Area C were reinvested in sustainable mobility (e.g. frequency improvements for public transport, the bike-sharing scheme) and in IT maintenance.

Between 2005 and 2012, Milan increased its paid parking spaces from about 8,000 to 57,000. A further increase to more than 80,000 spaces is planned for 2015. Prices for on-street parking range between €1.20 and €3.00 per hour. Parking is free for residents. Although there is a high number and percentage of paid parking, the lack or low effectiveness of parking regulations and controls needs to be solved. A national scheme offers up to 5,000 euros for buyers of electric vehicles that scrap a car that is more than 10 years old. However, funds worth 35 million euros for this campaign in 2013 were only partially addressed to private buyers. And because of adiversity overwhelming number of criteria, companies were hardly able to benefit from the remaining 30 million euros.

Traffic & Mobility Management Incl. Modal Split

Milan has a very high level of motorisation, with about 72 cars or motorcycles per 100 inhabitants. Nevertheless, this decreased by 17% between 2003 and 2013 for cars. Similarly, between 2005 and 2013, the modal split share of private motorised transport decreased from 44% to 37%. Public transport increased from 51% to 57%, and cycling from 5% to 6%.

Interestingly, the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (PUMS) published in February 2015 sets incredibly unambitious targets for 2024. It foresees a marginal shift to higher shares of public transport (+1%) and cycling (±0%), and less car and motorcycle use (-1%). Walking as a mode of transport does not seem to be considered at all. The plan is still in the process of public participation in 2015, but overall targets for long-term changes like the enlargement of the congestion charge area in 2022 or some minor interventions like a doubling of 30 km/h zones from currently 0.36 km² are all that is planned.

Promotion of Public Transport

The public transport system of Milan consists of the metro, the suburban railway, a tram system, trolleybuses and bus lines. The tram system in fact is one of the largest in Europe and is maintained, revised and expanded regularly, including some major projects in the near future. After the final decision in 2008 that the EXPO 2015 will be in Milan, ongoing and high investments in public transport network extensions and fleet renewals were released. For instance, two metro lines and several bus and tram lines were extended by 2013. Furthermore, a completely new metro line is going to be in full operation in 2015, and construction of a second new metro line is planned to start in 2015, having total costs of 1.8 billion euros until its completion after 2020. The city promotes public transport with special tickets, like a temporary activity where clients of an insurance company were given free public transport tickets if they left their car at home.

Promotion of Walking & Cycling

The city is doing a lot to change the use of cycling. Primarily, the city continuously extends its cycling network, for example increasing the total length from 120 km in 2010 to 160 km in 2013 with further cycle lanes to be added in 2015. Cyclists are allowed to use dedicated bus/tram lanes in some cases. Cycling the wrong way down a one-way street is forbidden, but cyclists have priority at some intersections and traffic lights. However, the bike lane policy is rather unsuccessful so far, simply because there is not yet a large enough system for safe cycling. As a result, cycling in Milan is still rather unsafe.

In the framework of the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (PUMS), authorities envisage almost doubling the number of 30 km/h zones and extending pedestrian zones. However, the extensions are at a relatively low level: 30 km/h zones cover only an area of 0.36 km² and pedestrian zones cover 0.43 km² of the city.

The local transport company ATM operates a very good bike-sharing scheme called bikeMi, which experiences increasing numbers of subscribers for its 3,300 bicycles (more than double the number available in 2009). For the EXPO 2015, 80 new station and 1,000 fully electric bicycles will be added, and afterwards relocated and integrated into the current bike-sharing system. BikeMi has only limited opening hours, and only operates until 2am from April to October. Not much information could be retrieved on the promotion of walking, except for the Pedibus project, a project where pupils walk to school together.

Transparency & Communication Policy

The Lombardy region, where Milan is located, operates a comprehensive website on air quality with current and recent pollution values. The website offers detailed background information on pollutants and their specific legislative limits. Furthermore, it is possible to download, for instance, annual reports as well as air quality data upon request. Specific email addresses are provided for specific departments of the ARPA. A general phone contact is available. Generally, the transparency budget is actually taken out of the congestion charging revenues which should be dedicated to mobility measures. Also NGO participation deserves further improvement.

Website on air quality by the ARPA Agenzia Regionale per la Protezione dell’Ambiente (Ital.):…

Website of the Municipality of Milan on environmental data (Ital.):

Response to Questionnaire

The City replied to the questionnaire.