Back to overview

Use of Economic Incentives

Congestion charge

Road or congestion charges have proved to be able to reduce the use of cars in the cities but also to reduce air pollution, although introduced for other reasons. Revenues can be used for investments in environmentally friendly modes of transport. The implementation of congestion charge goes along with a rise in public transport and cycling. Other measures, such as parking management and fees can be very effective as well, once they are sufficiently costly and strictly enforced. Both measures attribute a direct price to a car entering a city centre. Other measures covered here are subsidies and bonuses that either support the retrofitting of a vehicle, the scrapping of it or simply the transition to a new form of mobility.


Capital of Sweden

The city of Stockholm applies many economic incentives to its transport. On the one hand, it permanently introduced a congestion charging zone in 2007. Journeys in the city area are subject to a fee varying between €1 and €2. The Stockholm inner city zone is active on weekdays from 6.30 AM to 6.29PM. Also, all on-street parking lots in the city are managed and rates vary between €2 and €4 per hour. Other parking spaces in the city are subject to time limits. The city is pursuing a strategy aiming to shift from on-street parking to private off-street car parks. There are also incentives for cleaner vehicles. For example, in order to incentivise electric vehicles, the city exempts them from both the congestion charge and parking fees.

The city has a long-term road map for transport in Stockholm which estimates what measures are needed to halve car travel in the city, including further development of the congestion charge, parking management and more incentives. On a more short-term timescale, the city’s timetable on transport measures contains both the introduction of more restrictive parking rules and development work on more differentiated congestion charges between 2015 and 2019.

More Information



Zurich has a comprehensive parking management policy, where the public parking supply was shortened from the 1990s onwards. There was a temporary increase in the number of parking spaces in 2013 as an urban public space reorganisation necessitated a new car park. However, this number should fall again by the end of 2015 Parking fees are high and constantly adapted and a further increase in parking fees for both public and residential parking spaces is planned to promote car-free living (48% of households are already car-free).

On a national basis, an emission-based toll for vehicles that weigh more than 3.5 tonnes was introduced on all roads in Switzerland in 2001. Before that, there was a fixed toll.

More Information


Capital of United Kingdom

The establishment of the Congestion Charging Zone (CCZ) decreased PM10 emissions by 16% and NOx emissions by 13% between 2002 and 2003. The results showed that there was little change in pollutant levels in London as a whole, but there were more substantial falls in the charging zone. In particular the levels of NO2 decreased.

Driving in the CCZ is free for electric cars and for smaller Euro 5 petrol and diesel vehicles, all others have to pay a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly charge. In 2014, a 15% charge increase and a 10% penalty charge increase was imposed. A former 100% congestion charge discount for smaller Euro 5 diesel vehicles was stopped as more and more cars qualified for this.

According to a Mayor’s Announcement, the revenues will be reinvested into London’s transport network and road infrastructure. Unfortunately, the CCZ area was halved in 2011. Charges for the Low and Ultra Low Emission Zones are both additional.

More Information


Capital of France

Paris does not have a congestion charging system, but maintains a comprehensive parking management scheme. There were two parking zones arranged in circles with about 143,000 on-street paid parking spaces and 70,500 parking spaces in car parks in 2013. Theoretically 0% but effectively 1% of spaces are free of charge, the remaining 99% cost between €2.40 and €4.00 per hour. Continuous reductions of parking spaces are due to installing motorcycle or car-sharing spaces. The anti-air-pollution plan envisages free parking for electric vehicles and also free charging during the night from 2015.

The motorway toll system in France generally affects all types of vehicles. It was revised in 2014 because of air pollution issues to charge a higher toll for heavy vehicles above 3.5 tonnes from 2015, for example on the periphery surrounding Paris.

A national bonus-penalty system focussing on CO2 emissions is in place. For low-emission vehicles, people receive between €4,000 and €6,300 of subsidies in 2015, for environmentally harmful vehicles people have to pay between €150 and €8,000. This system is criticised by the new mayor as it favours the diesel registrations and thus the manufacturers who produce diesel vehicles. The City of Paris launched an innovative sustainable mobility and anti-air-pollution plan in February 2015, initiated by the new mayor. Its measures increase the share of public transport, walking and cycling.

More Information



Parking management is being built up and be expanded from the western city to all parts of Stuttgart from 2015 onwards. The very successful role model is the parking management in the western part of the city (since 2011). But at the same time, new shopping areas are opened in the city with 1,700 additional parking spaces. Comprehensive parking management and restructuring of areas in Stuttgart centre, north, south, east and Bad Cannstatt follow in October 2015. Thus the municipal reaction is late and urged by the new municipal government since 2013.

More Information


Capital of the Netherlands

Amsterdam has extensive parking management, with different goals including accessibility as well as improving public space and air quality. Amsterdam plans focus on reducing the number of cars parked on the streets, also they have increased payed parking from 117400 in 2008 to 129029 in 2012. And at the same time about 5000 new parking spaces are planned be created in the following years. The license for citizens costs 21€ per month and otherwise 5 euro per hour. The city decided not to raise parking charges any more. Parking licenses will be permitted to the most polluting cars (Diesel older than 2005, gasoline older than 1992). The city also plans more attention to dual use available space, P&R and digitization. Other economic measures include e-mobility subsidies like a purchase subsidy for vehicles or a 1000€ for charging points.

Amsterdam hasn’t implemented a congestion charge, even though they wanted to do this. However missing national regulation made this legally impossible. Nevertheless, the city has implemented other measures to reduce car-traffic in the city and has reduced car traffic by 25% since the mid-1990s.

More Information


Capital of Denmark

Since the city updated its parking strategy in 2006, it has continuously made minor improvements like for example increasing the number of paid parking spaces or adjusting parking prices to inflation. Part of its current strategy also includes an increase in the number of on-street parking spaces in certain areas to improve conditions for residents.

As with a possible introduction of a congestion charging zone, the city has expressed its interest to again increase its parking management. However, the Danish national government blocked these attempts.

More Information



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.

More Information


Capital of Belgium

Brussels has worked out a parking concept with 4 zones regulating about 60% (approx. 135,000) of all parking spaces in Brussels. The parking concept aims to decrease the number of parking spaces by 16% until 2018. Also, parking prices have increased, especially regarding parking duration: Parking prices range from €1.50 to a maximum of €3.50. Prices increase with every additional hour of parking. Parking duration is limited to 2-3 hours.

Since 2006, the Brussels region has had a system to encourage individuals to get rid of their cars called the “Bruxell’Air” subsidy (a scrappage scheme including incentives to buy new bicycles and join car sharing schemes). Enterprises get investment premiums for buying electric cars.

More Information


Capital of Austria

The city uses parking management strategically in order to steer traffic demand and accomplish sustainable objectives, including reduced air pollution. Parking revenues are partially used for public transport. Vienna extended its parking management at the end of 2012 to several additional quarters. A comparative study on its effect showed that traffic volume was reduced by almost 7.5%.

Other subsidies include: Subsidies worth €1,000€ are granted to acquire or retrofit cars with gas-powered technology. For taxi vehicles, subsidies amount to €3,000. Additionally, electric commercial vehicles are subsidised with a maximum of €10,000 through the city government. National subsidies for companies or local authorities for retrofitting vehicles and purchasing electric bicycles or for installing bicycle parks are available until 2020.

More Information


Capital of Spain

The city recently improved its parking system and introduced 10% higher fees inside a certain zone and increasing the sustainable criteria element in the parking scheme. The so called “Servicio de Estacionamiento Regulado“ (SER) leaves more polluting vehicle paying increased parking fees. However, there was not sufficient information retrievable to evaluate the impact of this certainly interesting parking strategy.

There are incentives for low emission taxis to accompany the taxi regulation as well as tax reductions for other vehicles.

More Information


Capital of Finland

Helsinki has a limited range of economic incentives promoting public transport in general or electric mobility in particular. On parking management, Helsinki has three parking zones arranged in circles, in which parking cost between €1 and €4 per hour. Parking in Helsinki is charged in the city centre on weekdays and in the business centre also on Saturdays. In some streets in the city centre, you also have to pay on Sundays and holidays. For low-emission passenger cars, there are reduced parking fees with a permit.

No information could be retrieved about national or local subsidies for electric vehicles. Several studies investigating the impact and capability of congestion charging came to the conclusions that the impacts on congestion, air pollution, use of public transport and road safety would be positive. For example, pollutants harmful to health would be reduced by 8-18%. Unfortunately, the public transport capacity was deemed to be insufficient and there was no funding to improve it. Consequently, no final City Board decision has yet been made.

More Information



There is no congestion charging system or urban toll, although a feasibility study on congestion charging and environmental road pricing was called for in the Air Action Plan of 2008. Mayor Collomb plans to introduce a charge (péage urbain) from 2020 onwards. Between 2004 and 2009, the number of parking spaces increased by 25%, but the number of parking spaces with obligatory parking fees was raised from about 15,000 in 2004 to 34,000 in 2011, meaning that about a third of all parking spaces are paid. Fees differ between residents and tourists. There is the option to creating combined subscriptions between public parking lots and public transport.

A national bonus-penalty system focussing on CO2 emissions is in place. For low-emission vehicles, people will receive between €4,000 and €6,300 of subsidies in 2015, for environmentally harmful vehicles people have to pay between €150 and €8,000.

More Information


Capital of Ireland

There are five short-term parking zones arranged in circles covering the whole city and varying between €0.60 and €2.90 per hour. Resident’s parking permits cost annually €50or bi-annually €80. There are 30,000 on-street parking spaces and 15,300 off-street parking spaces in Dublin City.

The city of Dublin does not operate an integrated congestion charging scheme. However, in the framework of the access restriction, the limited permit scheme allows delivery vehicles to enter the city centre only upon paid permission. A national Electric Vehicle Grant Scheme offers grants of up to €5,000 for electric or hybrid vehicles purchased before 2015. Further road tax relieves for electric or hybrid vehicles provide a maximum subsidy of €10,000.

More Information



The city operates a parking management scheme with 14,400 short-term parking spaces and 11,800 spaces in green parking zones (2012). Between 2008 and 2013, more than 6,000 parking spaces were created. Parking privileges for low-emission vehicles were changed in 2013 because advancing technology brought too many vehicles below the agreed threshold.” Electric and plugin-hybrid vehicles continue to be exempt from parking fees.

The city offers a range of subsidies for cleaner vehicles. For example, there is a subsidy for taxi or social companies who buy new electric, hybrid and gas vehicles. Furthermore, the city will subsidise investments into parking facilities for bikes until the end of 2015.

Graz is currently developing a new comprehensive mobility strategy with measures in effect until 2020. At the moment, however, the city is not communicating any details of this scheme, instead focusing on general principles such as sustainability and integrated mobility.

More Information


Capital of Italy

Rome’s authorities offer access permits to the Low Emission Zone independent from emission classes. These permits can be granted to, for example, residents or commercial vehicles upon payment. Generally, tariffs have been increased over the last years and discussions to increase them further are currently in progress. However, the tariff system is very opaque. Tariffs vary a lot depending on, for instance, the specific LEZ zone within the city centre, the permission length, the number of permissions per resident, and the tax class of the grantee. Tourists can also get a permit when staying in a hotel inside the LEZ.

There is paid parking outside the city centre LEZ. Here, on-street parking and car parks are expensive; cheaper fees can be expected in residential areas as well as Park & Ride stations. Although some kind of parking management with about 76,000 paid parking spaces is available, it is widely uncontrolled and hence ineffective. Parking prohibition – also in pedestrian zones – is often disregarded.

More Information


Capital of Portugal

Lisbon’s parking management scheme covers the inner city and distinguishes three zones (green, yellow, red) with a total of around 50,000 paid parking spaces in 2013. The new parking scheme was introduced in 2011 and included an extension of paid parking, new parking fees and an intensification of enforcement. For example from 2010 to 2012, parking prices were increased by 60% to a still very low €1.20 per hour. At the same time, the number of paid parking spaces increased by 16%. By 2015 the city had increased the number of paid parking spaces by 43%. Furthermore, the city has created public transport monthly passes that include Park & Ride parking.

In 2013, the Lisbon municipality partially financed a local programme for scrapping old taxis in exchange for electric taxis. The city spent a total amount of €60,000 for 20 cars. National fiscal and economic incentives were refreshed in the context of the recently adopted Green Taxation Reform: among others, electric cars are exempted from paying the vehicle acquisition tax.

More Information


Capital of Czech Republic

Prague has a parking management scheme with three different parking zones. In the core of the city centre (Prague Conservation Area) with an area of 8.7 km2, there are approximately 33,000 parking spots, of which roughly half are located on the road network (16,000). The other half of the parking spaces are in public car parks (9,300), or private car parks (4,700), garages and courtyards (3,000). Furthermore, there are over 3,000 parking spaces in 16 Park & Ride locations.

More Information


Capital of Germany

No congestion charging system exists in Berlin, but the city operates an extensive parking management: the number of paid parking spaces increased to 83,000 in 2009 and 93.000 in 2012. There are 36 parking zones with special regulations for residents, guests and companies. The feasibility of reducing on-road parking spaces by 16% until 2018 is currently assessed.

A reform of the parking management was launched in 2011. In the framework of the city development plan transport (Stadtentwicklungsplan Verkehr, StepV) a masterplan parking debates expansion of parking management. Urban districts may decide against taking fees for parking in public streets (e.g. Alt-Treptow).

Further information on parking management (Ger.):

More Information



No conception or plan of parking management has been enacted in Düsseldorf although the official transport plan proposes to do this as a clean air measure. Reducing the number of parking spaces ore raising fees has not been a target of clean air politics during the last years. On the contrary: parking fees have been lowered by 50% to 0.5 Euro per half hour in the city and a lot a public and private spaces are still free of charge. There is no road charging system in Düsseldorf as in other German cities.

More Information


United Kingdom

The city does not have a congestion charging zone, even though the Sustainable Glasgow report indicated possible public support for such a measure. The city has a strategy to reduce commuter and long-term parking which is planned to be revised either in 2015 or 2016 in the context of reducing the impact of cars. Residential parking can only be installed for inhabitants if they moved in before the year 2000. Parking management fees cross-finance parking administration and operational costs of parking spaces. Glasgow City Council offers free electric vehicle charging and free parking at a network of Plugged in Places around the city.

More Information



Barcelona revised its parking policy in 2005 with the Green Area parking scheme. The reduction of parking supply in combination with parking fees developed to steer demand and other measures helped to reduce traffic by 13%. Recent information on parking management shows an increase of parking supply of almost 5,000 parking spaces between 2010 and 2013 and over 7,000 new parking spaces for motorcycles. On a positive note, the city is also considering imposing rates on downtown car parks, which can be applied depending on the pollutant emissions from vehicles that use them.

Other existing incentives are implemented by the region or the national government and are consequently not taken into account for the city. Also, the subsidies show tendencies to favour private transport over public transport.

There is no congestion charging system in Barcelona.

More Information


Capital of Luxembourg

Congestion charging is not under consideration, even though an OECD Economics Department Working Paper from 2013 recommends the introduction of a congestion charge, higher fuel costs and a revision of parking prices to reduce motorised commuter and transborder traffic.

There are five different short and long-term parking zones with a maximum of €2 per hour on about 7,500 parking spaces. Furthermore, there are more than 3,000 spaces in Park & Ride facilities. The mobility strategy MODU intends to systematically extend the Park & Ride system. The e-City system makes is possible to pay parking with a mobile phone.

Until the end of 2014, the City of Luxembourg had a nationally implemented instrument to generate economic incentives called Prime CAR-e. The Ministry for Sustainable Development and Infrastructures gave subsidies of up to €5,000 for electric vehicles and cars with less than 60g CO2/km. The Prime CAR-e was abandoned, because the Ministry of Sustainability, which is currently under green leadership, is striving for a tax reform in 2016 with a tax increase on diesel fuel allocated on vehicle tax.

More Information