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Helsinki Congestion Charge Faces Opposition

Rush hour in Helsinki sees around 100,000 people travel to the city every day. Of these around half travel in their own cars, with the inevitable result of traffic jams and gridlock.

Image: Yle

A report out last week showed that a congestion charge would help reduce traffic jams and accidents and increase public transport usage, but objections have been raised from different quarters.

First Anu Vehviläinen, Finland's Minister of Transport, criticised the idea last week. She said that public transport would need too much investment to make a congestion charge work, and that the proposed enforcement mechanism, a satellite system, may be too unreliable.

According to Jorma Nyrhilä, deputy head of the Helsinki Region Chamber of Commerce, any congestion charge would present employers with a dilemma. There are currently 40,000 company cars on the road in Helsinki, and Nyrhilä believes it's unlikely their number would decline. He added that employers could well pass on the additional costs to their employees if a charge were introduced.

Any decisions are unlikely to be made before this year's general election, when the Green party is expected to advocate implementation of congestion charging as an environmental measure.

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