Toll stations – Stockholmsförsöket

So today the fabulous “road tolls” go live for the Stockholm region. It’s a project full of flawed logic, a rushed schedule, and some major political gambling. Contrary to many other places where so called toll booths are used, this was considered impractical for the Stockholm region due to space constraints. So a zillion or so cameras have been mounted around the entry/exit points of the city; these transfer images of license plates, coming and going into and out of the city, to a server somewhere.

It is then up to you, the owner of the car, to remember when you passed the “payment point” (since the fees are based on a daily schedule) and pay the money via wire transfer, giro, etc. There is, of course, an alternative being “auto giro” where the money is automatically deducted from your account. All you need to do is to order a transponder which helps the equipment at the “payment point” to track your car as it passes these points.

Well, you also need to get this transponder to stick to your windshield. The windshield temperature should not be lower than 15 degrees C; something not easily accomplished in Stockholm in early January. Some major brain activity must have taken place here. The next use-your-brain-wisely award goes to the person who thought of the suggestion to use a hair dryer to get the windshield to a decent temperature before affixing the transponder; not only do very few people in Stockholm have access to electricity where their cars are parked, it is also unwise to rapidly heat a spot of a freezing cold windshield with a hair dryer.

Of course, a number of new companies and commercial applications have come out of the early days of this road toll project; special covers fo the licens plates, hoods for the license plates, and other great ideas for avoiding registration by the cameras.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of less cars in the city – rush hour or not. Many cars have only one passenger, which is ridiculous. But I feel that the timing of the project is more slanted toward the fact of the upcoming elections, rather than a practical and well thought out plan.

Oh well, time will tell how well this works out – chances are it will give public transport like busses and the subway a boost.
I don’t take the car to work; I never have. And I hope I will continue to be so fortunate as to being able to walk to work.

More information can be found on www.stockholmsforsoket.se.
Some english information can be found here.

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