France scraps plan for city centre congestion charges

France scraps plan for city centre congestion charges
Photo: AFP
The much-hyped plan to charge motorists to get into France's large cities and towns has been scrapped by the government after fears it may have created more anger and stoked the "yellow vest" protests.
In the French government's new transport bill revealed on Monday one measure was notable by its absence. 
There had been much talk over the past few months of the French transport minister Elisabeth Borne's aim to introduce London-style city centre tolls in a bid to keep pollution levels down in the country's largest towns and cities. 
However despite appearing in the draft bill in October, it did not make an appearance in the final version when it was unveiled on Monday.
The reason for this is the ongoing 'yellow vest' fuel protest movement which has been protesting France's rising fuel prices and had voiced its opposition to the new congestion charges.
And while the gilets jaunes movement is in full swing, the transport minister said she did not want to “accentuate the fractures” between those those living in rural areas and those in cities.

Keeping up with the 'gilets jaunes': What have they got planned for France next?Photo: AFP

“Obviously, this measure risks deepening the divides between areas, we do not want to create false debates, so this measure does not appear in the bill,” said a spokesman for the Ministry of Transport on Monday.
The aim of the urban congestion charges was to “limit car traffic and fight against pollution and environmental nuisances”.
The draft law stated that the rate would be no higher than €2.50 for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles, however it was possible that this figure would have doubled for cities with more than 500,000 inhabitants.
That means that motorists driving into cities like Paris and Marseille could have ended up paying €5.
However there had not been much appetite among city authorities to introduce the charge. 
Local officials in cities such as Toulouse and Lille have previously developed schemes whereby motorists who avoid peak traffic times are rewarded with financial remuneration for their selfless behaviour.
While Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo on the other hand had formerly been reluctant to establish an economic perimeter between the city and its suburbs, preferring instead for a toll to go beyond the borders of Greater Paris.
Among the cities included on the list of places the scheme might have been introduced were Rouen, Strasbourg, Reims and Lyon.

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