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Trondheim Toll Scheme

Drivers in the Norwegian city of Trondheim have been living with a congestion charging system for ten years.

They pay much less than their counterparts in London will - 15 kroner ($1.60) compared with the 5 charge ($7) proposed for London - although lorries pay a rate double that of cars.

The system was initially introduced to fund the building of new ring roads so that the heaviest traffic would not have to pass through the city centre. There was also a political consensus that some of the money generated by the system should be used to improve public transport in the city.

More than twenty toll booths were built, closing off all approaches to the city. It is now impossible for anybody driving a car to get in for free.

Today some environmental projects in the area also benefit from the toll income.

The initial reaction to the toll system in Trondheim was mixed. Already heavily taxed, some daily commuters felt the extra cost was unjustifiable.

But most drivers were quite happy to pay in order to get some of the heaviest traffic out of the city centre.

Ten years on, most drivers in and around Trondheim do not give the toll system a second thought. They have become used to it over time, and the system was also cleverly designed to be extremely user-friendly.

All a driver has to do is fit a little plastic device to the windscreen of the car. This communicates with the toll booth when the car passes through, deducting money from the user's account.

The Trondheim toll system is due to be removed by 2005, when the initial aim of building and improving the city's ring roads will have been completed and paid for.

Also in Norway, the capital, Oslo, installed automated booths (coin and card operated) to harvest tolls, though commuters were also encouraged to buy smartcards.

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