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Drive a Polluting Car in Madrid and You’ll Have to Pay More to Park

Drive a Polluting Car in Madrid and You’ll Have to Pay More to Park

What’s one way to get people to drive more fuel efficient cars? Get the ones driving gas guzzlers to pay more for parking.

That’s a strategy Madrid is about to try out thanks to new smart parking meters that will charge drivers depending on what kind of cars they’re in. The new system will start on July 1st, with prices based on a “complex table governed by the engine and the year of the car,” according to The Guardian. For example, in this system, hybrids will pay 20% less to park but an older diesel model might pay upwards of 20% more. If you’re in an electric car, you’ll actually park for free.

Madrid, who has pollution levels that are regularly above the EU average, is hoping that the new parking system will help in the fight for better air quality. Increased parking fees may discourage drivers with polluting cars from driving in town, and encourage them to use public transportation instead. “Particularly for those who have cars that pollute, we hope that having to pay more will make people think twice before using them,” Elisa Barahona, head of Madrid’s sustainability division, told The Guardian.

So how much will the price hike really affect drivers? Most people actually won’t see a difference at all, as it’s estimated that about 1 in 4 drivers are in cars that will get slapped with a higher price.

But even if you don’t drive a fuel efficient car, there’s still a way to get cheaper parking: find a quiet street. Parking meters on streets that are busy and almost filled will charge up to 20% more.

Ultimately, it shouldn’t be seen as a tax scolding people for having cars that pollute; it’s to encourage residents to think about other transportation options that are more eco-friendly, like taking the bus or riding a bicycle, discouraging them from bringing cars into the already busy city center.

Keeping cars out of city centers is one way that some cities are considering dealing with the consequences of urbanization. Hamburg, Germany wants to put an all out ban on cars in the city center by 2034 and London has a congestion charge on private vehicles entering the city during peak hours. Putting such bans and limits in place not only helps air quality, but also can make city centers more pedestrian-friendly.

The question is: will Madrid’s new parking scheme work? We’ll have to wait until July to see.

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Photo Credit: Dimitry B

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127 comments

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12:59PM PDT on Aug 22, 2014

good point, Clarissa

12:58PM PDT on Aug 22, 2014

just go by bus

12:27PM PDT on Aug 22, 2014

Works for me, we should do this all over the world.

9:29AM PDT on May 21, 2014

Grazie per l'ottima idea.

6:17AM PDT on May 14, 2014

there might be people that actually think this is a bad idea because it is a government initiated law.

2:23PM PDT on May 13, 2014

This is a terrible idea unless they're planning on implementing programs that will aid drivers with older model vehicles to upgrade their models or buy newer cars. Otherwise, it just punishes people too poor to afford the latest models with more expensive rates.

11:32AM PDT on May 13, 2014

Good luck to Madrid with this.

8:45AM PDT on May 11, 2014

This is a great idea. Let's hope this plan helps lower pollution in the crowded capital city of Spain.

4:54PM PDT on May 9, 2014

Thanks for the article......an interesting concept...very limited for choice here in Australia...these cars carry a very high price tag..if you can get one that is...at least the State (NSW) that I live in makes you get an inspection each year for your car..if it is a heavy polluter then registration will be refused and the car taken of road..great concept except people just register their cars in other States where these laws don't apply.....

2:32PM PDT on May 9, 2014

This article doesn't give a full picture. The price of public transport in Madrid has risen considerably in the last few years so profit has already been increased, although the number of passengers has fallen. There are also less people working in public transport.
Whilst it's true that pollution levels are high, if local government were really concerned they'd improve the public transport system, not make it less accessible

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