A while back I mentioned that Stockholm, Sweden was starting a short-term trial of congestion pricing — essentially, making drivers pay to enter downtown. London instituted a similar system in 2003, which has proven unexpectedly popular: It’s reduced traffic levels by 15 percent, while boosting downtown driving speeds considerably. Stockholm’s experiment seemed like it was off to a rockier start — the city was far less congested than London, and the charges were, if anything, even less popular with commuters.

So it may come as something of a surprise that Stockholm’s trial has been greeted with less opposition than predicted:

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On the first day the overall number of cars travelling to and from the city centre was down by 25%… Many of Sweden’s most skeptical media suddenly changed their view. Those who were expecting chaos suddenly found themselves reporting on the success of the charge, with one tabloid even running the headline “City reclaimed!”

There’s no guarantee voters will choose to continue the experiment. But the early success should be food for thought for any city looking to reduce congestion without expanding road space.

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