Green is the color of money

The Greens in the Helsinki metropolitan area released their proposal for congestion-charges for the city. I wont comment on the actual idea of congestion-charges, but I DO want to comment on their proposal, which is downright stupid.

The charge works as you might expect: you need to pay if you drive to the metro-area. You can either pay per kilometer, or you can buy a monthly "pass". If you buy that monthly pass, you also get a 30-day ticket for the mass-transport in the metro-area. Which is a good idea.

Everything else about their suggestion sucks though.

Their idea is to basically charge money from commuters who drive to the metro-area (Metro-area in this case is the cities of Espoo, Vantaa and Helsinki) from the surrounding counties. Also, if you drive inside the metropolitan area and cross a city-limit (like, driving from Helsinki to Espoo) you need to pay.

Well, what's the problem here? Simple: if you just drive inside one city (like, inside Helsinki), you do not need to pay one dime extra.

Why is that a problem? Well, it's the idea behind all this. Fact is that further away from the metro-area you are, the less viable alternative mass-transit is. And now those who live outside the metro-area would be punished because they commute to the metro-area. And while they are punished, the people inside metro-area (to whom mass-transit IS a viable alternative) are not encouraged to use mass-transit. People who live in Helsinki can keep on driving inside Helsinki, without having to pay one cent extra. Even if they had a tram/bus/metro 50 meters from their home. People outside metro-area who have no other alternative but to use their car, are expected to pay more.

I commute by train, since my workplace is right in the downtown of Helsinki. The Mrs.'s workplace is not in the downtown, so she carpools with her father. The reason for that is that there is not one mass-transit connection between our home and the place she works. Not one.

The Greens' proposal would make it quite a bit more expensive for her (and her father) to go to work. And the mass-transit-ticket they would get in return would not even be useful for her, since it's not valid here. We would have to live closer to Helsinki to be able to use it.

Her only "viable" alternative is to get a 30-days train-ticket (costs 106 euros/month) and in addition, a 30-day bus-ticket from Helsinki to Espoo (where she works, costs 114e/month). It would cost her 220e/month just to go to work. Daily commute would be 60-90 minutes in one direction. So she would spend 2-3 hours a day commuting, and she would pay 220e for the pleasure.

I have mailed two Green politicians about this (one of them my representative in the parliament), but I have received no reply.

why did Greens suggest something like this? Why aren't they suggesting new fares for people who live in Helsinki (or Espoo, or Vantaa), but still use their own car? I guess the reason is simple: This was one of their themes in the communal-elections. And it's not politically smart to tell the voters "if you vote us, we will make you pay more". No, what they said was basically "If you vote us, we will make these other people pay more". People outside the metro-area would be asked to pay more, but those people do not vote in the metro-area communal elections.

No comments: