Don't drive around here no more

Deputy Tel Aviv Mayor Pe'er Visner wants to begin charging vehicles for entering the city's center.

traffic 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
traffic 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
If environmentally active Deputy Mayor Pe'er Visner has his way, Tel Aviv will soon take a leaf out of London's book and start charging vehicles for driving into the city center, reports the Hebrew weekly Yediot Tel Aviv. Visner is currently drawing up plans to start charging vehicles NIS 25 each from the year 2010 if they want to drive into the city between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. on weekdays. According to the report, Visner's plan aims to reduce the city's notorious pollution and traffic congestion by 30 percent and encourage the use of public transport and bicycles. Some 325,000 cars drive into Tel Aviv daily, mostly between 7 and 8 a.m., and reducing their numbers by 100,000 would make a significant difference to pollution, noise and congestion levels. The "borders" of the city would be set at Sderot Rokach in the north, the Ayalon freeway in the east and Derech Kibbutz Galuyot in the south, and an exemption from the fee would be made for residents living inside the designated area. "If it was up to just us, the 'Greens,' we would introduce this fee tomorrow morning," Visner said. "But to our sorrow the city has not coordinated a plan and neither have the various government offices that are connected to this subject. We will act to get this program realized at the earliest opportunity … the public in Tel Aviv deserves cleaner air and cleaner transport." The report said the plan would be implemented by installing 20 cameras at the 20 entry points to the city, with drivers being automatically photographed and expected to pay at several payment stations, or by credit card via telephone. In London, the entry fee is currently eight pounds and Mayor Ken Livingstone recently announced that the city plans to raise this to 25 pounds. Drivers there have until midnight on the day of their entry to pay, or face fines of up to 80 pounds. Some sectors have already begun protesting the idea, with store owners fearing a loss of business, car-park owners fearing a loss of revenue, and even the city pondering a loss of income from parking fines. But supporters of the idea say quicker public transport will bring even more business into the city, there will still be enough cars for car-park owners to earn an income, and the city will make money from the entry fee.