Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Taxing Discussion

There's a meeting going on over in Cottbus this week...of German transportation ministers.  Typically, there's not much that would come out of state transportation ministers, except road construction talk, speed limits, etc.  Well....this time, there's a discussion topic of a new tax.  A congestion tax.

The way this would work, if put into were a 'significant' city....we can only assume they mean a town of 100k or more, then if you want to get down into the center of this'd pay a fee.  The topic fee right 6.10 Euro.  A relationship to something? most cities like Frankfurt and Berlin, this is the general cost of a all-day transportation pass on the subway and bus system.

The general ideas about how this would work....are debatable and probably would take at least a year to iron out various details....if these folks ever got serious about this.  You would assume that you'd declare an area as "city-centre", then have a zone, and then have a bar-code system (my humble opinion) which would detail you and charge your vehicle automatically.

Course, you'd pause over this and ask yourself several questions.  Wouldn't this trigger a bunch of folks into avoiding town-town areas?  Yes.  Wouldn't this trigger construction of parking facilities outside the zone where you'd just walk into the costly area?  Yes.  Wouldn't it trigger city and commercial operations to relocate eventually outside the zone?  Yes....maybe it'd take twenty years but a number of organizations would just give up.  Wouldn't new city halls (rothaus operations) eventually remove themselves from the down-town area?  Yes.

Who suggested this?  Bild says (that's where I gleaned the essentials of this story).....that the Green folks brought this idea up.  The odds of this getting serious attention at this meeting?  There will be some slides and brief talk before the group, and I would speculate it'd quietly be put down for more discussion in a year.  But no one really want to declare a forbidden area around city-centres in Germany.  It would drag up discussions over property tax situations.  It would be a huge fight between political factions over what cities would accept this and the ones which would openly decline it.

The odds of this ever happening.  From an American who has traveled around the country....I'd make a guess that it might be fairly acceptable in five years within Berlin and Hamburg.  I can't see it coming up as a discussion item in Frankfurt, and the Munich folks would just laugh about this discussion.

To be kinda honest, if you came to me and said I needed to work in Frankfurt, on a daily basis....the last thing on Earth I'd want to drive into town, mess with traffic, and knock myself out at 5PM trying to go home.  An awful lot of folks utilize the subway system already, and at least get themselves five miles out of town where they walk to their car and head on home from there.  The massive traffic jams have educated Germans over the past decade.  Why fight it?

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