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IBM Helps City of Stockholm Reduce Road Traffic by 25% in One Month


STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN - 06 Mar 2006: Following the January launch of the Stockholm Congestion Charging Scheme, initial data indicates that the pilot has successfully reduced traffic by 25 percent; increased public transport usage by 40,000 users per day; and dramatically cut peak-time road congestion.*

IBM, as prime contractor responsible for solution design, development and operation, has worked closely with the Swedish Road Administration and the city of Stockholm to launch a trial congestion charging system covering a 24 sq km area of the inner city.

The project involved collaboration between IBM consulting, research and technology specialists, to ensure successful delivery of an accurate and effective system.

“Worldwide interest in the economic and environmental challenges of traffic management continues to grow, and the solution for the Stockholm trial represents a new benchmark in scale, scope and sophistication,” said John Dowson, Global Road User Charging leader, IBM. “This is just one example of new services offerings from IBM, as we continue to create value for our clients and leverage IBM innovation to address societal problems.”

The scheme is the largest implementation of a microwave tag and beacon system in a European city environment. The technology chosen allows the city authority to vary the charge throughout the day, drivers to have direct debit accounts and a more efficient total operation.

*Initial highlights form the first month of usage include:

* Traffic at cordon points reduced by 100,000 vehicle passages per day or 25%
* Train and transit passengers increased by 40,000 per day
* Congestion during peak hours dramatically reduced
* No major re-routed traffic problem
* Time tables for inner city bus lines have to be redesigned due to the increased average speed
* Parking fines reduced by 29%
* The automatic charging system in operation from day one
* About 350,000 vehicle passages identified per day
* The system has been fully operational during the charging hours of 6:30 AM to 6:30 PM Monday to Friday.

Annika Billstrom, mayor of Stockholm, said: “It is important for me for Stockholm to become an exciting region in Europe. From an international perspective, it is important to not only have economic growth, but environmental growth. Many cities have serious environmental issues. We are now doing this trial with a modern, exciting, new system which the rest of Europe and the world can learn from.”

The city has three objectives in implementing congestion charging: reduce traffic volumes in the inner city by 10-15% during rush hour; improve accessibility for buses and cars; and improve the environment. The congestion charge is a national tax, with the revenues returned to the Stockholm region for investment in the public transport infrastructure.

The Stockholm system is cordon-based, with 18 barrier-free control points around the charging zone equipped with roadside beacons and cameras to identify vehicles. All eligible vehicles entering or leaving the charging zone are charged based on time of day, with fares highest during peak rush hours, and up to a maximum charge per day.

Payment is via a number of channels including by direct debit triggered by the recognition of an electronic tag that is loaned to drivers. Camera and number plate recognition technologies identify those vehicles without tags, and are also used to verify tag readings and provide evidence to support the enforcement of non-payers. Payment channels for those without transponders include, via a Giro system at banks or over the Internet, and through retail stores such as 7-11.

The use of the transponders fitted in vehicles means the system has a more reliable capture rate and a more cost-effective back-room operation than congestion charging systems that do not use such devices. It also makes it far easier to operate variable charging with automated direct debit after the passage.

The scheme has been under development for several years. The municipal council first approved a congestion charging trial on 2 June 2003. This was followed by approval from the Swedish National Parliament on 16 June 2004, and a contract was awarded to IBM on 9 July 2004 to design, build, implement and operate the system.

In preparation for the scheme, the Swedish government and the city of Stockholm have invested significantly in public transport, including 12 new express bus lines, 18 bus lines with extended service, and 1800 new park and ride places at stations outside the inner city.

In addition to the Swedish Road Administration and IBM, other organisations involved in the scheme development and operation include Q Free (a roadside equipment and tag provider), Manpower (call centre staffing), Sweden Post (provision of printing services and distribution of tags), Reitan (in store payment) and Nordea (payment services).

As part of the current trial, an extensive impact evaluation will be conducted and communicated to voters, comparing before and after results in a number of key areas such as impacts on traffic, public transport, local business and the environment.

For more information on the Stockholm congestion tax trial, visit the city’s English-language website -- The trial will run for a period of 7 months to 31 July, followed by a public referendum on 17 September to decide if the system should be retained or ended.

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