Drive a diesel car in Madrid and soon it will cost you in more than fuel. The Spanish city is introducing new smart parking meters which will add a surcharge to your tariff if you're driving a heavily polluting car.
The new initiative, which starts on July 1, will use a complex pricing table -- dictated by engine type and the year of car manufacture -- to raise and lower prices depending on the vehicle you're parking up. Hybrids will pay 20 per cent less than the average; a diesel car made in 2001 will pay 20 per cent more. Electric cars will be able to park for free.
It's a long overdue solution to Madrid's pollution problem. The city regularly fails to meet the EU average for air quality, often exceeding guideline limits for nitrogen dioxide. Adjusting parking fees is thought to be one of the best ways of discouraging car use in city centres.
In fact, the smart meters won't just adjust price based on vehicle specs: they will also vary according to how busy a street is. Empty streets will cost less; streets that are practically full will charge up to 20 per cent more. Pricing will, depending on the car and how busy the street is, vary between €0.66 ($0.99) and €3.29 ($4.92) an hour (or just just be free, if you're in an electric vehicle).
It's estimated that 1 in 4 drivers will suffer significantly higher parking costs as a result of the new meters. With any luck, that will discourage some of the one million drivers per day that Madrid's road hold from driving into the centre. [The Guardian]
Picture: Jose Maria Cuellar