The technology of intelligent cars in smarter traffic is 20 years old. In Western Sweden.

Traffic control: Motorists test drive into the future

This year, 350 randomly selected Gothenburg citizens will run into the future. Around a hundred private cars are equipped in the days with a travel computer which, via a GPS, records exactly where and when the car has driven.

WHEN THE DRIVER TURNS ABOUT THE STARTER KEY THE TRAVEL COMPUTER CALLS A CENTER AND GIVES NOTICE ON THE LAST JOURNEY. Payment is calculated according to mileage where the price tag is higher during rush hour and in the zones inside the city. The money is deducted directly from the account where the reality is simulated with a sum of money filled by the project management. The balance and the price for different options can be read on the handheld computer, which is located on the dashboard.

The EU project in Gothenburg is called Progress. It stands for Pricing ROad use for Greater Responsibility, Efficiency and Sustainability in citieS, which in Sweden becomes Pricing of road users for better accessibility, environment and sustainability in cities.

Sweden’s first attempt at road tolls will last until 2004. The intention is to give politicians an answer to the question of whether road users want to pay for the road in much the same way as when we take a taxi.

– The technology needed is available in the market, but it is still too expensive, says project manager Jonas Sundberg at the consulting company Sweco, which is responsible for the technical administration. But, he says, soon this telematics is so cheap that it can be found in most new cars.

In the morning rush between 7.30 and 8.30 the price rises to SEK 50 mil in central Gothenburg and SEK 70 in the city center. By clicking on two points on the map, you are told exactly what the trip costs – and how much you would save if the trip is delayed half an hour. Information on zone maps and tariffs can be found at www.progress.nu.

Anyone who wants to get from Mölndal to Hisingen in the cheapest way is advised about a route east of the city via the Angereds bridge instead of the E 6 through the Tingstad tunnel. The project also includes an environmental section that shows the alternative cost for, for example, the tram. In the environmental test, the road tariff can vary between SEK 2 and 10 per kilometer depending on where you go.

That the trial ended up in Gothenburg and not in Stockholm, which has much worse traffic jams, is allegedly linked to the fact that the wounds were not healed after the capsized Dennistullars. The fact that road users dislike tolls as an extra charge is known from interviews with a large number of Gothenburg citizens. The road is already paid for over the tax bill, they believe.

– The survey also showed that people do not care that big brother can see you, says Jonas Sundberg. There is also no threat to integrity in our project.

Tolls are better accepted if you arrive faster or if the environment is spared

The funders of the test, the EU, Vinnova (Swedish National Agency for Innovation Research) and the Swedish Road Administration, want to be informed. The technology for measuring when and where we drive, down to a few meters when, already exists. The question is whether the pricing mechanism works to change our habits, like when we take the same path to work for a lifetime.

Seven European cities besides Gothenburg are participating in the project.

Helsinki, Copenhagen, Trondheim, Edinburgh, Bristol, Genoa and Rome are testing tolls under Progress. The result will be reported in 2004. Various technical solutions are being tested; for example, as in Trondheim, where motorists are allowed to pass a duty on the same model as on the Öresund Bridge.

Ingemar Lindmark

ekonomi@dn.se

08-738 10 00

FACTS / traffic in 2010

Biltelematik

In 2010, most new cars contain satellite mirrors, a computer for navigation and the Internet via mobile networks. Ford says it can deliver such telematics in all new cars as early as 2005.

accidents

In 2010, the number of road deaths in EU countries will be halved compared to the 40,000 killed this year, according to a target set by the European Commission.

fuel cell engine

Daimler Chrysler and other car companies predict that mass production is in progress around 2010. Water is the only residual product from the car when the engine is powered by hydrogen.

The price of the traffic attack

In 2010, traffic jams will cost the EU member states € 80 billion, equivalent to 1 percent of GDP, compared with 0.5 percent today. If nothing radical happens, road freight traffic will increase by 50 percent and passenger car traffic by 37 percent during this decade.

Galileo

If the US fails to set the bar, in March the EU will decide on a European alternative to the US GPS satellites. In a few years, 30 European satellites will provide better precision and be integrated with an advanced traffic management system.

White Paper of the European Commission

The White Paper entitled “The Common Transport Policy until 2010” was published last fall.

If the Commission is heard, it means a radical shift in traffic policy, which includes mileage fees. The first step is to significantly increase tolls for the trucks so that the railways can compete.

Stockholm

The number of cars stuck in Stockholm’s bottlenecks is expected to almost double in 2010 compared to 1998.

According to investigator Transek, every resident of the county will queue away a sun holiday each year – and the queue is then assumed to cost SEK 3,760 per skull.

Bilinfarkt. Can new technology solve the traffic jams in our inner cities

New satellite-based technology for car tariffs is being tested this year in Gothenburg – the idea is to be able to financially control the traffic flow, while at the same time motorists are offered suggestions for faster and cheaper road choices.

Automatic payment. Ulrik Karlsson shows how to use the equipment for automatic toll. By entering where he wants to go, he can get information on the fastest or cheapest route choices.