Barcelona looking into charging vehicles to enter city center

Local authorities are considering following example of places like London by asking drivers to pay a fee as part of efforts to reduce urban pollution

Barcelona's Sagrada Família surrounded by smog on July 1, 2019 (Nazaret Romero/ACN)
Barcelona's Sagrada Família surrounded by smog on July 1, 2019 (Nazaret Romero/ACN) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

July 17, 2019 08:08 PM

Barcelona's local government is looking into the possibility of charging vehicles to enter the city center from July next year, according to mayor Ada Colau.

Talking to Catalan TV on Wednesday, the mayor said the introduction of the charge would depend on the success of the low emission zones to be introduced next year.

"It's possible that [the permanent low emission zones] will not be enough, and we will have to look at other measures, such as a charge," she said. 

London is an example of a city that has a congestion charge for vehicles entering the city center on weekdays, a measure that was introduced back in 2003.

The standard charge in London is 12.70 euros a day for each non-exempt vehicle (such as electric cars), with penalties for non-payment of between 72 and 216 euros.

Restrictions by "public demand"

Colau justified taking action to reduce pollution, saying "the public demands it," and she added that air quality is a "very serious" health problem that affects children in particular.

From next January 1, the city will introduce permanent low emission zones, restricting some vehicles from accessing and circulating in certain urban areas.

The new measure will affect 125,000 vehicles not eligible for an environmental sticker, and it is hoped the move will reduce air pollution in the city by 15% by 2024. 

The restrictions will apply weekdays from 7am to 10pm, and include four nearby towns: Sant Adrià de Besòs, Hospitalet de Llobregat, Esplugues de Llobregat and Cornellà de Llobregat.