Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Connect the dots

The government has approved a proposal by Trondheim municipality wherein Trondheim aims to reduce CO2 emissions by 20% within 2018. The local rag - web edition - has stories on it here and here. To accomplish this, Trondheim has gotten governmental funding to the tune of 700 MNOK earmarked for pedestrian and bicycle lanes, as well as improvement of E6, including a new bridge at Sluppen. In doing so, public transportation, i.e. bus transport, will move more smoothly.

How will Trondheim municipality contribute with their share of the money? You guessed it - reintroduction of toll booths, local increases in fuel prices and rush hour fees. That way those who pollute the most will have to pay their fair share, dammit.

I'm not going to whine about how the reason there's rush hour to begin with is that people have to travel to and from work in Trondheim, without which there would be no revenue to be had for the municipality. Rather, I'd like to point out the following:
  • There's absolutely nothing in this proposal - supposedly the first step in the process, with none of the subsequent steps being defined in terms of number, timeline or content - about increasing the capacity or lowering the prices of public transportation. Trondheim buses aren't exactly empty at the moment.
  • With Trondheim municipality being the size it is, it's not exactly hard to drive an extra ten minutes, perhaps in conjunction with shopping at one of the malls in the Trondheim outskirts - to fill up on fuel in, say, Malvik. Besides, a lot of the commuters travel in to Trondheim from the surrounding municipalities as well, so all they have to do is buy their fuel closer to home. I'm sure the gas station owners in Trondheim are thrilled about this, seeing as there's absolutely no evidence to support that the total consumption of gas will subside. On the other hand, it's pretty safe to say that when people are willing to sit on a bus for two hours to purchase bacon at half price in Sweden, they'll drive ten more minutes to gas up outside of Trondheim.
  • Last I checked, people still need to get to work, and walking isn't a realistic option for most. With no expansion and/or price reduction for public transportation, there's no alternative to the current mode of transportation mode, in which case everything's the same, only more expensive, meaning more revenue for the municipality. Oh, and those of us who commute by car also get the added bonus of being labelled as big-time polluters despite the lack of an alternative.
  • A few years back, Trondheim municipality sold its power plant with a hyooge profit. Rather than save the money for a rainy day or invest in local business or infrastructure, everything was invested in the stock market. With the current financial crisis, Trondheim is pretty much broke, which on the scale of things brings us close to the same level as the Terra municipalities.

Now; I'm sure Trondheim's need for cash inflow doesn't have anything to do with the plans for increasing taxes and cost of living without providing anything in return.......right?

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