fotografie peter Hilz (C)

Brussels eyes congestion charge "light" and hopes to convince Flanders

Speaking in De Morgen, the Brussels Mobility Minister Elke Van den Brandt (Flemish greens) is launching the idea of a light version of a congestion charge in our capital. However, she only wants to introduce this road charge if the whole country joins - this means also Flanders, but the idea is not on the table there. With her proposal, the minister hopes to convince Flanders after all. 

The idea of a congestion tax is to have motorists pay for each kilometre, depending on where they are using the car, and when, and also depending on the vehicle's emission. 

Elke Van den Brandt is now proposing a light version, which means that motorists taking their car to the capital can sometimes be exempt, for example when they work early in the morning and have to commute before there are decent public transport services available.

If you take your car early in the morning, when there are no or hardly any trains going, you would not have to pay

"If you take your car 5 a.m. at a moment when there are still no trains to take you to your work, the charge would be zero", she told the VRT's morning radio programme 'De Ochtend'. The same would go for people who live in a place where there are no decent public transport services, another concession to Flanders, where this is a sensitive issue.

By launching a light version, the minister hopes to get Flanders on her side; she knows a full version wouldn't stand any chance in Flanders. The idea was on the table here some time ago, but it was ditched by the N-VA before last May's elections amidst fears it didn't enjoy enough electoral support.  

The Flemish Transport Minister Lydia Peeters (liberal) says that "the Flemish government is prepared to listen, but a congestion charge is not on the cards at this moment." The aim of a congestion charge would be triple: cleaner air, creating a trigger for a modal shift in transport away from the car, and fewer traffic jams.