Milan’s “Area C” Program Cuts Air Pollution, Traffic Congestion

Editor's Note: To read this post in Italian, click here.

As the second largest city in Italy with one of the highest rates of car ownership in all of Europe, Milan has launched several measures over the past few years to combat air pollution and traffic congestion. In 2008, the city launched a road pricing measure called “Ecopass” based on the “polluter pays principle”. In January 2012 it created the widely successful Area C program.

Milan Area C

Like Ecopass, Area C is a restricted traffic zone in Milan’s center that aims to decrease air pollution and traffic congestion by limiting vehicular access, whilemaintaining accessibility through investments in more sustainable modes of travel. Improving public transport networks and developing alternative transport infrastructure such as bicycle lanes and pedestrian zones are among the actions Milan is taking. In order to accomplish these goals, Area C planners have strategically involved a variety of stakeholders including businesses, citizens, consumer and environmental organizations, as well as local authorities.

After just one year, the Area C program has made significant strides towards reaching its goals. Almost one out of three cars are left at home, transport-related emissions have dropped, and the number of clean vehicles on the roads has almost doubled. Specifically, there are about 40,000 fewer cars entering the city center on a daily basis; 28.3 percent less traffic; and an 18 percent decrease in pollution levels as compared to levels under the Ecopass progam.

Although the city met with some resistance in response to the fee the Area C program imposed on motorists, strong stakeholder engagement ensured that most issues were resolved. An April 2013 survey stated that 58 percent of Milan residents expressed favorable views of this innovative and replicable initiative.

For more information, click here for the Milan city website and here for the Area C webpage.