The transport sector is a major contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions worldwide, and this is no different in the city of Milan. Although most people use public transport to get around Milan (57% of all trips in Milan are taken by public transport, 30% by cars, 7% by motorbike and 6% by bicycle), the city still has one of the highest European rates of car ownership and one of the highest concentrations of particulate matter among large European cities. It is for these critical reasons that the City of Milan launched several measures to address air pollution and traffic congestion. One such measure is an innovative road pricing scheme called Area C, a congestion charge aimed at reducing traffic pollution in the city of Milan and, consequently, improving quality of life for citizens and visitors alike.

What is it?

Area C is a road pricing measure launched by the Municipality of Milan in January 2012 to improve the quality of life of those who live, work, study and visit the city. Area C is the restricted traffic zone in Milan's center that requires car drivers to pay a congestion charge. The area subject to the congestion charge is called Cerchia dei Bastioni, a Limited Traffic Zone (LTZ) of 8.2 km2, 4.5% of the whole territory of the Municipality of Milan. Citizens were directly involved in developing Area C. In June 2011, they were asked to vote in a public referendum on limiting traffic and increasing the uptake of low-emission vehicles in the city center. A 79% majority voted in favour of such a measure.

How does it work?

Access to Area C is limited on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 7:30 to 19:30, and Thursday from 7:30 to 18:00. Cars entering Area C are detected by a system of 43 electronic gates (7 of which are reserved for public transport vehicles), equipped with ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) technology.

A daily entrance ticket costs €5, which covers all accesses made by the same vehicle during that day. There are various types of other entrance tickets for residents, service vehicles, and for parking garages, for example.  

Mopeds, motorcycles, electric cars, vehicles for disabled people, public utility and public transport service vehicles, taxis, hybrid*, methane-powered*, LPG* and biofuel* cars are exempt from the charge.

(*until 31/12/2016. From 01/01/2017 they will pay normal rates).

CO2 reduction

Area C has achieved important results in terms of mobility and the environment. Thus far, Area C has seen a 28% decrease in road congestion. In addition, a 24% reduction of all road casualties has been observed between 2011 and 2012, to be compared with an 11% reduction city-wide during the same period. Polluting vehicles are circulating less in the area: their numbers have decreased by 49% (-2,400 vehicles daily) and the share of cleaner vehicles has gone from 9.6 to 16.6% of the total traffic.

There has been a significant reduction in concentrations of Black Carbon inside Area C compared to outside areas. Area C has also contributed to a reduction of the following pollutants:

  • Total PM10: -18%
  • Exhaust PM10: -10%
  • Ammonia: -42%
  • Nitrogen Oxides: -18%
  • Carbon Dioxide: -35%

Overall, Area C has provided great benefits to the city: less congestion, traffic, pollution, noise, and more space for walking and cycling. The reduction of cars circulating in the city center has enabled public space once reserved for parking to be reclaimed by pedestrians. Moreover, thanks to the reduction in traffic from Area C, the city’s whole transport system has benefitted. In fact, according to a statement of AICAI (Courier Aircraft Association), Area C has resulted in a 10% increase in productivity of freight deliveries in the city center.

Next steps

Milan is finalizing its Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan, which outlines the possibility of extending Area C to the Cerchia Filoviaria (2nd cordon), and introducing a Low Emission Zone (LEZ), similar to that in force in London. Currently, the systems (camera and on-board units) are set to control and manage the heaviest vehicles and those used for the transport of dangerous goods. In a second phase, the city aims to also manage tourist buses and discourage the use of other, heavily polluting vehicles.


Comune di Milano

Assessore Ambiente, Mobilità, Metropolitane,

Acqua Pubblica, Energia

Pierfrancesco Maran

Via Beccaria 19

20121 Milano

January 2012
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