German city mayor plans to hike up parking charges by 600 percent

German city mayor plans to hike up parking charges by 600 percent
Mayor Boris Palmer rides his bicycle through the centre of Tübingen on November 12th, 2019. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Tom Weller
The mayor of the southern German town of Tübingen has taken a radical step to discourage people with large cars from driving into the centre.

According to the regional Stuttgarter Zeitung, Boris Palmer – who is also a member of the Green party – plans to hike parking charges from €30 to €180 per year in an attempt to free the picturesque town from congestion.

If the plans come into force, the top parking fee will apply to cars with combustion engines weighing more than 1800kg and electric cars weighing more than 2000kg. Owners of smaller cars will pay €120 a year.

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Social security recipients will pay half price, and there will be other exceptions for disabled people and carers who are dependent on their cars to carry out their jobs.

Palmer initially proposed to raise the top fee to €360, but his plans met with opposition from officials on the city climate planning committee. At €180, however, he has managed to gain a consensus. 

Announcing the proposals, the mayor explained that his aim was to convince the majority of people to use public transport when visiting or travelling around Tübingen. 

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“There should be a noticeable difference between the fees small city cars and big sport utility vehicles have to pay, which actually aren’t needed in the city,” he said. 

The revenue from the new parking fees will be funnelled back into the university town’s public transport network and used to further its aims to become climate neutral by 2030.

Other towns and cities in Germany are piloting similar schemes. The move has also been widely praised by climate activists, who say that free and heavily subsidised parking spaces must end. 

‘You don’t pay enough taxes’

In his 14 years as mayor of Tübingen, Palmer has developed a reputation across Germany as a straight-talking politician who puts forward radical, and often controversial, plans.

After winning the support he needs for his parking fee change, he penned an unapologetic post on Facebook announcing the move telling ‘car drivers’ that things were about to change. 

“You didn’t pay for the roads. Neither do you pay enough taxes,” he wrote. “Your favourite form of transport is massively subsidised as it is, by all other taxpayers and the next generation.

READ ALSO: Does German desire for transport efficiency trump environmental concerns?

“If the prices were to reflect the real amount you should be paying, a parking space would have to cost not €30 a year, but €3,000.”

Disgruntled residents, meanwhile, accused the mayor of “conducting a personal campaign against cars and their owners”. 

The final decision on the price hike will be made by the council at the end of September, though media reports suggest that it is highly likely to pass. 


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