A new study shows that after Stockholm, Sweden started charging drivers $2.60 to drive into downtown during the workday, the resulting drop in air pollution led to a dramatic decrease in asthma attacks for the city’s kids.
Stockholm began the charge in 2006 and made it permanent in 2007. The tolls were collected automatically using license plate scanners. The number of vehicles on the Swedish city’s downtown streets dropped 20 percent.
A newly released study from Johns Hopkins University has now found that the number of asthma attacks quickly went down.
“This policy-induced reduction in air pollution levels accompanied significant reductions in the incidence of childhood asthma in Stockholm in the months and years after the program went into place,” the study says.
Researchers said records show urgent care visits and hospitalizations for asthma dropped by almost half among children under five. It wasn’t a matter of continuing something that had already been happening – asthma attacks had actually been increasing in the period before the charge was implemented.
Meanwhile, New York lawmakers in recent days rejected putting such a broad “congestion tax” in place – though they are requiring a charge for rideshare services as Lyft and Uber and of taxis operating in most of Manhattan, a charge that will be passed on to riders.
The $168.3 billion state budget approved overnight Friday includes a requirement for those fees, with the money going to improve New York city subways and bus service. Lawmakers had been being pushed to consider a broader congestion tax.