The City of Madrid is enlisting Smart Parking Meters to help address the city’s dangerous pollution levels, which are consistently exceeding EU limits. According to The Guardian, the scheme which commences on July 1 will penalize drivers of cars that are responsible for more emissions. In a rating system based on the vehicle engine and the age of the car, larger and older cars will pay more for parking, hybrid cars will park for 20% less, and electric vehicles will park for free.
The Head of said Madrid’s sustainability division, Elisa Barahona, explained, “Parking fees are one of the best ways to discourage motorists from driving into the packed city centre; We thought it would be fair if the cars that pollute more pay more, and compensate those who use more efficient vehicles.”
The Smart Meters will also facilitate “variable-rate” pricing based on the availability of parking in the street; those streets with few spots available will see prices increase up to 20%. Both measures are an attempt to reduce the number of vehicles travelling into the city each day, estimated at more than 1 million, and responsible for the often choking smog that blankets the city.
Mariano González of Ecologists in Action, has suggested that the parking meters are probably an attempt to appease the European Union, which has threatened the city with hefty fines if it fails to improve its air quality.