Despite the Ecopass pollution charge system which has been in force for more or less a year, PM10 levels in Milan Italy, and in areas around the city, have exceeded acceptable limits by as much as 4 times.
PM 10 levels have recently been measured at over 200 micrograms per cubic metre.
Local papers have been reporting this and a possible consequence is the increase in the number of people I’ve been seeing in Milan who have been wearing anti-smog masks. In response the dangerously high pollution levels, Milan’s local police are to be issued with portable emissions checking devices. Will this make any difference? Probably not, as most of the cars circulating within Milan’s Ecopass area are likely to be Euro 3, 4 or 5 certified, categories which are exempt from paying the charge. It’s not so much the emission levels of the cars, as the sheer number of them which is likely to be causing continued problems.
Ecopass Free Sales Gimmick
As a matter of interest, one city centre used car sales showroom I came across makes a point of emphasising that some of the cars are ‘Ecopass free‘. An interesting aspect to highlight, is it not?
Really, the only way to reduce the amount of traffic in Milan is to require that virtually all traffic pay a pollution charge, or to base admission to the city centre on a fixed emission level limit of say CO2 200. This would keep many of the fume belching big SUVs out of the centre, unless they paid a fee, of course.
To difficult to manage? Well no, not really. Whenever a car goes in for a service it could be issued with a emissions level certificate, which could have a lifetime of 12 months, for example. This certificate could be carried or, better, displayed (big green and white stickers!) on all cars and other vehicles. And to cut down on potential fiddles, the local police could carry out spot checks from time to time, and those found to be exceeding certain tolerances would be fined, as would the garages which issued the inaccurate certificates.
Otherwise if something is not done soon, the Ecopass will risk becoming nothing more than a useless extra administrative cost for Milan.