Residential parking fees for heavy vehicles have been increased in Tübingen, Germany. This move is also being considered by other cities, but they are often hindered by the absence of a legal foundation. There have been instances, such as in Freiburg, where similar projects have been halted by the courts.
The Situation in Graz
The city of Graz is also facing a similar situation. The local government is keen to impose higher parking charges on owners of larger vehicles in public spaces. Nevertheless, the existing legal framework doesn’t permit this. The Greens in Vienna have shown a positive inclination towards the idea. Given this, the Austrian Transport Club (VCÖ) is advocating for a transformative change in this direction. According to Christian Gratzer, a spokesman for VCÖ, it seems practical to differentiate parking fees based on the size or weight of the vehicles.
However, this idea is not well-received by mobility clubs, who believe that the existing parking space management is both effective and costly. Gerald Kumnig, the General Secretary of ARBÖ, stated that the majority of cities already have satisfactory short-term parking zone regulations and do not need any changes. He also reminded the Vienna city government about the pending evaluation of the expansion of parking space management across Vienna.
Öamtc expert Matthias Wolf believes that this measure will fail to steer any effect and will not contribute to climate or security improvement. He sees it as an unfair measure to generate additional income and contradicts the principle of equality. Instead, he proposes to divert commuter traffic from the road to the railway. However, he admits that this is more difficult than simply clamping down on foreign SUV drivers, particularly considering the current challenges faced by the ÖBB morning service.
The Growing Trend of SUVs
But what is the extent of the SUV issue in Austria? VCÖ data shows that new registrations of SUVs have more than tripled since 2010, from 13% to 45% in 2023. Moreover, cars are gradually becoming larger. The Transport & Environment organization reports that cars have grown in width by an average of half a centimeter each year over the past 20 years. According to Arbö General Kummig, several factors contribute to the popularity of SUVs among drivers: they provide a better overview, make entry and exit easier, and facilitate loading.
SUVs come in a variety of sizes, ranging from mini to large off-road vehicles. Most compact SUVs are no larger than vans, station wagons, or sedans, which makes it challenging to decide when higher fees should be applied. Kummig poses the question, why should a larger MPV pay less than a compact SUV?
VCÖ believes that the root of the problem should be addressed by imposing stricter regulations on manufacturers at the EU level to encourage the production of smaller car models. However, this is the crux of the problem. Manufacturers are increasingly phasing out small cars from their fleets due to restrictive regulations on technology and CO2 emissions.