Milan’s Ecopass On Holiday

Last year, Milan’s Ecopass congestion charge system took a summer vacation, and this year it’s the same.  From Monday 3 to Friday 21 of August the Ecopass system will not operate, meaning that motorists can access the Ecopass designated area without having to pay.

Milan Ecopasses
Milan Ecopasses

This is good news for car driving tourists who might like to have a look at Milan, a city which boasts a spectacular cathedral, and houses artworks of international fame such as Da Vinci’s exceptional last supper, which is known as Il Cenacolo in Italy.  I believe the Last Supper may be viewed during August, but the official website was refusing to load today.  When it did play ball with my browser, so to speak, I was greeted with a message anouncing that the booking of visits to the Last Supper has been temporarily  suspended.  The announcement does not explain why or for how long, I’m sorry to say.

The magnificent Last Supper, which I have seen incidentally, is one of the many positive aspects of the quality of life in Italy’s northern mini-metropolis.  Another as aspect relating to quality of life, air quality in this case, could be the presence of, which I have not noticed before, certain insects in Milan .

Cicadas in Milan

We’ve got cicadas chirping their way through the nights here in central Milan at the moment, with some of them in residence in our apartment block courtyard.

The presence of these musical insects may indicate that Milan’s air quality is indeed improving, even if traffic levels are not down massively.  However, having said that, there has been a 14 percent reduction in the amount of traffic entering the Ecopass area every day compared to traffic levels prior to the introduction of this congestion charge.  In real numbers, this equates to an overall reduction of some 23,000 fewer vehicles per day – a not insignificant number.  On average, around 14,500 vehicles access Milan’s Ecopass zone daily.

What is more interesting is that fewer vehicles entering the Ecopass area are subject to Ecopass payments.  While this inevitably means a reduction in income for Milan’s city hall coffers, it does also mean that the traffic which is entering central Milan is creating less pollution.  Hence, possibly, the cicadas singing away around our house which is a 15 minute walk from the Milan’s centre.

The Ecopass Zone, Milan, Italy
The Ecopass Zone, Milan, Italy - click for a larger version

Positive Ecopass Results

Other Ecopass statistics are positive, with accident levels down, and use of public transportation systems up.  I believe that Milan’s authorities are mulling over ways to increase the effectiveness of Milan’s congestion charge – I read this somewhere, but cannot recall where.  Still, I hope Milan’s mayor, Letizia Moratti is happy with the performance of the Ecopass system to date.

Of course, the increased number of cicadas could be down to the effects of global warming, but Milan does not seem to be any hotter than previous years.  Are cicadas a sign of better air quality?  I really don’t know.  Perhaps someone out there on the world wide web can confirm or deny perceived relationship between Ecopass results, air quality and, cicadas.

Sources:

Press release: Mobilitá.  Ecopass sospeso dal 3 al 21 agosto – in Italian – Mobility.  Ecopass suspended from 3 to 21 August (2009)

Press release: Mobilita’ e ambiente. Pubblicato il rapporto Ecopass dei primi 6 mesi del 2009 – in Italian – Mobility and environment.  Report published on the Ecopass regarding the first six months of 2009 .

Last Supper website, in English and Italian – what there is of it.

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