Congestion Charge – Sicily Style Chapter Two
This congestion charge really is a comedy of errors; and I’m not alone in thinking so! Most Palermitanis belong to one of two camps, caught between doubt and resignation, those that haven’t paid yet in the hope that it’ll all go away, and those that have paid and forelonely hope that the money makes a bit of difference to the state of Palermo.
To start with, La Repubblica reports that the pass is the most expensive in Italy – exceeding all the ‘expensive’ northern towns where the wages & standard of living are considerably higher than here. The same article also points out that Palermo is seriously lacking in the infrastructure required to successfully implement a congestion charge; Milan has a system of 43 cameras, Rome has 41, whilst Palermo has… um, no-one’s quite sure, actually, but what is certain is that any cretin can find a way to avoid the charge – so it’s only the honest who get screwed.
My complaints the other day about the haphazard implementation are also justified – here in Palermo, the company contracted to sell the passes, TD Group, authorised 34 business to print them (including a Vodafone shop as I’ve previously mentioned, a car-hire place, etc. etc.) and even that was too much, as the site crashed on the first day. In Milan, there’s over 800 places to pay, and online too. Throughout Lombardy it’s possible to pay by calling a hotline. In Rome, one can pay at a bank, print off a form, and get the pass delivered to one’s door! And in Florence, one can even pay at service stations. A real comedy of errors here in Palermo!
The mayor, Cammerata, is backpeddaling furiously, belatedly aware of how unpopular the measure is. Of course, most people will have paid by now, so it’s cold comfort for him to say “Oh it was never meant to be an annual thing, you only have to pay once”.
That’s news to TD Group, who have a 5 year contact with Palermo to sell and administer the passes! They are taking the line “No-one from the mayor’s office has called us yet, so we can’t comment…”