There has been a serious debate in recent days between the government and local governments as to whether the abolition of paid parking is more conducive to, or even hindering, epidemiological control. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has made a point at the end of the matter with a decree: from today, nowhere to pay. Meanwhile, the abolition of tolls did not arise either.
It is very difficult to predict how people will react to an austerity or just a relief. That is why there has been a rather shoreless debate over the abolition of public paid parking.
The mayors have argued that if this important traffic control device is removed, more people will enter the city, the crowd will be bigger. Plus, locals won’t find an empty parking space near their apartment and will have to walk more.
The government, on the other hand, argued that free parking reduces congestion on public transport.
It is already clear from Monday morning's data that the mayors were right: traffic was noticeably higher than, for example, last week. This is also confirmed by the traffic data of the navigation company Tomtom in Budapest and the Waze numbers, about which the 444 also wrote.
Of course, there is no question of reorganization, since the spread of the epidemic, the traffic in the capital has not reached a fraction of what is usual at such times, but at the same time it is a fact that more people are sitting in cars.
Nonetheless, it could easily be that many people chose the car who used to use public transport, meaning government goals could also be met.
Elsewhere, it is not important for people to drive
However, according to the logic of the government, the task of motorists should have been made easier not only in the city but also in the intercity transport. If I abolished tolls on the toll road network, perhaps fewer would choose buses or rail.
Our paper had already asked the Ministry of Innovation and Technology (ITM) in mid-March whether to abolish tolls during the epidemic, but no response has been received since.
According to the announcement of Nemzeti Útdíjfizetési Szolgáltató Zrt. Last week, traffic fell by 60 per cent on the first weekend of the curfew compared to the previous day, but hundreds of thousands of cars still traveled on the main domestic routes on Saturday and Sunday.
How motorists would react to a toll cancellation on the track is just as difficult to predict as how people in Budapest and larger cities will behave.
But one thing we know for sure:
Revenues from tolls migrate to the budget, while parking fees migrate to the coffers of cities and districts.
And this fits in with the fact that the government has put local governments in an increasingly difficult position since the corona virus came out: it has imposed a number of extra tasks on them, it has not given them extra resources, but it is also depriving them of car tax and now parking money.