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Madrid to ban half of cars from city center due to high pollution levels

Tomorrow will be the first time that such a measure has been put into place in the Spanish capital

Contaminacion en Madrid
Speeds on Madrid‘s M-30 beltway have been limited to 70km/h.

Madrid Deputy Mayor Marta Higueras announced on Wednesday that City Hall will be implementing phase three of the municipal protocol in a bid to combat a current wave of pollution. The current levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the Spanish capital have prompted the council this week to first impose speed limits on certain roads, and then to restrict parking in regulated spaces in the city center. Tomorrow, however, only vehicles whose license plate ends with an odd number will be permitted to enter the city center.

This will be the first time that such a measure has been put in place in Spain, although it has already been implemented in other European capitals such as Paris and Rome. As well as cars with odd number plates, “zero emission” vehicles will be permitted in the city center, as well as those transporting people with limited mobility, public transport and special services.

If phase three is kept in place, cars with even plates will be able to access the center on Friday

The 70km/h speed limit that has been in place on the M-30 ring road and access roads to the capital will remain in place, while parking spaces will still be unavailable to non-residents in regulated areas. Private and public parking lots can, however, be used.

If phase three of the pollution plan is kept in place, cars with even license plate numbers will be able to access the center on Friday, with the restrictions alternating in step with odd and even days of the month.

Phase three has been put in place given that two measuring stations in the city have detected levels of NO2 that are above 200 micrograms per cubic meter during two consecutive hours. Should the levels rise further, the council could put phase four into action, which would see a 50% restriction on traffic on the M-30 and a ban on empty taxis driving in the center.

Anyone who ignores these restrictions will face a fine of €90, which will be reduced to €45 if immediately settled, according to the council’s environmental control director, Paz Valiente, who was speaking during a press conference on Wednesday.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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