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Early success for strict new congestion scheme in Madrid

New road markings.
New road markings. / AFP
  • Only residents and authorised guests' vehicles can enter a large central area unless they are electric or hybrid

People in Madrid have been getting used to strict new restrictions on traffic entering the centre of the capital this week.

In an echo of other schemes in large cities to control vehicles and pollution, the scheme, called Madrid Central, kicked off last Friday and immediately created traffic chaos as drivers got used to the new rules.

Under the city-hall-run scheme, only residents and authorised guests' vehicles can enter a large central area unless they are electric or hybrid. Until 2020 diesel and petrol cars can enter the zone providing they are going to a public car park. Public transport, taxis, motorcycles and delivery companies can also still enter.

After a first day of chaos on Friday, traffic flow was smoother by Monday this week with council officials tentatively reporting a decrease in vehicles entering the centre and only a slight increase on outer roads, including the busy MA-30 inner ring motorway.

Increased air pollution, caused by high pressure, has forced a reduction in speed limits on Madrid's main access motorways this week as well.