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Swiss say no to plan to halve traffic

A proposal to halve the amount of traffic on Swiss roads has been turned down in a national vote. It was rejected by most of Switzerland's cantons, and was dismissed by a majority of voters as well.

This content was published on March 12, 2000 - 08:00

A proposal to halve the amount of traffic on Swiss roads has been turned down in a national vote. It was rejected by most of Switzerland's cantons, and was dismissed by a majority of voters as well.

The proposal was a people's initiative which was put to a national vote after its supporters collected the necessary 100,000 signatures. An initiative needs the backing of both a majority of cantons and of voters to be accepted.

The proposal had called for traffic on Swiss roads to be halved within 10 years, but left open how this was to be achieved. It gave parliament three years to pass the necessary laws.

Its supporters had argued the measure was necessary to halt the negative impact of the increase of the number of vehicles on the roads, mainly in terms of noise, pollution and congestion. Switzerland is one of Europe's most motorised countries, with 3.5 million cars for seven million inhabitants.

They pointed to official statistics which show that the Swiss spend more than 33 million hours stuck in traffic jams, which is estimated to cost the economy about SFr1 billion.

However, critics had dismissed the proposal as naive, and argued that it made no sense, economically. They warned that halving traffic would have a severe impact on the economy and would endanger up to 300,000 jobs.

Both houses of parliament and the federal government had advised voters to rejected the issue. They warned that tourist and remote areas would be the worst affected, and that it would put a new strain on foreign relations.

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