As the capital’s newly installed leader, Gualtieri said he aims to double the 70,000 paid parking spaces currently available in the city in a staged plan that will start with eliminating almost all of Rome’s 16,800-odd free or ‘white line’ spaces, reports the news daily La Repubblica.
While exclusively residential neighbourhoods will remain largely untouched, mixed-use areas with shopping complexes will have most of their white line spaces removed, to be replaced with fee-paying ‘blue line’ spaces.
“The aim is not to raise funds, but to discourage car use by linking the reform to the strengthening of public transport”, members of his team told Italian journalists.
Gualtieri, a member of the centre-left Democratic Party, beat out right-wing candidate Enrico Michetti in a run-off election held earlier in the week.
A trained historian, Gualtieri served as Italy’s Minister of Economy and Finances from 2019 to 2021, and was previously head of the European Parliament’s economic affairs committee.
He officially took over from former mayor, populist Five Star Movement’s Virginia Raggi, on Thursday morning in a formal ceremony which involved receiving a sash with the tricolour Italian flag colours.
As part of his plans to free up Rome’s congested roads, Gualtieri said he plans to scrap parking season passes altogether and may authorise parking inspectors to hand out fines to drivers who double park (currently they can only issue penalties to those parked in blue line spaces without displaying a valid ticket), reports Repubblica.
Double parking or parking on pedestrian crossings is commonplace in Rome, and is rarely sanctioned by police.
The right-wing newspaper Il Giornale denounced the proposals as “a massacre against car users” in a dramatically-worded article on Thursday morning in which it described the new mayor’s plans to abolish season passes for drivers as ‘diabolical’.
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In aiming to reduce traffic congestion by improving Rome’s public transport networks, Gualtieri has his work cut out for him.
Delays are par for the course, worker strikes are common, and public buses are so old and decrepit that an average of 20 of them catch fire each year.
A 2019 study conducted by the public transport user app Moovit found that Rome’s public transport is as slow as Bogotá’s, with passengers waiting an average of 20 minutes for their ride, and 39 percent of travellers required to wait longer.
Rome’s transport woes were among the major issues that dominated the mayoral race, along with the city’s longstanding issues with waste management, potholes, and flooding.