Questions and Answers
Pursuant to the provisions of the Act on electromobility and alternative fuels, vehicles authorized to enter the LEZ (except those with statutory exemptions) must be marked with a special sticker. An application for a sticker can be submitted on-line via a special website or stationary, at designated points of the City of Kraków. In the application for such a sticker, it will be necessary to provide data enabling verification of the vehicle’s entitlement to enter the LEZ. Some of the data, including manufacture year and type of fuel will be placed on the sticker. Stickers will be issued at the earliest next year, and drivers will be notified of the possibility to apply (for a sticker) well in advance. The control of the right to enter and move around the LEZ will be carried out in accordance with the Road Traffic Act, in particular by the City Guard of the City of Kraków. Inspectors will check the vehicle data on the sticker. Over time, we hope that the regulations will change and compliance with the rules of the zone will be checked only with the use of a camera system. This system will automatically read registration numbers of vehicles and compare them with the created database of vehicles authorized to enter the LEZ.
The LEZ will not apply on sections of the A4 motorway or on expressways that run through Kraków. The zone may be designated only on roads managed by the Mayor of the City of Kraków, and motorways and expressways are managed by the General Directorate for National Roads and Motorways. It is worth noting that the zone will be designated in such a way as to ensure that drivers of vehicles that do not meet the LEZ requirements can enter the ring road IV (A4 and S52) from the city borders.
Pursuant to the Act on electromobility and alternative fuels, the ban on entry to the Low Emission Zone exempts e.g. all vehicles of uniformed or rescue services and those used by people with disabilities, with the appropriate marking. The resolution establishing the LEZ also provides for exemptions for the so-called special vehicles – for cleaning roads, clearing snow, food trucks, money transfer vehicles, roadside assistance or funeral hearses. This category also includes “technical emergency/service”. Therefore, vehicles of this type, with the appropriate annotation in the registration document, will be able to freely enter the Kraków LEZ. Motorcycles and historical vehicles are also exempt from LEZ requirements. Other cars will have to meet the requirements of the zone, i.e. initially min. Euro 1/Euro 2 (if they already belong to their owners), and then the min. Euro 3/Euro 5 (also if purchased and registered after March 1, 2023).
Suppliers whose cars will not meet the requirements of the zone, and will not be using the above-mentioned special vehicles or other vehicles exempt from the ban, must be aware that they will not be able to use such cars in Kraków in a few years.
We mean 30-year-old cars in the first stage (since July 1, 2024) and even 26-year-old (petrol) and 18-year-old (diesel) cars in the second stage (since July 1, 2026).
Changes in the functioning of small and medium-sized enterprises in Kraków are related only to the operation of market and competition mechanisms, and not to the introduced traffic regulations. The Paid Parking Zone was introduced mainly in the central areas of the city, where, for example, it is possible to transport by cargo bikes (available for short- and long-term rental), while customers can get there using a wide range of public transport, agglomeration railways and even electric scooters. It is worth noting that the city is gradually improving accessibility of public transport. For example, new tram routes are being built, such as the recently completed tram connection between Kurdwanów and Zakopiańska Street within the Łagiewnicka Route, tram lines to Górka Narodowa and Mistrzejowice is being built.
According to the latest data provided by Statistics Poland, Kraków is the second largest city in Poland, with a population of over 800,000 (as of December 2021). This is 20,000 more inhabitants than expected before the census. The city is definitely not depopulated. There are, of course, natural changes in districts, in some of them the number of inhabitants decreases, in other parts it increases. For example, the peripherally located Bronowice is a very “popular” district to live in, while the number of inhabitants in the districts located in the city centre is decreasing. However, people who choose an apartment near Kraków, in a house with a garden, usually move out instead of living in the centre, in a tenement house.
For years, authorities of Kraków have been pursuing a coherent policy to reduce low emissions and improve air quality in the city. Since September 2019, it has been forbidden to use solid fuel heating boilers in the municipality. The next step is the fight against harmful pollutants emitted by cars (of all kinds), i.e. reducing the emission of nitrogen oxides and PM10 and PM2.5 dust. For road transport, we are constantly talking about air pollution up to 40 meters above the ground – this is how low emission is defined. Airplanes, of course, are a huge source of air pollution because they burn huge amounts of fuel. However, they move mainly (with the exception of take-off and landing) in the upper atmosphere, where the main hazard related to it is the emission of water vapor (the main greenhouse gas) and carbon dioxide (as a product of combustion). Due to the remoteness of airports or air corridors directly from people, emissions related to their operation are not as dangerous for residents as emissions from exhaust pipes of vehicles driving on our streets. Let’s look at the results of research by a team of scientists from the Collegium Medicum of the Jagiellonian University (2014) – they showed that asthma symptoms in children and adolescents living on busy streets are much more common than in young people living further away from city arteries. We estimate that after the entry into force of the second stage of the zone (i.e. after July 1, 2026), the amount of nitrogen oxides in Kraków’s air may be almost half less than in 2019. The decrease in the amount of harmful dust is to be even greater, it should amount to approx. 82%. This will clearly improve the health of the residents and increase the comfort of their life in the city.
Suppliers whose cars will not meet the requirements of the zone and will not be subject to exclusions must be aware that they will not be able to enter Kraków with such vehicles. It is worth noting that we mean 30-year-old cars in the first stage (from July 1, 2024) and even 26-year-old (petrol) and 18-year-old (diesel) cars in the second stage, from July 1, 2026.
The adopted resolution introducing the LEZ does not mention possible forms of support in exchange for the replacement of a car. This has several reasons. Firstly, in public consultations, the city proposed forms of support for people who would exchange cars that do not meet the standards, in the form of two-year free KMK tickets, subsidies for the purchase of electric bikes or cargo bikes, and a two-year free subscription for long-term rental of an electric bike. However, there was no interest in such forms of aid. Secondly, replacing a car, unlike replacing a furnace, does not always require scrapping – it can also be sold. What is more, the car replacement cycle is much shorter than that for furnaces that last for several decades. We drive cars for a few/over a dozen years and replace them with newer ones.
At the moment, the city has a total of over 340 cars in its units, departments or companies that would have to be replaced due to the introduction of the LEZ. The largest number of such cars is owned by MPO – 74 units, as well as ZGK and ZUE – 62 units each. However, it should be remembered that a large part of the vehicles, in accordance with the Act on electromobility and alternative fuels, is exempt from the requirements of the zone, because they “perform tasks for the road administrator”. This fleet also includes the so-called special, construction or repair vehicles, used to clear roads – which are also exempt from the requirements of the zone under the LEZ resolution (special vehicles have appropriate entries in their registration documents).
Pursuant to the provisions of the resolution on the establishment of the LEZ in Kraków, older vehicles, registered before March 1, 2023, owned by persons who, on January 1, 2023, are at least 70 years old, and driven by the owners, will not be covered by the requirements of the zone. Therefore, people born in 1952 and earlier will be able to move around Kraków in their cars (sitting behind the wheel) without any restrictions. What is more, vehicles with appropriate markings and used by people with disabilities are exempt from the ban on entering and moving around the LEZ. The provisions of the resolution have also been softened, meeting the expectations of residents, presented during public consultations – e.g. the time for the purchase and registration of vehicles that still meet the standards of min. Euro 1 (petrol) and Euro 2 (diesel) has been lengthened. You will be able to drive them around Kraków for almost 4 years more, i.e. until June 30, 2026.
Kraków is the first city in Poland to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the Act on electromobility and alternative fuels of 2018. As early as at the beginning of 2019, the capital of Malopolska introduced the Low Emission Zone in a limited area, i.e. in Kazimierz. This zone functioned for several months. Pursuant to Resolution No. XXV/373/20 of the Sejmik of the Malopolska Region, adopted on September 28, 2020 on the air protection program for the Malopolska Region, Kraków was obliged to adopt a resolution on the zone no later than one year after the entry into force of national regulations (the amended Act on electromobility and alternative fuels), enabling its introduction (i.e. in December 2022 at the latest). Pursuant to the same provisions, the zone should cover at least the area within the ring road II. In spring 2022 (from March 17 to May 13), and then in autumn (from September 20 to October 10), public consultations regarding the new Low Emission Zone were held. As a result of the consultations, the area of the zone was changed and covered the entire city. The purpose of such action is to ensure the greatest possible effectiveness of LEZ. The larger the area of the zone, the better it will protect us – as there is a greater chance for a faster improvement of air quality in Kraków.
The resolution on the Low Emission Zone designates it within the administrative boundaries of Kraków. This means that any new P+R car parks operating outside the zone may only be built in other municipalities. Therefore, such constructions are not within the competence of the Municipality of Kraków. It should be added that some neighbouring municipalities have already constructed car parks for residents in their areas, so that they can conveniently change from private cars to agglomeration buses, and above all, trains. Such car parks operate, for example, in Wieliczka or Podłęże. Kłaj is also constructing this type of a car park. We hope that by the time the LEZ is introduced in 2024, further investments of this type will be executed.
According to the adopted provisions of the resolution on LEZ, cars with stickers issued by other Polish municipalities will be able to enter the Kraków zone, provided that the vehicles meet the requirements applicable in the Kraków zone. This entitlement can be verified on the basis of the registration number entered into the database, as well as the data on the sticker (the sticker will include, among others, the manufacture year and the type of fuel that powers the car marked with it).