Everyone's talking about the C-charge today. Five days before the extended western zone comes into play, there are a few pre-launch jitters. Although the number of vehicles entering the original zone has fallen by 20%, congestion and travel tmes are almost back to pre-charge levels. If you're wondering how the deuce those two facts square up, there are three schools of thought:
1. Mayor Ken points his newt-bitten finger at the utility companies. Firms such as Thames Water have, we're told, been responsible for a 191% rise in roadworks since 2004. (With good cause - the Victorian drains need replacing.) A trip around trench-ridden Bloomsbury at the moment would underscore his argument.
2. Nonsense, say the Tories, who instead put the blame on an increase in bus lanes, tampering with traffic lights and those mobile blockades known as bendy buses.
3. Londonist, as ever, offers its own theory. The rise in congestion coincides precisely with the rise of our own humble periodical. Joining the dots, we reckon the increased journey times are caused by drivers looking out for all the cool graffiti, sculptures and oddments that we bring you on a daily basis. See, it's all our fault. Excuse us now while we hook up another server to contain our terabyte ego.
According to the Times, the mayor is worried. He's considering bringing in the £25 charge for Chelsea tractors in 2008 - two years earlier than originally mooted.
Steve Norris, the twice-beaten mayoral candidate (he has the black eyes to prove it), has always argued the C-charge is a pile of turds. He reacted to the latest figures with a bit of a raspberry:
In politics, I do know that saying ‘I told you so’ is deeply unfashionable. But what the hell. I told you so.
Gah. Tubes are bad, bikes are scary and roads are busy. We want a jetpack.
Image taken from Jovike's Flickr photostream.