Transport for London has published a report revealing that congestion in the city is as bad as it was before the introduction of the C-charge. Though 21% less traffic (amounting to 70,000 cars) enters the zone compared to 2002, a “decreasing level of road space” owing to roadworks and traffic calming measures means that jams are just as lengthy. The western extension, already under review, has seen 30,000 fewer vehicles daily.
Despite seemingly not achieving what it was designed to do, TfL defended the charge, noting that without it traffic levels would be much, much worse, while no doubt keeping one eye trained on the £137m revenue it brings in each year.
Mayor Boris described it today as a “blunt instrument” that has successfully cut traffic yet not resolved the broader problem. He proposed two remedies. Firstly, utility companies will now have to apply for permits before cracking up the tarmac – which does worryingly imply that until now they’ve been free to smash up any road they like with impunity.
Secondly, and less encouragingly, pedestrian-friendly schemes (like the one proposed for Parliament Square) will be scrapped and traffic lights will be “rephased”, meaning shorter crossing times for walkers. That dream of a pedestrian utopia seems ever further away today.