Business Group Calls For ‘Radical Overhaul’ Of London’s Congestion Charge

congestionA YouGov poll by not-for-profit organisation London First has found ‘a radical overhaul of congestion charging’ is needed to keep London moving.

The ‘Jams Today, Jams Tomorrow’ (PDF) report shows that Londoners think congestion is only going to get worse, but just 29 per cent support an increase in the congestion charge during rush hour. The report, based on a poll of 1,055 people, calls for ‘smart charging’ which would mean drivers pay different amounts depending on what time of day they use the road. London First says any enhanced scheme should ensure:

  • Benefits for bus passengers and cyclists, and the creation of better public spaces.
  • Drivers paying the charge must get more reliable journey times.
  • Revenue should be reinvested in the capital’s transport, including roads or offset against tax reductions.
  • Discounts and exemptions for certain users.

Tolling of proposed east London river crossings split the poll’s respondents — 46 per cent supported it while 43 per cent opposed it. But the group objected to imposing tolls on existing crossings, such as the Blackwall and Rotherhithe tunnels, citing increased use by people avoiding the toll crossing.

The congestion charge recently increased from £10 per day to £11.50 (or £10.50 using AutoPay) and drivers of diesel vehicles face extra charges under a new Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ). Each day, London’s roads see around 10 million car journeys, four million bus journeys, 500,000 cycle trips and 300,000 taxi journeys. London First chief executive, Baroness Jo Valentine said:

“This is bad news for London’s competitiveness and for Londoners’ overall quality of life. We need a far cleverer congestion charging regime where costs vary more based on those roads and times of day where congestion is worst.”

Photo by Nigel Bewley in the Londonist Flickr pool.

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