Boris Considers C-Charge change

By Londonist Last edited 112 months ago
Boris Considers C-Charge change

cchargezone.jpg
By Massimo Usai from the Londonist Flickr pool

London Mayor Boris Johnson is considering a new ‘intelligent’ system of congestion charging which could see motorists paying more in peak times.

After getting caught by his own ‘wretched system’ last year and scrapping the much-maligned western extension, Boris is considering introducing a sliding scale of charges for peak and off-peak driving in the capital.

London’s hard-pressed motorists could see themselves paying an increase on the current £8 per day flat charge, although why anyone would subject themselves to the misery of driving in London unless they had no choice is open for debate. The concept of a rush hour is also debatable; Jenny Jones from the Green Party says, ‘The proposal to vary the charges for cars only makes sense if there is an actual rush hour. In reality the roads of central London are pretty much at their peak all day long.’

TfL research suggests that congestion has risen back to pre-CC levels as a result of the ceaseless roadworks and traffic-calming measures previously introduced - who can forget Ken Livingstone’s attempt to bring London to a seething, exhaust-spewing standstill by rephasing traffic lights to stay longer on red? They didn’t call him ‘Red Ken’ for nothing. One of Boris’s first acts as Mayor was to get London moving again in a red light revolution.

The Mayor is also seeking to make paying the congestion charge easier and fairer for motorists with an improved accounts billing system, direct debits and potentially an electronic chip system to track entry into the zone. The proposed scheme is based on one in Stockholm which has been running since 2003.

And if you’re a firm believer in four wheels bad, two wheels good, there’s always TfL’s cycle hire scheme due to be introduced in 2010.

By Beth Torr

Last Updated 17 March 2009

markle

Wow, this is the sort of comment piece that I would expect to see emanating from Andrew Gilligan's mouth.

Making London 'easier' to drive in is entirely counter-productive - most research shows that if you create the road capacity, it will get used, returning to former congestion levels.

The policies of the former mayor - which saw pedestrians and vehicles which made more efficient use of the limited road space (buses, cycles, motorbikes) getting priority over drivers made logical sense - we've only got a limited amount road space in London, and it's much more sensible to use what space we do have in the most efficient manner possible.

Now before I get set upon, I live on the perimeter of the congestion charge zone, and I drive. I wholeheartedly support the scheme - the fact of the matter is that there is little *need* to drive in central London during weekdays - on occasions where I would need to drive, it's easy enough to postpone the journey to the evening or weekend.

Boris may well have had a 'red light revolution' - but shaving a couple of seconds off of a bunch of lights won't really have a huge impact on the city - projects that would have made a huge impact on congestion - such as the implementation of the cross-river tram, have been unceremoniously ditched by him.

By the way, the Western zone wasn't "much maligned" as you assert - in TfL's

Dave

"Wow, this is the sort of comment piece that I would expect to see emanating from Andrew Gilligan's mouth."

Oh I dunno, I think this is a pretty balanced summary of the situation.

"Making London 'easier' to drive in is entirely counter-productive - most research shows that if you create the road capacity, it will get used, returning to former congestion levels."

Which, if it were true, would beg the question of why we have a congestion charge in the first place. Ken originally sold the idea on the reasonable premise that it would reduce congestion. (Which it did, before he totally lost the plot and started using it as a thinly veiled vehicle for class warfare and shameless revenue farming.)

"... there is little *need* to drive in central London during weekdays..."

Tell that to the thousands of tradesmen and delivery drivers whose work necessitates their travel into central London on a daily basis. Just because Joe Resident doesn't always *need* to drive during the week doesn't mean that Joe Public never does.

Anyway, the politics of "need" are a classic piece of misdirection. Most of us don't actually *need* many of the things that we use/want/like (e.g. sunglasses, haircuts, alcohol, art, theatre, music, dairy products, fiction novels, household pets, etc.). But in most cases that hasn't become a reason, in itself, to penalise people for having them. It's OK when these types of charges and levies have a legitimate purpose, such as reducing congestion, but claiming that people should be penalised just for using something they don't *need* takes us into a wholly different area.

"By the way, the Western zone wasn't "much maligned" as you assert - in TfL's attitudinal survey it was discovered that more people were in support of either keeping or amending the zone as opposed to ditching it. Fortunately for Boris, he's managed to bury that particular report pretty quickly."

Frankly, the western CC zone extension was a fucking joke - a piece of power-crazed madness by Ken which finally proved, without any shadow of a doubt, that he had completely lost touch with the needs of London, and the wishes of London's population. He thought he was untouchable and had no accountability to the London electorate, a belief that was presumably overturned when he was voted out in favour of a prize buffoon. If ever there was a case of democracy and accountability in action, this was it.

Getting back to the western CC zone extension, Brian Paddick got it right when he pointed out that its main effect on congestion was to allow residents from the new zone to commute into the City with a 90% discount, thus actually *increasing* congestion. Ken's response to this was that at least one borough in the new zone had some quite well-off people in it, and so they deserved to pay the charge even if it did counter the stated intent to reduce congestion.

The one thing that I have always admired Ken for is his brazenly unapologetic stance when it comes to making his opinions known. And here, with this undisguised piece of class warfare (with not even a tangential pretence of caring about congestion any more), he put his cards on the table. I genuinely admire him for that level of honesty.

Of course, as well as being honest, this move was also astonishingly arrogant. Maybe he believed that he was as untouchable as Teflon Tony (who also blatantly misrepresented the wishes of his electorate, but still managed to win another election)? Turns out that he wasn't, though.

...

After this lot of late-night waffle about the failed policies of the previous Mayor, I suppose I would say that I think that, from what I can see so far, Boris is just trying to move things forward in the interest of London's road users (i.e. pedestrians, cyclists and drivers) on the whole. There are a lot of previous cock-ups that he has to fix along the way, but until he's undone all of Ken's second-term lunacy, it's a bit premature to judge the effectiveness of his own initiatives.

Elfy

"Which, if it were true, would beg the question of why we have a congestion charge in the first place."

No, it wouldn't - it would ANSWER that question. As congestion levels drop, driving becomes more attractive so people drive more so congestion levels rise. The congestion charge provides a counter-incentive that keeps them lower (as well as raising revenue to be spent on improving public transport, which again makes driving less attractive).

Congestion is now back up to about the same levels as before the charge - but all the research states quite clearly that it would be far higher without the charge. Much of the reason for the increased congestion is that there's less road space available thanks to the roadworks necessary to replace our abysmal water supply system.

Oh, and "Boris is just trying to move things forward in the interest of London's road users (i.e. pedestrians, cyclists and drivers) on the whole." is very revealing - just like Boris, you seem to forget about those using public transport. No wonder you seem to have such remarkable hatred for Ken, who oversaw gigantic improvements in public transport in this city, and affection for Boris who promptly scrapped every proposal he could.

Dave

"No, it wouldn't - it would ANSWER that question. As congestion levels drop, driving becomes more attractive so people drive more so congestion levels rise. The congestion charge provides a counter-incentive that keeps them lower (as well as raising revenue to be spent on improving public transport, which again makes driving less attractive)."

Well, the point that I was making was in response to the original commenter's claim that the Mayor shouldn't be trying to make London 'easier' to drive in. Surely if you don't want London to be easier to drive in, you should just scrap the congestion charge and let it all get monumentally snarled up again. Problem solved. Personally though, I'd prefer to live in a city that stands a chance of managing its own road system, which is why I think that the congestion charge, in its original form, worked pretty well.

"Oh, and "Boris is just trying to move things forward in the interest of London's road users (i.e. pedestrians, cyclists and drivers) on the whole." is very revealing - just like Boris, you seem to forget about those using public transport."

Hmmm. What was it about my use of the term "London's road users on the whole" that you found ambiguous? Surely that includes those road users that use public transport (e.g. bus drivers, and the pedestrians that use buses)? Unless you were thinking of some form of public transport that uses central London roads, but does not have a driver or pick up pedestrians? If so, please enlighten me to this odd mode of transport!

"No wonder you seem to have such remarkable hatred for Ken, who oversaw gigantic improvements in public transport in this city, and affection for Boris who promptly scrapped every proposal he could."

Oh, now I see where you're coming from. You don't like people criticising the Great Fallen One. Well, you're not alone - there are hundreds of Londoners wailing and wringing their hands about that one.

Still, I'm not sure how you managed to infer "affection for Boris" from my comment. I only referred to him twice: once to say that I think he's "just trying to move things forward", and once to refer to him as a "prize buffoon". Hardly a declaration of undying love, is it?

And as for "remarkable hatred for Ken", don't be so silly. I was greatly disappointed by Ken's policies and behaviour in his second term, but if you are not capable of distinguishing between that viewpoint and outright hatred of the man then you probably need to get out more.