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