Friday, February 23, 2007

London's Congestion Charge

I personally cant agree with the National Alliance Against Tolls (NAAT) when they say that London's congestion charge has been a bad thing ('Congestion charge will not work here', Bristol Evening Post, February 20). Congestion, as the Confederation of British Industry are saying, has damaged London's business and its - and therefore the nation's - economy. Its also damaged Londoner's health and its environment.

The congestion charging initiative is a powerful approach to dealing with congestion. It helps to: reduce congestion; reduce through traffic; encourage use of public transport in central London; benefit business efficiency by speeding up the movement of goods and people; create a better environment for walking and cycling.

Congestion charging results in substantial decreases in traffic according to modelling predictions as follows. Inside the zone: traffic reduced by 10 - 15%; queues reduced by 20 - 30%; traffic speeds increased by 10 - 15%. Outside the zone: traffic increase on orbital routes by up to 5% ; traffic would be reduced on radial routes by 5 - 10%; overall reduction in traffic outside zone by 1 - 2%.

Obviously any scheme for Bristol has to be got right and so it is well worth doing the required research to see if we can get the benefits London has. It wont work without a powerful Transport Authority for Bristol in place first however, with all the powers needed to create a decent, affordable, high quality, environmentally friendly, integrated public transport system. Its not fair to say that the London congestion charge has not worked well up to now though, which is why the decision to extend it was taken.

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