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August 06, 2008


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Well if you wanna know "now what" look here: http://www.london.gov.uk/view_press_release.jsp?releaseid=18174

Congestion will always increase but given the complexities caused by roadworks and the likely future chaos Crossrail and the like will cause surely the "now what" should be get the cars out of central London even more - increase the charge, get more appropriate vehicles on the streets (why do we insist on having oversized bin collection lorries and not something more suited to London? Oh, and freight vehicles (Tescos are the worst) - Ken's frieght strategy advocated a "London Lorry" designed to cope with London's streets - where's that gone?


One more thing, the below is an extract from a Regeneration website which paints a truer picture... if traffic levels weren't down (because of congestion charge) surely congestion would be even higher. This couldn't possibly be being spun as a "it hasn't worked so let me save the day" story could it?

Traffic volume in London's congestion charge zone is still significantly lower than pre-charge levels, but congestion has returned to heights experienced before the levy was introduced, a report shows today.

Traffic levels in the central London zone are 21 per cent lower than before the charge was launched more than five years ago, according to Transport for London's (TfL's) Sixth Annual Impacts Monitoring Report.

And over a year after the western extension was introduced, traffic volume has fallen by 14 per cent in that area, the report says.



I read the TfL press release earlier, but really need to read the report to get the full flavour, particularly to see if there's any estimation of what each element contributes to the overall picture of less traffic causing the same congestion - obviously Boris has the following in his sights:
* roadworks (meaning a political trade-off between fixing the water pipes and moving around),
* traffic lights (not sure this will actually find anything worth doing, it always had an element of Clarksonian myth about it),
* moving people onto bikes (like reducing public transport crime, this is jumping on a moving Routemaster).

Putting up the CC would deter more motorists, obviously, but I can't see it happening, even with inflation. Reducing public transport fares likewise would help, but they're likely to rise sooner or later due to fuel prices. Obviously there's the looming prospect of removing bendy buses, which will reduce bus capacity and arguably drive some people back to driving, but again I can't see him reversing direction there either, so he's a bit stuck. Likewise he can't really stop construction projects already authorised (the report mentions one in Knightsbridge, last year's report mentioned Kings Cross tube station works.

The only thing I can see that will really help is the recession, which will reduce demand for travel anyway. The fact that congestion is no worse after five years of solid growth since CC is evidence enough for its success.

The other question that comes out is if it's so bad now, what happens if K&C votes to scrap the western extension and the 14% suddenly comes back into play and congestion worsens?


The M25 was supposed to cut congestion in London, but it never did! The Motorway Box was supposed to cut congestion in London, but I doubt if it would have had that effect. There has been congestion in London since the time of Queen Elizabeth I, who was forced to make an edict that limited the number of carts and carriages that were in London at any one time. Central London is a highly attractive spot for all kinds of economic activity, at the centre of national and international transport networks. There will always be a tendency to congestion, as people and businesses are attracted to central London and the businesses require deliveries and removal of their goods (and their waste). If the economy of London has grown since the introduction of the Congestion Charge, it is quite likely that more traffic has been induced and taken the place of vehicles discouraged by the Congestion Charge.

The first Labour administration of the GLC in the 1970s got in because it opposed the Motorway Box, and was beginning to talk about separate networks for pedestrians, cyclists, buses and other vehicles so that the congestion caused by other vehicles didn't have a negative impact on those who use space more efficiently. The Conservatives at the time were opposed to this, and said that there should be a free-market approach with tolls for roads according to their congestion. Twenty-five years later Livingstone brought in a form of toll, and the same political forces who were for it in the 1970s (because it was a free-market approach) were opposed to it.

Those who oppose the Congestion Charge aren't very honest, because they don't say whether they oppose the rationing of road space in London or the way in which it is done. It appears to me that rationing is essential, so the question is what is the best way to "nudge" people to use more efficient modes or be more efficient in how they do deliveries and collections, how to manage roadworks etc. Free-market theory would suggest that the Congestion Charge should be doubled if congestion is creeping back up, though I doubt if the Evening Standard sees it that way!


The Summary of the TfL report has all the key information. Traffic levels are down but congestion is up (ie vehicle speeds are down). This is mainly due to building work that has closed roads or reduced the width. (A property development at Knightsbridge gets a special mention.) More cycle and bus priority means less space for other vehicles. The report says that TfL is doing more research. It would be interesting if someone asked some questions about what research TfL is doing.

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