London Flunks Congestion Charge Report Card

Megan Benoit
by Megan Benoit

The London Assembly's Conservatives have released their 5th Congestion Charge Report. According to, the results is… more congestion. Since charges were imposed in 2003, central London's average traffic speed has dropped from 10.6 to 9.3mph. "Excess delay" (as measured by traffic cameras) went from 0.87 minutes per mile to 1.5 minutes per mile. Roads adjacent to the Congestion Charge (CC) zone are clogged with motorists trying to avoid fees. Motorists within the CC are also loitering with intent (to get their money's worth). What's more (or less from a revenue point of view), 41 percent of vehicles entering the zone are exempt from the CC (e.g. taxis, buses, hybrids and mopeds). At the same time, removing lanes from general traffic for buses and changing the light timings is trapping them in jams. So buses are traveling fewer miles at slower speeds– discouraging ridership. The report arrives just in time for a vehicle size-related increase in the charge, which will see some SUV drivers paying $50 to enter Mayor Ken Livingstone's auto zone. Conservative transport spokesman Angie Bray wonders when the madness will stop. "I could bung it up to £50 and then nobody would come in. Would that be your perfect London? Or do you accept that there have to be vehicles at some level traveling around London? Where would you actually stop?" Punk.

Megan Benoit
Megan Benoit

I'm a computer security geek raised in Nebraska and recently transplanted to Atlanta. I like me some cars, got into car geekery a few years ago and haven't looked back since. I also volunteer at a local ferret shelter and participate in various charity and fund-raising events related to that.

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  • Allerton Allerton on Dec 18, 2007

    locker1776 - What makes you think that London's transport policy doesn't favour people taking buses? It seems to do exactly that. For some anecdotal evidence, check out this article by a journalist returning to London to live after a 20 year absence. The relevant bit... "Hey, but guess what: the buses are brilliant! I love London's buses! There are so many of them! You never have to wait more than five minutes! When did that happen? (I know, actually; it was to do with the congestion charge, wasn't it?) Well, it's worked. In 1987, if you suggested someone take the bus, they would look at you as if you'd suggested they take a blunt knife to a particularly treasured body part. Then, buses were like an endangered species; for days on end you'd see none, then all of a sudden along would come eight. Now they are everywhere. So that's excitingly new and different."

  • Pch101 Pch101 on Dec 18, 2007

    The goal of the congestion charge is not to improve traffic flow, but to deter cars from entering Central London. They attempt to achieve that goal by making driving into the zone tedious and costly enough that more people opt to use mass transit, instead. Assuming that you support that objective, the charge's success or failure would be measured by whether the growth rate of vehicles entering the zone has been reduced or reversed. It's not being imposed for the sake of drivers, but for the residents. And I doubt that many of those who live within the zone own a car.

  • Quasimondo Quasimondo on Dec 18, 2007

    Perhaps somebody should forward a copy of this report to Michael Bloomberg.

  • Detroit-Iron Detroit-Iron on Dec 19, 2007

    The best way to reduce congestion in London is to destroy the economy so there are no jobs and no shopping there. No jobs, no retail, no congestion! Just like East St. Louis.