London Motorists Face $12k P/a Congestion Charge

Justin Berkowitz
by Justin Berkowitz

Over the last five years, London Mayor Ken Livingstone has been the paterfamilias of the UK's anti-car jihad. Spearheading this effort: London's congestion charge (CC), a £5/day daily toll to drive into the central parts of the City. Amid charges that the CC is ineffective and inefficient, emboldened by talk of global warming, Ken's upped the stakes. Literally. The Times reports that the daily CC is about to ascend to a whopping £25/day (50 bucks to us Yankees). At the same time, "Red Ken" is closing CC loopholes. The hybrid exemption will expire in 2010 (which is about seven years too late for Lexus's LS600h). But the part that really sticks it in and breaks it off is that London is ditching the exemption for people that live inside the zone. Right now they're paying a reduced rate of 80p/day. Residents within the large Congestion Charge Zone will now have to pay a cruel £6000 per year. Cars that emit less CO2 will still be exempt, which is nice. Mr. Mayor says the estimated £30 – £50m in "extra" revenue generated by the modified scheme will pay for new mass transit systems. And if you believe that, you'll believe Ken doesn't secretly want to ban private passenger cars from the inner city.

Justin Berkowitz
Justin Berkowitz

Immensely bored law student. I've also got 3 dogs.

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  • Redbarchetta Redbarchetta on Feb 13, 2008
    Malcolm Regardless of how it's calculated it's still and extra fee. An additional tax raising the cost of living to people working and living in the city. There is a financial point where people will move out of the city to where it is cheaper to live and just commute since they have to pay the tax regardless. Which will end up making the congestion problem worse with more people driving into the city during rush hour. Look at some of the cities in the US where they have priced a large percentage of the people who work in the city out of being able to financially afford living in the city so everyone commutes, causing more traffic. I can't seem to get Atlanta out of my head.
  • Yankinwaoz Yankinwaoz on Feb 13, 2008

    I wonder if it will reach the point where it is cheaper to own a horse and carriage if you live in central London? Of course comrade Ken will probably tax that too.

  • Brownie Brownie on Feb 13, 2008

    Malcolm: thank you for that, saved me a paragraph. :) Redbarchetta: in addition to what Malcolm said, I think you are mistaken if you believe that central London (or Manhattan below 96th street, for that matter) has any meaningful working class population. London, like New York, is a geographically large city, and like New York, its working class has been getting pushed to its fringe neighborhoods since time immemorial. And I suspect, though I can't confirm, that like New York, the only people who own cars within the congestion zone are folks like me who own them because they want to and can afford to, and not because they need to. If you want to fight to lower our taxes go ahead, but don't do it under the illusion that we are struggling to get by under the weight of an oppressive tax regime. Lumbergh21: It seems to me that you're thinking from the perspective of a smallish city with inadequate scale for mass transit (e.g. Providence), a large decentralized city (e.g. Los Angeles), or a large centralized city with poor rail infrastructure (e.g. San Francisco). Living in or near all of those cities, in my experience, requires a car, and a large percentage of the city work force drives in and out every day. London (and New York) is a different city. Only a very small percentage of the work force drives in and out every day; most use mass transit. Congestion pricing only affects a very small number of drivers, and I'd venture that almost none of them live close to work anyway (if they did they wouldn't be driving). So the effect on population density is minimal; the effect on driving is large.

  • Geeber Geeber on Feb 14, 2008
    brownie: Redbarchetta: in addition to what Malcolm said, I think you are mistaken if you believe that central London (or Manhattan below 96th street, for that matter) has any meaningful working class population. So, it's just another in a long line of policies that increase economic polarization within the major cities. But I guess now it's okay... I'm going to remember this the next time someone wails about Republicans, corporations, etc., making cities affordable only for the rich...