London congestion charge should be scrapped, according to a new study
London’s congestion charge should be scrapped, according to a new study.
Replacing it with a system of charging motorists based on when, where and how much they drive would do more to reduce traffic jams, the London Assembly Transport Committee claimed.
Such a road pricing scheme could be rolled out across the whole of Greater London, the committee said in its London Stalling report.
Transport for London data shows the annual cost from traffic delays in the capital soared by 30% in the two years from 2012/13 to £5.5 billion.
A survey of 1,000 Londoners commissioned by the Transport Committee found 50% of respondents were in favour of charging drivers based on how much they drive, with just 20% opposed and 30% undecided.
The congestion charge was introduced in 2003 and means non-exempt drivers pay £11.50 to enter central London between 7am and 6pm on weekdays.
Committee chair Caroline Pidgeon claimed the system only covers ‘a tiny part of London’ and fails to target vehicles travelling for longer and at the most congested times.
The Liberal Democrat Assembly Member said: ‘Something dramatic has to be done about the enormous congestion problem on London’s roads.
‘The issue is costing our city money and costing Londoners their health and well-being.
‘Transport for London is doing a lot to tackle congestion, but not enough. Road pricing would be a fairer approach as road users would pay according to how much they contribute to congestion.
‘It’s a bold move but our survey shows that road users are in favour and the current congestion charge is far too blunt an instrument and too narrow in scope.
‘Gridlocked London needs to start moving again and tinkering here and there is not going to achieve that.
‘A total rethink about who uses our roads and how is imperative to get the veins and arteries of our great city flowing freely again.’
The report also recommended reducing restrictions on night-time deliveries, piloting a ban on personal deliveries for London Assembly staff at work and devolving vehicle excise duty to the mayor.
Deputy Mayor for Transport Val Shawcross said the report contained ‘some innovative new ideas’ and she pledged to ‘look closely’ at them.
She added that a number of practical steps to tackle congestion in the capital are already being taken, such as making cycling and walking easier and safer and improving the affordability of public transport.
Bridget Fox, of the Campaign for Better Transport, claimed road pricing would be ‘a real improvement’ on the congestion charge as it would improve the way traffic is managed and reduce ‘lethal air pollution’.
Matt Winfield, acting director of cycling and walking charity Sustrans, said Londoners should not ‘surrender our city to traffic’ and urged mayor Sadiq Khan to ‘take a fresh look at putting a price on road use’.
AA president Edmund King warned the company’s own research has found 93% of motorists do not trust politicians to deliver a fair system of charges based on how much they drive.
He added: ‘We would like to see a thorough consultation with Londoners to gauge their real opinions on road pricing.’
London Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Colin Stanbridge said businesses must not be used as a ‘money-spinner’ by punishing them when no other transport alternatives are available.