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Felicity Mountjoy

Thank you Phil.
Could Livingstone say that congestion would have been much worse without the charge?

Guy Matthews

Every day 70,000 less cars come into the Congestion Charging Zone than they did before the charge was introduced.

If we had not had congestion charging, London would be in utter gridlock. The problem faced at the moment with increasing congestion is down in a large part to ineffectively managed road works and other complex infrastructure issues.

Mr Taylor is well within his rights in exposing economic misrepresentations from teh Mayor but he must not confuse doing so with an unfair and unsupported attack on congestion charging.

Lindsay Jenkins

An excellent expose.

In answer to Guy Mathews Ken created gridlock by shutting off streets, narrowing roads, and of course changing traffic lights.

Its a lot more complicated picture than the charge itself.

franky boy

it seems to me that the common man (ie the small business man who needs to get around by van, lorry etc) is being very badly affected by this charge (from looking at other blogs) It also appears that the only advocates of this bizzare idea are the usual suspects --pseudo enviromentalists, lefties and the vast army of clowns employed by the Mayor --but what do I know I'm just a self employed taxpayer.

Andrew Ian Dodge

And all the shops that are closing down in Central London because of the charge are just an unfortunate by-product? If the enviro-fascists are happy then the consequences be damned.

Anne Murphy

One of the weird things about the logic behind the congestion charge always seemed to me to be that it's aim was (supposedly) to reduce traffic to make Londoners lives better. So why start in the bits of London no one lives in (the City/central West End)? Why there? Surely if you want to reduce traffic and pollution you want to do that in residential areas first?
But if the motivation wasn't to improve life for residents but to improve traffic flow for business that patently hasn't happened either. To those who claim it has: how does anyone know what the traffic numbers would have been? Even if they have reduced during congestion hours, does that mean a total reduction in traffic numbers? Or just relocation of business outside the zone/restaggering of traffic to hours outside the zone? But anyway, can you show me anyone who thinks the congestion charge has improved their business? And can Traffic for London say what business it does want to drive through/in central London? What business traffic does it approve of and is trying to encourage? Can it point to any way in which it tries to encourage certain sorts of business traffic? No, because they don't exist. So the idea isn't to improve life for business either.
I could just about have seen the logic (though I don't think such schemes ever work) in a congestion charge to get rid of traffic from residential streets. That wasn't the plan, however. And if you wanted to improve life for business traffic, you certainly wouldn't have started from here.

Phil Taylor


The number of cars going into central London had been on a downward path for a number of years before the charge (according to the Department for Transport). It is also true that the charge made little or no impact on cars entering and leaving the zone at rush hour. What happened is that casual trips during the day slumped. This explains why congestion has not been substantially reduced and why shops have been badly affected. This report has all the figures. Read from page 16.


I am afraid that phrases like "utter gridlock" are just hyperbole. Most drivers behave quite rationally. If a journey is hard they don't do it. If it is easy and not too expensive they weigh the benefits of time on their own with Radio 4 against maybe slightly less time on a Tube with someone's armpit in your face and make a logical choice to drive.

Driving in London has been getting harder for years. I remember driving in the eighties in London when I drove way faster than I do now and parked much less carefully.

We didn't need to spend £1.2 billion on charges to change our behaviour. That was happening anyway.

Sarf Lunnon

1. But we all knew the charge was a pile of s***. When the initial advertising campaign came out it asked the rhetorical question 'where will all the cash go?' answer 'on public transport'. I complained to the ASA this was misleading advertising as TfL's own figures showed most would go on setup and operating costs. My complaint was upheld and TfL and its agents were ordered to stop the campaign. I claim 1 nil against Ken.
2. Of course central London has always been congested (look at those old photos of Piccadilly Circus jammed with horse buses), and when I first worked (briefly) in London in 1959, commuting in my old Land Rover I used to boast that a Land Rover was the only sensible vehicle for congested London, as 'even the buses move over for me'.

And so the congestion charge was just an expensive irrelevance.

J H Holloway

Watch out for a report in Autocar on Wednesday that I put together. It details the likely next move in Ken's tolling empire and it doesn't make for pretty reading.

One thing's for sure, Ken won't be telling us about it until after an election win. Just like the plan for the removal of the Routemasters.

I hope to send out PDF versions of the article tomorrow to the mainstream press to try and get wider publicity.


This is all very well, but Bo-Jo has yet to come out with a clear policy on the congestion charge, and the clock is ticking......

JHH, will your report be available online? If not, how much is Autocar?

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