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Sat, 13 May 2006

Ken's promise to increase the congestion charge

Ken Livingstone has promised to increase the congestion charge again, to £10, if re-elected. Good for him! Contrary to the bleatings of his political opponents - including, sadly, some of my fellow Lib Dems - central London businesses are not harmed by the congestion charge. London has since long before the congestion charge had fuck-all parking available and so people have long relied on the clapped-out public transport infrastructure. When buying large items from central London shops, they have for ages arranged for the items to be delivered to them, or have used a cab to get home with them, simply because even if they could have driven to the shop for free, they'd have not been able to park anyway.

When the congestion charge was introduced, there was an immediate decrease in traffic, and an immediate improvement in the quality of service of buses. Cab journeys likewise became quicker and hence cheaper. It seems reasonable to suppose that another increase in the charge will lead to further improvements along these lines without, for the above reasons, doing noticeable harm to businesses.

Where I do not agree with Mr. Livingstone is his desire to increase the area covered by congestion charging. Yes, this will bring in more revenue which, as explained above, is a good thing. However, the area outside the original congestion charge zone did not - and still does not - suffer from as bad congestion, and just happens to have a lot more easy parking. Extending the area covered will indeed harm businesses there and I am not convinced that the benefits gained make up for this.

Posted at 12:55 by David Cantrell
keywords: london | politics | transport
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