London's Mayor Recieves World Technology Award for Central London Congestion Charge
This is Ken Livingston, the mayor of London's, statement:
Please describe the work that you are doing that you consider to be the most innovative and of the greatest likely long-term significance.
Central London had historically suffered from one of the worst levels of traffic congestion in the United Kingdom. Average traffic speeds were less than 10 miles per hour throughout much of the working day. This congestion was damaging London's economy as people and goods spend unnecessary time in traffic rather than in productive activities. This congestion worsened the environment of London and made conditions unpleasant for other road users, in particular for walkers and cyclists. Something drastic needed to be done.
As new roads generate more traffic and in any case it is completely impractical to build new roads in such a densely developed area as London, a novel solution to rectifying this problem was required. As part of his 2000 election campaign the Mayor put forward his proposals for the central London congestion charge.
The scheme relies on people purchasing the charge, which can be obtained from shops and petrol stations, over the phone, via the web, 100 pay stations in car parks or by mobile phone text messaging. We also provide a fleet scheme used by 11,000 fleet vehicles per day. Their registration number is entered onto a database for that day. The scheme is enforced by cameras, which record the vehicle registration mark of all vehicles entering the zone. These are checked against the database of those that have paid, and if the registration mark is not included the owner of that vehicle will receive a fine. The technological issues in providing an efficient, reliable and integrated payment, monitoring and enforcement system were immense. However, it was essential for this to work well, otherwise it could jeopardise the scheme itself, and given the world-wide scrutiny of this initiative, could lead other towns and cities deciding not to take forward similar schemes for their areas.
The scheme has been an enormous success. No other transport scheme has had such a positive impact on the traffic of a city. Detailed monitoring of its effects has been undertaken, with the key impacts being:
• An immediate 30% reduction in congestion within the charging zone, which has been sustained since
• An 18% reduction in traffic entering the zone, with the number of cars down by a third
• An encouragement of other modes of travel - both cycling and travel by bus is up by 20%
• A 60% reduction in delays to buses due to traffic impacts and a 30% improvement in overall bus reliability
• A 12% reduction in emissions of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and fine particles (PM10)
• A reduction in road accidents (although too early to quantify)
• No detrimental traffic impact on the boundary road or surrounding areas
• On-street surveys show that people perceive the charge to have improved the environmental quality of the area
The lessons we learnt for the successful introduction of Congestion Charging were:
• The political commitment from Ken Livingstone, the Mayor was essential.
• Consultation was genuine with a readiness to amend the scheme in the light of reasonable representations.
• Public transport, especially buses (as we did not control the trains), was greatly improved.
• *Traffic management was utilised to ensure the inner ring road around the zone ran freely.
• Residential parking restrictions were introduced where it was thought motorists might park just outside the zone.
• Extensive public information using most media (including local radio and TV) to inform motorists of the practicalities for how to pay the charge and also to keep the public informed on progress. (We did not want the communication channels swamped on the first day with motorists asking basic questions).
• First class project management.
A key test of the scheme's success is the degree to which the public support it. Ahead of the introduction of the charge there was a massive and sustained media campaign against the charge, although the balance of public opinion remained fairly even, with around 40% for and 40% against the charge. After 6 months of its operation almost 60% were in favour of the scheme compared with around 25% against. Probably the best test is that on 4 June 2004 Ken Livingstone was re-elected Mayor of London for another 4 years with more votes than previously and a margin of 11% above his main rival who threatened to abolish the Congestion Charge.
London is pretty unique in terms of its very compact central zone(5miles diam) and its vast commuter area (up to 150 miles). Even before the charge, 90% of commuters used public transport. I don't think we could replicate the system in other UK cities and expect similar results.
I'm glad he won that award and even happier that his opponent who wanted to abolish the Congestion Charge lost by a landslide! A mayor like that would have set London back another 25 years!
I really hope we do the same for New York City. Our streets are DANGEROUS as the cabs and cars literally rocket at high speeds because the crowds are so huge in Manhattan, if you don't go fast, people cross right in front of you! It's time we got rid of 30% of the cars and reclaimed the streets for the people.
I hear that folding bikes are very popular in London and Dahon/Brompton are recording record sales. I hope Ken keeps raising the Congestion Charge to rid even more traffic off the streets. It just goes to show you folks that it was NEVER necessary for all those cars to be in central London in the first place. I'm sure all those drivers are riding the buses and tubes.
I would like to see the statistic on how many peds and cyclists were not killed this year because of the Congestion Charge! I can almost assure you the total loss of life went down significantly.
Originally Posted by randya
Last edited by Dahon.Steve; 12-23-04 at 12:21 PM.
I think we are headed in this direction. I read an article that mentioned a family that had four cars and how this was becoming more the norm since rail service was in decline. Even high gas prices in the UK is not changing the public's want for motorcar transport.
Originally Posted by MichaelW
To get people to use public transit it must have frequent service and have good interface with other transport modes - coordinated schedules, parking for cars and means of carrying bikes. Cost is not a significant inhibitor, but inconvenience is.
Good news! Nowhere to go but up, with luck.
Originally Posted by randya
That will be a welcome benefit as it(hopefully) reduces even more. Last time I was in London('96), I thought my friend and I would need gas masks just to set foot outside the hotel. Perhaps things have gotten much better since then, but London was definitely not on the list of places I would like to return to after that visit.
Originally Posted by randya
Punk Rock Lives
I lived in London just as the congestion charge went into effect. BRAVO! Great to hear the results have been so positive.
It didn't affect me at all financially, since I didn't have a car when I was there. I kept asking...why would someone WANT to drive a car in the city? I sat atop a double decker bus evey day en route to work and could relax, read a newspaper, gawk at the scenery, and arrive at work relaxed and refreshed (I worked odd times in the embassy district so it IS true i was on the bus during non-peak hours). A short walk from work i would grab some rolls and cheese for lunch, and the local Starbucks would let ya sit in the couches while i had coffee and read the financial times. Even when I came back at 4 AM after a night of debauchery the buses were running.
I would love to see it happen in Chicago, but just not affect people who are handicapped or older and would need a car.
I would have to imagine that there is an exeption for the handicapped. As far as older people who 'need' a car, IMO, there's a lot of older folks out there who shouldn't be driving anymore for various health reasons...I'd rather see a low-cost door-to-door transport service made available to them.
Originally Posted by koffee brown
I live in a town that has a large senior population. Unfortunately, many of them are driving and they are dangerous. As the baby Boomer population gets older, I expect to see them driving because there is no or little public transit outside of the city.
Originally Posted by randya