Azara Blog: London "congestion" charge increasing to £8

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Date published: 2005/04/01

The BBC says:

London's congestion charge is rising from £5 to £8, mayor Ken Livingstone has announced.

The increase will come into force on 4 July. Charges for fleet vehicles will rise to £7 and there will be discounts for people who pay monthly or annually.

The mayor said up to £45m will be raised which will help cut traffic levels and improve public transport.

But Tory London Assembly member Angie Bray said the rise was a "serious blow" to city businesses.

The charge, introduced in February 2003, has been credited with reducing congestion in central London by 30% with 70,000 fewer vehicles entering the zone a day.
Ms Bray said Mr Livingstone was having to increase the charge to fund the cost of running the system.

"The revenue levels of the current charge have been so disappointing as it's a very expensive system to run," she said.
Lynne Featherstone, Liberal Democrat London transport spokesperson, said: "Traffic levels in central London are still falling, yet our Labour mayor slams a 60% hike on congestion charges.

On April First it's hard to know which stories are April Fool jokes and which are not, since even most real stories involve someone taking the piss. Here that honour falls to Ken Livingstone. He wants to raise two fingers to motorists (at least those not rich enough to travel in taxis, which are exempt from the charge) and so motorists should raise two fingers in return and boycott London. He considers them a problem so they should take their business elsewhere. For once the Tories just about make the most sense, the problem is that the so-called congestion charge (which is really an access charge) is so expensive to collect that Livingstone needs to charge an extortionate rate to balance his books. The net "benefit" to the UK economy is probably negative, but what does he care, that's Gordon Brown's problem.

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