Has London reached the limits of congestion charging?

On Monday, London’s congestion zone doubled

in size. The idea seems to be that if congestion charging is good (and so

far the congestion charge has been a success), then more congestion charging

is better. But John Kay

explains cogently why that ain’t necessarily so.

The western area of Belgravia and Kensington, Bayswater and Notting Hill

is mainly residential. More people live than work there and most of the vehicles

on its roads are private cars rather than vans and lorries. While most journeys

in the east central zone begin outside it, most journeys in the western area

begin within it. Most, perhaps all, of the revenues from the western extension

will be absorbed in operating costs, since so many travellers pay the discounted

residents’ charge. If they drive into the eastern part of the zone,

they will begin to recreate the congestion in the commercial areas the earlier

plan addressed.

In other words, there are a couple of hundred thousand residents of the new

congestion zone who used to be incented not to drive into the old congestion

zone, and who now can do so with impunity. Is this really a great idea? I guess

we’ll find out.

Interesting datapoint, from the Guardian:

The congestion scheme made revenues of £245m and a profit of £122m

last year, most of which was invested in buses. This makes a slight dent in

the £1.6bn per year running costs for TfL’s bus network, which earned

£961m from fares last year, leaving the taxpayer to cover a funding

gap of just under £600m.

The new extension to the zone is expected to generate profits of up to £40m,

but even then it would represent just a fraction of the cost of the bus network

and 3% of TfL’s total costs.

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3 Responses to Has London reached the limits of congestion charging?

  1. tbelcher says:

    “Incented” ?? oh my… How long have you lived in the US?

    Still, mustn’t grumble. The main conservative party in Australia once coined the slogan . I’m pretty sure that I would be incentivated not to drive by a high congestion charge.

  2. Felix says:

    I know it’s horribly American, but I actually like “incented” a/o/t “incentivized” or “incentivised”. Or “incentivated”. Why tack on an unnecessary syllable or two? I’ll happily admit that “incented” hasn’t been a word for long, but surely at this point everybody knows what it means. But I’ll stop here, before this comment becomes too incentiary…

  3. Richard says:

    Why not simply “incent” as the past tense?

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