In February, the mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, introduced congestion zone fees for highly trafficked areas. The fee system has been so successful at reducing traffic and encouraging pedestrian travel, Livingstone has already announced plans to tighten congestion zone rules to further reduce traffic on London’s streets.
Beginning in October of 2008, the daily congestion zone fee for the most polluting vehicles will increase from the current charge of £8 to £25 (US$49), an incentive to keep more drivers of high greenhouse-gas emitting vehicles off the roads.
The Green Car Congress reports:
To be implemented starting 27 October, 2008, the changes are intended to encourage drivers within the charging zone to travel in vehicles that produce lower levels of carbon dioxide and to discourage the use of vehicles with high CO2 emissions.
In a press release, the mayor said, “The CO2 charge will encourage people to switch to cleaner vehicles or public transport and ensure that those who choose to carry on driving the most polluting vehicles help pay for the environmental damage they cause. This is the ‘polluter pays’ principle.”
The Mayor is hopeful that his incentive will reduce emissions and reliance on cars not only London, but cities world-wide:
I believe that this ground-breaking initiative will have an impact throughout the world with other cities following suit as they step up their efforts to halt the slide towards catastrophic climate change. I think this scheme will also start a cultural revolution whereby drivers in every city in Britain start to think about the impact on the environment of their choice of car and how they plan their journeys. We will be closely monitoring this scheme to ensure that goal of reducing traffic congestion in central London remains a central priority.
An estimated 80% of vehicles won’t be affected by the increased congestion fee. Only those vehicles with the highest emissions will be assessed the £25 daily charge. Those that meet higher emissions standards, however, will continue to pay the £8 fee.
Given the plan’s immediate success, it’s clear that pound-pinching Londoners would rather walk, bike, or take transit than pay extra to take the car. Why not subject all vehicles to the £25 charge, while providing adequate transit to all commuters, and see who dares to drive? If more cities made transit (which is already cheap) more convenient (as in NYC), it would only make sense to leave the car at home.