I see London First at the Liberal Democrat party conference every year because they get a well-informed group of businesspeople together for an insightful conversation about the transport priorities for London and the UK

Norman Baker MP
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport

Congestion charging in London

In 2014 London First published a new report Jams Today, Jams Tomorrow which called for a radical overhaul of congestion charging in London is needed if the capital’s roads are not to become increasingly clogged and unmanageable.

Research undertaken by YouGov for the report shows that, while the vast majority of Londoners expect congestion to get worse (79%), they are heavily divided in terms of solutions.

The most popular solution, with just 29% support, was a higher congestion charge during rush hour.

The study, assesses different options for easing congestion and draws on international examples of successful charging regimes.

It concludes the most effective solution would be a system where charges vary according to those roads and times of day where congestion is worst.

With London growing by 100,000 people a year and already responsible for 20% of total UK traffic congestion, the report says Londoners and London government have to accept the reality of new charges.

The alternative is to face ever greater congestion, more unpredictable journey times, and increased delays on deliveries, it argues.

It sets out five conditions for creating a new scheme:

  • any future scheme should be better targeted than London’s existing one, where costs vary more based on those roads and times of day where congestion is worst;
  • any scheme must be able to demonstrate that it reduces congestion, benefits bus passengers and cyclists, and supports the creation of better quality public spaces;
  • those who pay the charge must themselves see some sustained benefits in the form of more predictable and reliable journeys for people and goods;
  • all net revenues from any scheme should be reinvested in transport in the capital, with road users who pay the charge seeing at least some of the benefits, whether through investment in roads infrastructure and network management, or through offsetting reductions in existing taxes and charges;
  • targeted discounts or exemptions where these may be justified for particular groups of users.

Better roads management

In 2010 London First undertook new research to explore ways to reduce the congestion in the capital. It addressed one of the principle causes of congestion: the length of time roads are closed due to essential roadworks.

Our recommendations were steered by a group of London First members and stakeholders who commissioned an assessment of the costs to London business of disruption due to roadworks from SKM Colin Buchanan.

Proposals for new financial incentives came in the form of a Lane Rental scheme reflecting the impact of roadworks on road users and costs to utilities and highway authorities. We put forward recommendations for targeted charges on the busiest roads during peak times when street works cause the most congestion; as well as parity, namely that charges apply equally to utilities and highways agencies.

The Mayor’s subsequent pilot adopted a number of the criteria we called for in our Road Sense report. We are now pressing Transport for London for a proper monitoring of impacts and analysis of costs and benefits in order to help make the case for a permanent scheme.

Your contact

Contact David Leam for further information

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