WILL IT ACTUALLY WORK?
A critical view has been received on a Transport for London (TfL) document: "The Greater London (Central Zone) Congestion Charging Order 2001: Report to the Mayor, February 2002"
Of especial interest are Chapters: 4 (Analysis of Representations),
5 (Consideration of representations and objections received), 14 (Social Cost Benefit Analysis),
15 (Public Enquiry)
Q: Does London really support the Congestion Charging Scheme?
A: It was previously reported that 'officially' 52% of the public favoured congestion charging, 35% opposed it.
This is totally contradicted in Chapter 4 - although the TfL hand-picked 'Stakeholder groups' supported it 56%:13%, "Other groups" replying opposed by 39%:25%, and the largest category: "Members of the Public" opposed it 47%:36%.
An equal weighting of responses gives 44%:36% opposed!
The TfL report goes on about the responses being "self-selecting" and an "orchestrated campaign against",
although no such criticism was made of one of Ken Livingstone's consultations, which spent £1m on a one-sided promotion of the Transport Strategy or all of the orchestrated campaigns "for" congestion charging.
Q: Why has there not been a public enquiry on such a major matter?
A: You may now appreciate why Ken has opposed an independent public inquiry since 2000 (as "confrontational") and was censured by 20/23 GLA Assembly members for failing to listen to their concerns. Chapter 15 is rather fawning in the way it gives excuses on why Ken is so capable of deciding without one! Might he just happen to be the Chief Executive of a transport body? A good bit of foot-shooting to enjoy.
Q: How true is the claim that "all Londoners benefit"?
A: Equally odd is Chapter 14, the "Social Cost Benefit Analysis", which projects costs very selectively.
Although it claims "overall London would be a winner - benefits exceed costs" (ref 14.8.7), it admits that the £5 charge payers would be "unlikely to experience reduced congestion" adequate to recoup costs (14.8.3). It adds that journeys made near the charge zone "might experience additional delay", that time savings for vehicles outside the zone might be "relatively small" and even "not be noticed" in Outer London. (14.8.6)
'Business' motorists in the charge zone are only £5m-£40m a year worse off when you compare costs vs benefits. It's doubtful that the alleged 'reliability' benefits will accrue if London traffic levels remain more-or-less the same and other schemes such as bus lanes eat into available road capacity?
Although it may be possible to financially express limited benefits to business such as through slightly faster taxi journeys, how they can identify a benefit to 'non business' road travellers at £75 million a year is not properly explained! (14.6.5, 14.8.8).
So much for getting London moving or "a beneficial impact on all Londoners" (TfL Q&A, "More Questions Answered").
Those who talk of a so-called "£5 charge that you can pay before midnight" rarely volunteer that it is actually a £10 charge if you pay it after 8pm on the day in question!!
Q: What about the claims made on traffic reduction?
A: Although Ken Livingstone likes to talk on TV of a "15%" reduction in traffic within the zone, this actually projects to 10-15% according to TfL (Q&A).
The traffic within the wider N.Circular-S.Circular ring roads (more or less the inner city area) will only decrease 1-2%. (TfL Q&A). Hardly noticeable?
20,000 car drivers will transfer to public transport (TfL above). However, TfL cannot be that confident of a sustained shift to public transport, as (in 14.6.8) they talk about the future "increasing demands for car use and hence potentially increasing the levels of congestion" ["in the charging zone" understood].
Q: How true are the claims on hypothecation - reinvesting all the revenue into transport?
A: TfL say that the revenue has to be "ploughed back into transport for Greater London" (Q&A). However if you read Annex 2 to the Charging Order signed 26.2.02, it gives "as examples" potential uses of funds:
- Home zones (ref. 5)
- Expansion of 'Streets for People' areas (ref. 11)
- Further introduction of 24 hour bus stop clearways across Greater London (ref.1).
In recent experience, the 24 hour bus lane at Putney Bridge has been the cause of massive congestion with tailbacks of up to a mile. Even after 8pm and on weekends.
The other potential initiatives are actually anti-transport measures - the first irresponsibly encouraging children to play in streets.