May 21, 2004

Charging Cars To Drive in London Cuts Congestion, Pollution

A year ago, the city of London imposed a fee of 5 pounds (about $9) for cars wishing to drive in the center of London at certain peak times. This "congestion charge," imposed in February of 2003, was aimed at dealing with severe traffic tie-ups.

How is it working?

"Congestion within the zone has reduced by 30%, and the volume of traffic within the zone has reduced by 15%," according to a report released by Transport for London, a government agency. "Public transport is successfully accommodating displaced car users. ...

"Of the 65,000 to 70,000 car trips that are no longer made to the charging zone during charging hours: between 50 and 60 percent have transferred to public transport, 20 to 30 percent now divert around the charging zone , and 15 to 25 percent have made other adaptations, such as changing the timing of trips. ...

"[C]ongestion charging has been directly responsible for reductions of approximately 12 percent in emissions of both oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and fine particles (PM10) from road traffic."

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