The London Assembly Transport Committee has released a new report that calls on the mayor, Sadiq Khan, to reform the congestion charge and ultimately replace it with road pricing.
According to the London Stalling report, the overall annual cost to London from traffic delays on busy roads is £5.5bn (US$6.7bn). This figure represents a huge 30% increase in just two years from the 2012-13 estimate of £4.2bn (US$5.1bn). The report calculates the cost of delays for an average vehicle of £20.83 (US$25.67) per hour. The Transport Committee suggests a way of charging people for road usage that is targeted at areas of congestion, and at the times that congestion occurs. The Committee says that in the short-term the congestion charge should be reformed to better reflect the impact of vehicles on congestion. The daily flat rate should be replaced with a charging structure that ensures vehicles in the zone at peak times, and spending longer in the zone, face the highest charges.
As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the cross-party London Assembly and its Transport Committee act as a check and a balance on the Mayor. The new report also recommends:
New monitoring technology introduced to identify vehicles in the proposed Ultra Low Emissions Zone ULEZ) should be compatible with the future requirements of a road pricing scheme;
An analysis of the impact of Transport for London’s (TfL) Road and Transport Enforcement Team and its possible expansion;
An assessment of the effectiveness of the London Permit and Lane Rental schemes for roadworks;
Reducing restrictions on night-time deliveries;
Piloting a ban on personal deliveries for TfL staff;
Reconsidering click-and-collect package delivery at Tube and rail stations;
Devolving vehicle excise duty to the Mayor;
Piloting a local workplace parking levy;
Continuation of TfL’s road modernization schemes, such as cycle super-highways and ‘quietways’;
Analysis of the pilot scheme displaying traffic notices on buses and possible expansion.
“Something dramatic has to be done about the enormous congestion problem on London’s roads,” said chair of the Transport Committee, Caroline Pidgeon, MBE. “The issue is costing our city money and costing Londoners their health and wellbeing. Transport for London is doing a lot to tackle congestion, but not enough. Road pricing would be a fairer approach, as road users would pay according to how much they contribute to congestion. It’s a bold move, but our survey shows that road users are in favor, and the current congestion charge is far too blunt an instrument and too narrow in scope. Gridlocked London needs to start moving again, and tinkering here and there is not going to achieve that. A total rethink about who uses our roads and how, is imperative to get the veins and arteries of our great city flowing freely again.”