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August 2008
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London's Congestion Charge Should Have Encouraged Smaller Vehicles

London was the pioneer in terms of the congestion chaarging scheme. In February of 2003 the first charges came into effect; a fee of £5 was chargeable during the hours of 7am to 6pm. The fee has increased to £8 per day and may be paid on a website, by SMS message, by phone or shops equipped with PayPoint (essentially an ATM that lets you pay bills). That fee increases to £10 if you don’t pay your charge on the day of use.

From passed to present
Passed London Mayor Ken Livingstone wanted to change the congestion chargine scheme. His plan was to have the highest-polluting vehicles pay more, specifically £25. With his plan to take effect in October 2009 it has all been washed away. New Mayor Boris Johnson came into office this spring and already has abondoned this tiered charging scheme.

What would a tiered charging scheme do?
Had the highest-polluting vehicles been charged more to drive into London likely there would have been a switch to smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles. Porsche, a popular SUV in London, was worried and threatened possible legal action if Livingstone had implemented his scheme.

Not to pick on Porsche but they claimed that this charging scheme would actually have a minimal impact on emissions. Porsche went on to say that this scheme would actually increase emissions because now individuals would own both a smaller vehicle in addition to their larger vehicle.

Isn’t that the point? Are we not trying to get people to drive smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles instead of larger ones?

Wealthy Londoners will still want their large SUV’s for weekend trips to the country. If we can encourage these individuals to drive smaller cars mid-week than in fact there will be a decrease in emissions.

London is at the forefront of many trends, including fashion, cars, and the economy. If at some point we can revert to the original tiered charging scheme than I think there will be a change and an increase in smaller cars in central London.

Comments

Comment from Adron
Time August 22, 2008 at 5:26 am

I still don’t get why a single, monopolized entity, that has no response to the masses or market forces, is ok’d to charge such a fee based on an arbitrary basis.

If the roads were “bid out” or “leased out” to a maintainer (i.e. privatized in a sense), with a promised state of maintenance, and let them charge – you’d have exactly what the aim is (charges on bigger vehicles would DEFINITELY be charged more because it costs more to maintain the road for them – well over 10x as much for tractor trailers vs. single small cars)…

…but instead the politicians act like they’re going to save the world and do things like the fee. Completely unattached to a correlated logic, instead just arbitrarily levied.

Very odd, very strange, and I’m sure in many ways not very honorable.

Comment from Sasha
Time August 25, 2008 at 11:58 am

Avoid the Congestion Charge: Drive an Eco-Car
http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/08/congestion-charge-green-cars.php