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back to article Congestion charge means less traffic, more congestion

Transport for London has published its sixth annual report into the impact of the congestion charge on the city's traffic, with the surprise finding that fewer cars are entering the zone but congestion is as bad as it was before the charge was introduced. The number of cars entering the original congestion zone is down 21 per …

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Not surprising

It was never about reducing congestion or cutting pollution, and it was only a little bit about raising revenue. London has public transport to the sort of standard that almost makes car ownership unnecessary, so the CC can easily be avoided.

No, the London Congestion Charge was first and foremost a justification to introduce congestion charging in other cities (where public transport is invariably **much** worse than London). That will be the **real** revenue source.

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Meh. It's because they fiddled the figures

Before the congestion they changed the light synchronisation to increase the problems on the road so that, when they turn back to the old system when congestion charge had been put in place, they can turn around and say "see! it works! traffic problems are reduced!".

But when you take the figures from long before the congestion change and long after, you lose the fiddle that they made.

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IT Angle

Sorted

So the CC raised £130m to spend on public transport, and held congestion at levels from five years ago despite massive improvements in the bus network, pedestrian-friendly adjustments to traffic lights, and Thames Water finally making a serious effort to replace the leaky Victorian pipes? An excellent policy and a great success - let's hope Boris doesn't ruin it.

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Net Effect:

* Just as much congestion

* much more expensive for drivers

* much more inconvenient for everyone trying to get anywhere

* lots more pressure on a crumbling public transport infrastructure

* +£100,000,000 pa to the coffers

So that would be a win, then?

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Anonymous Coward

The same thing?

"The problem is not too many cars but not enough road space"

Isn't that the same thing?

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Can't drive

in Lodnind, sometimes can't get on the tube and if I do am often crushed up against people. Not sure how A J Stiles thinks it's a reasonable system of public transport.

As Mark has said there's no evidence that the CC made any difference.

If congestion is really a problem; stop building in London, especially tall buildings and move businesses and government to other locations.

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Blind Love

In other words, the congestion charge maintained congestion levels whilst allowing "traffic management measures to assist pedestrians and other road users" to be built and worn-out roads and pipes to be replaced. That sounds like quite a sucess to me. And the charge also pays for these improvements.

How can anyone complain? Oh yes, I forgot that so many people love their car way too much, and that this love is blind ... to pedestrians.

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Stop

A visitors view

I'm new to London but I do remember that they changed the phasing of the lights not long before they introduced the CC.

I also recall that when the CC came in there was a (totally unrelated of course) surge in commuter train prices. So while I agree that there may be no need to own a car in most parts of London itself, if you're a commuter you either get rogered by a railway or by the CC.

I don't have a problem with the CC itself, but the way that this has been done is, IMHO, nefarious and Machiavellian. Look, if powers-that-be are really serious about making transport issues better, then they might talk to those that use the transport system and find out what is really needed. Ken/Boris etc are meant to be there to work for us, yet they impose upon us their will, whether we like it or not. And yet this is called democracy?

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Every driving londoner knows...

... how to sort the congestion problem.

"stop all the irritating, insignificant little nurks coming into town and leave more room for important people like me."

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great for pedestrians

So congestion's no worse, and now there's a lot more help for pedestrians? Great!

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Stop

Interesting timing...

The report's come at an interesting time, as London is currently over-run with roadworks, causing huge amounts of additional congestion. A cynic might suggest that Red Ken approved them all just before he left office, leaving Boris with a city of annoyed locals...

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@ Matt

You're obviously a Londoner. Compared to what exists elsewhere in Britain, London has absolutely amazing public transport!

Try visiting Derby sometime (despite what you may have heard, the air outside the M25 *is* actually breathable ..... we're on the electric now, and some people even have indoor toilets, although that sounds a bit unhygienic if you ask me) and you'll see what I mean.

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Go

Sounds good

Contrary to some of the more whiny responses this'll get, I think it's a marvellous success assuming the congestion charge is actually spent on public transport improvements.

Just think what it'll be like when the roadworks are finished!

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Heart

@ A J Stiles

So you're saying that Ken introduced the Congestion Charge in his fiefdom only in order to drip-feed it into other cities. Seriously? Who told him to? What did he get out of it?

The Congestion Charge was born out of the dual principles of environmentalism (too many cars, congestion and pollution in London) and greed (think of all that money in the coffers). It may not have lessened congestion but it has raised a lot of money. So the car drivers are paying for the pollution that they cause. A result, I would say. Now they just need to work on an effective means of reducing the congestion.

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Longer buses = Longer wait

If they got rid of the bendy buses then the distance to the front of the queue would be shorter, hence more traffic can get through each light phase.

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Third analysis

Fewer cars are entering the Congestion Charge zone, yet "congestion" (however you measure *that*) is the same. Hmmm. Maybe everyone who owns a car and lives permanently inside the zone is using their vehicle a bit more.

On another note, I don't understand why they want to allow motorcyclists to use bus lanes. They're never caught in traffic anyway. They're always zooming along on the wrong side of the road.

The London Cycling Campaign are in a bit of a lather about this proposal; they have "figures that show..." etc, etc. In my experience a cyclist in London is already tangling with fourteen-foot high double-deckers, black cabs, other cyclists and the occasional lunatic pedestrian. Season with a sprinkling of motorbikes, and will anyone actually notice?

Stop sign, so the cyclists can ignore it.

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Coat

Knightsbridge?

Scotch Corner? No wonder there's congestion, if the killer satnavs are directing all the Newcastle-bound traffic via Knightsbridge.

Mines the one with the (paper) map of N. Yorks. in the pocket.

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theres enough land

for 20 park n rides scattered around greater london, trams are more appealing then a old, replace buses with trams with traffic priority and people would probaly use them

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Avi

RE Longer buses = Longer Wait

But the bus would sit at the stop for longer waiting for all the people to cram through one door in each direction - it is a noticeable improvement on some routes, too. Much as they do try to kill me on a near-daily basis, I can't help but see the logical basis for the bendy buses.

I just think the 'warning: this bus is 14m long' sign should be somewhere the driver can see it, not stuck to the back of the thing...

There are still some lights that are clearly phased to increace congestion (the crossing south end of Blackfriar's bridge *always* delays those turning right onto the bridge during the evening rush hour, but not outside it), but I can't comment on how intentionally.

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Anonymous Coward

When looked at another way

The scheme to photograph and record the movements of every car to enter Central London, and bill you for the pleasure, has not caused a drop in congestion.

Lots of data has been sold, lots of money has been raised and lots of palms greased, but no drop in congestion.

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Bendy

Ken put the congestion charge in - possibly a good idea - then put the bendy bus in, and blocked it all up.

Boris didn't raise the charge to £25, as promised. And he also promised to get rid of the buses that don't fit, which I'm looking forward to...

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Flame

Easy answer... Ban motorbikes

They are far more likely to speed, they try to sneak through gaps in traffic and get stuck which causes traffic to be held up and more importantly bicycles which could have got through the gaps to get held up causing more congestion.

They wait for the lights in ASL (Advance Stop Lines) which they should be fined £3000 for as the law stands, but aren't.

...and most importantly they stink and have their exhausts pointing upwards at an angle towards people's faces!

Oh and if you needed another reason, by comparison to other motor vehicles they are (per seat) the least efficient users of fuel.

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@Sounds good

Roadworks? Finished? That beats Microsoft Works, or military intelligence.

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Tom

There is another angle of course...

With the western extension the zone is now much larger than it originally was. Which means that Kensington and Chelsea, the most densely populated local authoruty in the country, has contributed many thousands of reisdents with their 90% resident's discount.

There are a lot more vehicles in the zone now, they don't have to enter to contribute to congestion.

PS @steve.. speaking as a moto cyclist who uses ASLs and bus lanes with impunity, get over yourself and stop being so bloody narrow minded.

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Tom
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Anyone who thinks the congestion charge is good, probably doesnt take the tube

Where do you think those 70,000 less car journeys per day are going, exactly?

Thats right, onto the tube. Weekdays at St Pauls, 4:30-6:30, you have to wait for 30+ minutes for a central line train that you can actually barge your way into. Once your in, its a sardine can holding an unpleasant amount of people, with virtually no ventilation or cooling. Mmm, can't WAIT for the Olympics.

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Stupid

The problem with all of these plans no matter if in London or New York is that people that have to drive into these places will do it anyway and so it just adds up to another tax on middle class workers.

The rich do not care as they can afford it and most of them have private cars, helicopters or even flying cars at company expense.

If you really wanted to actually address congestion you could stagger work days and hours for workers in those areas but then you would not be able to make and spend all that pork.

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Ed

Western extension

I'd say it's down to the western extension. I live in it, and the addition of the western zone has certainly stopped people round here thinking twice about driving into the old zone. Congestion was never an issue before in the western extension, except for a few key areas - that hasn't noticeably improved...

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Reason is...

...most cars in the central zone are registered as taxis, and therefore exempt.

Fed up of cyclists coming at me from the wrong way when I'm tryng to cross the feckin road!

...OK, so I don't live in hell, but London is roughly equivalent, but then, paradoxically it's also equivalent to heaven (Sam Smith's pubs).

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Anonymous Coward

It's time to fix the lights

It wasn't exactly a well kept secret that Ken had lights phased differently each time the voting for congestion charges was on the cards - he wilfully made the situation worse when it suited him.

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RW
Heart

'Tain't too many cars and 'tain't too little roadway

It's simply too many people in too small a space.

My flabber is regularly gasted by environmental/global warming yip yap that delicately turns its ladylike eyes away from the fundamental problem: overpopulation.

At least the geeks of the world keep it in their pants; out of necessity rather than choice, perhaps, but never mind the grusesome socio-sexual details and be grateful geekdom isn't spawning with the abandon shown by more carnal categories.

Joking aside, when I read about yob crime in Britain, road congestion, and all the other horrors of once green and peaceful England, I think "rats in an overcrowded cage destroying themselves."

Heart as a symbol of the new movement "more love, less lust."

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Jay
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@ Gianni Straniero &@Steve

Gianni

Studios by TFL have shown accidents involving cyclists actually drop when Motorcycles use bus lanes as other drivers are forced to take more notice.

Bikes are allowed to use Bus lanes in Reading, Bristol and Newport among other places without adverse effect so why not here?

Steve

Considering this is an IT site you should realise you probably wouldn't have a job if bikes were banned from London.

Bike couriers are used by EVERY financial institution in London as well as every authority and a hell of a lot of IT companies. Apart from anything else we do we deliver all those emergency spare parts from warehouses all over the country to keep networks up and running. Not forgetting the back up tapes we carry, your network needs rebuilding after a failure and we deliver the tapes from the offsite storage quicker than any other method.

So basically great idea. Ban bikes from central London because you don't like them and watch the paperwork that has to back up all the electronic transactions that take place get delivered by the Royalmail. Should back up everything by 2-3 days in the first week and the effect will be cumulative. After about a month watch EVERY business in London that uses couriers move elsewhere. I think you'll whine a bit more when your pay starts turning up late or you have no job to go to.

Short of using a Bullion van we are the most secure method of delivery in the UK and I even did Bullion work on a bike when I was with Securicor. Dealing with Ignorant twats like you makes the job a hell of a lot harder and the sad thing is you don't even realise you profit from what we do.

Member of the LCC are you or just jealous that we don't get stuck in traffic?

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@matt...you're almost there

"If congestion is really a problem; stop building in London, especially tall buildings and move businesses and government to other locations."

This is exactly NOT what the greenies want. As much as they hate construction, they hate to see you NOT stuffed in a little city apartment using less resources and NOT working in a squalid overstuffed city packed in like sardines in cubicles; packed in like sardines on the bus; packed in like sardines on the tube. You don't even get the oil to grease the packing. There are certain efficiencies to having lots of people in small places; but it's not good for your mental or physical well-being; but the greenies don't give a shite about that. Their goal is to make everyone else's life as miserable as their own.

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Paris Hilton

@Steve

"Oh and if you needed another reason, by comparison to other motor vehicles they are (per seat) the least efficient users of fuel."

Of course, every car you see on the streets of London has five people in it, right?

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Pirate

@ Steve.

Oh dearie me, another rabid bike-hater on El Reg's pages....

As Tom says, deal with it you loser. Well said to Jay as well.

Steve, can you actually quantify your claim that bikes are less fuel efficient than anything else?

I am waiting, but I won't be holding my breath.

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Anonymous Coward

@Matt

"Not sure how A J Stiles thinks it's a reasonable system of public transport."

Do you have to walk 0.8 miles to the nearest bus-stop?

Do you have to walk 4.5 miles to the nearest train station?

Does your public transport take the route of 3 sides of a box when a car would take 1 side of a box?

Does taking public transport require considerable time planning the most effective route, take most of the day & require a visit to the cash point first (which is not on the way).

Sheesh, I'd give anything to have Londons public transport system.

That said though, we have no over-crowding thanks to there being no point whatsoever in using our public transport unless you are rich & have plenty of time on your hands.

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@Steve Bikes

Yes, the ratio of fuel consumption to seats maybe higher with bigger bikes but then in most cars all the seats apart from the driver's is empty! They are driving large amounts of empty space around.

I think you need to go and get a bike Steve, then reconsider your position. If all the driver-only cars driving around London were scooters or bikes or bicycles then the congestion would be much less.

I am currently working in Brussels and it is rather congested here. My motorbike gets me to work in half the time it takes my colleagues to travel a similar distance and my current client provides me with underground parking. My colleagues have to use a public car park.

Good luck with your car in London.

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Anonymous Coward

RE: Easy answer... Ban motorbikes

What a ridiculous set of arguments.

I can only presume you are actually a troll looking to antagonise.

Motorbikes cause almost zero congestion on their own. They have the ability to sneak through gaps in the traffic because they don't need to block the road like cars and buses. They move to the front of the cars at the stop lights because they can move through stationary traffic and can quickly get away on the change to a green light without any hold up of the traffic behind (unlike some bicycle which need to leave before the green). The reason they are proposing to let them use bus lanes is because they know that they will not cause any congestion to buses (or emergency vehicles) and it is safer. Cars often do not look for motorbikes filtering through or deliberately try to block them getting past for no reason whatsoever other than "well if I have to wait then so do you".

The exhausts maybe a little higher but the exhaust fumes are similar to a car but because the engines are smaller and the bikes are lighter a lot less fuel is needed (less primary exhaust emission). A bike will normally travel in the centre of a lane when it can so the exhaust is a lot further away (it's also preferable to filter the driver side of a car than the passenger side as well). Pollution gets mixed rapidly in the air and the combined affect from all the traffic makes little difference which way the exhaust is pointing. Buses blow out much more exhaust fumes, always travel next to the pedestrian side.

As for seats - a bike usually has seating for two people but can easily be 300% more efficient than a car of similar standing. CO2 levels are also disproportionately low. If you say that most bikes have one passenger then you have to look at the amount of passengers in a car in London as well!

Also as a leading motorcycle legal advice team puts it "...it can be safely assumed that if British roads were exclusively populated by motorbikes there would be far less road accidents involving serious personal injury and death."

Therefore your arguments and ideas are solely prejudiced, scaremongering, confrontational and misinformed.

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Anonymous Coward

<no title>

Some have mentioned that if you live in London then you have no need for personal transport. Whilst true if all you do is potter around London, but if you regularly go out and back in the argument is not so valid.

Public transport has its uses but there is a limit to how many trains you can run on a track, and the number you can crowd into each, even assuming all passengers don't have a need to shift things door to door.

IMO even if this were an attempt to reduce congestion (which I doubt) it was always tackling it from the wrong direction. It is always wrong to penalise people for trying to get on with their lives as best they can. It's not what officials are elected/paid to do.

If there is too much traffic then ways should be found to encourage companies to move elsewhere where there is less traffic. Spread it around a bit. And authorities need to find ways folk can achieve what they need to do without travelling; by sensible town planing, use of telecoms, and any other method that works.

And if you still have congestion after that then consider building sufficient roads, and in the longer term discouraging folk having more than 2 offspring; as that increases the population, and thus the amount of personal transport required.

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Motorbikes

@ Steve' comment:

"by comparison to other motor vehicles they are (per seat) the least efficient users of fuel"

OK, let us make some assumptions from the start. An efficient car, a diesel, will do about 60mpg (probably less around london, but we'll use this), and carry 5 people. This equates to 300 personmiles per gallon. It takes up 1 'unit' of road area.

A regular, petrol car will do about 35mpg, and carry 5 people =>175pmpg @ 1 unit of road area.

An efficient commuter bike will do over 100mpg, normaly over 120mpg around town, and carry 2 people, giving 240pmpg. About 4 could fit in the space of the above car in congestion, so it takes up 1/4 unit of road area.

So far, the diesel is on top in fuel usage, the bike in people per unit road area. However, there is a catch: How many cars do you see full? I don't live in London, but I rarely see a car with more than 2 occupants. I also rarely see a bike with a pillion.

So rejigging, giving the car the benefit of the doubt and taking 2 occupants, and assuming the bike is not carrying a passenger, this comes down to:

Deisel car: 120pmpg, 0.5 units road pp

Petrol car: 70pmpg, 0.5 units road pp

Bike: 120pmpg, 0.25 units road pp

This gives the bike the edge. Do your maths before commenting.

As to "they try to sneak through gaps in traffic", it's called filtering, have a look in the highway code. They have a perfect right to do this. And, if they are allowed to use bus lanes, this won't happen anymore (or at least as much), nor will them getting stuck.

And "They wait for the lights in ASL", do you know how many times I have seen cars do the same? Or wait on hatched areas, park in bus stops, use bus lanes... There are always going to be idiots on the road, or people who don't think the law applies to them (and the vast majority of them, even in proportion to the numbers of a vehicle type on the road, are car drivers).

I do not live or work in London, and do not want to, but these apply to every major city I have worked in.

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overpopulation.

Given how hard it is to get people to drive less or go slower how likely is it to get people to shag less, never mind "do their part" in a soylent-green stylee?

Are you willing to do your part and shuffle off this mortal coil? Or will you complain that it will just be taken up by the Africans having more kids (ignoring that they don't pop out and shoot all the way to Croyden)?

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Anonymous Coward

<no title>

I'm unsure why, when the subject of responsible breeding is brought up, the straw man of euthanasia follows. One can shag without reproducing. Tax breaks and such like would help focus the mind for enough to make a difference. But many couples already "do their bit" by ensuring no more offspring in the next generation than were in the one who'll shuffle off this mortal coil by normal means at some point.

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Stop

switch the traffic lights off

I travel through Blackfriars roundabout every day, and there is always big traffic jams there. Except a few months ago, when the lights were off due to work on the water mains. On that occasion (for 3 days) the traffic was free-flowing - amazingly there was no chaos, people just used the roundabout like ermmm well ...a roundabout.

So don't waste time rephasing the lights, just switch the useless things off. Or is that too brave an experiment for BoJo?

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Surely it proves that it worked?

Considering the '96/7 review on road traffic growth was projecting a low estimate for growth in road use by 26% over 20 years (high was 54%), if various pressures such as increasing pedestrian areas, cost of fuel and the CC have kept traffic growth at virtually zero, then surely it has worked?

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@Jay

"Studies by TFL have shown accidents involving cyclists actually drop when Motorcycles use bus lanes as other drivers are forced to take more notice."

O RLY?

"Managing Director for Surface Transport at Transport for London David Brown stated in April 2008: 'The data used in the earlier report was not considered sufficiently reliable to inform a decision on such an important issue.' Following a review of the data Mr Brown's conclusion (April 2008) was that 'there is no evidence to indicate that motorcyclists would see any significant safety benefits from being allowed to enter bus lanes but that there were potential disbenefits for both cyclists and pedestrians.'"

Although this quote was published on the London Cycling Campaign's website, TfL's Managing Director for Surface Transport should have a balanced view, no?

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Re: Easy answer... Ban motorbikes

"They are far more likely to speed, <snip /> They wait for the lights in ASL (Advance Stop Lines) which they should be fined £3000 for as the law stands, but aren't."

Yes, some bikers are guilty of a multitude of sins, but so are some drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. Personally I think motorcycles should be allowed to use ASLs but I respect the law is currently against that. I'd also like to point out that the recently revised highway code suggests that filtering through slow moving traffic on a motorbike can be a legal and valid practice.

"...and most importantly they stink and have their exhausts pointing upwards at an angle towards people's faces!"

Are you suggesting that the odours present in the exhaust of a motorbike are worse than those of a car? and that they leave the exhaust with such a velocity that the angle causes them to be fired directly into the faces of pedestrians and cyclists? Can't say that tallies with my experience.

"by comparison to other motor vehicles they are (per seat) the least efficient users of fuel."

The number of seats is only of relevance if it is a choice between a single vehicle and multiple bikes. If there are only 1 or 2 people then a single bike will do. If there is only 1 adult then multiple bikes is not a legal option. For the circumstances where you have at least two adults and a child all going to the same place a single vehicle may well be better than multiple bikes for fuel efficiency. Just because motorbikes don't solve every transport problem doesn't make them useless.

For the record I have in recent years frequently traveled round a city using a car, motorbike, bus, train and bicycle and on foot. I have clocked up thousands of miles on each of these modes of transport. There are pros and cons to each but I think they all have their place. If you find that someone else has made a better choice than you with there mode of transport, then try not to be too envious. You're chosen mode will be better in other circumstances (and if it isn't then maybe you should switch).

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Coat

Take a deep breath and push, dear...

"Africans having more kids (ignoring that they don't pop out and shoot all the way to Croyden)?"

Bloody hell, that would be some contraction !

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Paris Hilton

Changing the goalposts people is not on

The stated purpose was to reduce congestion. Has it done that? No it has not. Therefore it's indeed a complete failure- end of.

It hasn't reduced pollution either but thats another argument.

It has extorted huge amounts of money and made Crapita directors much richer. All of which is completely irrelavent as they were not it's stated aim. Oh and it's criminalised some folks and created a huge surveillence zone. All incidental and frankly imo not desirable.

Paris - because if your going to be scr***d you might as well enjoy it.

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Joke

Re: Take a deep breath and push, dear...

Huh? I didn't use any contractions!

;-)

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Joke

Re: <no title>

Well if you're looking for "natural wastage" then this takes 25 or more years to make much of a difference. And with an ageing population, 25 is probably a bit short.

And you can't *reliably* shag with protection and not get pregnant. 95% or a little more with a rubber, spermicidal gel and the woman either having a diaphragm or cream is possible, but still a lot of wick-dipping will cause a lot of sprog-dropping.

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Anonymous Coward

@ Mark Re: Re: <no title>

"you can't *reliably* shag with protection and not get pregnant. 95% or a little more with a rubber, spermicidal gel and the woman either having a diaphragm or cream is possible, but still a lot of wick-dipping will cause a lot of sprog-dropping."

I know you had a joke alert icon, but I still feel the need to correct this.

A rubber on its own is around 98% effective over a year. That would result in 0.5 pregnancies per couple over a 25 years period. There are several methods that are over 99% effective. Yes there is always a chance of contraception failing, but it is perfectly capable of controlling population.

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