back to article London Congestion Charge becomes CO2 tax

London mayor Ken Livingstone yesterday announced a comprehensive shift in the capital's "congestion charge" road-pricing policy, reorienting the tolls much more towards green issues and away from actual congestion charging. The mainstream charge remains the same, with ordinary cars charged £8 for a day's access to the congestion …

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Re: London is broken

Because there's no reason for being in london for a firm apart from willy-waving.

Move parliament out of london. Sell the buildings/grounds to pay for the new accommodation. This will

a) increase the land available for new building

b) decrease the number of people working in london

c) decrease the expenses of parliament

d) decrease the expenses of MPs

e) reduce the willy-waving benefits of being in the "Heart of Britain" (tm)

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Anonymous Coward

RE: Some of you need to learn to read

" "...The punitive £25 charge applies to pre-2001 cars _and_ long-cab pickups with three-litre engines or bigger..."

Not *all* pre-2001 cars have 3litre engines. I know mine doesn't. So if I were to venture inside the Ring of Ken, I'd only have to pay the £8."

The important word in there is "and". You will be charged £25.

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Anonymous Coward

Blue Badge

I'm intrigued that somebody who has a blue badge has the option of cycling to work. I have, I know that my disability precludes me from cycling.

Furthermore knowing the criterion and having had to fill out the forms for the relevant benefits, etc I know that if you can cycle to work, you don't deserve a blue badge.

As for the rest of that person's whining... well who gives a damn? You and your parents have chosen to live in places and have dislikes (flower sellers, ferchrissakes) that make owning a stinker necessary. Pay for it and stop whining that 99% of the population don't have such ridiculous circumstances.

BTW, if you are disabled, isn't a high-step vehicle a bit of a bind? Eh?

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Stop

@ Andrew Heenan

"In the peak hour, one bus takes the place of 69 cars."

If the bus is absolutely full. And is an exceptionally large double-decker, packed with standing passengers. And the cars were to contain the driver only.

Last time I checked, an ordinary London double-decker holds 59 people. Even in London, where buses are generally fuller than elsewhere, not all buses are full. Many buses are actually completely empty. How many cars go round completely empty?

Also, the last time I heard, the carbon/pollution advantage of buses was so negligible that, per passenger, a car carrying 2 persons would blow them out of the water every time, and that's without the obvious usability defeciencies of bus transport. Already the most efficient cars would be more energy effecient than buses even if you gave every bus passenger a car each! Anyone who says 'buses are the answer' while they still run on diesel and stop every hundred yards is pissing in the wind.

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Linux

@Too many buses? Um, No

When I USED to live in london, I DID take the bus .... until I found cycling was quicker . THEN i found , when I moved from a 6am start to a 9am start , just how DANGEROUS cycling in london is .... If someone says that a cyclist with a few missing teeth "looks like the back of a bus" , it's PROBABLY for a VERY good reason.

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@glenn

Actually, farmers buy clapped out normal cars. Several of them. If one gets stuck, they leave it there and get another.

There's always the tractor to pull them out, and it's a lot cheaper, too.

The number of times your 4WD will help you where your cheap 2WD wouldn't isn't all that much.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Learning to read

" "...The punitive £25 charge applies to pre-2001 cars _and_ long-cab pickups with three-litre engines or bigger..."

Yes, and while we are on the subject of reading, you can also read it as:

" "...The punitive £25 charge applies to (pre-2001 cars and long-cab pickups) with three-litre engines or bigger..."

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Dead Vulture

RE: Some of you need to learn to read

"...The punitive £25 charge applies to pre-2001 cars and long-cab pickups with three-litre engines or bigger..."

Could do with someone to clarify if it means:

(pre-2001 cars) and (long-cab pickups) with 3L+ engines

or

(pre-2001 cars) and (long-cab pickups with 3L+ engines)

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Happy

Here's a solution

As discussed on Top Gear - register yourself as a minicab and hey presto! Free Congestion Zone travel. Who-hoo!

And as for anyone who goes on about "Cityboys" not taking the tube - get the Jubilee Line to Canary Wharf between 7am and 8am at weekdays and you'll find it's completely full of Cityboys. When it's not broken and everyone's piled onto London's favourite Toytown train, the DLR, that is....

In all seriousness, the Tube is knackered. Even the brand new bits, like the Jubilee Line extension, are hopelessly inadequate. At 6pm every weekday you'll have to wait two or three trains to get on at Canary Wharf, and you've got a reasonable chance (around 1 in 10) of getting a "Severe Delay" eg a 15+ minute wait. Go to any other major European City and they've got double-decker express subways right through the city centre; Paris and Zurich are two great examples. London is only just getting around to planning Crossrail which is 10 years away, at best, and isn't even double decker. The city is screwed and Red Ken is the new Nero.

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DR

confusion

I think there is some confusion here over whether it's

The punitive £25 charge applies to (pre-2001 cars and long-cab pickups) with three-litre engines or bigger

or

The punitive £25 charge applies to (pre-2001 cars) and (long-cab pickups with three-litre engines or bigger)

no there are not many pre 2001 cars with three litre engines, but there are plenty of long cab pickups with big engines.

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Unhappy

Uh-Oh

Well, my car is over the £25 limit and I work in London so... I suppose we're about to become a 2 car family! Maybe a nice Honda Civic would fit the bill - I'll have to go and check.

Has Boris actually said what he proposes to do about the CC when he's elected? I'll bet anyone as much money as they like that he won't abolish it.

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Where does the money go?

Whilst I agree in principle about charging polluting vehicles more, the question I have is where does the money raised from the congestion charge actually go? If it is actually spent on improving public transport or invested in green technologies then great. But if it is spent on subsidising Ken's jollies then I think there is a problem.

Does anyone have any idea about how the money is spent?

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Anonymous Coward

Title

"Giving a clear sign that road congestion was no longer an absolute priority"

surely you mean

"Giving a clear sign that road congestion was never relevant to Highwayman Ken's tax raising, driver bashing, schemes."

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Family cars will be EXTERMINATED

"Just how many large families, living in central London, short of cash, driving newer than 2001 cars with more than 225g/km emissions are there?"

Lots. Anyone with a Zafira, for a start. And that is a typical practical family car these days.

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Re: Family cars will be EXTERMINATED

You're in LONDON!!!

What the hell do you need a Zafira for?

When I were a lad...

We had a normal saloon car (Vauhall Viva etc) and five kids and two parents. We weren't svelte. We still fitted.

And most of the time your family won't be IN the car.

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@Zargof

A good question.

Pity people who don't want the charge complain about eco nazis rather than ask about other methods that get the change but aren't a revenue stream. Or, as you did, require that the money be spent on something that will remove the NEED for such a charge.

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@ Mark

The farmers must be poorer where you live, where i am in north yorkshire they all seem to manage to own at least one land rover or toyota hi-lux :-)

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Paris Hilton

In the peak hour, one bus takes the place of 69 cars - FACT!

Ignoramus said: "If the bus is absolutely full. And is an exceptionally large double-decker, packed with standing passengers. And the cars were to contain the driver only."

Most peak hour buses carry 80+ people (I know, I've been there). The vast majority of cars carry one person. Look out your window, and you'll see. Few 'zone' buses are single deck, except for 400 bendies; 100+ passengers.

All London buses (except a very few tourist Routemasters) are less than 10 years old, and pollute much, much, much less than 10 cars, let alone 69.

But don't let the facts get in your way, will you?

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Flame

The press are falling for him again

Lots of healines about 4x4 and chelsea tractors but of course the net falls far wider. But in particular it's not about congestion.

If you had a car over the limit you now not only pay £25 per day, but you don't get any resident's discount. Furthermore you still have to pay the charge if you leave it parked legally and unmoved all week. Event if this in in a residents bay that you pay for.

Now to prove it has nothing to do with congestion lets go and buy a car that gets you in under the 225 limit. I'm going to choose as my little runabout a Mercedes S320 L CDI It's 5.2m long and 2.1m wide, but it's CO2 emissions are just in at 223. Given the car cost from £59k I guess I'll probably live within the zone and get my 90% discount so it's going to cost me only me 80p per day to take up 11 square meters of road space.

So it's now a green tax. Then why is it limited to Central London? And why isn't it progressive over the bands. As it stands, for residents the tax per week is Nil for 0-120gms £2 for 120-225 and £25 over that. IF you wanted to really have an impact you would have it progressive over the bands.

In the end the tax is about.....Ken. He want's to be Mayor and if more people have little cars than big ones, he recons there's a vote in it, just like being rude about Jews and his other carry on.

I commute in now so it doesn't affect me directly but if you still live there, please remember to vote for someone else.

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Dan
Flame

Finally one I can Argue about

Right then.

A) People who say they will stop using there car when there is decent public transport (The cake and Eaters).

1) New roads are impossible in central London! even with CPO's you would be out laying billions on even the shortest run of demolition. Also, demolishing the buildings people go to so they can get to the buildings that have been demolished.....

2) LU is at the limit, and needs drastic improvement. BUT simply replacing the Northern line with a decent 4 tube system would be approaching £50 billion (or a year and a half Armed services or a few months NHS iirc) if we started today. Include the protracted planning and consultation period and the cost spiral. The really fun thing about this is the tubs are going to have to be replaced sooner or later.

3) More cars than a system can handle = traffic. Most people seem to seem to forget this. Traffic = slower buses. Yes buses are part of traffic too, but they are also much more efficient people movers than cars. Bus transport can't really get any quicker unless there are less cars, or more roads (see 1).

B) People who say the poorer are being taxed off the road. (Grade A Thick People)

Duh!

Of cause they are!

Capitalist society works by there being benefits to the acquisition of wealth.

The rich have more options on how to do something than the less well off, all the charge does is add an extra grade of affordability.

C) People who rant about Ken.

Rant about him all you want it is your democratic right to do so. He has done some idiotic things, and some unpopular things.

But can you honestly believe Boris would be better.

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Anonymous Coward

Does anyone have any idea about how the money is spent?

It's spent on London transport, or at least that was the founding principle of the whole thing.

Following the disastrous semi-privatisation of the tube, it's probably bailing that out, and of course, chipping in for cross-rail neither of which you'll be able to see.

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Clearing The Confusion

From the GLA website:

"The highest CO2 emitting cars, which will be charged £25 to drive in the zone are those in Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) Band G and equivalent (including cars registered pre 2001 with engines over 3,000 cc). These are the vehicles that emit over 225g of CO2 per kilometre."

So no, Livingstone hasn't stabbed the banger-driving poor in the back and about 30 seconds of googling would have turned that up, but of course it's so much more *satisfying* to rant isn't it?

@sundry 'London transport is broken' posts

In many ways I agree, but you can't blame Livingstone for that - he's only been in post for a few years and London's transportation woes have been decades in the making. When it comes to funding infrastructure renewal his hands are tied by the Treasury, so it's hardly surprising that he's pulling as hard as he is on those levers that *are* available to him.

@James

If your commute takes 2+ hours by public transport and only 25 minutes by car then I suggest that you take a taxi until your eye injury is healed.

Regards

Luke

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Unhappy

@Andrew Heenan

The name's 'Martn' BTW, not 'Ignoramus'. You could at least not resort to name-calling.

I am fully aware of the London bus situation, I lived there and used them every day until 18 months ago.

Do you want some facts? In terms of CO2, a modern London bus pollutes as much as 10 small cars (Volvo B7TL- 1406g/km, Smart ForFour 130g/km), not "much, much less". In terms of hydrocarbons and Nitrous Oxides, a bus pollutes as much as 169 4x4s (same bus 12.16g/km, Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel 0.072g/km). The bus does emit fewer particulates than a diesel car however, due I believe to the use of clever particulate filters in new buses. (All stats from http://www.stopurban4x4s.org.uk/mission.htm).

You are indeed correct, newer double-deckers carry 71 passengers maximum, bendy-buses 120-odd. As I stated, however, on average passenger numbers are much lower than this. According to the mayors office (http://www.london.gov.uk/mayor/environment/climate-change/docs/ccap_fullreport.pdf, page 172) the average bus occupancy is 15 passengers per bus. Put those 15 passengers in Smart ForFours, 2 per car, and CO2 emissions are 69g/km/passenger rather than 93g/km/passenger on the bus. Even putting 2 people in the average London car (173g/km/car, same document) produces less CO2 than them going by bus.

After all that I do actually concede that in densely-built inner London buses are very important for transport, as just to provide the road network necessary for high levels of car use would be ludicrously expensive and impractical, and trains only excel at longer-distance journeys. Where the pro-bus argument fails is for just about everywhere else in the UK.

In places like Birmingham (especially in the suburbs), car use has already peaked at just about everybody who is physically capable of driving, doing so. The road network is pretty adequate at coping with this, and the latent demand that many claim would immediately jam any new roads simply doesn't exist. Yet the council are so keen on promoting bus use that they narrow arterial roads with bus lanes, use 'bus bulbs' to prevent traffic passing stopped buses, and generally sabotage the road network. The also mandate increased bus numbers. The result? People STILL do not want to use the bus, the extra buses travel empty, and general road traffic is held up, using more fuel and emitting more pollutants. All to promote a mode of transport that cannot practically be more effecient than cars are now, here.

If you want to reduce congestion, widen some roads (except in London). If you want to reduce local air pollution, encourage electric and hydrogen vehicles. If you want to reduce CO2 emissions, build some nuclear and renewable power stations, and buy products from effecient local industries rather than ineffecient, coal fired Chinese industries a very long ship journey away. Stop venting your ire at the British motorist- as a whole he is responsible for 0.3% of global greenhouse gas emissions. And anyone who wants to ban patio heaters is clearly on an anti-smoking rampage, rather than being seriously concerned about global warming.

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@glenn

Well, Wales isn't all that profitable, but I've heard the same from people living elsewhere. It may be more to do with how many farmers there are: if they own huge ... tracts of land, they'll be raking in the money. And the useless expense of a 4x4 is not wasted because it's more a status symbol (me, I would say ban them unless there's a demonstrated need, affects you whether your're rich or poor and DOESN'T bring in tax revenue which has no replacement when people change their habits: the reason for the tax...).

There may be a need for one where you're sheep farming and the bastard sheep strand themselves halfway up a mountain, but cabbages can't grow there and aren't known for getting about.

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Re: Re: Family cars will be EXTERMINATED

Mark wrote:

"You're in LONDON!!!

What the hell do you need a Zafira for?"

If you want to fit three child seats in the back then you'll need need something that size.

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Stop

More bloody tax ...

Ok, so I pay income tax, road tax, fuel tax, insurance tax and VAT on my car, and because I chose to buy a 4.6 V8 second hand rather than polluting the planet with more production emissions, that has been converted to run on LPG incidentally, but _doesn't_ qualify under the minuscule list that TFL does allow, I now have to pay £25 to drive into London ?? WTF ? How many times does the government get to have a go at my money - something I work for, unlike them ?

Nah, Sod it. I'm just not going to go any more - I'll run up my miles commuting from where I live to somewhere further away but cheaper instead. It's amazing, any Londoner you ask says that the mas is a twat, yet he still gets votes ... I think it's rigged.

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@Zargof

As I seem to remember, the majority of the money raised from the congestion charge is spent on running the whole congestion charging setup. As JonB said, what's left is spent on "improving" public transport in London.

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Gold badge

Blah

@AC with the golf, Richard Porter, Matthew.. others have already said but I would think the £25 charge is for 2001 and older vehicles WITH >=3.0L engine, not all 2001 and older vehicles.

@Andrew Heenan, "The 15 persons per bus is either fiction (in zones 1-3, anyway), or it's a 24 hour, all of greater London figure. Either way, it's *dishonest* to quote such an irrelevant statistic, when we both know that zone buses are packed to the gills in the peak."

Not dishonest at all; the bus will pollute full or empty (one question is how much the pollution level varies based on load...) so you can't just claim the bus is efficent full, end of disucssion, if the bus is not full most of the time.

I must comment, the city I live in has this type of situation. The buses USED to have signs on them that said something like "if it weren't for this bus you'd be behind *30* cars". They had to take them down... the buses on the University campus run full, the other ones even during rush hour will run with like 15 people in them, and I've seen them go by with literally 1-2 people in them (well, 2-3 if you can't the bus driver). It turns out 15 people can't drive 30 cars 8-).

Living in the states, this won't apply to you but I have 2 comments I wish would happen here:

1) Better public transport. Locally we have buses and taxis. The buses on the university campus are great, they run at 15 minute intervals and run quite full. The ones off campus.. 1 hour intervals, and per the above they run virtually empty. IMHO they should have smaller buses that can run more frequently. I wouldn't ride the bus knowing I could be stranded for 1 hour if I miss it (it takes maybe 20 minutes to drive across town here.) 15 or even 30 minutes? I could deal with that.

2) Better cars. I drive a 2000 Buick Regal with a 3.8L V6 right now. (See my note on gallons below*) This car gets about 22MPG city and 36MPG highway (but I got over 40MPG on a recent long trip). My parent's 2000 Deville gets 24 city and 36 highway, with a 4.6L V8. If I get something like a US-spec Honda Civic (with the 4-cylinder, not V6..) it is supposed to get 30MPG city and 43.2 highway. Higher mileage, but not much higher considering the Civic is smaller, and slower (MUCH slower compared to the V8 Caddy I bet).

The US-Spec cars, the big engines are carefully tuned to try to maximize gas mileage (not so much on SUVs but certainly on cars); small economical engines, they'll drop it in then decide "Ohhh, it needs more power for US use!", change the gearing to power gearing and tune it for power. Result? Why bother. The car still doesn't have the power it would with some bigger engine, while getting almost as low gas mileage.

One of the few smart things Bush's administration has done was to pass the new fuel economy requirements here upping the CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) from a pathetic 20MPG to 35MPG (in British gallons this goes from 24MPG to 42MPG). I'm a libertarian so I hate regulation**, but the car companies left to their own devices are doing the bare minimum -- most are right at 20.1MPG average (for *cars* -- SUVs are counted separately) and just aren't giving a lot of choices of fuel efficeint vehicles. Some technology will come out that is supposed to increase mileage 10 or 15% -- it does on European-spec cars.. the US model comes out "Oh, hey we increased power 10-15% with the same mileage as the previous model year!" Blah. Now they are finally scrambling to apply this to provide good mileage.

*Side note. 1 imperial gallon (as used in Britain) is 1.2 US gallons. This is partially why US MPG figures look so bad.. mainly it's because they are bad though. I converted the above numbers to imperial MPG so they'd compare with what others have posted.

**And also have no one to vote for. The 2-party system here is broken.. if you wonder about the low voter turn out here, that is why.. democrats and republicans don't represent most people here.

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Anonymous Coward

Who gives a s@@t?

4 litre TVR (older than 2001),Jeep Grand Cherokee or an Alfa 159.

That is my fleet - all gotta pay the 25 quid tax - but guess what...... I don't give a damn cos I can afford it.

OH yeah - I live in London and wouldn't use the tube or buses if I was paid.

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Alert

@Mark

After you and your green types manage to get 4x4 cars are banned, please don't forget to regulate how large of a flat people are allowed to live in (say 15sq feet per person, anything larger just cannot be justified), also ban people from having second bathrooms, then ban larger than necessary backyards, larger than 21 inch TV sets, and the list goes on and on. Ideally it should be regulated how much people can eat on any given day, to protect our environment. Those will be the days, mate.

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Is Ken committing political suicide?

Bait and switch - follow the money...

So Ken got us all to support the idea of a congestion charge, to ease congestion in central London, with the assurance that it would impact very little on residents living in the zone.

He got others, like me, to invest in a duel-fuel car - paying a premium for it, in the belief that it would benefit me financially (for the times I went to central London) as well as benefitting the environment (with cleaner emissions, but still with CO2).

Now the switch, as residents have to pay full whack "congestion/CO2" charge and my duel-fuel car loses its economic rationale. If all the cars in the congestion charge zone reported in the 2001 Census were used, and charged £8 a day, Ken would raise over £500,000 a DAY. That doesn't include the cars from outside the zone coming in, or the £25 a day that some will be charged. So what is he going to do with all that dosh?

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