JANUARY 19, 2017 by: Robert Wright, Transport Correspondent
London should tackle growing traffic delays by replacing its congestion charge with a pay-per-mile scheme, London assembly members have recommended, in a report that could reignite a national debate over the policy.
The recommendation was made in a report on the challenges posed by the capital’s increasingly clogged streets, where in recent years average motor vehicle speeds have fallen despite shrinking traffic levels.
Their recommendation resuscitates a policy idea that has been almost absent from politics since 2005, when Tony Blair’s government backed away from a planned national system of distance-based charging for road use. The plan, which was due to charge more for using the busiest roads at the busiest times, was abandoned after an online petition opposing the move gathered 2m signatures.
Caroline Pidgeon, a Lib Dem member of the assembly, wrote in the introduction to the “London Stalling” report that the existing congestion charge, introduced in 2003, was “no longer fit for purpose”. The current scheme charges drivers £11.50 daily to drive into a small part of central London. But it has no effect elsewhere in the capital and gives drivers no incentive to limit their driving once in the central zone.
“Fundamentally, vehicles should be charged according to their impact on congestion,” Ms Pidgeon wrote.