The clash between supporters and opponents of congestion pricing in cities like New York and Chicago (local example here) should shift into neutral for a moment while everyone considers the London example. Transport for London has released its fifth annual report on London's congestion pricing program. The summary is here and the full report is here.
The Report finds that:
Since the Congestion Charge scheme started, London has seen:
- Traffic entering the zone reduced by 21 per cent
- In comparison with 2002 conditions, congestion in 2006 was eight per cent lower, but this is increasingly misleading about the scheme’s performance. When compared to conditions without charging, Congestion Charging is continuing to deliver congestion relief that is broadly in line with the 30 per cent reduction achieved in the first year
- An increase in cycling within the zone of 43 per cent
- Reductions in accidents and key traffic pollutants in and around the charging area
- Public transport successfully accommodating displaced car users; and bus services continuing to benefit from reduced congestion and ongoing investment of scheme revenues
- Retail footfall now outperforming the rest of the UK and returning to a pattern of year-on-year growth
- No effect on property prices
- £123 million [approximately $250 million] being raised, in the financial year 2006/07, to invest back into London's transport system
Where London and Stockholm had to build congestion pricing systems from scratch, this region already has a huge highway tolling infrastructure in place. If the General Assembly and the Governor can't or won't connect these dots, maybe the counties and cities in this region can do so via intergovernmental agreements and use congestion pricing and tolling to help fund regional transportation initiatives. Some local officials, far outside the orbit of the RTA/IDOT/CMAP/CDOT experts, are seeing and seizing upon that potential. Maybe they will lead the way for the rest of us.
"London calling to the imitation zone"
(Yes, I know my Clash references mark me as an old fogey.)