Wider London c-charge mooted as road pricing bounces back
New tag tech makes paying easier, or maybe more frequent
London Mayor Ken Livingstone is secretly planning to roll congestion charging out across London, claims the Times , citing a source "close to Mr Livingstone." Livingstone's manifesto for the upcoming mayoral election makes no mention of such a plan, but it does refer to a "new, hassle-free system for paying the congestion charge, which will enable drivers to choose to have payments automatically debited when they enter the charging zone."
This is the tag and beacon system that Transport for London has been testing. Such systems consist of roadside monitoring devices which pick up an ID from passing vehicles and charge accordingly. They're fairly widely used in tolling systems throughout the world, and although they could be used for charging for entry to areas such as the current London Congestion Charge zone (which recently magically transformed itself into a low emissions zone), they also facilitate charging based on distance covered and the nature of the roads used. Tag and beacon systems still have to implement some form of enforcement mechanism, typically an Automatic Number Plate recognition system that logs vehicles that don't have valid tags, but they are inherently more flexible and potentially more pervasive than the ANPR monitoring used by the current congestion charge, which logs all vehicles going into the zone.
Plans for a road pricing scheme aimed at cutting congestion and/or emissions within the M25 area have existed for some years, and technology trials of tag and beacon have investigated "how new technology could support more advanced congestion charging schemes, which might in future replace or supplement the existing approach" and systems based on "time of day, distance driven, specific roads, congestion levels etc" (TfL congestion charging technology report). TfL has also been concerned to make its future systems compatible with "technologies trialled with other national and European road charging initiatives." Coincidentally, in his budget statement today Chancellor Alistair Darling set aside new money for future national road pricing tests - national road pricing; the recent demise of national road pricing would therefore seem to have been remarkably brief.
Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly's alternative plans for the rollout of smart road infrastructure do however, as The Register pointed out, facilitate the implementation of future road pricing systems based on - tag and beacon. ®
And don't forget that Tony once said in the House of Obfuscation...sorry...House of Commons that they didn't want to stop people owning cars, just driving them.
I can't believe most people have forgotten he said that, there was some comment on it at the time.
To the other Anonymous Coward
Yes, I live in London and drive around. Occasionally. Why the hell should'nt I have a car? I have a car because:
- I've paid a lot of money for parking space and didn't like to see it empty
- sometimes I want to go shopping and bring back more than I can comfortably carry on public transport
- sometimes I want to leave London and need a car to do it
- sometimes I find that it's just convenient to jump in the car and go somewhere quickly rather than spend ages walking to and from
What I don't do is drive my car before around 7pm at night which is when it becomes possible to park on single yellow lines and there's no congestion charge. I have never paid Red Ken's congestion charge and I never will. I'd rather walk, which I do a lot, or take a bus, tube or taxi to avoid it as I think it's a grossly unfair system.
As for moving to Essex, I had a rather unfortunate need to work there once in Dartford and I try to avoid the place at all costs. If the UK ever needs an enema that's where they'd stick it.
@Mike Richards / Reading CC
As someone who lives in the centre of Reading, I'd love to see a better road system, CC is currently not the way. Currently we have half of an inner/outer distribution ring setup, they built the inner ring, but didn't bother with the outer ring, so ALL traffic that needs to go across Reading has to go via the inner ring, basically a loop round the very centre of town. There is now no option to make an outer ring, because houses are in the way. Oxford council have been squabbling with Reading council for the best part of ten year (and then some) about the requirement for a 3rd Thames bridge, which will take the load out of Reading town centre, but Oxford hate cars and dispite the improved links between Henley and London/M4 the won't do it.
Here is the deal, currently if you want to get from the M4 to the M40 (Oxford way) you have to go to the M25, round then out or through the centre of Reading, it's a nightmare that only a 3rd bridge can solve. This means that it would be totally unfair to have a CC, as there would be no realistic way of avoiding it if you live near Reading and need to say, go to oxford.