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Congestion charge means less traffic, more congestion

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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 cent with 70,000 fewer cars recorded each day. The western extension to the zone has seen a 14 per cent cut in car numbers - down by 30,000 cars a day. But despite this drop, congestion within the zone is back to the level it was at before the charge was introduced in February 2003.

The problem is not too many cars but not enough road space - water and gas replacement works and "traffic management measures to assist pedestrians and other road users" are to blame. So no more cycle lanes or pedestrianised roads then?

TfL said the worst example right now is building work at Scotch Corner in Knightsbridge.

In response, Boris Johnson is asking TfL to re-phase traffic lights - he will review their proposals in the autumn. Johnson will exercise new powers to fine utilities and wants more powers to control their activities. He has requested TfL bring forward plans to let motorbikes use bus lanes - an idea that's been trialled for some time.

The congestion charge raised £137m in 2007/2008.

The full report is available as a pdf here. ®

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