London is just as congested as it was five years ago before the introduction of the Congestion Charge, because of roadworks and measures to give priority to pedestrians, buses and cyclists.
Transport for London (TfL), which runs the capital’s transport system, said traffic levels had fallen significantly since the Congestion Charge was introduced in January 2003.
But that had not eased problems for London’s motorists crawling their way through the city’s clogged streets, TFL said.
“I have always thought that the Congestion Charge is a blunt instrument,” said London Mayor Boris Johnson. “It has proved successful in cutting traffic coming into London but on its own has not resolved the problem of congestion.”
But businesses and shop owners say the charge has damaged trade.
Former Mayor Ken Livingstone had planned to raise the charge for gas guzzling vehicles while allowing smaller fuel-efficient cars to enter for free. However, Johnson, who took over in May, has already scrapped that idea saying it would have worsened the situation.
According to TfL’s report, 70,000 fewer cars entered the original charging zone every day, a fall of 21 per cent from pre-2003, with 30,000 fewer in the western extension.
But problems with the phasing of traffic lights, measures to help other road users and street works carried out by utility companies meant the city was just as busy as in pre-charge days.
“However, as a result of other interventions such as utility and construction works, the reduction in road space has had a detrimental impact on congestion levels and is slowing traffic down,” said Malcolm Murray-Clark, TFL’s managing planning director.