Urban Fold

Learning From London's Congestion Charge

By looking closely at the key factors that helped London's congestion charge succeed, other cities can decipher whether a similar scheme would work in their jurisdictions.

"One of the most notable legacies of the just defeated mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, is London's traffic congestion charge. The first such scheme to be implemented by a major European city, it was introduced in 2003 and led to a 30 per cent drop in congestion levels practically overnight. Not surprisingly, it quickly gained broad popular support.

Canada's major cities should take six lessons from both the surprising political success of this scheme at the outset and the degree to which this success has faded over time.

One, the original congestion charge introduced in February 2003 penalized only a small proportion of people travelling into London, since more than 90 per cent already relied on public transit. The charge targeted congestion arising from commuters travelling into and out of the downtown core. Cars were charged £5 per day for travelling into a small central London zone that covered little more than the financial and theatre districts. Residents of the zone got a 90 per cent discount and taxis were exempt."

Full Story: Lessons for big cities from London's congestion charge

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