March 01, 2003

London’s Smooth Shift to Congestion Pricing

One of London’s largest bus operators, Arriva, announced that it will rework its bus schedule because traffic is so light that drivers are forced to wait several minutes at stops after covering routes in record time.

Observers have noted that some bus routes are running in half their normal time. “We are pleased to see traffic levels in and around the zone still well down on a normal working week,” said Derek Turner, Transport for London’s Managing Director of Street Management, in a press release. “The news that delays to bus services fell by over 50% in the first week of congestion charging is great news for the 4.8 million people that use London’s bus services every working day.”

Although some critics have complained that increased traffic around the periphery of the charge zone has increased ­ Transport for London estimates by 5% ­ the program is receiving broader political support.

On March 21, representatives from London’s borough councils will meet with Transport for London experts to discuss setting up satellite congestion charging zones throughout the city. Several borough councils have expressed interest in establishing zones since central London’s opened.

Mayor Ken Livingstone has also indicated that he will extend the central zone to include the boroughs of Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea by the end of next year. He told The Financial Times, however, that extensions would wait for more advanced, satellite technology to be implemented.

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