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Examine critically the GLA proposal to introduce congestion charging.

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Introduction

EC218 Contemporary Issues in Economics - Assessment Essay By Hamish Rajgor - K0010740 Examine critically the GLA proposal to introduce congestion charging. Traffic congestion has been a major problem for many of the cities in the UK and nowhere more than in the central of the largest UK city and capital London. It is known that 50% of drivers' time going though central London is spent in queues and at peak times and that times of high amounts of traffic average speeds of vehicles are under 10 miles per hour (Transport for London, 2001, Congestion Charging: Introduction). It has been a key issue for the transport authorities for some time and many efforts have been aimed at levelling this problem. The GLA (Greater London Authority), and in particular the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, has now decided to confront this problem head on and has issued a congestion charging scheme for central London. The charge is set to come into place on the 17th February 2003. The congestion charging scheme is intended to reduce the amount of motorists taking unnecessary trips through the centre if London, and to make them think of using public transport where possible. ...read more.

Middle

The scheme will be enforced by a number of powerful and highly technological camera's which will be situated a in and around the congestion charging zone. There is an initial set up budget of �200 million, and �100 million worth of traffic management measures. The scheme is set to raise around �130 million a year, which is by law, should all be spent on transport improvements within Greater London. After rounds of public consultation over a ten-week period starting in July 2001, the London Mayor has decided to go ahead with the proposed scheme, and without any glitches should go ahead on the 17th February 2003 (TfL, 2001,Congestion Charging: Fact Sheets: Basic proposals of the central London scheme). The scheme itself has many benefits along with drawbacks to road users, residents, businesses motorists and the environment. All of these will be affected and care and consideration should be taken when considering the significance of the charge on the various groups. The largest and foremost benefit of the scheme would be the reduced amounts of congestion in the key zone, i.e. Central London. Even though there are many motorists who consider their trips through central London vital, there will be a number of motorists who will avoid the zone during the charging hours, because they do not need to make that trip. ...read more.

Conclusion

The TfL expect the scheme to raise around �130 million a year, with a ten year investment plan to plough it all in to transport improvements. This would no doubt improve public transport, namely buses and the underground, in many areas with improved and new routes planned and an increase in the number of buses and trains. There are investments planned in all areas in public transport, including implementing more safety regulations (TfL, 2001, Congestion Charging: Public Transport Improvements). This all has to occur fairly swiftly as the demand for the use of public transport will be stretched. The congestion charging scheme also has many consequences to it. With the reduction in congestion in the charging zone, there will be an obvious increase in traffic around the surrounding areas of the zone. The TfL are expecting there to be a 5% increase in traffic levels on orbital routes. This would raise the externalities, and the difference between MPC and MPC will increase. There is also an issue of this being like just another tax and being regressive in its cause, therefore benefiting the rich and adversely affecting the poor. The rich will be able to pay the tax with no qualms, and will actually benefit from paying it as the people less able to pay the tax will be forced, not to drive in the zone. ...read more.

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