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Economics: Reasons for Congestion charging zone

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Economics: Reasons for Congestion charging zone London suffers the worst traffic congestion in the UK and amongst the worst in Europe. Drivers in central London spend 50% of their time in queues. Every weekday morning, the equivalent of 25 busy motorway lanes of traffic tries to enter central London. It has been estimated that London loses between �2-4 million every week in terms of lost time caused by congestion. Not surprisingly, Londoners say congestion is one of the biggest issues facing the capital. Surveys have shown that Londoners do not want to see congestion clogging up roads, threatening businesses and damaging London's status as a thriving world city. That's why the Mayor included proposals for a scheme to reduce congestion in his election manifesto, along with other key proposals for a properly integrated transport system for London. He spent over 20 months following his election consulting on and amending the details of the scheme, in order to meet demands from businesses, residents and a large number of other interested groups, and in February 2002 announced his decision to go ahead. ...read more.


Each camera site consists of at least one colour camera plus a monochrome camera for each lane of traffic being monitored. The cameras are similar to those currently used in ports, airports and the City of London's "ring of steel" - they provide high-quality video signals to Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) software, which reads and records each number plate. Tests show that the cameras read more than 90% of all number plates accurately. After the vehicle registration number is read, it is compared with the database of vehicles which have paid their congestion charge for that day. If the number plate is matched, showing that you have paid or do not have to pay the charge (because you are exempt or 100% discounted), then the pictures will normally not be kept for longer than 24 hours. Following a final check at midnight, the computer will keep the registration numbers of vehicles that should have paid the charge but have not done so. We will then manually check each recorded image before issuing a Penalty Charge Notice. ...read more.


Future - Charge zone 'extended by 2005' London Mayor Ken Livingstone has announced that his congestion charge scheme is likely to be extended by the end of next year. The boundaries of the zone, which currently covers an eight-and-a-half square mile area in central London, would grow to encompass the west London boroughs of Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea. A separate inner ring road may be introduced in east London to take in Tower Hamlets, although the charge would be lower than the current �5 daily fee imposed on motorists between 7am and 6.30pm. The mayor told the Financial Times of his plans to speed up the timetable for expanding the scheme. But he said proposals would depend on the government progress on a national plan to use more advanced satellite technology. Union opposition He told the newspaper: "My guess is that the government will massively accelerate their timetable for a national strategy." But the GMB union's London organiser Paul Kenny warned against extending the scheme into areas where people rely on their cars. A survey showed that while up to 60% of people use public transport in parts of London, the figure is only 25% in Newcastle and Manchester and just 22% in Birmingham. ...read more.

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