Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 24, 2003
By: Kevin Drum

DRIVING ON THE LEFT....It's Monday evening in London, so how are things going with the congestion charging experiment now that the school holidays are over and traffic is back up to its usual levels? Quite nicely, it turns out:

Opponents of the scheme were waiting to see if it would struggle to cope after a smooth first week of operation with the return of the school run on Monday. But traffic reports suggest vehicle numbers are up from last week but still 20% down on normal levels.

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics has been the go-to site for congestion news, but there are no reports yet from today. Maybe Dan will have some personal commentary for us later.

On the other hand, yesterday he reported that the system is working so well that there's already talk about the next step:

The system would charge motorists between 3p [$0.05] a mile on quiet roads to 1.30 [$2.05] a mile in city centers. The system would work thus: "Cars will be fitted with tagging devices and their journeys followed by roadside detectors with a bill automatically dispensed to drivers."

$2.05 a mile in city centers sounds a mite....steep, doesn't it? I wonder if taxis would have to pay it too?

Anyway, now that the technology seems to be working pretty well to my surprise the next question is how well the congestion charge will work in the long run. These kinds of things frequently have a short term effect just out of shock value, but then traffic creeps back up and a year later it's back to its old level. Then what? Just keep raising prices, I suppose.

Kevin Drum 3:17 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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