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Saturday, 3 August, 2002, 11:51 GMT 12:51 UK
Should motorists pay congestion charges?
Plans to charge motorists 5 a day to drive into central London have been upheld by the High Court.

The decision marks a victory for Mayor Ken Livingstone's controversial plans which are due to be introduced next February.

Westminster council had challenged the Mayor's plans saying the charges will push traffic out to surrounding areas, increasing air pollution and breaching residents' human rights.

Mr Livingstone and Transport for London (TfL) say congestion costs businesses 2m a week and the charge will reduce traffic by between 10 and 15% to "summer school holiday levels".

Are the congestion charges fair? Are they a good way of reducing traffic jams in central London? Or do they simply represent another tax on motorists? How will the charges affect you?

Have your say

Why not have punitive rates for large private vehicles?

David Wrede, Scotland/ ex-Londoner
Every time I go back to the capital I see more and more expensive and large cars with solo drivers. Yes to congestion charging, but why not have punitive rates for large private vehicles linked to engine capacity and number of passengers, with Smart cars, other true 'minis' and m-bikes free?
David Wrede, Scotland Ex-Londoner

Yes, anything that starts to get motorists paying for the cost of congestion and pollution and health problems they cause is a good idea. Going by car has been much cheaper than other forms of transport for too long. Increasing the cost will hopefully mean some make more sensible travel choices.
Barry Tregear, England

There is one quite blunt message for Mr Livingstone and any other politician who thinks they can take even more money off the motorist. Start listening and stop dictating. Do not even consider congestion charging until you can offer viable transport alternatives. Otherwise if you have to be told at the ballot box, you may lose your cushy little jobs!!!
Gary Burrows, Manchester, England

I'd suggest that all car drivers are made to take a walk though central London and feel the pain of breathing in the nitrous oxides and ozone that is caused by their cars. Five pounds is nothing compared to those who have to put up with constant asthma attacks and other respiratory diseases simply because people cannot be bothered to get off their backsides.
J Barnard, UK

I cannot understand why anyone would even want to try to use their car to reach central London

Phil, London, UK
Living in London, I welcome these new charges. I cannot understand why anyone would even want to try to use their car to reach central London at all, especially in rush hour. I do not have a car and have lived in several parts of London and have never found myself disadvantaged. I can only assume that bar a small minority that have valid reasons for using a car, for example the disabled, the rest of London's car uses are lazy and selfish. If they really believe they are above the sometimes cramped conditions on the tube then perhaps, they also recognise that London is not from them and move somewhere else, quieter, and wear slippers!
Phil, London, UK.

I have used public transport for years and never found the need for a car, but, having struggled on and persevered with a declining public service, timetable delays, dirty overcrowded buses for which I am charged steadily more and more, I have bought a car and am currently taking driving lessons. To drive in and out of work is, ironically, more comfortable, cheaper and quicker than getting the bus. Using the car will save me time, money and I will no longer be inconvenienced by the vagaries of public transport. Well done all those responsible for public transport. Through a complete lack of concern for your customers, you've managed drive a public transport advocate off the bus and contributed to yet another car on our congested roads!
Deborah, UK

Do we get our money back if London is still congested?

Wolfie, England
OK, so we'll pay a fiver a day. Nobody will swap onto the overcrowded unreliable public transport, so the situation will not change much (except being more expensive for us). If it is a congestion charge, do we get our money back if London is still congested?
Wolfie, England

Should the motorist pay yet again? No! How many times are you going to have to pay for the same activity? It is another tax. The revenue from petrol is something the government can't do without. This is why they want the public to keep on driving, but invent new ways of extracting even more money from the poor motorist - 5 at the moment and pretty soon it'll be 10.
G.Mcaleer, UK

Yes, it's another tax on motorists and using the proceeds to improve public transport is not the answer. It's not a question of more money, the system is broken and needs to be better run. We pay enough already, leave the motorists alone.
Dan, UK

I'm totally for congestion charging, so long as it penalises those who selfishly use their cars/vans/lorries. However, I can't see how the proposals can be rigorously enforced - 230 cameras taking photos of number plates sounds highly unreliable. Some sort of wireless credit deducting gizmo is needed, like the Dart-tag. That way traffic wardens should also be able to easily spot violators - though how you deal with occasional out of town visitors I'm not sure - special ticket machines at border crossings I suppose. But if a way could be found to charge single occupancy vehicles then we would really be getting somewhere.
John, UK

As a business owner with two vehicles in London 5 days a week, this is yet another charge that we have to bear. In order to stay competitive you cannot add the price to the jobs or the customers will go elsewhere. Does this government want to see business in England totally on its knees before it realises the problems it causes?
Linda Holding, United Kingdom

I think that it's a good idea, and should be implemented in cities that have the same traffic problems (Bristol leaps to mind) But what I think Ken should have done is propose a tiered toll system, dependant on the number of occupants in the car. This would certainly encourage car-pooling
D Jones, UK

The answer in many East Asian countries is to only allow the small city cars. I have one such model, the Daewoo Matiz, which only has 3 cylinders, does at least 45 mph in towns and can be parked anywhere. There are several other models on the market by other manufacturers such as Fiat. If only these type of cars were allowed congestion and pollution would drop by 50% at a stroke. Why not try the city car method first ?
Anthony, England

If Ken Livingstone had an ounce of honesty in him, he would simply ban cars altogether from Central London. By charging motorists, it is implicit in his argument that cars are necessary to raise the capital he needs to improve public transport. If all car drivers simply stopped going into London, where will all his money come from? It's a disingenuous scheme, to say the least.
Jonathan Cullen, UK

I support Ken in his actions

Andy Harrison, UK
During the so called 'fuel strike' the roads were empty. While the buses were running public transport worked brilliantly. Some people shared cars, others walked or used bikes. I support Ken in his actions, something badly needs to be done to cut the amount of traffic on the road. Maybe another 'fuel strike' would help?
Andy Harrison, UK

There is no doubt in my mind that since TFL took over London's roads, traffic congestion has got worse. At the moment London is a nightmare of road-works. I have already moved my business out of the city and will avoid going there in future. Unfortunately for my clients in London I will be passing on any road congestion charges incurred. Public transport will never be able to replace commercial vehicles.
John Packham, England

Having spent 2.5 hours travelling from Southampton to Waterloo, on a stiflingly hot train with no air conditioning, I would think of the charge as value for money compared to the inefficient, slow, overcrowded, dirty and expensive public transport we're offered as an alternative.
Steve Wehrle, UK

It's a shame that money is more important than increased safety

Dave, UK
What's sad in all this is that the only way to change people's attitudes and habits is by charging them money. It's a shame that money is more important than increased safety, a cleaner environment and improved health.
Dave, UK

It's time drivers were charged for the true cost of motoring including pollution, health, congestion etc - not just in London, but everywhere else in the country.
Jonathan, England

I must say, I am looking forward to getting even more squashed on the already overcrowded train I travel to work on!
Duncan, GB

I have never seen a politician fight his way onto the Waterloo to Bank tube

Ian Ross, England
I drive into London because there is no alternative. Let Ken and his cohorts spend some time doing ordinary jobs and then let them make policy. I have never seen a politician fight his way onto the Waterloo to Bank tube, wait in the wind and the rain for 30 minutes for a bus to turn up or stand on a roasting hot mainline train for an hour and a half just to get home again.
Ian Ross, England

I take it that no one been on the trains recently? I would like a few people to tell me how those who give up their cars will be able to fit onto my train?
JV, England

Camden tube station is very congested yet I don't see them charging tube users.
Giles Jones, UK

Some thing has to be done about our congested streets in London. I have never agreed with Ken's policies apart from this one. I am a car driver, and a pensioner, but if it is essential for me to go in the city by car I do not object. I always however go by public transport if possible, although I agree something has to be done to improve their service.
Jim Cummings, England

As a pregnant mother, this will stop me going into London

Caron, England
As a pregnant mother of two young children, this will stop me going into London. Ever tried catching a bus with a folded pushchair, a nappy bag, a baby and a young child? Not every tube station has lifts or escalators so you have to climb the stairs with the pushchair, baby, toddler and bag while everyone else is pushing past you. Until public transport is upgraded to allow a mother with young children to travel without having to break down the pushchair, then we are forced to use our cars. Public transport in London is geared towards getting people to work and not the family.
Caron, England

This should have been aimed purely at private motorists, otherwise it's not just road users who pay but everybody (including the pensioner, the single mother, the lowly paid etc), by way of increased costs in goods and services.
A Chap, UK

A variable charge would be better

Phil Gray, Wilts UK
The money from the charge will go towards improving bus services. He cannot use it to improve the tube because the government still controls that. A variable charge would be better; one that would alter depending upon the congestion at the time.
Phil Gray, Wilts UK

I used to be against it until Quentin Willson's 4x4 report convinced me. I also think that the use of millions of four to six-seat energy hungry vehicles every day occupied by typically just the driver is perverse and if they insist on doing it they should pay for it.
Phil, UK

People that live within any proposed boundary that attracts a congestion charge should be exempt - are they?
Barry, England

At last. Now, finally, motorists will contribute towards the costs they impose on London's transport system. I look forward to the time when they will carry the full financial burden for their obsession with their 'right' to drive. It's not a right, but a privilege that should be paid for in full.
M Deaves, Luton, UK

To Steve, UK Congestion charging on trains is next - the SRA want to increase fares with the objective of reducing passenger traffic by 7%. Where the 7% is supposed to go is apparently not their concern. Yet another example of "joined up government".
David, Cambridge, UK

What next - congestion charging on trains??

Steve, UK
Nobody is a winner with these new taxes. Motorists will be forced to pay up or move onto the trains, which are already heavily congested and set to become more expensive next year when the inflationary link to ticket prices is broken. What next - congestion charging on trains?? This policy clearly demonstrates that local and national government aren't working together at all. As for the commuters, we'll have to ensure we vote the right way next election.
Steve, UK

As a safe engineer, I am often called into the city to carry out my work. I have to take my van for obvious reasons. This tax will have to be passed to my customers (who will doubtless quibble about it!) Vans and lorries which service and supply the city should be exempt, whilst ALL those who could use public transport should either do so or cough up the charge. Mind you, I have been known to take my tools on the train, it's a lot easier than trying to find a parking space near a job!
Nick, UK

Public transport is a bit of a chicken and egg situation. People don't want to use it until it's been improved, and the government can't afford to improve it until more customers use it. Some sort of initiative is required to break this cycle, and whilst I'm not sure I necessarily agree with the approach Livingstone et al are taking, I welcome an attempt to solve this deadlock.
Tom Sadler, London, UK

Improve the buses, don't charge the motorists!

Cathy Harrison, England
Being a non-driver and a regular user of public transport I have seen the roads become more and more congested as a result of the increasing number of car users driving in and out of the city centre each day. However, I think if the public transport system were radically improved, this would hopefully persuade more car drivers to use the bus instead. Improve the buses, don't charge the motorists!
Cathy Harrison, England

Of course it would be better if public transport were improved first, but where exactly is Ken supposed to get the money to do that that central government has been unwilling/unable to find? As long as the money IS ploughed back into public transport then this is a good thing. Although I drive a car myself, I agree it's the only way forward as it'll force people to re-evaluate whether they really NEED to drive.
Phil, UK

Mr Livingstone is to be congratulated for having the courage to do this. I only wish that governments in Canada would be brave enough to attack the "sacred cow" status of motor transport.
David Brain, Canada

As a cyclist, I am in favour of the charges. Hopefully with less cars around, cycling in London will get rather safer.
Rob, England

End result - no impact on vehicle numbers, more money in Ken's coffers

Ken Wilson, UK
Clearly Ken has not done any research on traffic volumes. People who drive cars into central London will not be deterred by paying 5. If delivery vans and lorries are not exempt then the costs will be passed on to all Londoners. Buses and taxis will still exist. End result - no impact on vehicle numbers, more money in Ken's coffers paid by us all.
Ken Wilson, UK

It was superb walking around central London during the recent Jubilee celebrations, with all the roads completely free of cars. Do the job properly Ken, and close the centre of London to all traffic (except for the disabled), instead of this con of just making way for wealthier people by squeezing out those who cannot afford the 5 charge.
Wendy Wartoff, England

I will still travel in every day by car and pay the congestion fee. It's better sitting in a traffic jam than standing in a sweltering tube.
Richard, UK

London will be more attractive to tourists if it doesn't stink of car fumes

Jane, UK
London is a horribly polluted city, where crossing the road is increasingly difficult. The only solution is to charge drivers, most of whom could simply catch public transport like the rest of us. It is time London drivers stopped thinking about themselves and started thinking about the environment and the general good of the city. The money raised by the charges should be pumped into the environmentally friendlier trains, tubes and buses. London will be more attractive to tourists if it doesn't stink of car fumes.
Jane, UK

So the fat cat bosses get to put it on their expense accounts and still drive their gas guzzlers into town while the rest of us, as ever, are penalised in favour of the rich. This scheme is like everything else Ken Livingstone has done throughout his mayoral career - a waste of time. It will just move the pollution from the city out to residential areas.
Terry Amis, UK

I notice that van and lorry drivers will be charged the same as car drivers with limited exemptions. As a van driver who provides a service to many inner city companies and individuals, I am going to have to pass on this cost to my customers. Surely those of us who service and supply goods in order to keep the city running, should be eligible to a discount or exemption?
Nick, UK

Van drivers won't lose money, they could make more because they'll have less congestion to get through. Where is the money going to come from to improve public transport and how long do you want to wait? Should everyone in London be taxed through their council tax regardless of whether they drive or not? Of course not.
John, UK

I believe Londoners will benefit from reduced congestion

Sean Jauss, UK
I think congestion charges are necessary, though like many taxes, arguably not fair. Only by hitting people's wallets is it possible to change their manner in which they use their vehicles. I believe Londoners will benefit from reduced congestion, both in quality of life and health. Naturally, any such change must be accompanied by an increase in the quality of public transport. I would even argue that the Mayor hasn't been radical enough. What about considering pedestrian-only zones combined with new tram lines and cycle lanes? Let's get away from cars wherever possible: they're dirty, loud and often unsightly!
Sean Jauss, UK

If public transport was reliable, safe and available 24/7, the congestion would likely reduce on its own. As it is this is going to be just more costs on people going about their business, it will not encourage them onto the busses and trains.
Stuart Gardner, UK

Of course the charges are correct. I'd rather they were 100 a day to really discourage people from the perverse habit of sitting in traffic jams all day in London.
Graham Figg, UK

I feel so angry about this. Yes there is congestion in London and yes it needs to be dealt with but taxing people to drive into a city is appalling. I am amazed that Londoners haven't protested more about this taking away of (driving) civil liberties! It's our city, why should Red Ken sit in his ivory tower and tell us what we can and can't do, without even letting us have our say?
Sophie, UK

To Sophie, UK: You may remember that Ken Livingstone was elected by a huge majority of Londoners, after he made it perfectly clear that he intended to introduce congestion charging. I think you'll find we have had our say.
Adam, UK

The tubes are crammed full and the buses are not any better

Jon Cooper, UK
People have to travel somehow. If they don't go by car, they will have to go by public transport. But the tubes are crammed full and the buses are not any better. So the inevitable result is people will either go the long way round (great for pollution...) or be taxed yet more on top of the already world's highest motoring taxes we have in this country.
Jon Cooper, UK

We need to be aware that the boundary will create a new band of inflated and depressed property values. Those on the right side of the tracks would save at least 1300 per year.
Chris, England

The fundamental problem in inner London and most parts of the UK is that public transport does not meet the requirements of working people and should be made the cheaper option. This congestion charge has basically made traffic the problem of outer London boroughs.
Dhiren Tailor, UK

Expect a huge increase in the sale of powered two wheelers

Jenni, Bristol, England
While I am totally opposed to this proposal I take some comfort from the fact that motorcycles will be exempt from the charge. Expect a huge increase in the sale of powered two wheelers in the commuter belt.
Jenni, Bristol, England

Why not? We pay for everything else.
Les, UK

Surely the public services have got to be improved first to lure the passengers?
Ayesha, Oxford, UK

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31 Jul 02 | England
18 Feb 02 | England
06 Mar 01 | UK Politics
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