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Last Updated: Sunday, 15 February, 2004, 12:51 GMT
Drivers put-off by London parking
Congestion charge sign
It is the first anniversary of the congestion charge on 17 February
More drivers are steering clear of London because of traffic and costly parking rather than to avoid the congestion charge, a poll has found.

The study by the AA Motoring Trust claims 70% are put off driving by the cost and hassle of parking.

Less than half - 45% - of the 300 people questioned listed the year old charge as the main reason to stay away.

And 71% of motorists living in the commuter belt opposed any extension of the charging zone.

The AA Motoring Trust attacked what it claimed was a "desperate" bid by Transport for London (TfL) to support the charge's ailing finances.

If I'm re-elected then I'd be surprised if something similar didn't happen in New York
Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London
It said net revenue from the 5-a-day scheme was falling well below forecasts, predicted to be just 18m - less than 10% of the original target of 200m.

The revenue shortfall was due to increased operational costs (97m) and errors in measuring traffic patterns to work out how many drivers would need to pay the 5 fee, the organisation said..

Paul Watters, head of Roads and Transport at The AA Motoring Trust, said: "A recent surge in penalties, some issued just seconds before the charging hours cease, proves that TfL is desperate to raise more cash.

"If it is going to resort to this sort of tactic, it should erect electronic `zone-on/zone-off' signs on all approaches to the charging area, so that drivers are in no doubt about whether they are safe to drive within the zone without being fined."

'Waiting to see'

But Mayor of London Ken Livingstone says the London model has gained world recognition, with similar schemes being considered elsewhere.

"If I'm re-elected then I'd be surprised if something similar didn't happen in New York," Mr Livingstone said in an interview BBC One's Breakfast with Frost.

"I don't know what the Mayor of Paris is going to do because they've got the ideal there - they've got that great circular road round the centre which would be a perfect one.

"And we are fairly certain the Mayor of Milan is going to go down this road. So they are all waiting to see."

Opposition to congestion charge
23 Dec 03  |  England
Congestion charge firm fined 1m
10 Oct 03  |  London
Businesses 'approve road toll'
18 Aug 03  |  London

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