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We need to take a fresh look at putting a price on road use

19 January 2017

We have welcomed the ‘London Stalling’ report, published today [Thursday 19 January] by the London Assembly Transport Committee, which calls on the Mayor of London to reform the Congestion Charge payment and ultimately replace with it road pricing.

The report outlines recommendations for the short- and long-term to ease London’s clogged and crowded roads.

Matt Winfield, Acting Director for Sustrans in London, said:

“We welcome the report’s strong focus on road pricing for London.

“The congestion charge demonstrated how we can manage traffic, not simply surrender our city to it. It’s time for the Mayor to take a fresh look at putting a price on road use.

“We shouldn’t accept London’s traffic as a fact of life: it is the result of our collective decisions. The 5p plastic bag charge, for instance, demonstrated how behaviour responds to small changes in price with positive results for our environment; road pricing could do the same for traffic in London.

“At a time when London is choked by increasing congestion, as well as air pollution, we can’t afford to go back to the bad old days of ripping-up precious public space to give over to traffic as we did in the 60s and 70s. We need to continue to invest in alternative choices to the car,  whilst supporting goods and freight to become more efficient.

“Alongside this, we need Transport for London to look at every possible way to make London’s streets better for everyone. That means encouraging efficient, clean and cheap travel by creating safe space for cycling and walking, and helping buses get through queues quickly to minimise impacts on congestion.”

How big is the problem?

The overall annual cost to London from traffic delays on busy roads is £5.5 billion (that amounts to £20.83 per hour for an average vehicle).This figure represents a huge 30 per cent increase in just two years (£4.2 billion in 2012/13). 

The Committee suggests a way of charging people for road usage that is targeted at areas of congestion, at the times congestion occurs.  

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM, Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee said:

“Something dramatic has to be done about the enormous congestion problem on London’s roads. The issue is costing our city money and costing Londoners their health and wellbeing.

“Road pricing would be a fairer approach, as road users would pay according to how much they contribute to congestion. It’s a bold move – but our survey shows that road users are in favour and the current congestion charge is far too blunt an instrument and too narrow in scope.”

We fed back into the investigation recommending, among others, reforming the existing congestion charge, exploring options for road pricing and prioritising investment in walking and cycling to move people more effectively.

Read our full submission.

For all media enquiries please contact Anna Galandzij, senior press officer for Sustrans, on [email protected] or call 075 5791 5648.