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congestion charging

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  • Simon Norton
    I agree that congestion charging is a dull knife but it s better than nothing, and if the measures advocated by Stefan Langeveld were implemented I think
    Message 1 of 4 , Jan 9, 2006
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      I agree that congestion charging is a "dull knife" but it's better than nothing,
      and if the measures advocated by Stefan Langeveld were implemented I think we'd
      still need something like it.

      I believe that the external costs of motoring are vastly underestimated because
      the intangible value of a city not dominated by traffic isn't assessed, and
      because of positive feedback effects that magnify any initial impact of traffic.

      Because of this, anything that brings the cost of motoring closer to the total
      social cost is likely to be beneficial.

      People with lower incomes may not be able to use cars all the time, but they are
      likely to be able to use them some of the time (especially if a carsharing
      scheme is in operation). The effect of a congestion charge would be to induce
      them to prioritise their travel requirements, and possibly to rearrange them so
      they can be met without a car.

      Higher income people may be able to drive all the time. If they choose to do so,
      it means more revenue for the city authorities to boost public transport.

      Simon Norton
    • Simon Norton
      I agree with part of the critique referred to by Tsoulakis and Eric Britton, in that I don t think that the congestion charge is by itself sufficient to save
      Message 2 of 4 , Mar 20 1:33 PM
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        I agree with part of the critique referred to by Tsoulakis and Eric Britton, in
        that I don't think that the congestion charge is by itself sufficient to save
        London or any other city from the effects of traffic. However I do think that it
        is a necessary step.

        Unless one reduces overall traffic levels I don't think that measures to
        prioritise certain types of traffic will work. For example, if one creates bus
        lanes then the rest of the traffic will have to queue to get into the rest of
        the road, and in doing so they will block buses from getting into the bus lane.

        Congestion does affect public transport users badly. For example, only today,
        while travelling on a London bus I went through an area where there was gridlock
        in the other direction because a main street was cordoned off (why, I didn't
        find out). My bus was probably less affected, but it was still signicicantly
        delayed because it couldn't get through the gaps between queuing traffic in the
        opposite direction and parked vehicles on our side of the road. As a result I
        missed a connection so lost a whole hour.

        It might have been worse, as in the UK there are often considerable discounts
        for those who book in advance on particular journeys. This has as its corollary
        large financial penalties if they miss their intended connections.

        My home city, Cambridge, has been fiddling with traffic management measures for
        ages. They aren't working because the general level of traffic is too high. One
        side effect has been that there isn't even enough room for buses in the central
        area, because they have had to allow extra layover times to make up for delays
        getting in.

        There are other reasons why bus lanes won't work if overall traffic levels are
        too high. Bus lanes generally use the near side of the road, which is also
        needed by service traffic (e.g. vehicles unloading). Where do the buses go when
        unloading takes place ? This part of the road is also used by vehicles turning
        left (in the UK, right in right hand drive countries).

        In many towns outside London pedestrianisation schemes have been accompanied by
        the building of huge destructive so called relief roads, partly in order that
        motorists can still drive to vast car parks from which they can access the
        pedestrianised area. In some cases buses are allowed through the pedestrianised
        area, but this is a far cry from real city-wide bus priorities.

        Congestion charge isn't a "privatisation of public space"; rather it is a
        release to the general public of space that has previously been hogged by cars.

        Buses aren't generally "packed", and one motive for congestion charging in
        London -- and it would be still more so in Cambridge -- is to make it feasible
        to run better services. Trains are generally only packed at peak times.

        In the UK, money for rail based improvements has dried up completely, except in
        those areas (including London) with devolved governments. Elsewhere our
        government says that local authorities should consider cheaper bus based
        systems -- for which, unfortunately, revenue support is totally inadequate so
        that they too are under threat. So the argument that the revenue from congestion
        charging can be used to boost public transport is very attractive to those who
        have been treated as second class -- no, third class -- citizens for decades.

        Simon Norton
      • Stephen Plowden
        It is indeed important to reduce overall levels of traffic but bus lanes (and other bus priorities) do that. The volume of car traffic adjusts downwards as
        Message 3 of 4 , Mar 21 6:27 AM
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          It is indeed important to reduce overall levels of traffic but bus lanes
          (and other bus priorities) do that. The volume of car traffic adjusts
          downwards as well as upwards with capacity, and bus lanes add to this
          effect by simultaneously taking sapce from cars and improving the
          non-car alternatives. That is not to say that bus lanes and other ways
          of reallocating space away from cars will always or even often be a
          sufficient means of traffic restraint. Where others are required, road
          pricing is not the only option. There are also parking controls and
          lower, properly enforced speed limits as well as land use policy . It is
          important to examine the different measures, and combinations of
          measures, of traffic restraint objectively with regard to the
          circumstances of each particular town. Unfortunately, many transport
          economists do not do that. They have an a priori belief that pricing is
          always the best way of tackling the problem. This is a bit like in a
          commercial context saying that pricing policy is always more important
          than product policy.

          Simon Norton wrote:

          > I agree with part of the critique referred to by Tsoulakis and Eric
          > Britton, in
          > that I don't think that the congestion charge is by itself sufficient
          > to save
          > London or any other city from the effects of traffic. However I do
          > think that it
          > is a necessary step.
          >
          > Unless one reduces overall traffic levels I don't think that measures to
          > prioritise certain types of traffic will work. For example, if one
          > creates bus
          > lanes then the rest of the traffic will have to queue to get into the
          > rest of
          > the road, and in doing so they will block buses from getting into the
          > bus lane.
          >
          > Congestion does affect public transport users badly. For example, only
          > today,
          > while travelling on a London bus I went through an area where there
          > was gridlock
          > in the other direction because a main street was cordoned off (why, I
          > didn't
          > find out). My bus was probably less affected, but it was still
          > signicicantly
          > delayed because it couldn't get through the gaps between queuing
          > traffic in the
          > opposite direction and parked vehicles on our side of the road. As a
          > result I
          > missed a connection so lost a whole hour.
          >
          > It might have been worse, as in the UK there are often considerable
          > discounts
          > for those who book in advance on particular journeys. This has as its
          > corollary
          > large financial penalties if they miss their intended connections.
          >
          > My home city, Cambridge, has been fiddling with traffic management
          > measures for
          > ages. They aren't working because the general level of traffic is too
          > high. One
          > side effect has been that there isn't even enough room for buses in
          > the central
          > area, because they have had to allow extra layover times to make up
          > for delays
          > getting in.
          >
          > There are other reasons why bus lanes won't work if overall traffic
          > levels are
          > too high. Bus lanes generally use the near side of the road, which is
          > also
          > needed by service traffic (e.g. vehicles unloading). Where do the
          > buses go when
          > unloading takes place ? This part of the road is also used by vehicles
          > turning
          > left (in the UK, right in right hand drive countries).
          >
          > In many towns outside London pedestrianisation schemes have been
          > accompanied by
          > the building of huge destructive so called relief roads, partly in
          > order that
          > motorists can still drive to vast car parks from which they can access the
          > pedestrianised area. In some cases buses are allowed through the
          > pedestrianised
          > area, but this is a far cry from real city-wide bus priorities.
          >
          > Congestion charge isn't a "privatisation of public space"; rather it is a
          > release to the general public of space that has previously been hogged
          > by cars.
          >
          > Buses aren't generally "packed", and one motive for congestion charging in
          > London -- and it would be still more so in Cambridge -- is to make it
          > feasible
          > to run better services. Trains are generally only packed at peak times.
          >
          > In the UK, money for rail based improvements has dried up completely,
          > except in
          > those areas (including London) with devolved governments. Elsewhere our
          > government says that local authorities should consider cheaper bus based
          > systems -- for which, unfortunately, revenue support is totally
          > inadequate so
          > that they too are under threat. So the argument that the revenue from
          > congestion
          > charging can be used to boost public transport is very attractive to
          > those who
          > have been treated as second class -- no, third class -- citizens for
          > decades.
          >
          > Simon Norton
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
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        • Simon Norton
          I m prepared to accept the bulk of Stephen Plowden s remarks, but I don t think they get round the fact that it s price that sends the clearest signal as to
          Message 4 of 4 , Mar 21 8:48 AM
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            I'm prepared to accept the bulk of Stephen Plowden's remarks, but I don't think
            they get round the fact that it's price that sends the clearest signal as to how
            people should change their behaviour according to circumstances.

            Where the system takes extortionate fares off public transport users and
            comparatively little off motorists it is difficult for people to escape the
            conclusion that driving is not recognised as inimical to the social interest,
            and that if there is insufficient space to accommodate all the cars people want
            to drive (and park) then more needs to be provided.

            Simon Norton
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