New Mayor Could Weaken London Congestion Charge

borisjohnson460.jpgLondon Mayor Boris Johnson may scale back the congestion pricing plan put in place by Ken Livingstone, whom Johnson defeated in May. The Times is reporting that the current 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. flat rate charge could be altered in a number of ways, including a reduction in the hours during which the fee is applied and reversing an extension of the zone, which was implemented last year.

Johnson's director of transport, Kulveer Ranger, told the Times that Johnson is looking to the proposed Manchester pricing model, which charges for fewer hours per day.

Mr Ranger said: "Flexibility around hours of operation, flexibility around how it is charged; all of those things are options we're looking to consider.

"The mayor has been absolutely clear that he wants to make it fairer for people, not so much as a blunt tool, but something that's a bit more well managed and gives people a bit more flexibility in terms of how it's operated."

The Times, which opposes pricing, relies exclusively on sources from "motoring groups" -- who also speak of "making the system fairer," etc. -- to fill out the story. But in the comments, reader "Barry" recalls how candidate Johnson professed an interest in improving conditions for those who don't or can't drive.

We certainly need more sophisticated road charging, where payment is related to time of day and distance travelled. But to rule out extending the scheme shows that Boris's pre-election claim to support cyclists, pedestrians and bus users over the selfish minority of self-drivers was a sham.

Photo: Guardian Unlimited