When the first mayor for London introduced the congestion charge in the capital, there was an immediate cut in traffic.
Ever since, as the price has effectively dropped with inflation, it has ceased to provide congestion relief – instead becoming a straight tax on motorists.

Today’s a good case in point. Cycling along London’s Marylebone Road – absolute gridlock .. the Thames Embankment similar.

Yet the infrastructure exists to sort this log jam of mainly single-occupancy private cars in one stroke.

Clearly the congestion charge (at least for the Olympic period – but perfectly easily for the Jubilee too), could be raised instantly, overnight even.

It would not be popular in the first instance. But the mayor has just been re-elected.

In the long run it might anyway prove hugely popular as Olympic mayhem eased.

When Mayor Livingstone did the sums before introducing the charge, he discovered that eighty five per cent of all private cars driving in central London come from well beyond the central London boroughs. So there are probably very few votes in it.

I have Tweeted the question whether, for this very limited period, the charge would rise to £100 per day – with weekends included. It might prove necessary to take the charging time into the early evening – say until 8.00pm.

If there is to be public transport confusion during this massive traffic period it will be caused by private cars. There are enough buses and tubes to go around.

More, the pedestrian will find it possible to walk down many more streets with ease, cyclists would find life easier too.

So I’m wondering why there is such vast reluctance to use the tools that sit there ready for action. Indeed would it be too fanciful to ask if they DON’T use the Congestion Charge to control congestion, will it still BE a Congestion Charge?

Won’t its non-use simply prove that it is what motorists complain it is – an odious tax upoon the them.

And as for facilitating the very rich to drive in for the Olympics – well there’s a downside to every good idea. The isolation of the few Chelsea tractor owners  prepared to pay, might well leave their drivers less than comfortable to be seen driving around the capital in such circumstances.

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