Congestion Charging three years on - cleaner air, safer roads and reduced congestion

29 June 2006

The Congestion Charge provides vital funds which are invested back into London's transport system

Congestion levels in the zone were 22 per cent lower in 2005 than in 2002 before the scheme was introduced.

The significant improvements in bus services have been sustained, air quality is better with the most harmful vehicle emissions down by 13-15 per cent, cycling levels are up 43 per cent, and independent research demonstrates that road safety has improved with up to 70 fewer personal road injuries per year as a direct result of Congestion Charging.

Reductions in congestion were slightly lower in 2005 than in previous years.

The average reduction since the scheme began is 26 per cent.

This is well above the Mayor's initial target of a 20 per cent reduction in congestion, and it reflects changes in road space allocation to improve road safety and assist pedestrians, cyclists and buses, which are demonstrably achieving additional benefits of importance to London.

However this reduction needs to be measured in the context of the long-term trend of increasing congestion across London.

Measured against this overall background trend, congestion within the zone is down 30 per cent.

Mayor of London Ken Livingstone said: "This report shows that the Congestion Charge continues to be highly effective in decreasing congestion in the Capital.

"Traffic levels and associated carbon emissions have been cut, bus services have improved, the roads are safer, and London's air quality has improved thanks to reduced vehicle emissions.

"The Congestion Charge provides vital funds which are invested back into London's transport system, and into encouraging walking, cycling and greater use of public transport.

Reducing traffic

"Cities from across the world can look to our scheme as a benchmark for how to tackle the economic and social problems associated with congestion."

Michele Dix, Director of Congestion Charging, said: "Three years on from the start of the scheme and London is a nicer place to work, live and visit.

"Traffic levels are down, more people are walking and cycling, the number of people using buses is up thanks to a quicker and far more reliable service and congestion has been cut.

"The key aim of the Congestion Charge is to reduce levels of traffic coming into central London which is something we continue to see.

"The Capital is the only major city in the world to achieve a shift from private car use to public transport, delivered through the combination of Congestion Charging and the expansion of the bus service."

Since the Congestion Charging scheme started in February 2003, London has seen:

  • Traffic entering the zone reduced by 21 per cent
  • Congestion within the zone is 22 oer cent lower than in 2002
  • Accident rates down with up to 40 to 70 fewer personal accidents directly due to congestion charging
  • A reduction of 13 per cent in Nitrogen Oxide and 15 per cent in particulate matter vehicle emissions within the zone
  • A reduction in carbon emissions from traffic within the zone of 16 per cent
  • An increase in cycling within the zone of 43 per cent
  • Excess waiting time for buses reduced by 46 per cent within the zone
  • Retail footfall now outperforming the rest of the UK and returning to a pattern of year-on-year growth
  • The charge has had no identifiable effect on the number of business starting up or closing down within the zone compared to the rest of London
  • No effect on property prices
  • £122m being raised, in the financial year 2005/06, to invest back into London's transport system

Many improvements have also been made to the scheme's operation since its introduction including:

  • The introduction of a Pay Next Day facility on 19 June to allow customers an extra day to pay the charge if they forget
  • Tempora
    • A full copy of the 4th Annual Monitoring Report is available to download
    • The Congestion Charging zone will be extended on 19 February 2007. Extending the existing zone is expected to bring considerable benefits. Congestion in the extended zone will be cut by 15-20 per cent. There will be 10-15 per cent less traffic within the zone during charging hours meaning that a vehicle making a journey into and back out of the extended zone would typically save five minutes