British Dopers: Paying for Rush Hour?

I just heard a story on CBS World News with Dan Rather that people will have to start paying to drive in downtown London during rush hour? And, cameras will record license plates? What’s the deal with this? Also, does this fee or toll apply to visitors, too? - Jinx

P.S. I’m telling you… taxing the air is next!

Apparently it has really cleared up the congestion.

Cameras take a picture of the licence plate and OCR reads the number to bill you for the privldge of driving in the CBD. You have a short time to pay up.

This is a great way of keeping all the poor drivers out of the CBD.

There’s plenty of stuff about this if you google it. Here’s a good link:

Geez…I wouldn’t have known what keywords to even “google” with! For starters, I didn’t know about the “CBD”… - Jinx

London is a mediaeval city with a current population of about 8 million.
Most roads there were originally built for the horse and cart.

Since various British Governments have refused to fund public transport properly (most politicians think a chaffeur-driven car is public transport - and don’t get me started on the privatisation of the railways), there are a lot of cars entering London each day.
I remember a recent claim that the average speed of a car in London during the day was 4 miles per hour.
There are always massive tailbacks each morning and evening going in and out respectively.

Recently the office of Mayor of London was revived and an independent, Ken Livingstone, beat all the major political parties.
A large part of his manifesto was the ‘congestion charge’, where cars pay £5 (about $8) a day to use Central London roads.

There are cameras on all routes into the centre to read number plates, and there are fines (starting at £40) if you don’t pay.
There are exceptions (one is any vehicle with 9+ seats), but it’s late so I won’t be posting them here.

To sum up, yes, it now costs money to drive in Central London.
It was introduced by a popular vote.
No, they’re not going to tax the air.
Yes, we have a National Health Service too.

It’s day two of the charge and here in sunny London - nothing has happened. Traffic is lighter, but its half term holiday - so traffic is always lighter.

My office is just outside the zone, so there have been some problems with people parking where they shouldn’t, but so far the world continues to turn.

‘Congestion charge’ + London

Here in the Midwest, it’s called tolls.

yme, it’s not just a charge on one road (like a toll), but you pay it whenever you enter the centre of London from all directions.

I haven’t popped into central London this week (we live just outside the charge zone), but it was very amusing on Monday watching the news reports every hour - switching to their reporters placed all around the charge limits saying ‘well, everything is fine here, not much traffic’.

Everyone was prepared for complete chaos and there was no such thing, although as owlstretchingtime mentioned, it is school holidays.

I imagine though that a lot of people will still drive to work but stick the charge on their expenses?

What happens if people don’t pay fast enough? Can they expect visits from strange men dressed in black?

The real test will be next week, when the schools are back in, and those who used to drive and have been trying public transport for a week have to make a decision about whether to cough up the £5 or carry on cramming themselves (along with several hundred of their closest friends) into metal tubes that trundle along under the ground in a tunnel that is barely big enough to contain it…

Grim :slight_smile:

The charge goes up to £10 after 10pm that night - after midnight, a ticket is issued - £40 if you pay up within a fortnight, £80 after that. The question to be asked is whether they are going to be able to cope with the thousands of tickets to be issued each day… 10,000 on the first day alone


people with overseas number plates will probably escape as there is no mechanism to charge them. Mind you the same thing probably applies if I get parking tickets in Berlin

Not referring to the OP directly, but I’d just like to add that I’d expect libertarians to love the idea. Whenever you’re driving into the city centre, you’re causing a damage to someone else (because traffic gets a bit slower, thus you’re stealing a bit of time from anyone else there), so you get charged for that as a compensation. A centralist might dream up a rotating system where only people with certain licence plate numbers would be allowed to drive at certain dates.

According to the Transport for London website, that’s not correct:

So I’ll just have to drive over there in a car with Japanese or Indian license plates. :slight_smile:

Mind you, I hear there is a small gap!

Sounds weird, but I think this is a bluff. There is no EU Debt Collection Agency. Some countries might collect traffic penalties for other countries, but that’s a bilateral thing without any central European Union agency involved. Several German media have, in connection with the congestion charge, pointed out that, unlike other EU nations, Germany does not collect traffic penalties from German car owners for traffic offenses committed abroad.

I am sure this actually happened in , I think , Athens. If your licence plate ended in an even number you were allowed into the city centre on alternate days , and vice versa for a plate that ended in an odd number.
Back to London charges - all the money raised from this charge is supposed to go towards providing better public transport for London. Lets hope this is the case.

There is another side to this issue, and I am amazed that nobody has mentioned it yet–all those cameras filming every citizen, every day.
Hasn’t anyone in England read George Orwell?
The charge may be a pretty good idea for reducing traffic jams. But why are all the politicians ignoring the bigger issue-- FREEDOM in a democratic society. Many people are making a huge ethical issue of the “morality” of the tax, claiming discrimination against the poor, etc. But there is a much, much more serious ethical problem here–the privacy of individuals. If your every move is photographed and recorded for tax purposes, how long will it be before the police use those records to check out a criminal’s movements. Say, someone on probation. (This would be a legitimate use, in my opinion.)

But its a slippery slope—
If you can film part of London’s streets, why not all of them? If someone reports their car stolen, will they be able to call the local police station,( or check the police web site) to see the camera records of where the car was driven? Or if a parent wants to check where their son went last Saturday nite? Or a suspicious spouse?

Why have so many people expressed moral outrage over the minor issue of financial fairness, but not over the more important issue of loss of freedom?