Congestion charging coming to West London

Mayor reveals that next step for the charge is to move west with Shepherds Bush and Hammersmith being seen as the new boundary

Plans to extend the Congestion Charging Zone further into West London are being considered by Ken Livingstone. Following what the mayoral office believes was a relatively smooth introduction of the scheme last Monday, discussions are already underway for a substantial extension that could affect Acton, Chiswick, Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush, areas where residents are already concerned about traffic issues relating to the introduction of trams.

The plans, which Ken Livingstone intends to make a key part of his mayoral election campaign next year, has provoked concern from some local retailers who feel they would be adversely affected by having fewer motorists in their areas, as well as by higher costs if delivery firms pass on the £5-a-day charge.

An additional zone around Heathrow airport has also been suggested, a move that has been welcomed by Ruth Cadbury, LBH�s spokesperson for Transport Issues, she reportedly said "The traffic and air pollution in this area is already bad and over the next five years it is going to get worse because there are no proposals for public transport improvement. Consequently, we would be prepared to consider a congestion charging scheme for Heathrow" She believes local knock on effects of the Charge could be kept to a minimum.

Controlled Parking Zones around Osterley and Acton Town stations are in the process of being implemented and have been specifically timed to coincide with the implementation of the charge. They are intended to deter an increase of commuters from leaving their cars in nearby residential roads and catching the train. A CPZ was also suggested around Chiswick Station but local residents rejected the idea as parking in this area has not generally been a problem.

When speaking about the scheme implemented last week, London�s Transport Commissioner Bob Kiley said: �More than one million people come into central London every morning and the overwhelming majority use public transport to do so. It is TfL�s job to make those journeys as reliable, attractive and safe as we can - for example we have put an extra 300 buses on London�s streets in the last year alone. All Londoners will benefit from the £2.5m we will raise every week from the congestion charge to improve transport in London.�

But this new scheme raises a multitude of �local� issues for residents, CPZs and public transport amongst them. According to figures issued by Traffic Master, it appears that commuters living in the West and South West are the ones most affected. Car journey times into Central London from these areas were up compared to the same period last year however journey times from the North, East and South all fell.

It seems that commuters are either driving around or stopping outside the zone and taking public transport. This has meant that vehicle traffic, both private and public, outside the zone has been badly affected and an increase in journey times and sheer weight of traffic has increased.

The scheme means even more commuters traveling to work on public transport. NOP surveyed 900 motorists found that 22% of them were planning to switch to public transport when the scheme started. A switch on this scale means at least 9,000 more commuters catching public transport than has been anticipated by TfL. Almost 40% of those switching to public transport said that they will catch the Tube, 24% trains and 14% buses.

If the zone was extended, some local residents fear that extra traffic would be right here on our doorstep with the only upside being a 90% reduction from the £5 for residents living within the zone.

February 25, 2003

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