London’s traffic is legendary and so is its traffic management system. From early 2003, the city of London started charging a fee, which is currently £10, or $16.19 to motorists who want to drive through the city center. This was called a congestion charge and it was used to improve the city’s transit system and anybody who fails to pay is fined up to £60. Recently ITO World, a British company that specializes in visualizing transport data, released a few maps to show how this charge has increased and decreased the usage of public transport and cars.
The company compiled data gathered by traffic counters for the Department for Transport from the period of 2001 to 2010 for this purpose. According to the map, there have been clear changes to the way people commute and the use of bicycles has more than doubled in the center of the city in the last decade.
The bright red dots on the map show the level of bicycle use. The map for car use shows that before the charge was introduced, car use dominated the map.
The increase of bicycling has also been encouraged by the city council. London also has a bike hire scheme, similar to the one in Paris, to encourage more people to use this low-cost, no-pollution means of transportation.
Over the past decade, bus usage within London has gone up an impressive sixty percent. These maps prove that initiatives like congestion charges along with adequate public transport can decrease the use of private transport.
Now, with the Olympic Games around the corner, a new scheme has been launched that rewards people who walk or cycle in London. This is not just a means to reduce traffic but also to reduce air pollution and boost fitness in the capital. Recyclebank has teamed up with Transport for London to launch a mobile app called re:route, that will assign people reward points if they replace short public transport or car journeys with low-carbon alternatives.
People can download this app and collect points which are redeemable against offers and discounts from companies like Marks & Spencers, Planet Organic and Champneys etc. London has been very forthcoming with green initiatives and it is heartening to note that a simple example of a Pigovian tax can create such positive effects. Now that we know it really works, this is something that other cities struggling with traffic problems can replicate as well.
Image Credit: ITO World ©, Source – Guardian Blog