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Cordon and Area Pricing 10. Central London Congestion Charging Greater London (or London) is a vast urban region comprising the City of London and 32 London boroughs. It has a population of about 7.5 million. Central London refers to the innermost part of London characterized by high density and land values, though with varying, unofficial boundaries that generally contain significant central government offices, primary financial and business services, and cultural institutions. The Greater London Authority (GLA) Act, passed by Parliament in 1999, sought to return cen- tral governorship to London's 33 boroughs, not had since the abolition of the Greater London Council in 1986. The GLA Act established the Greater London Authority, comprising the London Assembly and a Mayor of London. The London Assembly is an elected body that scrutinizes the Mayor's activities and has the power to amend the Mayor's budget. The GLA Act also established Transport for London (TfL), an executive agency under the Mayor's purview responsible for buses, the major road network, traffic control, the Docklands Light Rail, and, later, the London Under- ground. Finally, the GLA also authorized TfL to ". . . establish and operate schemes for imposing charges in respect of the keeping or use of motor vehicles on roads in its area" (Greater London Authority Act 1999, Part IV, Chapter XV). Following the GLA's enactment, Ken Livingston became the first directly elected Mayor of London in May 2000. One of his campaign platforms was to improve congestion and the condi- tion of the transportation system in London. At the same time, in preparation for the Mayoral elections, the Government Office for London established a working group--the ROad Charg- ing Options for London (ROCOL) Working Group--to investigate how the newly granted road user charging powers might be applied in practice. They developed a plan for an "area licensing scheme" for central London controlled through the use of a camera-based number-recognition system to monitor vehicle license plates. A congestion charge could then be assessed on vehicles that crossed a set boundary. They believed the system could be in place by September 2003. Mayor Livingston acted quickly on his campaign promise and the work of ROCOL. While seeking to capitalize on the new revenue source, the charging system would provide for reinvest- ment in an improved transportation system. He adopted the charging strategy in his official Transport Strategy in late 2000 and set in motion the steps taken to ultimately put the system in place in February 2003. 10.1. Overview of Central London Congestion Charging Congestion charging was instituted in Central London in February 2003 for the 8-square-mile central business district inside the Inner Ring Road (a linked collection of major roads that sur- round the centermost part of London), containing the entire City of London, the financial dis- 153
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154 Evaluation and Performance Measurement of Congestion Pricing Projects trict, and the West End. The flat rate, per-day charge is levied to enter the Congestion Charge Zone weekdays from 7 AM to 6 PM.7 The rate was initially set at £5 and was increased to £8 in July 2005. Private vehicles entering the zone must pay the charge on the day of travel, or the next day for £10, online, through text message, on the phone, or at certain stores. Certain vehicles including taxis, London licensed private hire vehicles, motorcycles, and buses, are exempt from the charge. Other categories of vehicle users can register for discounts, including a 90-percent discount for residents inside the zone and a 100-percent discount for eligible persons with dis- abilities and alternative fuel vehicles. A system of cameras located along the cordon is equipped with Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology. License plate numbers are captured and compared with a data- base of payees. Some plates not recognized by the cameras require manual checking. Those that enter the zone without paying trigger a penalty notice to be sent to the vehicle's registered owner, identified from a Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency database. Given the success of the original central zone, and again following though on a (re)election campaign promise to examine possible extensions of congestion charging, Mayor Livingstone acted on TfL studies indicating the greatest benefits of extending the zone would come from a western extension. Planning and infrastructure implementation took place throughout 2005 and 2006. The Western Extension charging commenced in February 2007, effectively doubling the charging zone to include Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea. An uncharged through-route bisects the two zones. Overall, the goals of the congestion charging program, as outlined in the Mayor's Transport Strategy, have been to · Reduce congestion · Make radical improvements to bus services · Improve journey time reliability for car users · Make the distribution of goods and services more efficient In addition, a reduction in traffic was expected to lead to a reduction in emissions, and net revenue would be available for reinvestment in London's transportation network. Revenue from the congestion charging program was approximately £268 million in fiscal year 200708, with operational costs of about £131 million, resulting in net revenues of £137 million. Net revenues since inception through fiscal year 200708 have roughly totaled £440 million. By law, these revenues have been and continue to be reinvested in measures outlined in the Mayor's Transport Strategy. Since its implementation in 2003, this reinvestment has substantially com- prised bus network improvements at roughly 80 percent of net revenues. Other investments have included road and bridge reconstruction, road safety projects, infrastructure improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists, and transportation technology to improve the environment. Several proposed changes to the charging program have recently been proposed and are under evaluation. The primary proposal initiated by Mayor Boris Johnson, elected in 2008, is the review and removal of the Western Extension. Concerns exist over effects on the local economy and the zone's residents, despite measurable reductions in traffic, increased use of alternative transporta- tion modes, and improvements to the environment. Other proposed changes include a rate increase to £9 and the implementation of an automated payment system, whereby drivers can register with a debit or credit card and not have to remember to pay the charge on the day of travel. The rate to use the old method of payment would increase to £10, and payment on the day after travel would increase to £12. 7The original hours of charging were from 7 AM to 6:30 PM. After the implementation of the Western Extension, the charging hours were changed to 7 AM to 6 PM, applied to both zones.
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Congestion Pricing Case Studies 155 10.2. What Is Monitored? The full spectrum of performance monitoring activities for London's congestion charging is provided in the accompanying Facility Performance Monitoring Summary Matrix. The matrix is a comprehensive record of all current, known metrics used to monitor performance on the facility, organized by evaluation category. Provided in the matrix for each metric used are fre- quency of collection, purpose, and particular characterizations of the metric that relate back to agency/facility goals or applications. An expanded version of the matrix providing sources of information and other notes is included in the Final Report for NCHRP 08-75 which is available on line. The matrix is intended to be a visual overview of London's complete monitoring effort, easily comparable to other cordon or area priced facilities with similar matrix summaries. A comprehensive 5-year monitoring program was put into place by TfL to assess the effects of the charging scheme. The 5-year program resulted in the publication of six annual reports from 2003 to 2008, each progressively building on one another, with the fifth in 2007 introducing additional monitoring of the effects of the Western Extension, as well as a one-time benefit-cost analysis. The program was designed to assess key traffic, transport, business, economic, social, and environmen- tal impacts of the scheme by consolidating information from over 100 specially designed surveys and studies, while making use of existing surveys and data sources. Sources included · Data generated from traffic management and scheme operation functions · Moving car observer surveys · The use of monitoring and enforcement cameras · A wide range of traffic counts across various areas, sites, screenlines, and cordons · Various counts of buses and bus passengers, plus data from other public transport providers · Trip diaries, a wide range of travel surveys, as well as data from parking providers, the Public Carriage Office (taxi licensing), and the London Accident Analysis Unit (part of TfL) · Business surveys, economic case study work, plus data on a range of key environmental indicators The purpose of the 5-year monitoring program was to provide much of the information that enabled the Mayor and other interested parties to assess the effects and implications of conges- tion charging and whether or not adjustments to the scheme should be considered. Baseline con- ditions were measured before the charging scheme was put into place. The work was managed by a team of permanent TfL staff, with independent contractors undertaking most of the main data collection elements. The individual metrics and their specifics are provided in the Facility Performance Monitor- ing Summary Matrix, along with those that constitute the ongoing monitoring effort by TfL. Since the official conclusion of the 5-year program, TfL continues to monitor the congestion charging scheme and has published the results in its newly introduced Travel in London annual report on the city's transportation network. Report 2, published in 2010, states that during 2008 and 2009, TfL has "continued core elements of traffic and congestion monitoring in relation to the scheme." 10.3. Why Performance Evaluation Takes Place and How Performance Monitoring Data Is Used The main purpose of performance evaluation was to assess the effects of the scheme and make necessary changes to its operation. Several principles guided the performance monitoring program: · Monitoring should robustly detect and characterize the main expected effects of congestion charging. · Monitoring should enable unexpected or unanticipated effects to be determined.
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156 Evaluation and Performance Measurement of Congestion Pricing Projects · Monitoring should seek to understand as well as measure. · Monitoring should aim to meet the legitimate needs of all stakeholders for information. · Monitoring should provide Best Value. Changes to the congestion charge must be made to its Scheme Order, the legal framework behind the charge, that contains the definitions of what the charge is, where it applies, details on discounts and exemptions from the scheme, penalty charges, refunds, etc. Scheme Orders are made under the powers established in the GLA Act. Changes to the Scheme Order occur through a procedure known as a Variation Order, of which many have been proposed and instituted since the charge's inception, altering and improving the scheme based on the results of monitoring, including those to operations, the payment structure, the charge itself (e.g., when increased from £5 to £8), the implementation of the Western Extension, and others. Each Variation Order is subject to public consultation before the Mayor considers TfL's response to the representations received and decides whether to confirm the change (with or without modifications) and make it part of the Scheme Order. Monitoring then continues to evaluate the effects of these changes after they are put into place. TfL continued the core elements of traffic and congestion monitoring in relation to the scheme in 2008 and 2009. New traffic level and congestion data has allowed TfL to study the relationships between traffic volumes and road network performance in Central London in detail and derive fundamental relationships which provide a better understanding of the factors behind recent trends in Central London road network performance. 10.4. Other Data Gathering Activities Beyond the comprehensive monitoring program and ongoing efforts of TfL, several other evaluations of the original congestion charge have taken place. However, as these were not part of the official monitoring of the program by its operating agency, TfL, they are not included in the Facility Performance Monitoring Summary Matrix. Prior to the implementation of congestion charging, the London Assembly recommended eight criteria on which to judge London's congestion charge. London's congestion charge · Must deliver a real and sustained reduction in congestion · Must not have an adverse impact on the areas outside the charging zone · Must not disadvantage Londoners (particularly low-income groups) · Must deliver a real improvement to bus journeys in London · Should not have an adverse effect on London's economy or services · Should not have an adverse effect on London's environment · Should not penalize "innocent" drivers · Should deliver net revenue to fund transport initiatives A report published in February 2004 evaluated the extent to which each criterion had been met 10 months into the scheme's implementation through results from a focus group, TfL data, and various surveys. Through mostly qualitative discussions, the report summarized the following: · Impacts on congestion within central London and outside the charging zone · Impacts on Londoners, especially low-income groups · Effects on public transportation, especially buses · Impacts on the economy and the environment · Remarks on customer service and enforcement · Net revenue to fund transportation initiatives The report concluded with recommendations for further monitoring and policy consider- ations for TfL. Although the report makes multiple mentions of future monitoring by the
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Congestion Pricing Case Studies 157 London Assembly, no further reports specifically on the congestion charge monitoring have been published. Another monitoring effort, commissioned in 2002 by the Association of London Government (ALG)--renamed the London Councils in October 2006, was performed by Ove Arup & Part- ners. The London Councils is a local government association comprising representatives from the 32 London Boroughs and the City of London, as well as the police authority and fire brigade. This review by the London Councils was intended to act as an independent audit of the conges- tion charging scheme, as TfL's ability to carry out the scheme's primary performance monitor- ing was thought to potentially become influenced by its administration and collection of the charge. Five study elements were selected as a focus of the monitoring program, and data was gath- ered and analyzed before and after the scheme's implementation in 2002 and 2003, respectively: · An independent assessment of the impact of the congestion charging scheme on traffic levels inside and immediately outside the zone · An independent assessment of any traffic diversion to parallel routes around the charging zone · An examination of the impacts of the scheme on parking usage and revenue in and around the congestion charging zone · An examination of the effect of the scheme on parking around stations in outer London · An examination of bus occupancy levels following the introduction of the scheme Evaluation measures and performance metrics incorporated in this effort included traffic lev- els measured in vehicle kilometers traveled inside and outside the zone, along the cordon, and diverted to parallel routes around the zone. Parking activity inside and outside the zone and on street near rail stations as measured by counts, parking charge revenue, the number and cost of resident permits, and violation and enforcement data were also tracked. Finally, bus occupancy and measures of overcrowding were manually counted using videotape.
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158 Evaluation and Performance Measurement of Congestion Pricing Projects Congestion Pricing Case Studies 159 Table 10-1. Central London congestion charging summary matrix.