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Car Congestion

Car Congestion

London had a problem with traffic. There were too many cars in the central district, and there was no simple way to keep “unnecessary” cars out.

So London did three things. It first mandated a license plate that a video camera could read, and then it installed video cameras on as many public fixtures as it would take to monitor — perpetually — what cars were where.

Then, beginning in February 2003, the city imposed a congestion tax: Initially ?5 per day (between 7 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.) for any car (save taxis and residents paying a special fee), raised to ?8 in July 2005. After 18 months in operation, the system was working “better than expected.” Traffic delays were down 32 percent, traffic within the city was down 15 percent, and delays on main routes into the zones were down 20 percent. London is now exploring new technologies to make it even easier to charge for access more accurately. These include new tagging technologies, as well as GPS and GSM technologies that would monitor the car while within London.[4]

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