Congestion pricing for cars is effective in reducing traffic, but a difficult sell

After three years, traffic congestion declined by 30% in London.

June 12, 2018 |
The River Thames in London

After some initial opposition, residents of London, England have gotten used to congestion pricing for cars—and the reduced traffic that has resulted.

London's plan initially faced opposition and a legal challenge, but its success has led to widespread acceptance. Many drivers took to traveling at off-peak hours, carpooling, or taking transit after the initiative went into effect.

Between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays, drivers entering a 21-square-kilometer zone in Central London are charged $20. The city offers discounts or exemptions for zone residents, people with disabilities, emergency vehicles, motorcycles, and taxis.

Within three years, traffic fell by 15% and congestion—the extra time to make a trip because of impeded traffic flow—was reduced by 30%. Noting the success of congestion pricing in London and other cities including Stockholm, cities worldwide including Singapore, New York, and Vancouver have implemented or are considering congestion pricing.

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