Congestion Tax Nabs Thousands

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The Scotsman reports that 10,000 Londoners were hit with stiff fines for failure to pay the $8 fee imposed on those who drive into the city.

There's a definite light-and-dark aspect to this new policy. On the light side, it is a form of congestion pricing, allowing drivers to pay for the use of roads with something other than precious time. Payment is also possible by a variety of electronic means, including the Web. On the dark side, the policy is incredibly clumsy, enforced by London's omnipresent security cameras, and may be a half-step towards banning cars from the city altogether.

Bonus question for UK readers: what the hell is a "rat-run"?

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  1. I seem to remember a rat-run is the same as a shortcut.

  2. A rat-run is more than a shortcut – it’s a route used by drivers, typically during times of heavy road use, to bypass bottlenecks in the traffic flow. It’s considered a bad thing because it has the effect of diverting a large amount of traffic through areas, usually residential, that are not equipped to take it. The term is meant to evoke hordes of rats scuttling along where they shouldn’t be.

    The congestion scheme as implemented is bad, because it will have the effect of decreasing transportation capacity. It’s simply a consumption tax, where the resource being consumed is London’s transport capacity. But with no practical plans to increase that capacity, it’s a particularly regressive tax on those who have no option but to use their cars.

  3. Jeff, not a UK reader, but try this:

    http://uk.news.yahoo.com/030212/144/dt1el.html

  4. The mayor also suggested that the cameras could check car occupants’ faces against pics of known terrorists:
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/6/29390.html
    Which is fairly Orwellian, if nothing new in London:
    http://www.users.dircon.co.uk/~netking/imgmain/bus_eyes.jpg

  5. Shouldn’t it be a fairly simple matter to limit the congestion pricing to personal (not commercial) vehicles? I agree that “people who have no other option” (to me, that means only commercial vehicles) should not be subject to the fees. It seems to me that the transportation capacity WILL increase because personal vehicle operators almost always have the option of using public transport, especially in a dense city like London.

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