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Congestion Charging

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Cambridge resident
Friday 9 August 2002 1.19pm
Mike

You've obviously not been to Cambridge recently. Cambridge (and worse, Oxford) are examples of how not to do it.

The centre of Cambridge is almost completely prohibited for motor vehicles. Guess what, people don't go there to shop any longer. The centre is now full of tourists, and the only shops sell Cambridge-t-shirt-wearing-teddybears, cookies, fudge, tourist tat etc. etc. and is almost as bad as Blackpool.

If you want to buy a shirt, don't expect New & Lingwood still to be on King's Parade; they've long since gone.

Try driving into Cambridge on a school day, after about 7.30, and your 10 minute journey will take well over an hour. Use public transport? Well, there are several park and rides, but they start late and finish early, so are no use for office workers, and certainly no use for people going to the station to go to London. They're not a lot of use for shoppers either, as taking shopping on a bus is a lot of effort. That's why the centre of Cambridge is dead, apart from tourists. We have the worst of both worlds - no access for cars, and no improvement to transport as a result of the ban.

Ideal solution? Ban the car completely from Cambridge, and put on buses every 5 minutes all day long along each main road into town. Not a hope, I fear.

Just to get back to SE1, and London as a whole, to extrapolate up from Cambridge and the above conclusion, you should ban all cars, cabs etc. from London, and put lots of free buses on, so that the buses go quickly and efficiently, and cars etc. don't get in the way. But, no socialist government is ever going to be able to afford it, and no right-wing government will ever support public transport sufficiently to enact it.

Finally, those traffic wardens should be on every corner and should slap a ticket on every vehicle stopping, however briefly, in a daft place. Cabs stopping on the Strand; delivery vehicles on Oxford St., they should all be stopped.
Tom
Friday 9 August 2002 2.47pm
I dipped out of this debate because instead of it being a discussion it degenerated into a strange set of exchanges that insulted individuals with opposing views and I don't want to go back into that. However, I would like to respond to 'Cambridge Resident on the comment about 'free buses'. Nothing is free, and I suggest if you were to propose central government funding for London buses the rest of the country would be up in arms about it. The only funding for London buses comes from Londoners. The system will never be self financing, the economics won't work so I make one of the points from previous mails: Londoners will end up financing cheap transport for themselves, so it won't actually be cheap, and making it available to lots of people who do not contribute. The politics continues to convince us that is a good thing...
Friday 9 August 2002 3.11pm
I never said that the Park & Ride Buses were free. The parking was free, but you paid the bus fare. Other points regarding Cambridge were also raised - basically that it is full of tourists and tourist shopping. Well, what about the students and the bikes and the walkers. And sure many tourist shops - but it is a tourist centre.

So, Londoners will end up financing cheap transport for themselves, so it won't actually be cheap (sic). But the buses are 'cheap' at the moment. At no time have I suggested a no-fare bus ride. My view is that more people should use public transport, along with non-polluting other means of transport - walking, jogging, cycling and free-wheel scooters.

Another contention is that shops - that is real shops as distinct from tourist ones - have been moving out of central areas, and have encouraged their shoppers to use their own transport to gain access. Well that was happening in the 90's, but now with buses serving these so-called hypermarkets, and with the rise of internet shopping the Balance is swinging back.

So hopefully the money that is collected by the Congestion Charge is put back into improving Londoners moving about. That is improving buses, cycling and walking. Maybe more, and wider bus lanes. Improvements for cyclists. Maybe more freedom for pedestrians - less waiting at lights, less deviations into dark subways. I would like to think that local government will substantially reduce the hegemony of the private car, and in so doing encourage greater use of public transport and muscle power.
Jan
Friday 9 August 2002 3.16pm
over 25 years ago, I think Ken had an idea that council tenants could pay extra money in with their rent so that people travelling in and out long distances would only pay cheap fares no matter how far they travelled.

It was declared illegal and unfair, especially as people who walked were subsidising commuters from outer london. even pensioners had to pay...

He had to pay the money back...
Tom
Friday 9 August 2002 3.35pm
I was responding to the, probably, tougue in cheek paragraph below in one of the previous mails...

"Just to get back to SE1, and London as a whole, to extrapolate up from Cambridge and the above conclusion, you should ban all cars, cabs etc. from London, and put lots of free buses on, so that the buses go quickly and efficiently, and cars etc. don't get in the way. But, no socialist government is ever going to be able to afford it, and no right-wing government will ever support public transport sufficiently to enact it."

... and suggesting that whatever happens with public transport the real cost will always have to be borne. In situations like London it will be paid by Londoners through local taxation, the fares will just not meet the cost however many people travel. The reason they are cheap now is they are being subsidised by local taxation from London tax payers.
Cambridge resident
Friday 9 August 2002 3.45pm

Not QUITE tongue in cheek, but stated with a (reasonably)full understanding of market forces.

I would ban all vehicles apart from Buses from the city streets from 7am to 7pm. These would all be bendy buses with lots of efficient doors, and conductors & smart card so that nobody has to queue. The doors wouldn't have doors on them, so that like a Routemaster you can hop on and off wherever you like.

Deliveries could be made off-peak, the net gain to productivity through the elimination of congestion would be massive; buses would be so efficient that they'd be quicker than cabs are at the moment, so that the sort of person (me) who currently gets a cab to clients in London would not any more.

Roll on Utopia. Instead I think Ken's scheme is nothing like far reaching enough. It may price a few poor people off the roads, but isn't going to cost enough. And why shouldn't the area be larger? And why shouldn't the charge be higher? And why should central london residents get 90% off ticket prices?

We shall see. Either it will be a tax on people in London, and therefore nothing will have changed, or... it will revolutionise london life. If the former, then it will be another tax on poor motorists with no benefit. If the latter, then splendid.
Saturday 10 August 2002 9.13pm
Jan wrote

"over 25 years ago, I think Ken had an idea that council tenants could pay extra money in with their rent so that people travelling in and out long distances would only pay cheap fares no matter how far they travelled.
It was declared illegal and unfair, especially as people who walked were subsidising commuters from outer london. even pensioners had to pay...
He had to pay the money back..."

No, you've remembered this all wrong. It was the opposite of what you are saying. What the court decided in the 1970s was that since Ken's proposed reduction in tube fares would not benefit those in outer London boroughs like Bromley and Croydon where the tube doesn't reach, it was illegal to spend pan-London tax revenue on reducing the tube fares.

The problem was precisely that the lower fares would NOT also apply to the mainline rail passengers travelling longer distances.
Sunday 11 August 2002 6.52am
Thanks Paul...I shall now have to contact all those people I have been relating that tale to and inform them that your's truly is going senile! and the reverse was true! but in all honesty I thought it was only bus fares that were subsidised?...:-)

As I don't drive any more, which is just as well as I am not safe to be on the road! I would welcome anything that would ease my journey into work each morning. I have been in contact with customer relations at TFL and been complaining nonstop about the route 21. It's the only bus that goes down the Old Kent Road into the city. The powers that be stopped the 172 that terminates at St.Pauls.

The 21 bus is on par with myths and legends...i.e. it may or may not happen.. waits of 40 minutes are not uncommon....
Monday 12 August 2002 11.42am
Buses should now be free.

They can be paid for from the congestion charge.

It will be cheaper and quicker with no bus fare.
helen
Monday 12 August 2002 12.43pm
i complained about the 21 the other day and was assured that they were going to increase the frequency to 8 mins in the day. T

he current unofficial frequency seems to be 25-40 mins, so that would be some improvement indeed - it is a totally abysmal service, I'm just glad I can cycle or walk most days..!
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