Congestion Charge (Consultation) (Supplementary) [13]

Session date: 
September 19, 2001
Question By: 
John Biggs
Organisation: 
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

As without doubt the most well meaning and best intentioned Assembly Member there is, I have a couple of questions about the congestion charge. I am sure you will be pleased to hear that the Labour position has -

Bob Neill: Changed again. [Laughter.]

John Biggs: - is more supportive now of the principle of the congestion charge than it was before, although we remain concerned that there is a range of wicked issues which could potentially derail you in the court of public opinion - rat running, for example, or the effect on people on low incomes. I have recently had correspondence from a firm who claim - I am sure that this is exceptional, but it is an issue - that their running costs will increase by 20% as a result of the congestion charge. They are probably in the courier business, or something. That is an issue.

I also think that you are at risk of missing a trick by not looking further at the use of computer chip technology in the congestion charge. In other cities, they are increasingly looking at putting a clever thing in the car - a transponder of some kind - so that it can be more responsive to the individual circumstances; under which an inner London resident would perhaps pay a different tariff than someone from further afield, or a person with a disability would automatically be recognised through their vehicle. There is stuff like that.

But the issue that troubles me most at the moment is about the Underground. Although Peter Hendy has done some excellent work in finding increased bus services, we all know that many Londoners who switch from their cars will expect to use the Tube. The question is, what is TfL doing - the answer appears to be nothing so far - to facilitate the transfer of the Tube and to put in place a management strategy for how it will work and how its capacity will be increased once the congestion charge is in place? Without that, you are at risk of selling Londoners a pup.

Answer

Answer for Congestion Charge (Consultation) (Supplementary) [13]

Answer for Congestion Charge (Consultation) (Supplementary) [13]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

I agree with you that the congestion charge still has many difficult features which have to be resolved before we can proceed with it. Our problem on the Underground is that increasing capacity will be a matter for renegotiation with the infracos once they have taken over. Part of the contracts of the infracos specifies a level of service. If we wish to improve on that, we have to pay for it, and renegotiate the contracts. There is a penalty if they do not achieve the level of service, but as the level of service has been set 5% below the present pitiful level of service, I am not encouraged or optimistic about that in the future. That is why we anticipate that 10% more people will switch to the buses but only 1% will go on the Underground, because I do not believe there will be any obvious improvement in the quality of the Underground service for several years.