London’s Congestion Charge

Arnold Kling mentions the success today of the new GBP5 congestion charge for driiving into London. Arnold also has a good discussion question: Why do economists like tolls so much? I plan on asking my Environmental Economics class that very question tomorrow afternoon (we are discussing tradeable emissions permits).

Other links on the London congestion charge are here, from Voice of America, here, from, here, from the BBC (the horse’s mouth, so to speak), and here, from CNN.

Not everyone is enamored of the toll concept, as shown in this CBS News story. In fact, the Conservative candidate for Mayor of London, Stephen Norris, pledges that if elected he will abolish the toll. In this Sky News interview, Norris explains his abjection to the congestion toll:

Nobody denies there is too much congestion but we should really get public transport right first and that includes making bus lanes and yellow box junctions work.

Doing something about utility companies, something about freight deliveries at peak hours and encouraging parents with safe routes to school for their children.

Before we contemplate a blunt instrument like congestion charging. I would prefer workplace parking charging. This is a far preferable way of raising the money without any of the unfairness of Ken’s scheme.

Blunt instrument? As far as I can recall, vehicles are vehicles when it comes to use of the scarce roadways. So how is this a blunt instrument? Because it’s not tailored to exempt people with income high enough to have a car but low enough to feel the pinch of such a toll?

Hmmm. And he’s running as a Tory? Very unusual.