Select Committee on Transport Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 120 - 139)



  120. What assessment have you made of the impact of the scheme on the M25?
  (Mr Turner) An assessment has been made and there is no impact at all on the M25. The effect of the scheme really does peter out around about the North Circular and South Circular or before that. Obviously there will be one or two people who may be driving in from Hertfordshire or Surrey who change, but the effect on the M25 is insignificant; unmeasurable.

  121. Can I press you on that point. To give you an example, if you are a firm in Hendon doing a delivery in Croydon and you are paying to go through central London and the area round the congestion charging zone has become more congested as traffic is displaced from the central zone, then the M25 becomes an alternative; pop out, go round, come in. Are you actually saying that you can find no evidence at all that will be no impact whatever, in which case I find it very hard to believe. Or have you done detailed research that actually quantifies that?
  (Mr Turner) I am not saying that the example you gave is unlikely to occur, but the numbers that are involved just do not figure in the daily variation of traffic flows. They are totally and utterly unmeasurable.

  122. Will you be working with the Department and the Highways Agency to track the consequences of the scheme on the M25 as well as in the inner areas?
  (Mr Turner) We are not carrying out surveys and monitoring at the M25 level because it is totally and utterly irrelevant and outside it. However, the monitoring work that we are carrying out would identify, if you like, a mismatch, which means we would be able to draw conclusions that—which I think is absolutely inconceivable—there were significant increases on the M25.

  123. Even an increase of half a per cent of people driving on the M25 as a result of people not driving through the centre of London would be very significant.
  (Mr Turner) I entirely agree, but half a per cent is well below what I would expect it to be. We are talking about handfuls of vehicles.

Tom Brake

  124. I tried last week to get an answer on this from Mr Turner; I tried a few minutes ago from Mr Livingstone, so I will try you, Mr Kiley. Apparently there is going to be no impact whatsoever on the outer London boroughs as a result of the congestion charges, yet the Mayor is making money available now for schemes such as controlled parking zones even though he thinks there is not going to be an impact. Can you guarantee that if local authorities take no action now because there is not going to be an impact on the outer London boroughs, but in the next financial year, if congestion charges do have a significant impact around stations in all the outer London boroughs, that money will then be made available for local authorities to implement schemes?
  (Mr Kiley) Unequivocally yes.

  125. Good.
  (Mr Kiley) We have earmarked this year—as we will next year—anywhere from £10 million to £20 million for investments in these kinds of initiatives which we are not really going to be masters of until it actually begins and we see where we need to make investment.

Clive Efford

  126. Could you just take us through why we went for congestion charges and not a parking fee? How did you convince the Mayor given that when he came into office he was firmly of the opinion that this was a regressive flat rate tax? And bearing in mind that already London boroughs raise £320 million a year from parking charges (that is without a workplace fee being charged). Surely that is a more efficient, less bureaucratic way, easier to police way of raising money to invest in public transport.
  (Mr Turner) There are a number of points there. First of all, I did not convince the Mayor. I think it is fairly clear in his manifesto that he supports congestion charging and during the election campaign he made that change. I think—I would like to think—that as he hinted at that the ROCOL (the Review Of Charging Options for London report) convinced him of that. The reason I would like to think that is because I was part of that working party and that working party's work clearly showed that if you are talking about reducing congestion—which is what the Mayor has said the scheme is aimed at and, indeed, what the legislation says the prime purpose of this scheme should be—it is best achieved by congestion charging in London. It is not necessarily the case—as I heard the witness earlier—in Nottingham because they have large amounts of terminating traffic. We have a significant amount of traffic that actually drives not right through the centre of central London but crosses—cuts off the corner, if you like—and that traffic can only really be addressed by congestion charges; it would not be addressed at all by workplace parking levies. The assertion you made that a workplace parking levy is easier to operate that congestion charging, I do not think is necessarily the case. Particularly I am concerned—we are concerned in London—about the enforceability of workplace parking levies and that was the issue that again ROCOL drew attention to because the legislation to enable people to inspect premises bearing in mind that in London—again different from Nottingham—a lot of the private non-residential parking is actually occurring underground so you would not be able to easily inspect it to see how much of it should be taxed and how much the levies should be. I think the enforcement of workplace parking is a real issue.

  127. Could you answer the question that the Mayor passed on to you earlier on. Who are the people who are going to be discouraged from using their cars as a result of congestion charging?
  (Mr Turner) We believe, from the work that we have done, that it is likely to be the car commuters from outer London—and I do not believe that there are many people who drive outside London into the congestion charging area—into the congestion charging area and I think, because of the unique nature of central London where 90 per cent of the people who come in to work in central London, they do so by public transport anyway. There is a very good—by comparison; it could be better—public transport system in central London. It is not actually a regressive charge in the sense that those people tend to be users of public transport and the bus system.

  128. So it is commuters from outer London who do not stop in London.
  (Mr Turner) Commuters from outer London who are coming in to central London and also people travelling from, shall we say, Haringey through to Wandsworth.

  129. So they are parking within London. This is my point. You are saying that a workplace charge would not affect those people, but their destination actually is in London.
  (Mr Turner) Not going from Haringey to Wandsworth. I am saying that those type of people are a movement that would not be affected by workplace parking charge.

  130. Sorry to pursue this, but why would they not if they are parking in Wandsworth? The point about a workplace parking charge and actually placing a levy on all parking right across London not just within the boundary that you have arbitrarily drawn around the middle of London.
  (Mr Turner) I misunderstood you, sorry. You are talking about a pan-London workplace parking charge.

  131. Yes.
  (Mr Turner) I do not think we have considered that level of intervention and certainly the ROCOL report did look at some of that but the level of intervention that would be involved there would be quite difficult to actually achieve because the development areas in outer London rely heavily on people actually driving to them in terms of out-of-town shopping and the like, and as a consequence the impact on the economy of outer London of a workplace parking charge would be really very severe indeed.

  Clive Efford: With all due respect that is all to do with exemptions, exactly as it is with the congestion charging. You have exempted after 6.30pm. Why on earth you have stopped it at 6.30pm I will never know, because the congestion bound for the West End is enormous after 6.30pm. But that is all matter of setting the scheme up and discussing where you have concessions, is it not? That is the same as you have just done.


  132. Are you telling us that you took a value judgment which was in effect a political judgment?
  (Mr Turner) Sorry?

  133. Are you not really saying, Mr Turner, that the Mayor took what was, in effect a political judgment, with a small "p"?
  (Mr Turner) Absolutely, and largely an economic judgement in terms of the totality of London in terms of workplace parking levy. Bearing in mind we are talking about central London and we are talking about a relatively small number of people in terms of the total population of Londoners affected, as opposed to the seven and a half million people throughout London.

Mr Donohoe

  134. What enhancements in public transport have you promised as part of this scheme?
  (Mr Kiley) We have been investing intensively in our bus service since the Mayor took office. There has been a 14 per cent increase in ridership to date. Fares have been kept low in part because of the need to get support of people who want to chose to take another mode in other than car. I think I should pause just to remind all of us that of all the people who are coming into London on any given day to work 85 per cent of them are already travelling by public transport or some means other than automobile. So we have a relatively small piece of that whole pie that we are targeting to get a further inducement in to get them to use public transportation. I do not think it will be that complicated. The bus service, I think, will be more than ample to support people who want to make a change. The Underground service which, we all know, leaves almost everything to be desired, is still accessible to some people who are driving and as Derek mentioned we could achieve our goal if we got one person per carriage through the height of the peak hour to use the Underground. We are not going to give up on the Underground as an alternative, but we recognise that it does tend to be forbidding for some people because of its reputation and because of its erratic service. Let me also respond to Mr Efford's point about workplace parking. I do not think that we should fall into the trap of believing that congestion charging is the single tool and the panacea that will solve all of central London's congestion problems, never mind all of London's congestion problems You would hang us from the highest yardarm if we even came close to making that point. I do not think that any wise person looking down the road would give up on workplace parking done in a calculated, sophisticated way as an alternative, as one more tool in the toolkit to try to get some control over traffic in and out of central London. When you stop and think that the London Plan predicts that there will be over 200,000 new jobs in central London over the next 11 or 12 years, then we know we have a big bough wave that is going to come down on us even with congestion charging. We are going to have to be flexible on the hours of congestion charging as we get into it and experience it. We do not know for certain that we have the right time frame right now; we think it is pretty good, but we will find out in the event. We also do not know whether the charge is truly a deterrent to most people. We are going to learn a lot from all of this. By that I do not mean necessarily the hard way by having a project that does not work at all, but because some of the variables in it—like price and like time of day—are subject to change.


  135. And you can do all of that in two months?
  (Mr Kiley) Not in two months. I do not want to try to suggest that I know exactly what the Mayor meant when he said he was going to give it two months.

  136. You mean you do not know at all, Mr Kiley?
  (Mr Kiley) I have some idea. I think he thought if the world were coming to an end because of this, then he would probably look for the nearest exit door.

  137. Do we define that as "his" world was coming to an end?
  (Mr Kiley) In my case at least it would be a collective "our" world.

  Chairman: There will always be room for you, Mr Kiley.

Mr Donohoe

  138. Can I just say on that, you are talking about bus services and the Underground, these two areas specifically, do you think the charges themselves are going to cover that at £5? When is the first opportunity of you reviewing the £5 charge itself.
  (Mr Turner) The Mayor has indicated publicly that he will not review the charge during his first term of office. That is a commitment.

  139. Second term of office?
  (Mr Turner) The second term of office he has made no public pronouncement that I am aware of, although he did indicate to the Committee this afternoon that he thought there was a possibility that the £5 charge may not be sufficient. The balance that we have been talking about between charge and reduction in traffic—as you have heard from other witnesses—is consistent with what has happened elsewhere in the world, what other people are predicting. The work that we did in ROCOL set the elasticities for this in 1998; obviously inflation has taken place and there has been some change, however the work we have done—and continue to do—to monitor the public's view of this charge does tend to suggest that we should achieve between about 10 and 15 per cent reduction in traffic entering central London with the £5 charge.

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