Money Talks: Driving Taxes in Great Britain

We learned this week that the Brits are a wasteful bunch indeed, and traffic is no exception. London suffers the worst traffic congestion in the UK and amongst the worst in Europe. Apparently, London drivers spend 50 percent of their time stuck in traffic. In an attempt to combat the issue London drivers who use their cars in the central city during the day are being charged for the pleasure. Congestion Charging was devised to minimize inner city traffic. Essentially it's a tax for driving. By law, the money raised goes towards London's public transportation facilities benefiting the general public.

Merely six months after the introduction of the astonishingly successful scheme, auto traffic decreased by 30 percent while bus and taxi ridership rose by 20 percent. Net city traffic was reduced by 18 percent. Anyone interested in doing a "back-of-the-envelope" calculation on reduced CO2 emissions, gasoline "saved" or other, please post your findings in the comments section for everyone's benefit.Emboldened by the city's success, a pilot program is afoot in Richmond upon Thames in south-west London. The suburb has implemented a radical plan in order to tackle climate change. The results will be closely watched by local authorities and greenies alike who hope the program can be implemented successfully nationwide.

The basic concept of the program is simple: pollute more, pay more. Owners of gas-guzzling vehicles will be charged up to £450 (approximately $850) a year to park outside their own homes under the plan. Conversely, "[o]wners of cleaner cars such as a Toyota Prius hybrid will be rewarded with discounts, and drivers of the least polluting vehicles will park for free."

Whether or not the the pinch-at-the-purse-strings approach will cause people to change their environmentally degrading habits or not remains to be seen.

::guardian unlimited ::via scienceblogs

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