London's former mayor introduced the congestion charge in 2003 to great acclaim (it was lauded and copied around the world) and success: Congestion fell by 30% during the first three years. Now, five years later, there's a new mayor and new statistics. It seems that there are still fewer cars driving into the congestion charging zone (100,000 less), but it is taking them longer to drive through, so congestion has now only fallen by 8%. Result: The gridlock is just as bad as it was before the charge was introduced.
This is due to a dramatic increase in roadworks in the last few years. London's streets are narrow and definitely not organised on a grid system. So when gas and water main repairs take place they can jam up the system dramatically. Traffic-calming has been introduced on a number of side streets and roads narrowed; this has also squeezed driving space and slowed it down. It's not the end of the road for the charge though. Most agree that the congestion would be even worse without the charge. The new mayor, Boris Johnson, calls it a "blunt instrument" and has said that he will force the utility companies to apply for permits before starting roadworks and will cancel the proposed pedestrianisation of a central square. Motor bikes will be allowed in bus lanes. Traffic lights will be reprogrammed--longer green and red lights to let cars through. On the plus side--cycling has increased by 12% and the number of bus passengers by 6% and a bike rental system is being examined. :: Guardian
More on the Congestion Charge
Car Congestion Taxes
Congestion Charge and Cycling
Getting Around the Congestion Charge