Longer-term Impacts of the London Congestion Charge.

Dissertation by Andrea Broaddus
Adviser: Professor Elibazeth Deakin

abstract

In recent decades, cities are increasingly setting explicit policy goals are to reduce urban car use and implementing measures to discourage driving. London has been a leader, pairing ongoing transit investments with congestion charging in the central business district. The congestion charge reduced traffic volume by 20% in the charged area after its introduction in 2003. Over the decade to 2014, transit ridership grew 39%, bike ridership doubled, and annual vehicle miles travelled (VMT) fell by 11% for the Greater London region, in spite of strong economic and population growth. This dissertation examines the London case in three papers. The first paper considers declining VMT as the result of package of transportation demand management measures. VMT began to decline in 2000 after the creation of a 1,150 mile regional bus priority network during the 1990s, a trend that accelerated after the implementation of congestion charging. This paper is the first documentation of London’s policy of road space reallocation for bus lanes, a key measure allowing buses to offer a travel time advantage compared to cars. The second paper takes stock of the London congestion charge, ten years on. Trends in traffic flows, travel behavior, employment and rents are analyzed to explore the hypothesis that the charge has had a centralizing effect over time. Finally, the third paper uses London’s business registry to analyze the hypothesis that increased accessibility and rising rents in the congestion charge area has induced a sorting process among firms located there. A panel of firms was created to track location choices over time for both the initial start-up location and relocations. Trends were tracked by firm size and industry for pre- and post-congestion charge periods. The dissertation concludes with a discussion of how London’s policies to discourage driving proved publicly acceptable due to improved transit service frequency, speed, and reliability. London offers evidence that embracing bold transportation demand management policies can have widespread welfare benefits and strengthen the competitiveness of the city center.

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The dissertation work is still ongoing.