eating my words…

or something.

way back in 2003, Ken Livingstone introduced a “congestion charge” for Central London (in 2007, it was extended to West London as well). at the time, i was against it. and, honestly, i’m still against it.

but i wonder if something like it wouldn’t make sense in downtown Charleston (with some other related tweaks).

before expanding on this, however, i should probably explain my issues with the charge in London.

much of my distaste for the charge comes from a personal distaste for Ken Livingstone. first, he objected to the creation of the Greater London Authority. then, when shortlisted by Labour as a potential candidate for the new mayoral post, he promised not to run as an independent. when Labour chose Frank Dobson as the party candidate (within party rules, if against the results of party-wide polling), Livingstone went ahead and ran as an independent.

so that all seems a bit, well, underhanded. or at least a little slimy. there were multiple allegations of cronyism during his time in office as well.

it’s not that i expect politicians to be clean and pure as the driven snow, but i do expect them to be at least a little circumspect in their maneuvering. at least try to hide it, please.

*note: this is one of the same issues i had with the Bush administration. it’s not that they were crooked and evil. i expected that. they’re politicians. it that they were so bad at it. if i was POTUS, and my daddy had run the CIA, i would have found some WMDs. whether they were there or not. not lied about WMDs and then changed it to “spreading democracy” when folks began to wonder where they were.

but i digress.

so we’ve got Ken Livingstone, politician extraordinare, in office as Mayor of London. fine.

but Ken hates cars. i mean, really, really hates them. i’m not sure why. so he decides to tax them out of his streets.

but he sells this as an environmental thing, and a way to increase fund for public transport. which would be o.k. if it actually worked.

there was a first year drop in CO2 emissions. but the continued decline is more due to improvements in the fleet that any reduction in traffic density. the income from the scheme has been less than anticipated as well, with profits flowing to the private group that administers it before slopping into the public coffers.

so not a lot to brag about there.

where there has been success, however, is in the reduction of traffic density. which i am all in favour of.

i would love to see the lower penninsula (from Calhoun St on down) become a European-style car-free zone. though i drive through this area with some frequency, it often seems more frustrating than it’s worth.

but that really won’t happen. it’s not practical at all, given the current automobile culture in this country (which i am a happy member of, i admit). there are too many people who live on the penninsula who would in all likelihood revolt if told they’d have to walk home from now on.

but a congestion charge? that might actually help.

downtown is the one area where CARTA seems to work – it’d be great to get tourists and lazy locals out from behind the wheel and into the buses. or onto bicycles. or even Segways. maybe, just maybe, we could get rid of the damned widebody tour buses that one cannot see around or pass safely. a congestion charge might do this.

*note: i hate tour buses. with a burning passion. carriage tours? love them. we’ve got a beautiful, historic city. somehow, viewing it in air-conditioned sybaritic repose through a tinted perspex window just seems wrong. ConferenceBike tour groups would be freaking awesome. bike and carriage tours, while slow, are easy to see and navigate around. fat-ass fibreglas-bodied buses are not.

so, anyway, a congestion charge. something i’ve ranted about as a horrible, evil negative over the years. i think the city should seriously consider it.

mmm, tasty words. or perhaps that’s just the crow.

quote of the day:

“To accept civilization as it is practically means accepting decay.” – George Orwell


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