There was a bit of a debate at the Assembly’s Transport Committee on Wednesday about the nature of congestion charging. I made the point that, because the Congestion Charge exists to stimulate behavioural change it should ultimately trend to zero in its projected revenue. What struck me was that neither Val Shawcross or Jenny Jones could grasp this as a concept, which is illuminating as they are two of the most influential people on Livingstone’s transport thinking.
There is an old saying which states “one should never wear brown in town” meaning brown shoes are inappropriate business wear in the Square Mile.
|Never wear brown in town|
Imagine I wanted to enforce that tradition by creating a Brown Shoe Charge in The City, people wearing brown shoes would be charged every day that they entered, just like the Congestion Charge. Just like the congestion charge, this would be about stimulating behavioural change rather than a form of taxation.
I expect my plan to be 95% successful in changing people’s brown shoe wearing habits over a 5 year period. So if I get £1,000,000 of charge revenue in the first year I would expect only £50,000 of revenue by the end of year 5 and only £2,500 after another 5 years. My budget would trend towards zero.
If my revenue doesn’t fall it could only because my scheme isn’t working and I would need to think of a different way of getting people to wear black shoes to work.
Why is it those on the left struggle to understand this concept when I talk about vehicles rather than shoes?