1. How has traffic congestion changed in London in recent years? Are there differences in the amount, time, type and/or location of congestion?

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1 16 September 2016 Georgina Wells London Assembly City Hall The Queen s Walk London SE1 2AA Submitted electronically to: Institution of Civil Engineers One Great George Street Westminster London SW1P 3AA United Kingdom t +44 (0) e Dear Chair, ICE s Response to the Consultation on Traffic Congestion in London Introduction The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) is an international membership organisation that promotes and advances civil engineering around the world. ICE is a qualifying body, a centre for the exchange of specialist knowledge, and a provider of resources to encourage innovation and excellence in the profession worldwide. ICE London welcomes the opportunity to respond to the London Assembly Transport Committee s investigation and to find solutions to the issue of high congestion in London. Congestion can blight a city, affecting the environment, living standards and economic growth and ICE London looks forward to working with the Committee to find solutions to this issue. Our Response 1. How has traffic congestion changed in London in recent years? Are there differences in the amount, time, type and/or location of congestion? London s increasing population, which now stands at 8.7 million, contributes heavily to construction related traffic, numbers of drivers and numbers of deliveries. This trend looks set to continue - according to TfL s figures, congestion on London s roads is set to rise by 60% by TfL provides in-depth analysis of traffic in terms of vehicle type, borough and area. Congestion can be differentiated also in terms of cause (whether it is due to temporary maintenance/construction works/a local event, or increase in driver numbers). More analysis on the causes of congestion within each borough would be welcomed. 2. What are the key causes of these changes in congestion? As stated above, population increases have been the key cause of congestion on London s roads. Whilst car use amongst Londoners is falling, the increase in population means London is still seeing high congestion. A number of issues exacerbate this, including: 1 Roads Taskforce Update, TfL, April 2014

2 A general move away from fixed times for activities, such as deliveries of goods and materials, means congestion can be extended throughout the working day. This can be attributed to online shopping and deliveries, as well as the rise of on demand services. The changing nature of and expectations of life and individuals associated with personalised on demand services and delivery reduce the opportunity to consolidate transport services. There are several initiatives promoted by Business Improvement Districts which aim to consolidate servicing and waste activities to reduce the number of vehicle trips in an area and use less locally polluting vehicles. These need to be extended and encouraged to minimise the impact of delivery vehicles. Diminishing impacts from the congestion charge. Demand reducing measures such as charging mechanisms often become less effective over time as they become consolidated in the cost of doing business. Low capacity on the rail system with incidents of overcrowding doubling since Although London Underground passenger numbers continue to rise, commuting by car will continue to become more attractive if capacity is not increased, especially in Outer London. An increase in bus journey times. A recent report by Greener Journeys found that over the last 50 years, bus journey times have increased by almost 50% in the more congested urban areas. 3 This can heavily reduce the attractiveness of bus use. Road and maintenance works can often cause congestion on local roads. Boroughs could improve the congestion cause by these works by increasing collaboration with one another. TfL s programme of works for the Cycle Superhighway schemes and other major highway projects have affected congestion over recent years. TfL s Road Modernisation Plan should be examined to assess what impact it will have on future congestion levels. 3. What impact does congestion have on Londoners, the city s economy and its environment? Economically, congestion will have a long term adverse impact on the economic wellbeing of both London and the UK due to the loss of productivity. Excess journey time constitutes avoidable waste, which if not avoided increases the cost of production for individuals and businesses. Congestion also reduces the desirability of the city as a place to live and work due to the detrimental impacts on health and quality of life. Most apparent is the effect on air quality, with road transport accounting for 45% of Nitrogen Oxide emissions and 48% of particulate matter emissions in Greater London in What can London learn from other cities in its effort to reduce congestion? There is some best practice within London in terms of freight consolidation schemes which should be further examined. For example, the London Construction Consolidation Centre in South Bermondsey. 5. How effective is the Congestion Charge? How should this scheme be modified? The congestion charge s effectiveness reduces over time as it becomes an accepted cost of business. Being a daily charge it does nothing to reduce demand once a driver has made the decision to enter the zone and pay. Equally it can have a disproportionate impact on small low turnover businesses. 2 London Underground delays caused by overcrowding have doubled since 2013, Evening Standard, February The Impact of Congestion on Bus Passengers, Greener Journeys, August Up in the Air: How to Solve London s Air Quality Crisis, Part 1, Policy Exchange, November 2016

3 A smarter Congestion Charge system would be particularly effective, taking into account the time of day when the vehicle is within the zone, how polluting the vehicle is and how long the vehicle stays within the zone. By tailoring charges to vehicle use, motorists would not only be encouraged to lower how much they drive, but also would encourage them to reduce the time spent within the most congested areas and to scrap their most polluting vehicles. 6. To what extent would a usage-based road pricing regime help reduce congestion? A move to a usage charge could more closely align costs to the user to the capacity of the road - for example, a charge based on time spent within the Congestion Zone would make drivers consider the amount of time spent on the road. Equally a differential pricing mechanism could be used as a means of more closely matching demand and capacity. 7. How might the Ultra Low Emission Zone and Emissions Surcharge affect congestion levels? The Ultra Low Emission Zone and Emissions Surcharge are likely to have a short term impact only whilst vehicle types change to those with lower emissions, but as with the Congestion Charge, will have diminishing returns in terms of road usage. 8. What would be the benefits and drawbacks of these other interventions? - Tolling for river crossings or other major infrastructure - Workplace Parking Levy - Devolving Vehicle Excise Duty to London Interventions are designed to have a positive effect, but when localised they can invariably skew the system and can result in unexpected impacts. TfL must therefore ensure specific interventions within the wider transport network. Tolling often pushes traffic to find routes that do not incur the toll hence increasing congestion elsewhere. This is why tolling, such as on river crossings to the East, must be for all crossings. Equally tolling can have the potential to increase traffic levels as it eases the journey that would otherwise have been avoided (due to previous excess time or congestion). Nevertheless, in certain locations of high predicted growth, such as the East of London, new river crossings and road infrastructure will be needed. In these locations, effective tolling and adequate traffic management by TfL are essential. A workplace parking levy is unlikely to have significant impact in reducing congestion in central London due to preexisting limited parking capacity. However, in outer London a workplace parking levy may be effective, although consideration should be taken that such a levy may be simply borne by the business that can already afford to provide the parking space. To avoid this, any parking levy would require business engagement alongside it to ensure employers are also encouraging their employees to consider other modes of transport. Devolving vehicle excise duty to London will not have any direct effect on congestion, but would give London the funding and ability to speed up the delivery of changes which could have a positive impact. 9. How can the Mayor and TfL reduce the number of delivery vehicles on London s roads, especially in congested areas at peak times? Consolidation is also a particularly effective way of reducing the number of delivery vehicles around London, particularly with vehicles transporting construction materials. Currently, there are only nine construction consolidation centres in London, a number that could be increased by providing a congestion charge rebate for

4 consolidation centre vehicles. This may also encourage more businesses to uptake consolidation. Several Business Improvement Districts are actively pursuing schemes to consolidate freight and waste activities. 10. To what extent is an increase in minicabs contributing to traffic congestion, and how could this issue be addressed? Increasing the number of minicabs potentially exacerbates congestion because they tend to operate loaded only in one direction. This can mean that for a significant part of the minicab s working hours it remains empty. A more effective data driven and data sharing approach has the potential to increase utilisation by filling return loads, therefore increasing the amount of time the minicab is in use. New technology has also led to more trips being taken by road which previously would use public transport, particularly app-based taxi services. Improvements and changes to the bus system can also reduce the number of minicabs in use. TfL should review a number of bus routes to assess how journey times can be reduced and customer experience can be increased. 11. What contribution can car clubs make to tackling congestion, and how can the Mayor and TfL encourage these? Car clubs can reduce the overall number of vehicles on the road and possibly reduce mileage by reducing opportunistic or discretionary travel. However, current congestion levels tend to restrict this anyway. Reduced car ownership through use of car clubs can also lower road space occupied by parked vehicles, but this has comparatively little impact on the primary congested routes. 12. To what extent could greater efficiency in the provision of bus services help reduce congestion, and how? Current numbers of buses on some routes and their (comparatively low) levels of occupancy are actively driving congestion up, by competing for road space. Working out (using a dynamic system model) the optimum numbers of buses for the numbers of people being conveyed and adjusting service levels accordingly could increase throughput and reduce overall journey time. 13. How can TfL further encourage a shift from private car use to public transport or active travel modes? Encouraging a further modal shift from private car use to public (or active) modes requires a combination of approaches. Regulation can either ban or restrict and can be targeted, although this requires enforcement. A pricing mechanism can be seen as a blunter mechanism as it has least effect on those with more resources or a greater willingness to pay. Viable public transport options must be invested in, particularly in suburban areas with low levels of transport connectivity. Schemes like Crossrail 2 and the Bakerloo Line Extension will help take vehicles off the road by giving residents quicker alternatives. The experience from London 2012 shows how it is possible to significantly change demand without the need for major capital investment. Replicating this on a longer term basis has the potential to reduce current congestion levels by utilising the present capability in a more efficient way, such as by spreading the total load over the total number of hours available. 14. Can new road infrastructure help reduce traffic congestion? What specific new infrastructure is required in London? Road infrastructure can help to reduce traffic congestion by increasing capacity. However, care must be taken to ensure that Londoners are not encouraged to drive by ensuring there is adequate capacity on other transport networks, particularly rail, bus and cycle routes.

5 Any new infrastructure should be targeted at evening out the use of current infrastructure, removing pinch points and hence increasing the utilisation of those parts of the system that have capacity but can t be used. Great care needs to be taken to consider the overall complexity of the transport network as local changes can have far reaching impacts remote from the point of intervention. Yours sincerely, Suzanne Moroney ICE London Director ICE London would like to thank the ICE London Transport Expert Network for contributing to this consultation. Contact For further information, please contact Max Sugarman, External Relations Executive, ICE London & South East E: W: M:

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