London Mayor Considers Expanding Downtown Congestion Charging

London Mayor Ken Livingstone boasts that the year-old, eight-square-mile pay zone in the center of the city — where motorists are charged $9.40 to enter between 7:00 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. on weekdays — has worked to reduce congestion and increase the use of public transportation. He promises that, if reelected, he’ll double the size of the zone to include three largely residential boroughs on the city’s west end. While the current congestion-charging scheme has roughly 75 percent support among London denizens, some critics claim that businesses inside the pay zone have been hurt, that public transportation is overwhelmed, and that expanding the zone over the protests of wealthy west-end residents might well push things too far and get Livingstone booted. The success of the plan has sparked interest in municipalities near and far, including Milan and Chicago.