Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Motorists Resigned to Paying Charge Rise; ONLY ONE IN 10 WILL BE PUT OFF BY THE [Pounds Sterling]8 TOLL AS INCREASED RATE STARTS TODAY

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Motorists Resigned to Paying Charge Rise; ONLY ONE IN 10 WILL BE PUT OFF BY THE [Pounds Sterling]8 TOLL AS INCREASED RATE STARTS TODAY

Article excerpt

Byline: CHRISTINA BOYLE;ROSS LYDALL

DRIVERS have condemned the congestion charge rise but admit they will have little choice but to pay it.

A survey of motorists already paying to enter the central London zone found the increase to [pounds sterling]8 - which came into force today - would be a limited deterrent.

Of 100 people questioned by the Evening Standard, only one in 10 says it will stop them driving into the zone.

Today's increase aims to raise an extra [pounds sterling]50million for public transport and reduce traffic by two to six per cent.

Traffic levels have fallen by 15 per cent since the [pounds sterling]5 charge was introduced in February 2003.

Transport for London estimates a further 8,000 to 19,000 cars a day will no longer cross the zone's boundary - 65,000 to 70,000 were put off up to today.

We found mothers who said public transport needed to become more user-friendly to encourage them out of their cars, but also office workers who said their employers already paid their congestion charges for them.

Nick Goulding, chief executive of the Forum of Private Business, said: "There is enormous anxiety that this hike is so steep it will decimate trade and leave the area like a ghost town. Small businesses cannot absorb the drop in trade like big business."

John Lewis, which saw a nine per cent fall in turnover at its Oxford Street store after charging began, said the increase would not help attract visitors, and customers were more worried that they would incur a [pounds sterling]100 fine if they forgot to pay the charge.

Director of communications Paul Burden said: "It's a disappointment because it shows that Mayor Livingstone, for all his professed claim to listen to all parties, is ignoring very solid evidence."

But Labour Westminster councillor Murad Qureshi said: "You would be lucky to get two hours' parking for less than [pounds sterling]8. …

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