Transport for London (TfL) has said that there has been a lower than expected increase in traffic driving and no discernable impact on air quality following the removal of the Western Extension of the Congestion Charge Zone (WEZ).
An analysis of the first 12 weeks of this year by TfL found a minimal change in traffic speeds within the zone.
Many businesses inside and particularly on the edge of the former WEZ campaigned to have it removed as they felt it was adding costs and reducing revenues for their business. The Federation of Small Business, Greater London Region Chairman, Steve Warwick, said: “Small businesses in west London will be able to go about their business without being subject to the Congestion Charge.”
In the first 12 weeks of this year traffic entering the former zone during charging hours increased by eight per cent when compared with the same period in 2010. That figure is at the lower end of TfL’s forecast increase of eight to 15 per cent. Traffic driving within the former Western Extension did increase, but again, at a lower rate than expected – by an estimated six per cent, which is at the lower end of the forecast six to 12 per cent increase.
Average traffic speeds in the former Western Extension were impacted significantly less than predicted, at up to three per cent slower than in the same period last year, well below the forecast traffic speed reduction of between six and 12 per cent. This is due to lower levels of traffic increases occurring and mitigation measures that have been put into place.
TfL modelling had predicted that the removal of the Western Extension would have a very small impact on pollution concentrations, and the available data so far for 2011 shows that air quality in the former Western Extension zone has indeed simply behaved in the same way as that in the rest of London and there has not been a discernable “WEZ removal effect”.
See previous coverage.