Congestion charge or connected cars?

The London Assembly transport committee's dramatic intervention this week looks set to reignite the congestion charging debate. Congestion has been rising again on the streets of the capital, fuelled by increasing numbers of delivery vans and private hire vehicles, and reallocation of road space for bus services, cycling and walking. The flat rate congestion charge is too blunt an instrument, the committee says. It calls on the London mayor to reform the charge to reflect more closely when and where congestion occurs, and calls on him to begin planning in the long term to introduce a citywide road pricing scheme.

The response from the mayor's office has been lukewarm, however. What, then, about another possible solution – driverless cars? One of the main arguments put forward by advocates of autonomous vehicles is that when cars are able to communicate with each other and regulate their own speed, they will be able to travel safely closer together at high speeds, unlocking extra capacity on the road system. Atkins has put this to the test in a modelling exercise for the DfT.

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