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London to Introduce Traffic Congestion Charge 643

Posted by michael
from the click-whirr-click-whirr-click-whirr dept.
Vivek writes "BBC is reporting that Londoners will have to pay a 5 pound "Congestion Charge" starting Feb 17. According to this Times of India article, an Indian software firm called Mastek developed the .NET based software to implement the plan. In the absence of toll booths, it reportedly uses character recognition from 700 surveillance cameras to identify defaulting license plates." See our previous story for background.
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London to Introduce Traffic Congestion Charge

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  • by Neil Watson (60859) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @11:56AM (#5288318) Homepage
    I thought the tubes (subway) were already over crowded in London? Shouldn't they increase the capacity of public transit before they force people to use it?
    • by Rik Sweeney (471717) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @12:00PM (#5288355) Homepage
      What would be even better is if they fix the problems with the Central Line. It's not going to be up and running in any state until the end of March.
      • no joke. i was in london for a school trip that week the derailment happened, and a cross-town bus trip jumped from a 1-hour inconvenience to a 3-hour nightmare. i really had expected the tube to function at least as well as the L in chicago, seeing as how they've had the tube around for so long, but it is in need of a serious reworking, (not to mention a deep cleaning!)
        • by aallan (68633) <alasdair@nOsPam.babilim.co.uk> on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @12:16PM (#5288541) Homepage

          I really had expected the tube to function at least as well as the L in chicago, seeing as how they've had the tube around for so long, but it is in need of a serious reworking..

          Thats sort of the problem, most of the system was constructed by the Victorians, and originally carried steam trains.

          ...not to mention a deep cleaning!

          Humpf! You haven't seen the Paris Metro, is a heck of a lot worse.

          Al.
          • >>...not to mention a deep cleaning!

            >>Humpf! You haven't seen the Paris Metro, is a heck of a lot worse.

            I've seen neither the London or Paris subways, but I've been told that they're still much cleaner than the New York City subway.

            Wanna talk about filth? Pick any station at random, and you can almost see the garbage moving. And I don't mean the rats either. The stuff is alive. Even the rats & roaches fear it(sometimes).

            Take a good look at the tunnels too. 80 to 100 years of crap are just caked on those columns and support beams. In London & Paris, at least you know it's from coal smoke or whatever. But in the NYC tunnels... you just don't know what it is.

            Thank god I can take the bus most of the time.

            • by op00to (219949) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @12:44PM (#5288780)
              Actually, if you spend any length of time in the Tube, your mucous membranes in your nose will turn black. You'll be constantly flinging black boogers from your nose. As for cleanliness, I've noticed no difference between NYC and London, other than the fact that London closes overnight. And remember, subways don't affect the congestion OR put diesel smoke out to just about head level. Ever see a subway groan off in a huge billowing black smoke cloud?
              • bah - I got this when I first moved to london, but it seems to have passed now ... my theory is that my body is working out a way to get me some super powers out of it. Hopefully it will involve flying, so I can skip the crappy commute.

                Of course, the more likely explanation is that I am ingesting it all, and am now slowly dying ... looking on the bright side, I still won't have to worry about traffic!
        • by timeOday (582209) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @03:54PM (#5290365)
          One of my favorite (favourite?) memories from London was hopping on a bus just as a jogger went by. I thought nothing of it until I noticed him catch up to us at the next intersection. Then again at the next. And so it continued for several miles through London - each time it seemed we had left him behind, we hit more traffic and he would jog by once again. How long would we remain neck and neck? Only until Piccadilly Circus, as it turned out, where as traffic ground to a halt, I watched the jogger recede into the distance, leaving us behind.
    • by Oculus Habent (562837) <oculus.habent@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @12:00PM (#5288364) Journal
      Nah, everyone will be required to use a Suitcase Car [roadraceengineering.com] - it will remove the need for on-street parking, opening up additional lanes. Also, in traffic you can just get up and walk.
      • by Malc (1751)
        Or the scheme in Cairo that I saw on BBC World last night. Their streets are meant for 0.5 million cars, yet they have 2 million there. They showed the cars tripled parked. Just leave the handbrake off and give some guy on the steet some money and he'll push and bounce it in to place.

        Anyway, it always made me wonder why anybody would actually want to drive in the centre of London. Too slow, and too much stress from all the other vehicles and pedestrians.
    • by mumblestheclown (569987) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @12:06PM (#5288437)
      (sigh--who modded such tripe up?)

      Yes, the tube is less than ideal. The traffic situation is even worse than less than ideal. The congestion charge, however, is not levied on BUSES.

      Read the article next time.

      Yes, the congestion charge will have some bad externalities--for example, the rich who live inside the affected circle's land values will go up further while they pay only 10% of the fees that others pay. Nevertheless, it's a step towards public transport in a big city--it's a good thing.

    • by turgid (580780) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @12:07PM (#5288441) Journal
      No, that would be sensible, rational and expensive. These are British politicians we're talking about.
      • by nagora (177841)
        No, that would be sensible, rational and expensive.

        And impossible. The tube already runs at maximum capacity at rush hour (longer platforms might just possibly cost too much to implement), so that leaves the buses. How exactly do you get buses to travel faster before you reduce the traffic they are caught up in? Get real.

        Everybody whines about the charges but they never have a better idea to offer

        TWW

        • by turgid (580780) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @12:26PM (#5288623) Journal
          The root cause of the problem is that the southeast of England is over crowded. Businesses need to be moved out of the M25 area to redistribute the load.
        • by tc (93768) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @01:23PM (#5289134)
          Not impossible, but certainly stupendouly expensive.

          The London tube has a significant disadvantage compared to say the New York subway or Paris metro - London is built on clay. Being built on clay means that for the most part, the tube has to be buried very deep underground. In New York or Paris, the system runs mostly just below the surface. Being deep underground makes engineering work much more expensive, not to mention the fact that they constantly have to pump water out of the system to prevent it from flooding.

          Unless people are prepared to pay, and pay big, the tube is not getting any better.

    • by EnglishTim (9662) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @12:09PM (#5288472)
      Accoring to a page on the Transport for London website [cclondon.com], about 1.1 million people currently use the tube during the morning peak period. They estimate that this will only increase by about 1% when congestion charging starts. We'll see on Monday.
    • >Shouldn't they increase the capacity of public transit before they force people to use it

      they are, loads more buses paid for out of the congestion charge.

      They tried for years to do this (decrease Central London traffic) voluntarily and it didn't work

      cclondon.com [cclondon.com]
    • by RussGarrett (90459) <russ.garrett@co@uk> on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @12:36PM (#5288716) Homepage
      The charge is predicted to raise about £200 ($500) million, which by law must go back into London's transport system. It's a chicken-and-egg situation - they have enough cash problems with the tube as it is, so until they get any more, they can't improve it. All it's problems, however, don't stop the tube being one of the most efficient and extensive city transport systems in the world.
  • by trbogie (608396) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @11:57AM (#5288324)
    It's a good thing James Bond has those switchable license plates.
    • by stroudie (173480) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @12:12PM (#5288495)
      A pedant writes...

      James Bond works for MI6 - who are based at Vauxhall Cross, on the South bank of the Thames.
      Happily this is just outside the congestion charging zone, so no five-pounds-a-day for Mr.Bond.

      The map is here (pdf) [cclondon.com]

    • Re:Good thing... (Score:5, Informative)

      by actiondan (445169) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @12:21PM (#5288584)
      Not just James Bond...

      I saw a TV programme the other day that showed some of the responses to the congestion charge. One of them was a number plate system that has an liquid crystal layer so the plate can be darkened as you pass the cameras, thus defeating the number plate recognition system...

      • I am a bit confused about this. Why don't you guys just break the cameras? Just shoot the things out. It will prove too costly to support and they will just dump the things in the future.

  • A bit late... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by djkitsch (576853) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @11:58AM (#5288336)
    This is true, but the plans, adverts and cameras have been in place for about 6 months by now...

    Another exclusive scoop by Slashdot?
    Hmm.
  • Charge? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by HarveyBirdman (627248) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @11:59AM (#5288341) Journal
    When I saw Traffic Congestion Charge I had a vision of a quantity of C4 blasting the cars out of the highway lane in front of me in the morning.

    Actually, as a highly paid engineer god, I would support a minor usage fee for freeway access during rush hour to clear out some of the riffraff. :-) A few years back our local highway department ran a survey and found aout that almost half the people on the freeway in the afternoon rush really didn't *need* to be there.

    • Need? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kfg (145172) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @12:38PM (#5288725)
      NEED!? What the hell is "need" anyway? You need to get to your job? Maybe what you "need" is a job closer to home?

      "Need" gets to be very, sticky, sticky issue subject to political interpretaion.

      And of course the shopping areas *need* needless costomers, or their "needed" employees have no "need" to be there in the first place.

      Of course what you really have on the road is a *right* of way.

      On your mule I guess, because the only ones who could cogently state a viable reason for the *need* to have motor vehicles in the city are police and emergency services in the first place. So the logical thing to do would be to simply close the city to all nonofficial motor traffic.

      Works for me, I'm bicycle mechanic and frame builder. I could use the business, and you could use the exercise.

      KFG
  • Circumvention (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Marxist Commentary (461279) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @11:59AM (#5288348) Homepage
    This will surely be circumvented. Red light cameras in the us are routinely circumvented via a cover for the license plate that causes the camera to take a photo that doesn't turn out. My inital thought - wear a ski mask.

    If the government is that strapped for revenue, then they should just raise taxes on the wealthy.

    • Re:Circumvention (Score:2, Insightful)

      by FatRatBastard (7583)
      If the government is that strapped for revenue, then they should just raise taxes on the wealthy. ..and watch 'em bolt offshore in droves. Worked for the Beatles and the Stones.
    • Re:Circumvention (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MacAndrew (463832)
      Red light cameras in the us are routinely circumvented via a cover for the license plate that causes the camera to take a photo that doesn't turn out.

      Actually, that could be a good thing for revenues. I imagine the fine for obscuring one's license plates to avoid identification is a heckuva a lot higher that 5 pounds, or whatever the US equivalent may be.

      My point being that civil disobedience won't cut it. Also, the point here is also to try to effect a beneficial change, not mere revenue.
  • Website link (Score:5, Informative)

    by djkitsch (576853) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @12:00PM (#5288362)
    Oh, and here's the website:
    http://www.cclondon.com/ [cclondon.com]
  • Won't work. (Score:5, Funny)

    by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @12:01PM (#5288377) Homepage Journal

    The cameras will be focused on the wrong side of the roads. All they'll get are pictures of the car hoods.
    • Re:Won't work. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dun0s (213915)
      Wouldn't work - UK cars are legally required to display their vehicle registration number on a number plate on both the front and rear of the vehicle.

      --dan
  • by Rik Sweeney (471717) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @12:04PM (#5288416) Homepage
    Since people won't be able to drive around the centre of London much less park there they will go and park immediately outside the Congestion Zone which will cause havoc. Fortunately some car parks have already taken note of this and are charging a daily rate of £4.60
    • by Mr_Silver (213637) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @12:47PM (#5288803)
      Since people won't be able to drive around the centre of London much less park there they will go and park immediately outside the Congestion Zone which will cause havoc. Fortunately some car parks have already taken note of this and are charging a daily rate of £4.60

      Pffft. When was the last time you tried parking in London? 1964? :o)

      I don't know where you heard about places charging £4.60 but thats rubbish.

      Just because you pay a fiver doesn't mean you're guaranteed a parking space inside the zone. Places outside of the zone are hiking their prices because of the increased demand to park in that area (so capturing the "i'll drive as close as I can and then tube it" group of people).

      You can't find a daily rate of less than £20 in the area at the moment. Next week it'll probably hit £25.

    • anywhere in Westminster Council's territory.
  • by gpinzone (531794) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @12:04PM (#5288421) Homepage Journal
    I'll assume these are illegal [phantomplate.com] in London, yes? If not, I plan on buying stock in any UK based company that makes these.
    • by dcuny (613699) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @12:32PM (#5288680)
      I heard about this the other week on NPR (in quite a bit more depth), and they mentioned that a lot of people are looking into technology to shield their plates from cameras. They are illegal, but akin to radar detectors in the US. Being illegal isn't much of a deterrent.

      It's not clear that the 'tax' will have much effect, since most estimate that it would take about 16 pounds to have any real effect.

      They also reported that the people hardest hit are likely to be the small shops in London which do deliveries. Most residents already walk or take the tube.

      Visiting my brother in London, I was struck by the difference in scale between London and any other large US city. In the US, when you shop you fill up a large cart, stuff your minivan, and fill your fridge. In London, you take enough to fit into a shopping bag, carry it home, and put it in your small fridge in your modest kitchen (all things being relative, of course).

      Still, the proposal is a start on a real problem of traffic that's not unique to London, and a number of large US cities are watching it closely.

      • Radar detectors aren't illegal though (in most states, at least), but there are restrictions placed on usage. In Minnesota, any vehicle over a specific gross vehicle weight can be fined heavily if caught using a radar detector. The laser diffusing license plate covers available here are also legal in some states, I think. Not in Minnesota though (sorry, that's all I know firsthand...)
      • Radar detectors are legal in the UK, things to obscure your license (number) plate are not. There is also a £1000 fine for attempting to get out of paying the congestion charge, as well as the punishment for having an illegal device on your car. Not really worth it.

        As for shopping - yes people do shop on the way home from work, but they tend to be young people with no families working long hours and living in small flats (apartments). Personally I hate carrying shopping home, so I drive to an out of town store at the weekend. A lot of people don't have cars in london of course...


    • http://www.nofiver.com/freelondon.html

  • 5 pounds (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @12:05PM (#5288431)
    For those not in the know, thats 5 pounds of money. Or, for the metrically inclined, its about 2.3 kilos of money. This roughly equates to a metric ass-load.
  • expect curry flavored tickets in the mail.
  • Getting Around It (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ackthpt (218170) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @12:08PM (#5288459) Homepage Journal
    I heard about something similar on the BBC a couple days ago, apparently a dose of hair spray on the license plate fouls up the reflectivity of plates, foiling the cameras.

    There was some cartoon, ages ago, where a girl always seemed to fix car problems with a can of hair spray. That cartoon was visionary.

  • by Zog The Undeniable (632031) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @12:10PM (#5288478)
    The main aim of this is not to raise money. It is to discourage people from driving into central London. All the funds raised have to go into improving public transport (basically buses, as the Tube is at or near capacity) by law.

    What is sad is that, while everyone agrees Something Must Be Done About Traffic, it is seen as a huge political gamble for Ken Livingstone, the London Mayor, whom all the political parties hate (he was even kicked out of the Labour Party and stood as an independent candidate). He's got the nerve to at least try and sort out the problem, and whatever his politics, I admire him for that.

  • Satch? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Sunkist (468741) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @12:10PM (#5288483) Homepage
    Louis Armstrong, RICS chief executive, said: "RICS is broadly in favour of congestion charging, but this survey echoes concerns already raised by us; that whilst the scheme may succeed in reducing traffic in central London, it may have the reverse effect on the areas bordering the charging zone."

    then Satch proceeded into a hot and blistering 3 minute jazz solo and closed with "What a wonderful world".

  • by aallan (68633) <alasdair@nOsPam.babilim.co.uk> on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @12:11PM (#5288492) Homepage

    For those of you not too familiar with London, a map of central London with the congestion charging zone can be found here [cclondon.com] on the Transport for London [cclondon.com] website.

    In brief, you're being charged 5 pounds per day inside to drive inside the congestion charging zone, which covers most of central London. The charge applies from 7.00am till 6.30pm Mondays to Fridays excluding Public Holidays (of which we get alot fewer than you 'merkins), the charge doesn't apply at weekends, and there exemptions and discounts available if you actually live within the zone or are disabled.

    Considering how heavy the traffic in central London actually is, anything that might actually provide a bit of relief is welcome.

    Al.
  • Facial Recognition (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lynn Benfield (649615) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @12:12PM (#5288498)
    By far the scariest aspect (curiously un-mentioned by the Mayor) is that these cameras will be hooked up to facial recognition [guardian.co.uk] software.

    In theory, just those covering a small section of London (the financial district) - but I have no doubts this will be extended to cover the whole city in time (after all, it's touted as "automatically identifying suspects or known criminals" so what government in the world would turn down the chance).

    I find this far more disturbing - paying to try and alleviate congestion is fine (London is very crowded, and a similar scheme did help alleviate the traffic problems in Singapore when congestion charges were introduced there), paying for the privilege of being treated as a potential criminal is more than a little scary...
  • .NET - ha (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DrSkwid (118965) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @12:12PM (#5288500) Homepage Journal
    My last company was invited to work with the contractors for this. We'd done some work with the Criminal Records Bureau. The Congestion charging scheme was falling behind schedule and they were hoping for all the input they could muster.

    The .NET bit was some sort of high-up choice, probably to do with Microsoft's cosying up to "New" Labour to roll out Passport based e-government services [since rolled back in again].

    The web operation is supposed to be a front end to everything, tbh the diagrams we were shown were a right spaghetti.

    I can't remember what questions I asked but they were answered with blank stares and shrugs.

    I'm glad they found some contractors. I really didn't want to do it [I'd danced with the Devil back in IIS4 days and have burnt toes].

    The charging wont really help congestion on it's own. London is the worst place in the UK to drive round. 1mph is not much fun on a daily basis. Yet London has the best mass transport system in the UK but then again it doesn't have much competition.

    The root cause of Uk traffic problems are the insistence that the rail network should be open to competition so we have 8 rail operators competing by running trains to different destinations. How trains in the SE compete with trains in the NW is unclear to me. Instead of decent travel we have bare bones operations where cut corners cost lives.

    The road freight operators and subsidised by other road users whereas the railways have to pay in full for their tracks.

    A forward sighted govt. would realise that inter-city rail travel should be invested in for the benefit of the people but hey profits not people is the rally cry of the capitalists.

    Rail travel should be the mode of choice over 50 miles. Instead it is cheaper to travel by car.
    I can drive the family from here to the capital and back [about 150 miles] for about £25. Take the train and we're looking at £120 for the four of us.

    And then they wonder why the place of chock full of cars !

    • Re:.NET - ha (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Malc (1751)
      "The root cause of Uk traffic problems are the insistence that the rail network should be open to competition so we have 8 rail operators competing by running trains to different destinations. How trains in the SE compete with trains in the NW is unclear to me. Instead of decent travel we have bare bones operations where cut corners cost lives."

      They're like local monopolies aren't they? I guess it means that poor operators can be replaced by different companies. The competition comes about during contracting bidding, which of course encourages cost cutting up front.
  • by morcheeba (260908) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @12:14PM (#5288515) Journal
    Someone had a solution for this... A pair of LCD shutters for the license plate, each covering half of the digits. They turn on and off rapidly (so it wouldn't be too noticable to the eye) and exactly out of sequence. Thus, any photograph taken with a reasonably short exposure would capture only of the plate. A video camera would capture the whole plate on successive frames, but no single frame would have the entire plate number. Thus, the OCR would fail.

    A spinning fan in front of the plate would also do the trick, but might take off someone's fingers.

    Here's a googled automatic license plate reader. [pipstechnology.com]
  • by PackMan97 (244419) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @12:14PM (#5288522) Homepage
    If commuters are the problem, why not pass a law prohibiting companies within the congestion zone from hiring employees that don't live in the congestion zone? That should take care the problem.

    For every problem there is a law that can solve it!

    Next?
  • by firehousefive (618238) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @12:21PM (#5288581)
    Disregarding the various arguments for and against the "congestion zone" and its implementation for the purposes of decreasing traffic... there's an interesting alternate purpose, apparently. This weekend's Observer [observer.co.uk] describes the dual-use, not only to reduce congestion but also apparently to "protect the city from terrorist attack". Seems to me such a system generates way too much information to be able to "protect" in anything close to real-time.
  • The problem is... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girl_geek_antinomy (626942) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @12:21PM (#5288586)
    There's a *known* failure in the system whereby it can't recogise special font plates (only in the process of being made illegal), small motorcycle number plates (even though they're included in the scheme) and it's more than likely that mud, or salt, or cunningly placed black bolts, can make the system mis-fire and log a different number plate to the one you're carrying. There's no real system for ambiguous plates to be checked by hand.

    Add in a real problem in the UK with second hand cars still being registered to their previous owners (the new owner is responsible for re-registration, and many don't because it means parking and speeding fines don't reach them) and you have One Hell of a Problem.

    I expect civil disobedience.

    The technology may be ever so good (though I somehow doubt even that) but it'll be the human element that'll scupper it...
  • by Thoguth (203384) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @12:22PM (#5288590) Homepage
    The BBC article focuses on the problem of traffic problems increasing on the perimiter of the toll areas. A possible solution for this would to have a "fuzzy" or probablistic charging scheme with multiple perimiters. Within one perimiter, you have say, a 10% chance of being charged, and inside another, smaller area there may be a 50% chance of being charged. The highest congested areas can give a 100% chance of being charged.

    That might, of course, bother people who un-luckily got charged more than they felt was right. Still you could get the same effect from charging in graduated increments, 10% toll in an outer perimiter, 50% in the middle and 100% in the peak area, so that drivers avoiding the toll will be spread out according to who wants to avoid how much of a toll.
  • by Rik Sweeney (471717) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @12:23PM (#5288597) Homepage
    If you use the correct type of fuel (I think it's Diesel) then you become exempt from the Congestion Charge.
  • by Mr. White (22990) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @12:25PM (#5288618) Homepage Journal

    As a motorcycle rider, I would like to note that this doesn't apply to two-wheeled vehicles.

    As a privacy advocate, I would like everyone to note how full of BS the guys who put up these cameras were when they said the CC cameras would only be used to prevent crime.

    Witold
    www.witold.org [witold.org]

  • by Dixie_Flatline (5077) <vincent...jan...goh@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @12:27PM (#5288635) Homepage
    That system seems a bit clumsy. It sounds fairly expensive, too.

    In Singapore, they have a system where every car is fitted with a card reader for a cash card. Every time you enter a zone where they want to keep congestion down (I only saw one while I was there) it automatically deducts $1 off of your cash card. Taxis and busses entering the area charge more, too. (Busses are also done on with an electronic card system. You wave your magnetic cash card in front of the reader when you get on, and when you get off. Prices are based on how long you've been on the bus.)

    700 cameras and a lot of .NET software sounds really - pardon the expression - 1990s.

    • by marm (144733) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @01:51PM (#5289367)

      That system seems a bit clumsy. It sounds fairly expensive, too.

      Not really. Most of the cameras were already in place for traffic-flow monitoring, all it required was a few more to patch up the gaps in coverage and some new software to interpret the images. A smart card system would have required every driver - even those who only drove into London once in ten years - to buy an expensive smart card reader/transmitter. Maybe you can get away with that in Singapore, but forking out money so that you get charged for the privilege? Not in London.

      OK so the London government could buy the smartcard reader/transponders but then you're spending far far more on infrastructure than you are on a few hundred cameras, plus you have to work out a way to distribute them. Also it would have been susceptible to tampering - look at the dismal failure that most satellite TV smart card systems are. You could easily have a PC sitting in your car pretending to be a smartcard but failing to deduct any money. Also how do you enforce a smart card system? What happens when a car enters the charging zone without a smart card? You can't have barriers to stop these cars, the whole point of the system is to improve traffic flow, not slow it down, same reason you can't have toll booths. Only way is to have... enforcement cameras everywhere. Real cost saving eh?

      Your choice: enforcement cameras plus some relatively cheap software, all centrally controlled and essentially tamper-proof... or enforcement cameras plus several million expensive hardware smartcards and transponders, only limited central control, and prone to tampering.

      Smart card/transponder systems work on public transport because there are barriers in the way to stop you if you don't have one or it's run out of money - as a matter of fact London is getting just such a system this year. But for a road system they're simply the wrong technology.

  • Exemptions (Score:5, Funny)

    by micromoog (206608) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @12:28PM (#5288648)
    One of the exemptions [cclondon.com] is for "Vehicles with 9 or more seats". Can't wait to see the new breed of monster SUV's that suddenly become popular in central London . . .
  • Tax Parking? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheTomcat (53158) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @12:32PM (#5288678) Homepage
    Wouldn't it be much more effective, and much easier to tax central-london parking lots/spaces?

    Admittedly it's a low-tech solution. Am I missing something here?

    I know that would keep ME out (I already take the commuter train and two metros to get to work, because parking is just TOO expensive for me (in Montreal -- not London)).

    S
    • Re:Tax Parking? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by StressedEd (308123)
      Wouldn't it be much more effective, and much easier to tax central-london parking lots/spaces?

      Not really. There's practically nowhere to park in central London. The parking that does exist can be very expensive (anything up to £20 per day).

      A lot of the time it's people going from one side of London to the other, or just passing through. Hence the wish to "discorage" them.

  • by Neophytus (642863) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @12:36PM (#5288710)
    £5 per car, per day. The bigwigs on expences who travel in their BMWs will drive through without blinking an eyelid. Mr Bloggs who has to drive in and is on a Teachers salary has to pay the same £5. £150 for 30 days travel is a big dent - up to £1800 a year. The people who need to use the roads (dont ask me why they need to) will be put off. The vans, £40,000 BMWs & limos will drive right through. Surly something is wrong here?
  • by shippo (166521) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @12:54PM (#5288876)
    The plates on the front and back of UK cars are, and have always been, called 'Number Plates'.

    Even the BBC has been known to get this wrong.
  • by labratuk (204918) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @01:38PM (#5289246)
    an Indian software firm called Mastek developed the .NET based software to implement the plan.

    So if you see people walking around London with big signs, something along the lines of
    ...%u9090%u6858%ucbd3%u7801%u9090...
    you'll know what they're trying to do.
  • by lanner (107308) on Wednesday February 12, 2003 @02:00PM (#5289471)
    This could be good news for telecommuting. I just wish that more U.S. companies would allow telecommuting. I do not mean 100% of the time, but I could do my job from home just as well as I can do it from work. When I NEED to drive in and do something, I can do it. If there is an emergency, find I can drive -- I will probably miss the rush hours and it won't take me more than 20 minutes to get there. And if it was that important, then why didn't I get the approval to have a redundant system in place?

    (ANSWER: because you are our little IT bitch! you have to work 50 hours min every week on salary)

    As time goes on, something is going to have to give. More cities, more spread out, new transit systems that do not exist today, or something.

    I would take a 10% - 20% pay cut to telecommute, and I mean REAL telecommuting with a Cisco 1750, VWIC, DS1, IP Phone, everything.

The reason that every major university maintains a department of mathematics is that it's cheaper than institutionalizing all those people.

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