From our Swindon correspondent:
From the Evening Telegraph
Sadiq Khan has been forced to hike the congestion charge to £15 a day to help fill a financial black hole in London’s transport system caused by coronavirus, the Evening Standard can reveal.
When the congestion charge was first introduced into London, one of the disappointments by the local government was that it didn’t raise as much money as expected. Because something they hadn’t really considered is that some people change their behaviour when a thing is taxed. Maybe many can’t avoid it, but some will.
The point of a congestion charge is similar to the point of parking charges. It’s to allocate a scarce resource better, and the best way to do that is to charge people for it. Yes, you spend the money on the local residents, but it’s not supposed to fill financial black holes.When you start thinking like that, you get into all sorts of problems. If a town centre charges more than it needs to, you risk people not coming to your town. Maybe they go elsewhere for their shopping (this happened with Swindon under Labour) which has economic effects. But you’re also into Laffer territory, where your total parking take falls. You might make more per shopper, but you reduce the number of shoppers.
In the case of London, re-introducing the charge, while also having buses as a bit risky probably means a lot of people will carry on working from home. £15 to go into the office + parking each day?
What would have been a better idea would have been to just told the transport unions that they’re going to have to take a short-term haircut. No money coming in, take it or leave it. That’s most of the cost of the rail network: the drivers and staff.