Lord Mayor of London introduces the Congestion Charge a scheme that will see car drivers pay to travel through the city centre.
The city is so congested that the average rush hour traffic speed is less than ten miles an hour. Announcing plans to introduce a congestion charge London Mayor Ken Livingstone says,
London of all the great world cities is the closest to gridlock and that's why we are first with congestion charging.
The idea behind the charge is to get people out of their cars in preference for public transport. The money raised by the charge is to be used to improve the bus services.
From 17 February, cameras around the city will read the number plate on all cars travelling in and out of the congestion charge zone in the city. Drivers will have until 10 pm that night to pay the £5 charge. Payment can be made online, by ringing the call centre, by text message, or at a number of shops around London. Penalties will apply for late payers. If you pay between 10 pm and 12 pm, the charge will be £10. However, if you don't pay the charge on the day it is issued, the fine is £80.
The charge is not popular with many, especially those living on the edge of the zone. Joanne Cohen lives and works on the boundary of the zone and it's going to cost her £5 every time she gets into her car. Catherine Crawley from South London has three children under three and uses her car all the time. Catherine believes that the charge will cause chaos on the streets just outside the zone as people attempt to avoid the charge.
It could cost regular car users over a thousand pounds a year.
Many also predict that the charge will also add thousands or millions to the cost of running a business in central London.
An RTÉ News report broadcast on 7 February 2003. The reporter is Brian O'Connell.