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BITRE | Working paper 74

over the appropriateness of the technology. 32 Plans are underway to replace the

automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) system with one based on transponders.

The question of appropriateness of the technology was central to the debate

surrounding proposed a congestion charging scheme for New York City. A number

of the companies that responded to Mayor Bloomberg’s invitation for expressions of

interest to design, build, operate and maintain (DBOM) such a scheme addressed the

issue of suitable technology. The expression of interest from IBM Global Business

Services noted that there are several technologies that could be used for the scheme.

These include E-ZPass transponders, cameras, GPS-based devices and VII based

devices in the future. While each of these methods has its respective advantages and

disadvantages, we feel that the most appropriate and cost effective detection method

presently for NYC is a combination of transponders and cameras (IBM Global Business

Services 2008, pp. 8–9).

3.5 Political success

The political success of a scheme would depend on many factors, one of which is

whether there is a reduction in congestion. As illustrated by the London scheme,

the litmus test of political success is likely to be as simple as whether or not the

introduction of a scheme brings down the government responsible. 33 (Chapter 4

covers, in more depth, the issues relevant to any assessment of the political success

of congestion charging schemes).

3.6 Financial success

Financial success reflects an accounting perspective: whether the scheme generates

net revenue after allowing for establishment and operating costs. Financial success

may also incorporate the wider impact on businesses.

From these three measures, it is understandable that the London Congestion Charge

is widely renowned as a success. Since the scheme was introduced in February

2003, the technology has been operating reliably, congestion has declined with little

apparent damage to businesses in the area, and revenue has been generated. Thus,

the scheme’s place in history seems established:

… congestion charging in Central London is the most radical transport policy to have

been proposed in the last 20 years and it represents a watershed in policy action

(Banister 2003, p. 259).

In general, there is reasonable clarity between the different measures of success,

with the exception of the distinction between financial and economic success.

32. Transport for London has commissioned a series of technology trials with a view to reducing operating costs and

providing more flexibility for paying the charge. For more details see TfL (2005a).

33. The May 2008 mayoral defeat of Ken Livingstone is not generally attributed to the London scheme.

42

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