Canadian Consulting Engineer

Toronto consultants play key role in London traffic toll area

Toronto's IBI Group have designed and set up the control centre for the new toll area in central London, U.K. The c...

February 18, 2003   Canadian Consulting Engineer

Toronto’s IBI Group have designed and set up the control centre for the new toll area in central London, U.K. The controversial toll area, which covers 20-kilometres around Westminster and the City, means that motorists have to pay five pounds (approximately Cdn. $12.50) to travel within the area during business hours Monday to Friday. Cameras, similar to those on the Highway 407 toll road north of Toronto, scan license plates to generate the charges.

The tolling, called “congestion charging,” is predicted to reduce the traffic in central London by 10-15% and to improve journey times by 25%. It’s also hoped the revenue will raise 130 million pounds a year to invest in improving London’s transport infrastructure.

Traffic was reported to be moving relatively smoothly on February 17, the first day of operation, although it was a school holiday so traffic was light. The transport authority, Transport for London, had put on 300 extra buses to carry people into the city. Over 30,000 people had paid the toll charge to drive within the boundaries the first day.

IBI Group’s London office, under the leadership of Mario M. Bozzo, designed the London Traffic Control Centre which is located near Victoria Station in southwest London. From here, operators will watch 700 surveillance cameras and 4,500 traffic signals, controlling traffic flows by timing the signals and electronic verbal messages.

Introduced by socialist London mayor Ken Livingston, the toll system has been both praised and vehemently opposed. Those in favour say it will encourage people to take bicycles and other forms of environmentally friendly transportation. Others say it is penalizing the poorer workers who have to rely on cars to travel the long distances from the outskirts into the city centre where they work. Another argument against the toll is that the public transport system is already overcrowded and overworked, yet it will now become even more congested.
See www.tfl.gov.uk


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