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Does the London Congestion Zone Work?

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driving in london

Living in London, England, is undeniably expensive. In 2003 it got even pricier when the government introduced a congestion charge. Drivers that head into the designated zone have to pay for the privilege, with the government hoping that fewer vehicles in the busy area would lower emissions and alleviate traffic. Some Brits inconvenienced by the charge regularly wonder if the price is worth it. According to a recent study by Select Car Leasing, the answer appears to be yes. 

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The company’s news release reports that the company compared air pollutant readings from three fixed points in London before the congestion zone was established and then every year since. The three data points were in Marylebone, Bloomsbury, and Westminster, but the source provided no additional information.

U.K. residents and tourists alike will be happy to know that the readings showed a noticeable decrease in three major pollutants: carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. Not only does this cut down on smog, but it makes getting outdoors safer for everyone.

In the case of carbon monoxide, levels in the air dropped an average of 60 percent in the city. This is the sneaky gas with no color or smell that can poison people in large doses or contribute to breathing issues and headaches with lower exposure.

A high concentration of nitrogen dioxide in the air can cause inflammation in the lungs as well as worsening other illnesses like the flu or a cold. Levels of this gas are lower in the congestion zone than they were before it was rolled out, but its trends show a less dramatic decrease than the other toxic fumes.

Finally, sulfur dioxide, which can hurt children and make symptoms of asthma worse, fell a whopping 61 percent at the Marylebone data collection point and 75 percent in Bloomsbury. Select Car Leasing reports that no sulfur dioxide data was available at the end of the comparison period for Westminster.

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While there will still be complaints about the high price of driving in London, it’s encouraging to know that the new system is making the city a safer place to enjoy outside. Maybe findings like this will encourage other cities to consider their own driving tax.

News Source: Select Car Leasing