Letter: Choked city

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The Independent Culture
Sir: While Ken Livingstone is quite right to make transport the centrepiece of his mayoral campaign, he is mistaken in his comments on business support for a congestion tax.

The wider business community has never endorsed a charge of pounds 5 per day for entering central London. The report that made this proposal also recommended charging up to pounds 15 per day for commercial vehicles making deliveries in London; this would be totally unacceptable to business.

Road pricing is being sold as the tool that will ease congestion and cut pollution in the capital. But these cannot be achieved without real improvements in the quality and capacity of the public transport network. Car users must be offered a realistic alternative before the "stick" of taxation is used.

Ken Livingstone considers that a congestion tax will encourage 5 per cent of drivers to switch to public transport. But overcrowding has already reached unacceptable levels on many peak-hour bus and Tube services.

While businesses recognise the need for new measures to tackle congestion they so not support new taxes being sneaked through on the back of vague promises of better transport system somewhere in the future.

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