Increasing road congestion in the London roads has over the years been the most difficult challenge that the people of London, the mayor and the Transport for London (TfL) have faced. The city of London stands as the most congested city in the United Kingdom with around thirteen million people. Furthermore, the City of London has an in and out population of around 61 million people in a year coupled with the projections of an increasing London population; the traffic congestion will still be a very big problem (Bull, 2003). The city faces significant in developing strategic solutions to control the traffic congestion. The development of alternative means of transport in the city requires a large amount of capital and the sites to develop such projects also already suffering from the high development of constructions including homes and offices (Wheatley, 2016). London traffic congestion is not just worst in the city but is also the worst worldwide affecting and gaining complains from most of the drivers. On an average each year a driver losses around 101 hours in traffic jams which are 28 hours more than the second worst city, Stuttgart. There has been less success in the reduction of traffic congestion even though efforts have been put in place to the effect (Martin, 2016). Two major projects have been used to try and bring improvements but have led to very little change than the expected. The first approach involved the expansion of current transport network to improve public transport. The second approach involved the need to reduce the demand for road space through the development of the London Congestion Charge in 2003 to prevent congestion of central London.
The improvement of the public transport system through the need of expansion of the current network has taken a great interest from the Mayor and the Transport Strategy. One of the major options that have been in play for a long time has involved the possibilities of building new roads and transit systems within the city (Wheatley, 2016). However, such possibilities have become to a holt in most parts of central London since most of the land required for the road are already congested with buildings. Based on the 2015/2016 performance report by the Transport for London, has shown an increasing slowdown in the traffic jams in London caused by a reduction in the overall traffic speed by around 7.7% (Claire, 2016). Based on the conclusions of the report, it was sited that the primary cause of the traffic congestions comes with the increase in the number of construction activities from road expansions to building construction. Projects in London including the redevelopment of the Lewisham Gateway and Stockwell Cross junction transformation has led to the blockage of many streets and road ways and more and more traffic being diverted to other roads (Hart, 2013). Furthermore, the road improvement projects such as Aldgate, Shepherd’s Bush and Harlesden and the new installations of the three Boris Johnson’s Cycling Superhighways has been connected to the latest clogging, narrowing and blockage of several roads and streets too. These traffic improvement projects have been accused of reducing the traffic space required by the large vehicle number in the city of London.
Additionally, these many projects face the problem of closure due to the high amount of capital required to make the improvements. The mayor must request for funds and wait for the funds to be released. In the mean time as the projects are brought to a standstill, the London population increases and more and more people are getting to buy new cars to get a space in the little space available even for the current car population (Wheatley, 2016). The requisition of funds for the roads takes a long time to be approved and released based on the legislative discussion for the need of the implementation of such projects in the city. However, the future projections and forecast of the network developments in London show that the new roads and the superhighways have the potential of alleviating traffic congestion in London city. The problem comes in implementing the projects such as using the cycling superhighways will require a miracle to convince the public to make the modal shift from using motor vehicles to cycling or using motorcycles (Bull, 2003). Though reports have shown that the number of people using the cycling superhighways has risen by around 60% it is still far from reaching the required number to balance the traffic congestion tragedy in the City of London. Apart from the high capital and luck of using the new roads and transit systems, the projects also face the question of environmental issues and economic growth factors. The expansion of the projects must be evaluated for environmental impacts and the economic reliability to the City of London. Therefore, as much as the expansion of the roads and creation of new means of transit systems is a viable reason to decongestion of the transport system it faces greater obstacles that must be settled.
On the other hand, the strategy of reducing the demand for the road space through the development of the London Congestion Charge in 2003 produced some success though for a short while. The anticipation behind the London Congestion Charge was that the high charges implemented for congestion would scare away the motorists from the identified zones such as Central London (Wheatley, 2016). These hot spot regions for traffic congestion has been installed with sophisticated technology to measure the amount of time taken by vehicles spent in such region and the bill sent to individuals for charges. Through this strategy, Transport for London had expectations to reduce the congestion, but surprisingly the scenario just escalated the problem to the next level (Claire, 2016). More people opted to use roads away from central London leading to a high level of traffic congestion in other places such as the wider region of the London Metro area. Conditions in such regions have even become worse especially in areas such as the Orbital highway based on the closure of and cancellation of the railway services in the region. Using public transport becomes the next option which puts more vehicles on the road. Furthermore, these charges have become very unpractical since at the end of the day it has not solved the congestion problem. The end results based on the introduction of the congestion charges has led to more and slower movements in the road networks (Hart, 2013). Furthermore, the implementation of the charges increased the focus on the collection of tax and led to the loss of focus in increasing capacity through other means of transport and obeying other traffic calls.
The effects brought about by the increasing rates of the traffic congestion are even worse than the situation itself. The implementation of the failed systems to decongest and solve the traffic problem in the first place leads to losing of capital in the city. Moreover, the City also loses a huge amount of money that would be important for economic growth in the city. According to the estimations by the Transport for London, it is indicated that for every one hour the city loses around 17 pounds per vehicle stuck in the traffic jams of the city (Martin, 2016). Therefore, in every year the cost of traffic congestion to the economy of London stands at about two million pounds (Bull, 2003). The cost comes as a result of the damages made to the economic growth of the city through the reduction of the competitiveness of the city in the global market and the reduction in the attractiveness of the city to tourism and investment opportunities. Further effects come in the form of deterioration of the London environment through the reduction of air quality which in turn affects a lot more Londoners regarding infection and increased the cost of medical care in the city (Faergus, 2016). Most parts of the City of London have in the past recorded an exceeding value of poisonous airborne particles past the agreed European levels of emission. One of the primary sources of this emission has been identified to be the high level of traffic congestion in the city. Therefore, London becomes one of the cities that faces a great challenge of contributing to global warming which leads to more adverse effects in the future.
Nonetheless, the war against traffic congestion should not stop, and the city should engage in efficient management and develop long-term strategic planning that will be flexible and responsive to the fluctuating traffic patterns in London (Arnott et al, 2005). The transport for London and the management system of the City of London through the Mayors should focus on increasing the level of capacity in road networks through using management technologies and building efficient road infrastructure (Hart, 2013). Additionally, they should also engage in the development and use of sustainable transport system through encouraging people to change the behavior of using private cars and adopt the use of faster and sustainable public transport systems such as the electric trains and the cycling superhighways (Arnott et al, 2005). The Transport or London should also engage in continuous research on congestion projection to bring a good understanding of the situation and bring a great focus in implementing policies to alleviate the problem. Another important strategy should involve adequate planning of the improvement of public transport projects so that financial or technical issues cannot bring to a holt the progress being made (Martin, 2016). The Transport for London and the Mayor’s office should only engage in projects for traffic congestion when all the resources are available to ensure the project goes from the point of inception to the implementation phase. Finally, benchmarking and adequate scrutiny of the performance of Transport for London should be done on a quarterly basis to check on the progress of the decongestion process in the city (Arnott et al, 2005). Benchmarking should, therefore, focus on the four major metrics including the volume of the road networks, disruption events on the roads, delay of the journey and speed of the traffic congestion to increase capacity for research and development (Claire, 2016). Furthermore, a detailed breakdown of the pedestrians and the cyclist’s usage of the road should also be taken to ensure all the users of the road networks are included. While making these new developments the city management should also take into account the need to observe and protect the environment. Therefore, environmental considerations should be taken into consideration during each phase of the developmental projects in solving traffic congestion.
In conclusion, London amidst the substantial economic growth and the increasing population faces a great challenge through traffic congestion. As a result several car owners in the London population spend a lot of time locked in the car due to traffic jam than any other country all over the world. Strategies such has encouraging improvement of the transport network, and implementation of policies such as the London Congestion charges have been used, but the problem still continues to be worse. These strategies have produced short term success but in the long term has led to more adverse effects by destroying London’s economy, increasing environmental effects and causing unacceptable spending on public health. The management of the traffic congestion problem, therefore, has become a priority to Transport for London. Therefore, the authority should engage in the constant research and prediction of the congestion levels in future to inform the development of policy and interventions. The authority should also be adequately funded to ensure adequate implementation of projects while at the same time engage in efficient benchmarking to ensure progress. Therefore, the office of the Mayor and Transport for London has a huge ball in their coat to save the people of London from this tragedy.
Arnott, R., Schöb, R., & Rave, T. (2005). Alleviating urban traffic congestion. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.
Bull, A. (2003). Traffic congestion: The problem and how to deal with it. Santiago, Chile: United
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