London is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world and an important political, economic, cultural, arts and entertainment center. In February 2003, London began to implement a congestion charging policy in the downtown area to ease traffic congestion. As one of the supporting policies for the traffic congestion charging scheme, a low-emissions zone policy was introduced in January 2008 to address the air pollution problem in London.
CC overview


Timeline: 2003

Prerequisites: Initiated by national government and mayor

Exemptions: Multiple Exemptions, including ultra-low emission discount

Charging Hours: 7.00 am–6.00 pm Monday to Friday

Rate: Daily Flat Rate £11.50 (about RMB 110.6)

Revenue Allocation: Dedicated to improving transport system of London during the first 10 years of implementation

Congestion Charging zone: the charging zone covered 21 square kilometers inside the Inner Ring Road of Central London (not including the Inner Ring Road), as shown in Figure 

Implementation Effects of CC

One year after implementation, monitoring and survey data showed:

  • Private vehicles entering the charging zone decreased by 30 percent during the charging period, and congestion levels dropped by an average of 30 percent. Forty-one percent of residents in the charging zone thought that travel speeds had increased and travel delays had decreased.

  • Compared with 2002, buses and coaches entering the central area increased by 20 percent during the charging period in 2003. During morning peak hours (7:00 am–10:00 am), the number of travelers entering the charging zone by bus increased from 77,000 to 106,000. Less congested road conditions, due to CC, led to more reliable ground public transportation; waiting times experienced by bus passengers throughout London decreased by 20 percent.

  • Because traffic volumes within the CC area decreased, safety and environmental conditions improved. CC is actually estimated to have contributed about £50 million (about USD 61.3 million) to London’s economy (Santos and Shaffer 2004).

LEZ overview

LEZ overview:

The London LEZ was introduced to combat air pollution. The LEZ covers the entire Greater London area, with a total area of 1,580 square kilometers, as shown in Figure 2. The operation time is 24 hours per day, seven days per week. The LEZ was implemented with the aim of limiting the entry of highly polluting heavy vehicles into London and encouraging the upgrade of vehicles (especially diesel vehicles) in London to meet the tightened emission standards. The policy also aimed to promote cleaner vehicles, thus improving air quality in London and reducing the detrimental impact of emissions from the transport sector on public health.

Implementation of the LEZ has experienced three stages (see Table blow)—adopted standards become stricter with each stage, changing from initial Euro III to Euro IV at present. Vehicles covered by the LEZ have been extended from HGVs to light-duty freight vehicles, buses, coaches, vans, and minibuses.

Implementation Effects of the LEZ Policy:


Introducing the LEZ policy in London has promoted vehicle retrofit:

  • By 2008, 31.9 percent of vehicles in London did not meet the Euro III emission standard, compared to 47.4 percent before implementation, meaning that theLEZ policy helped to phase out additional 20 percent of outdated vehicles.

  • The rate at which vehicles exited the fleet fell back to normal levels after 2008, which meant that authorities had to continuously raise emissions standards to maintain the desired policy outcome. By June 2013, 95 percent of vehicles entering the LEZ met the emissions standards.

  • Studies show that the LEZ policy has had clear impacts on PM emissions, but relatively little effect on NOx emissions. Also, while PM concentration within the zone has been reduced by 2.5–3.1 percent, the reduction outside the zone boundaries is 1 percent.

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