A Royal Pain?

A man protests the new congestion charging scheme in London, a plan by Mayor Ken Livingstone to reduce traffic in the city's center. AP

Earlier this week, a financial pothole was placed on the road to London.

Hoping to ease its chronic traffic jams, London is leading the charge against congestion by charging for congestion.

As of last Monday, if you drive into an eight-square-mile zone of central London, you're charged five pounds (about $8) per day. The money goes to the tottering transit system.

Watching to make sure the English pay their tolls are arrays of cameras that photograph every license plate that crosses by signs with white letter "Cs" in a red circle. Fines for offenders double and re-double at a rate that far exceeds the speed of traffic.

Despite angry protests by some motorists and by some would-be candidates for mayor, the new regime got off to a smooth start with traffic down by about 25 percent the first day.

If the system of charging for congestion works, look for New York and other American cities to head down that same road.

Motorist, motorist, where have you been?
I've been to London to visit the Queen.
Motorist, motorist, what did you pay?
A royally painful five pounds per day.
  • Rome Neal

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