The date of Monday, February 17, 2003, will be historical for the country - and London in particular.

It is the day congestion charging in central London will become operational and other cities, not only in the UK but across the world, will be assiduously monitoring its progress.

Metric.gifAll major cities, and capitals especially, suffer from the same intolerable daily problem…traffic congestion and pollution.

The difference, perhaps, between London and other UK cities, is that the capital’s traffic congestion is mega.

Following extensive consultation, the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, has decided that along with other measures to improve public transport, congestion charging will help reduce traffic congestion in the heart of the city.

Research undertaken by Transport for London has shown that congestion charging will lead to reduced traffic levels which are equivalent to those currently enjoyed during the school holidays.

By law, all the money raised from congestion charging will be added to what’s already being spent on London’s transport facilities – so that it benefits everyone.

From 17 February 2003, anyone (except those exempt or discounted) driving or parking a vehicle on public roads in the congestion charging zone will have to pay a daily charge of L5. The charging zone is bounded by the "Inner Ring Road" linking Euston Road, Pentonville Road, Tower Bridge, Elephant & Castle, Vauxhall Bridge Road, Park Lane and Marylebone Road.

Metric also have their ticket vending machines at the Middlesex Hospital, Moorfields, Guy’s and St. Thomas’ and the University College Hospital for the London Congestion payment system.

One company keen to see congestion charging work, right from the word go, is the Metric Parking Group, of Cirencester, Gloucestershire. Well over two years ago Metric was invited to support the bid of Capita Business Services Limited to operate central London congestion charging.

David Millett of Metric takes up the story: "We went to many meetings with representatives of Capita and Transport for London who will run the congestion charging scheme.

"Capita selected Metric as an integral link in the payment process, providing a convenient way for drivers to pay the charge. The ease with which customers can pay is vital to Transport for London and was one of the key reasons why the winning bid was chosen.

"We were aware that Capita were the preferred bidder just prior to Christmas, 2001. Various presentations had to be put together in which we participated by showing our products and how they function. This gave us twelve months to finish all the development required as well as to collate and test the system.

"Metric’s actual development work began last spring with the software for a new keypad and a credit card wall mounted cabinet. Metric adapted its state of the art Accent ticket machine to take alpha numeric characters as the whole of the vehicle registration plate has to be entered into the ticket vending machine and recorded.

"All 101 Metric ticket vending machines, which will only accept credit and debit cards, will be sited in many major car parks and hospital car parks within the charging zone as well as in motorway services on the M25. The machines are on line to validate credit/debit cards through a merchant, Credit Call Communications, before a receipt for payment of the congestion charge is issued.

"The charge for non-residents is L5 a day between the hours of 7.30 am and 6.00 pm Monday to Friday. Saturday, Sunday and public holidays are free
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