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Congestion charge floated for Sydney CBD

"You can't control congestion unless you have road pricing or congestion charging," says Committee for Sydney boss Tim Williams.

Committee for Sydney chief executive Tim Williams believes the only way to reduce the city's growing traffic dilemma is to introduce a congestion charge.

If the system was implemented, and based on models already working in London and Milan, motorists coming into Sydney incur an additional charge.

With work officially under way on the CBD light rail, he said now was the right time to act if local and state government officials were serious about reducing vehicle congestion.

You can't control congestion unless you have road pricing or congestion charging

"Congestion in Sydney can't be solved by building more roads," Mr Williams said.

"The reason is because more roads simply generate more options and demand.

"It will fill up again. You can't control congestion unless you have road pricing or congestion charging.

"The light rail is a good program to start seriously considering this. It is already sending a message to people to use different modes to access the CBD while work is under way.

"It is a controlled experiment on how to control congestion in the city.

"We already have an example of a congestion charge in Sydney, with the Harbour Bridge toll.

"For a while it did reduce traffic but of course the price was never kept high enough to keep the downward pressure on congestion."

Traffic congestion costs Sydney $5 billion a year.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore supported the idea, saying: "A congestion charge on traffic through the city centre makes a lot of sense, but we have to get public transport right first.

"Traffic congestion costs Sydney $5 billion a year, and by 2020 that will soar to $8 billion. Experience tells us building new roads won't fix the congestion, it will only bring more cars and congestion."

She said light rail on George St would transform the city centre and surrounds, "but we need this sort of innovative thinking and commitment Sydney-wide".

We've seen the success of congestion charges in global cities such as London and Milan

"When workers from western Sydney travel to the city centre for work, about 90 per cent use public transport," Cr Moore said.

In London, the standard congestion charge is £11.50 each day — almost $24.

Transport for London reported an initial 20 per cent reduction in traffic when the charge was introduced in 2003. After 10 years, TfL reports a figure closer to 10 per cent.

"We've seen the success of congestion charges in global cities such as London and Milan where traffic has been drastically reduced without limiting accessibility," Cr Moore said.

Would a congestion charge increase use of public transport in the city? Let us know in the comments below.