Traffic levels in London are the same today as they were five years ago when the city’s controversial congestion-charge (c-charge) was first introduced. This has prompted officials to admit that the scheme is a failure as it has not significantly reduced traffic levels or journey times as promised. According to the sixth annual Transport for London (TFL) monitoring report released yesterday, the level of congestion during 2007 was effectively identical to the representative value for conditions before the scheme was introduced in 2002.

Figures show that in the first four months of this year, and in all of 2007, the primary congestion measurement - the mean excess travel rate - was 2.3 minutes per kilometer. This figure is identical to the rate measured in 2002, before charging began.

Blame is being placed on the increased level of roadworks and measures to give priority to pedestrians, buses and cyclists, Reuters reports. However, the report doesn’t praise the fact that despite London’s population increasing in the past five years traffic levels have remained the same.

London residents and business owners, who have contributed more than £268 million (approximately $536 million) in charges last year alone, have showed their distaste for the scheme, voting out one of the key backers of the scheme, former mayor Ken Livingstone, in the most recent mayoral elections. Livingstone was not only trying to increase the charge but was also planning to extend it to more areas.

London’s new mayor, Boris Johnson, said in a statement that he has always thought that the c-charge is a "blunt instrument" and is currently planning a new scheme that gives greater consideration to how all transport measures impact on the movement of traffic on our roads.