London Mayor Ken Livingstone, who introduced congestion charging to the British capital in 2003, has probably been unseated by Tory challenger Boris Johnson, report Reuters and the Evening Standard. Labour lost across the board in UK elections yesterday, and the London mayor’s race appears not to have bucked the trend, although the final tally has not yet been announced.
While foes of the congestion charge are already gloating over the prospect of a Livingstone defeat, the pricing mechanism is not in danger of being revoked. Should he gain the mayoralty, Johnson has pledged to shrink the congestion zone back to its initial, pre-2005 area — before a western expansion that some transportation experts concede was poorly thought out. Livingstone’s plan to increase the charge for the most polluting vehicles would also be off the table. However, the charge itself is there to stay no matter who emerges as the victor. It should also be noted that Livingstone successfully ran for re-election in 2004, after the charge took effect.
For those holding out hope that Livingstone will prevail despite the early returns, the BBC is running regular updates on the status of the vote count.
Update: The BBC reports that Johnson has indeed won the election, garnering 1,168,738 votes to Livingstone’s 1,028,966.