In this 24-7 news world the media love nothing more than a story which allows them to despatch vast armies of reporters and outside broadcast units. Today’s expansion of the Congestion Charge is no different.
In an editorial decision likely to puzzle those outside London BBC News24 have run the story as their second lead item throughout the morning. This level of coverage on a nationwide news service seems disproportionate for what is merely the expansion of an already successfully operating scheme.
Thus level of coverage would be more understandable if it was in anyway informed by a knowledge of the 2003 introduction of the scheme. According to one BBC report:
“As the charge launched at 0700 GMT on Monday, there were no early signs of the feared traffic chaos or major public transport problems.
This was partly due to lighter traffic during the half-term school holidays, according to motoring organisations. ”
“Transport for London (TfL) said the first morning rush hour had gone well but the AA said half-term holidays had reduced the number of cars.”
As a fan of the BBC I find it a shame that its understandable desire to reflect all shades of opinion and an apparent lack of specialist knowledge means there’s no mention of the fact that the prophesies of doom exactly mirror those of 4 years ago which failed to materialise. The BBC has a job to inform the public debate, it’s not clear that today’s coverage does so.