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Diesel public transport is ill advised


London suffers extensive traffic congestion that causes an economic loss and pollution that affects the health of its citizens. Our newly elected Mayor has declared his intention of tackling this problem.

However, I do not believe that his chosen method, electronic congestion charging of private cars, will be effective on either count.

By far the more serious of the two ills is the effect on health and there is good reason to believe that the risks are being underestimated or understated by the Government.

Some 40 years ago there was another crisis of polluted air in London. This smog problem was solved decisively by passing the clean air laws that made it illegal to burn coal.

Similar decisive action is needed now.

But even if congestion charging was to reduce car traffic in the small area proposed, it would on its own have a negligible effect on the total volume of pollutants emitted over the larger London region.

However, much of the pollution is caused by the diesel engines of buses, taxis and public service vehicles. These types of vehicle would appear to be ideally suited to electric traction, as they operate at low speeds over short ranges. Many also operate between depots, where it would be easy for batteries to be recharged.

Those who say it would not be possible, for whatever reason, should take note that an electric bus service is about to be started in Paris, on a route through the Marais and the Isle Saint Louis.

Robert Benaim, 16, Stanhope Gardens, London, N6 5TS

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