London Mayor Ken Livingstone introduced the fee in 2003 to relieve the city's traffic jams, and expanded the zone in February. Since its introduction, the congestion charge has reduced traffic, prompted people to use public transportation and cut pollution.
Now, a number of U.S. cities including Dallas, Miami, Minneapolis-St. Paul and San Diego are considering congestion charges on busy roads or highways. San Francisco is discussing a congestion charge for its downtown, one of the busiest traffic zones in the country. Officials from the San Francisco County Transportation Authority have been to London numerous times to study its scheme, says Tilly Chang, the authority's deputy director of planning.
Of course, the London charge was also the model for New York City's plan, likely aborted by opposition in the New York State General Assembly.