Ken Livingstone, a British politician and Mayor of London in 2000–2008, will attend the Moscow Urban Forum for the first time. During his eight years running London, he completely transformed the city, starting with one of the most famous symbols – the double-decker bus. He replaced outdated models from the 1950s with Bendy buses and changed the fare system by introducing an automated payment system. Travel cards could even be bought online and drivers no longer had to collect money. In addition, priority bus lanes were introduced to the streets of London during his time in office. He developed Greater London, the largest urban agglomeration in England.
On 19 February 2007, London saw the introduction of the congestion charge for cars entering the city centre. The funds raised were spent on developing public transport. Ken Livingstone proposed restricting traffic in the city centre and introducing a charge. The proposal was adopted despite provoking many arguments. The congestion charge reduced traffic congestions by 20 per cent, while the funds collected from car drivers were spent on developing public transport. Livingstone's plan has been applied in many cities around the world, including New York.
Ken Livingstone said about his idea: "When I became the mayor, people from big business said to me, ‘If you can't solve our congestion problems, then we'll move our business to other countries.’ If you look at the history of the automotive industry, however many roads you build, there will always be congestion. The number of people who want to drive is always growing. In New York in the 1930s, they built new motorways that filled up within months. As a mayor, I studied the situation in other cities: in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. They built ten main motorways through parts of the city, but congestion was still a nightmare. It could take three hours to get to the airport. What could I do in this situation? I just stole this idea from Singapore. In 1979, they started to charge for driving in the city. They had cameras recording the number plates of cars entering the centre. All over the world, people ask me: "Please come and explain how London congestion charge works."