Regarding the Feb. 14 editorial "A Dose of Decongestant":

A bit of caution is in order before we rush headlong into congestion cordons for American cities. Your editorial failed to note that the daily congestion charge in London is about $16. This is not a Lexus Lane, it is a Lexus Zone.

London's central business district, one of the world's largest, is growing, driven by strong growth in the financial sector and including business taken from New York. This growth provides inoculation against loss of jobs and business to other areas and may give London the most favorable climate in the world for congestion charging.

Yet, despite the unanimous hosannas of planners, an analysis by Rémy Prud'homme and Juan Pablo Bocajero of the University of Paris has shown that the London program is an economic loser. Moreover, the larger issue is that in the much different environment of the United States, congestion charges would drive businesses away from downtowns.

Wise policy begins with recognizing that not all policies are appropriate for all environments. With respect to congestion charging, policy formulation begins with understanding the differences between central London and Atlanta or Minneapolis.



The writer was a member of the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission from 1977 to 1985.