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London Overhauling Congestion Charge Scheme

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, outlined plans for a number of changes to the Congestion Charge scheme next year. (Earlier post.)

Proposals include the introduction of an automated account system to make it easier for customers to pay the charge and to avoid having to pay fines, and an increase in the Congestion Charge designed to maintain the benefits of reduced traffic in central London.

These measures would sit alongside the proposed removal of the Western Extension of the Zone (earlier post) and a range of mitigation measures, and would all be introduced by December 2010 subject to legal processes.

The proposed changes, subject to the necessary consultations on the Mayor’s Transport Strategy and any subsequent Variation Order, are as follows:

  • Removal of the Western Extension of the Congestion Charging zone

  • Introduction of automated payment account system, provisionally entitled CC Auto Pay

  • Increase of the daily charge to £9 (US$14.70) for CC Auto Pay customers. (The Congestion Charge is currently £8 (US$13.00) per day.)

  • Increase of the daily charge to £10 (US$16.30) for customers who do not take up CC Auto Pay and continue to pay through existing payment channels

  • Removal of the £1 (US$1.60) fleet discount, available to operators with fleets of 10 or more vehicles, so that fleet operators will pay the same per vehicle as customers using CC Auto Pay

I pledged to make the Congestion Charge fairer and easier to pay and these measures will make that a reality. Once introduced, drivers registering for CC Auto Pay can rest assured they’ll never receive a penalty charge again.

The proposed increase in the Charge will ensure that the system remains effective in controlling traffic levels in central London, and the revenue will also help us fund the vital improvements to London’s transport network that all Londoners want to see.

—Mayor of London, Boris Johnson

The automated payment account system will mean that motorists who register for an account can pay the Congestion Charge by debit or credit card, or by Direct Debit and avoid the possibility of ever receiving a penalty charge. The new system, provisionally entitled CC Auto Pay, would calculate the number of journeys a vehicle makes within the zone each week, and debit customers’ accounts on a weekly basis. Motorists who continue to use existing payment methods would be charged £10 per day.

Comments

soltesza

Would be nice to see these kind of charges in every larger city. It would change behaviour very radically. A lot of people would start using public transport and/or their bicycles.

By the way, all-electric and certain hybrid vehicles are still completely exempt from the London congestion charge. When I was there, I didn't have to pay a dime after my Prius.

The Goracle

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The government screws things up by creating and implementing land use laws that caused the traffic congestion. Then the government fines people for living where they encouraged them to live. And some want the government to control every aspect of health care in the US! What a nightmare that will be. Repeatedly, government involvement makes matters MUCH worse.

Praise be unto Algore.

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wintermane2000

Or people can just move a few miles away.

sulleny

By progressively increasing the city drive tax (Congestion Charge) the Mayor guarantees that downtown will be reserved for the most wealthy. This is a very British thing to do. Also, it will keep poorer, elderly and disabled people from using the cars to get around the inner area. Since older and disabled people have a limited horizon of productivity - it may be wise to refuse them entry at any price.

Thomas Lankester

OK, we seem to have a couple people contributing their tuppence-ha'peny's worth without a lot of knowledge about London.

@Goracle - how a piece about right wing Mayor of London policy having anything to do with more socialist health care in the US is beyond me.
'The government screws things up by creating and implementing land use laws that caused the traffic congestion'
Whoopsie! Much of the congestion problem in central London is down to the arcane street layout that dates back to the middle ages. In other words, it was the LACK of government planning control that has given the central London such a big congestion problem.

@sulleny only a small fraction of people travel around the centre by car anyway (due to the congestion). The money raised has helped pay for more buses, cycle facilities and DLR extensions, and reduced fares for children and the elderly. A side consequence of the congestion charge has been a reduction in peak time local air pollution. It may surprise you to know that young adults with no pulmonary problems are not the ones who most benefit from this.
As for keep the poor from using cars - doh! If you are poor, how are you going to afford to run a car? Now, a poor person with a bike has a half decent chance of making it across the centre in one piece. Cycling rates have soared.

Floatplane

sulleny: I've got to agree with Thomas. As someone who lived in and around London for 28 years the public transportation system is quite effective for rich and poor, young and old. When I was in college there I used to move beer kegs by bus and tube (subway) to our student parties!

Alessio

To add some more knowledge about London which some people like Sullenly seem to ignore ... downtown london, especially wc1 and ec1 (which are the areas covered by the congestion charge), is one of the most expensive place on earth to rent/buy a house. The congestion charge surely is not discouraging anyone with the possibility of affording a place there, to actually live in the place.
London is a huge metropoly with a very dense and extended public transport network that reaches until the edges of the city. In central London you won't walk more than 300 meters before finding a tube station. And as Thomas says, the streets are narrow and always jam packed. Driving downtown is plain stupid, and in my opinion stupidity should be heavily taxed, so there is a chance that it would disappear from earth

Scott

The charge is going up so that TfL (Transport for London) doesn't end up in a financial black hole. Its also going up so that all bus and Tube fares can go up as well. London public transport is probably already one of the most expensive systems in the world to use. In terms of value for money, I don't call being coralled onto a train like sheep and standing under someone's smelly armpit on a packed, non-air conditioned train in a 40 degree heat value for money. There are laws which regulate the carriage of aminals better than the carriage of passengers here.

sulleny

Thanks for the comments. The issue remains: as population grays more will remain mobile. For elderly and the disabled, use of tubes and buses are physically taxing. Congestion tax will screen these undesirables from intruding into wealthy neighborhoods - and that's likely an unspoken intention. The air is of course cleaner in the wealthy neighborhoods. But return to the outskirts where the hoi ploi live - there's plenty of particulates, CO and NOx.

The issue is acceptance of a certain degree of prejudice affecting poor and infirm populations. It's what Big Brother does. Building exceptions into the tax scheme could address some of the discrepancy.

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