Driving throughout Central London will be more expensive on June 22.
In return for TfL’s £1.6 billion bailouts that was announced last month, the UK government demanded some concessions in the way London’s transport system is run. While a possible end to Sadiq Khan’s four-year fare freeze might be coming in the future, a more immediate travel change happens next week, as London’s Congestion Charge will be rising in price.
An increase to the Congestion Charge – previously suspended from the start of the lockdown until May 18 – had been widely anticipated, but was confirmed in a TfL press release this morning. The changes will see the fee increased to £15 per day (up from £11.50), and apply seven days a week (previously, it had only on weekdays). TfL has said that reimbursements will be offered to local authority workers, charity workers, and vulnerable NHS patients who require to drive within the congestion zone.
Given the challenge of social distancing on the Tube and buses, the increased charge is an attempt to avoid traffic congestion rocketing in the city. As TfL states, car traffic inside the Congestion Charge zone has already reached pre-pandemic levels, and the concern is that as the lockout slowly loosens, it will rise much more. While Sadiq Khan is pushing the Street space programme to encourage people to walk and cycle more, there’s little doubt that discouraging drivers financially can play a role in helping to reduce the number of cars on the road.
One thing the TfL announcement makes clear is that the changes will be temporary, although, given the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and lockdown, there’s no end date yet. Still, TFL hopes that car journeys could drop by a third, and pollutant emissions reduced by up to 11%, which would be a great way of building on some of the environmental gains we’ve seen from the lockdown.
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