The congestion charge issued for people driving in central London has gone up by 30 per cent – from £11.50 to £15 a day. The new fare, which is expected to be in place for a year, will be enforced seven days a week from 7am to 10pm, having previously only been in effect on Monday-Friday from 7am to 6pm.
The toll was one of the conditions set out in a recent £1.6bn bailout agreement between Transport for London (TfL) and central government.
Some drivers in the capital, such as those who work for the emergency services, will be eligible for reimbursement of the new charge. And TfL will review other applications for discounts and waivers until 1 August. A failure to pay the congestion charge for anyone else, though, will result in a £160 Penalty Charge Notice, although that can be reduced to £80 if paid within 14 days.
According to TfL, the number of cars being driven in central London has returned to a similar level before lockdown measures against the coronavirus pandemic began in March. With government messaging encouraging people to avoid public transport, TfL has warned that without doing something to temper the traffic in the city then roads could become “unusuably congested”. TfL has speculated that the changes to the C-charge could help to reduce car trips by a third, and encourage more people to take up walking or cycling to work.
But critics of the scheme have suggested that it will simply add an extra cost to businesses based in London, and slow the post-Covid-19 economic recovery process.
Keith Prince, the Conservative transport spokesperson on the London Assembly, has called the new toll fee “deeply unfair”. He said in a statement: “Londoners will be rightly feeling robbed today, and many small businesses and working people will be seriously worried about their ability to work and trade in London.”