Driving around Central London will get a little more expensive on June 22.
In return for TfL’s £1.6 billion bailout that was announced last month, the UK government exacted some concessions in the way London’s transport network is run. Whilst a potential end to Sadiq Khan’s four-year fare freeze might be coming in the future, a more immediate travel change arrives next week, as London’s Congestion Charge will be increasing in price.
An increase to the Congestion Charge – which was previously suspended from the beginning of lockdown until May 18 – had been widely expected, but was confirmed this morning in a TfL press release. 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 applied on weekdays). TfL have stated that reimbursements will be offered to local authority workers, charity workers, and vulnerable NHS patients who need to drive within the congestion zone.
The increased fee is a bid to prevent car use rocketing in the capital, given the difficulty of social distancing on the Tube and buses. As TfL notes, car traffic within the Congestion Charge zone has already reached pre-pandemic levels, and the fear is that it could increase even further as the lockdown slowly eases. Whilst Sadiq Khan is pushing the Streetspace 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 press release makes clear is that the changes will be temporary, although given the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and lockdown, there’s no end date in sight for these changes. Still, the statement expresses hope that car journeys could fall by a third, and pollutant emissions could be reduced by up to 11%, which would be a nice way of building on some of the environmental benefits we’ve seen from the lockdown.
Also published on Medium.