The London Congestion Charge is set to increase to £15 temporarily to discourage people from making unnecessary car journeys.
The move is part of the conditions of emergency funding for Transport for London (TfL), which has received £1.6bn from the government to help offset the drastically reduced income from fares.
Both the Congestion Charge and Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) had been temporarily shut down during the coronavirus travel restrictions, but with lockdown eased and traffic rising, they will be reinstated on Monday May 18 at the usual charge.
That means the Congestion Charge will cost £11.50 per day, Monday to Friday, between 7am and 6pm, and the ULEZ will be £12.50 24 hours per day, seven days per week for the most polluting vehicles.
However, from June 22, the Congestion Charge will increase to £15 per day, seven days per week, between 7am and 10pm.
TfL says this move should reduce pre-Covid-19 traffic levels by a third and significantly reduce air pollution.
Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, said: ‘Covid-19 poses the biggest challenge to London’s public transport network in TfL’s history. It will take a monumental effort from all Londoners to maintain safe social distancing on public transport as lockdown restrictions are gradually eased.
‘That means we have to keep the number of people using public transport as low as possible. And we can’t see journeys formerly taken on public transport replaced with car usage because our roads would immediately become unusably blocked and toxic air pollution would soar.
‘I ask that Londoners do not use public transport unless it is absolutely unavoidable – it must be a last resort. If you can work from home you should continue to do so. We should all spend more of our leisure time in our local areas too.
‘We will need many more Londoners to walk and cycle to make this work. That’s why these plans will transform parts of central London to create one of the largest car-free areas in any capital city in the world.’
Commenting on the increases, Edmund King, AA president, said: ‘Even though TfL were between a rock and a hard place in terms of finances, these hikes are taking the charges from a “congestion” charge to a “taxation” charge. Traffic at weekends and in the evenings is at its lowest ebb and hence this is no longer a congestion charge.
‘What are the alternatives for longer journeys? Public transport can’t cope. More walking and cycling whilst welcome, isn’t viable for all people and all journeys.’
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