London congestion charge
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The London congestion charge is a fee charged on most motor vehicles operating within the Congestion Charge Zone (CCZ) in
The standard charge is £11.50 for each day, for each non-exempt vehicle that travels within the zone, with a penalty of between £65 and £195 levied for non-payment. In July 2013 the Ultra Low Emission Discount (ULED) introduced more stringent emission standards that limit the free access to the congestion charge zone to
Enforcement is primarily based on
In 2013, ten years after its implementation in 2003, TfL reported that the congestion charging scheme resulted in a 10% reduction in traffic volumes from baseline conditions, and an overall reduction of 11% in vehicle kilometres in London between 2000 and 2012. Despite these gains, traffic speeds have also been getting progressively slower over the past decade, particularly in central London. TfL explains that the historic decline in traffic speeds is most likely due to interventions that have reduced the effective capacity of the road network to improve the urban environment, increase road safety and prioritise public transport, pedestrian and cycle traffic, as well as an increase in road works by utilities and general development activity since 2006. TfL concludes that while levels of congestion in central London are close to pre-charging levels, the effectiveness of the congestion charge in reducing traffic volumes means that conditions would be worse without the Congestion Charging scheme.
The current congestion charge zone covers the area within the
Starting at the northernmost point and moving clockwise, the major roads defining the boundary are
The Western Extension, introduced in February 2007 and removed on 4 January 2011, included areas surrounded by the following roads starting from the north-westernmost point: Scrubs Lane, Harrow Road, Westway (part of the A40), Park Lane, Vauxhall Bridge Road, Grosvenor Road, Chelsea Embankment, Earl's Court Road and part of the West Cross Route (A3320), but the Westway itself was not part of the zone.
In January 2013 Transport for London opened a public consultation to increase the standard charge 15% by mid 2014, from £10 per day to £11.50 if paid in advance or on the day. The increase was expected to generate an estimated £84 million of additional revenue by the end of 2017/18. The consultation process ran from January 2014 to March 2014. According to TfL the objective of the increase was to recoup inflation over the past three years and ensure the charge remains an effective deterrent to making unnecessary journeys in central London.
As of 16 June 2014 the following charges apply:
The standard fee is £11.50 per day if paid by midnight on the day of travel, £14 if paid by the end of the following day, or £10.50 if registered with CC Autopay, an automated payment system which records the number of charging days a vehicle travels within the charging zone each month and bills the customer debit or credit card each month. Businesses with six or more vehicles can register with Fleet Auto Pay, and will be charged £10.50 rather than £11.50 per vehicle per day for each vehicle detected within the zone. From 20 May 2013 failure to pay results in the issuance of a Penalty Charge Notice for £130, reduced to £65 if paid within 14 days, but increased to £195 if unpaid after 28 days.
Refunds are available to people who pay monthly or annually in advance whose plans change; reimbursements are available to NHS patients assessed to be too ill to travel by public transport, NHS staff using vehicles on official business and fire fighters. Residents living within or very close to the zone are eligible for a 90% discount which is charged via CC Autopay.
The system gives 100% discounts to registered cars which emit 75 g/km or less of
In November 2012, TfL presented a proposal to end the Greener Vehicle Discount that benefited mainly vehicles with small diesel engines, that avoid the charge because their engines produce emissions of less than 100 g/km of CO2. The proposal was approved by Mayor
A new toxicity charge, known as T-charge was introduced on 23 October 2017, operating for the same hours as the congestion charge (7am-6pm, Monday-Friday). Older and more polluting cars and vans that do not meet
In December 2017, TfL said that the charge had cut the number of these heavily polluting vehicles by around 1,000 per day, with the remaining 2,000 paying the £10 charge (a further 3,000 vehicles are eligible for discounts due to Blue Badges etc.).
The ULEZ will cover the same area as the T-charge but will apply 24/7, 365 days a year, with charges of £12.50 a day for cars, vans and motorcycles, and £100 a day for lorries, buses and coaches. In November 2017, Khan announced that the ULEZ would be brought forward from 2020 to 8 April 2019. The ULEZ is expected to cause a 20% reduction in road traffic emissions and will be extended to the North and South circular from 2021.
TfL can and does suspend the congestion charge either in a small local area to cope with incidents and if directed to do so by a police officer. The congestion charge was suspended on 7 and 8 July 2005 in response to the
Although avoidance has become more sophisticated, compliance with the scheme and terms of payment has improved over the last few years, as is evidenced by the income from penalties dropping by approximately a quarter between 2005 and 2007. However, even after charges were increased, enforcement charges still make up a significant proportion of the net revenues.
The 2008 annual report on the operation of the scheme shows that around 26% of penalties go unpaid, because the notice is cancelled on appeal or the amount cannot be recovered, for example if the registered keeper of the vehicle cannot be traced, is deceased, or bankrupt.
Entry authorisation and penalties cannot be issued to non-UK numberplates, and detection cameras may also be unable to read them, although cars with foreign plates may only be used in the UK for up to six months before being considered to have been officially imported and thenceforth required to have UK plates, and even then only if they are bona fide visitors and not residents.[
Several newspapers have reported that copied
Following pressure from the Mayor of London, an increasing number of embassies accepted the charge and by 2008 a total of 99 out of 128 embassies had agreed to the charge; decliners included Germany, Japan, Russia and the United States, who collectively owed £23 million as of November 2008. The United States and Germany are reported to consider it to be a local tax, from which they are protected by the
In May 2011 Johnson raised the issue with the President of the United States,