New Congestion Charge proposals for sustainable travel in central London
In accordance with the condition in the Government’s first emergency funding agreement – required due to TfL’s income being decimated by the pandemic when ridership plummeted – TfL urgently brought forward proposals to temporarily widen the scope and level of the Congestion Charge in June 2020. The operational hours of the charge were extended to include evenings and weekends, and the charge was increased from £11.50 to £15. The temporary charges are being reviewed to ensure a strong economic recovery in London and one that is environmentally sustainable and fair to all.
TfL opened a consultation on 28th July 2021 and seeking views on the future operation of the Congestion Charge. The main proposals include: –
These changes will support London’s culture, hospitality and night-time businesses and also ensure gains made in reducing car dependency over more than 15 years are not lost and the capital’s recovery from the pandemic is a green and sustainable one. High levels of traffic make deliveries less reliable, delay bus journeys, worsen air pollution and make it less safe for people walking and cycling.
Congestion is also damaging to the economy; in 2017, drivers in London spent an average of 71 hours in gridlock during peak hours, contributing to congestion costing London £9.5 billion in 2017. The Mayor’s target is for 80% of trips made in the capital in 2041 to be by walking, cycling or public transport, and the target for central London is 95% of trips to be made by these types of travel.
The proposed new weekend charging hours are targeted at reducing congestion at the busiest times. Weekend car and private hire traffic before the pandemic was higher than during the week and made up 70% of traffic in the charging zone on a Saturday and Sunday. If the proposed new weekend hours are brought in, it is estimated there will be an increase in sustainable travel compared to before the pandemic, with around 8,000 new public transport trips and 3,000 walking and cycling trips each day on the weekend. To boost London’s culture, hospitality and night-time businesses, as well supporting shift workers who perform essential roles in the central London economy, the plans include the charge stopping at 18:00 on weekdays.
This is in line with the pre-pandemic hours, rather than the current 22:00 finish time. Evening traffic data will be kept under review, given that weekday travel patterns, in particular, remain uncertain.
Other proposals include: –
The pandemic has brought into sharp focus the need to protect the vulnerable and those involved in caring for them, so TfL is also consulting on retaining recently expanded reimbursement schemes for NHS patients, care workers, local councils and charities during epidemics and pandemics. The pre-pandemic NHS staff and patient reimbursement arrangements will continue.
If these proposals are taken forward following the consultation, the changes to hours will take place on 28 February 2022, giving time for signage to be updated. Other proposals will be implemented immediately after a mayoral decision on the changes.
The consultation closes on Wednesday 6 October 2021.
To respond, visit: tfl.gov.uk/ccyourview