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New Congestion Charge proposals announced in bid to kick start night-time economy in the capital

Updated: Jul 30, 2021

New Congestion Charge proposals have been announced in a bid to encourage sustainable travel in central London and support night-time businesses, culture and hospitality.

In accordance with a condition set in the Government’s first emergency funding agreement – required due to Transport for London’s (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. Since then, the Mayor has been clear that the temporary charges should be reviewed to ensure a strong economic recovery in London and one that is environmentally sustainable and fair to all.

TfL is today opening a consultation and seeking views on the future operation of the Congestion Charge. The main proposals include no charges in the evenings to support London’s recovery, operating between 12:00-18:00 on weekends and retaining the current charge level of £15.

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 per cent 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.

Following feedback from those living in central London, the plans include opening up the 90 per cent residents’ discount to new applicants. The discount has been closed to new applicants since 1 August 2020.

Other proposals include:

  • No charge between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day inclusive

  • The charge to be in operation on bank holidays from 12:00-18:00

  • Being able to pay up to three days after travel.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The Government insisted on the widening of the level and scope of the Congestion Charge last year as a condition of TfL’s emergency funding agreement – which was only needed because of the pandemic. As we look to the future it’s vital the charge strikes the right balance between supporting London’s economic recovery and helping ensure it is a green and sustainable one.

“These proposals support the capital’s culture, hospitality and night-time businesses which have struggled so much, as well as encouraging people to walk, cycle and use public transport. We must not replace one public health crisis with another due to filthy polluted air, and our measures to create more space for walking and cycling have already had a huge impact. I urge Londoners to have their say and take part in the consultation.”


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