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Private hire drivers and low paid workers should be exempt from London Congestion Charge says union

The GMB Union are looking for Congestion Charge exemptions to be handed to low paid workers and private hire drivers in London following the latest proposals announced by the capital’s regulators.

New Congestion Charge proposals were released by Transport for London (TfL) last week in a bid to encourage sustainable travel in central London and support night-time businesses, culture and hospitality.

GMB, a union for private hire drivers, has since responded to TfL’s consultation on the congestion charge claiming that the current charge can cost more for the drivers than the passenger.

The latest proposals come after Congestion Charge operational hours were extended during the pandemic to include evenings and weekends, and the charge was increased from £11.50 to £15. Since the changes in 2020, the Mayor had 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 are now 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.

Steve Garelick, GMB Organiser, said: “TfL's consultation could leave many low paid workers at a loss where public transport is not an option.

“The cost of the congestion charge will still be prohibitive for private hire drivers.

“A £15.00 daily charge means some journeys cost more for the driver than the passenger.

“Meanwhile private hire drivers – already ravaged by the pandemic, can ill-afford the change to full electric, given the paucity of low-cost vehicles and the infancy of the second-hand market.

“The one silver lining is for the night-time sector, which can hopefully start to bloom after a disastrous period during the pandemic that has seen job losses and closures.

“GMB will seek a removal of this charge for low paid workers and private hire drivers in London."


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