TfL has presented urgent proposals to temporarily widen the scope and level of the Congestion Charge, which is a condition of the Government funding agreement.
Congestion Charge increase from 22nd June 2020
As of 22 June, the Congestion Charge, which applies to around 1% of Greater London, will temporarily rise from £11.50 to £15 and operate from 07:00 to 22:00 seven days a week. The residents' discount will be closed to new applicants on 1 August. This temporary change, which is set to last a year, will reduce traffic in central London and allow more pedestrians and cyclists to travel safely while keeping the bus network reliable for those who need to make essential trips.
Secure road recovery
In this way, the capital will be able to recover from the pandemic without being congested by cars. Even though the congestion charge has been reinstated and many people are still working from home, there are just as many cars in the zone as there were before lockdown. Continuing to let traffic grow will lead to an unmanageable level of congestion on the roads. As the Government continues to relax lockdown restrictions, car traffic levels in central London could double without any changes to the Congestion Charge if those who would have ridden public transportation decide to drive instead. The result would be reduced space on streets to allow for increased walking and cycling, and the effective capacity of public transportation would be reduced to 13-20 per cent of what it is now because of social distancing.
Temporary changes to the charge and the rapid development of walking and cycling infrastructure will allow the city to have a safe and sustainable recovery. As a result of these new charging hours, trips taken by cars could drop by a third and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from vehicles could decrease by 11 per cent.
Extended Congestion Charge reimbursement
Following an open consultation with the public, the Mayor of London is extending the Congestion Charge reimbursement schemes to support those who will be most affected by the Coronavirus pandemic and are at the centre of the response to the crisis. Additionally to the already announced expansion of the NHS staff reimbursement scheme to cover additional trips made by NHS trust staff, ambulance staff and those who work in care homes in the zone, the new arrangements will also include:
- NHS patient reimbursement for Coronavirus-vulnerable patients.
- Reimbursement arrangements for local authorities and charities operating in a zone where certain support or services are being provided at the time of a pandemic (including home-care workers providing services in the name of a local authority and volunteer shielders supporting residents).
Working towards greener and more sustainable transport system
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said:
'The Government was absolutely clear that TfL must bring forward proposals to widen the level and scope of the Congestion Charge. Coronavirus continues to present our city with unprecedented challenges but I am determined to ensure that we emerge from this pandemic with a cleaner, greener and more sustainable transport system.'
'The reality is that due to social distancing requirements public transport can only carry a fraction of the number of passengers compared to pre-pandemic levels - even when we are back to running completely full services.'
'While capacity on the network needs to be preserved for those people who need it most, we can't allow journeys that were previously taken on public transport to be replaced with car trips.'
'I am really proud that our world-leading Streetspace for London plans continue to move forward at pace, with 19,000m2 of additional space now created for walking and cycling. Alongside the temporary changes to the Congestion Charge, this will enable millions more journeys to be made on foot or by bike and will keep our roads moving for Londoners who need to make essential trips.'
Alex Williams, TfL's Director of City Planning, said:
'It is not sustainable for London's recovery to be dominated by cars. We are already seeing a surge in traffic and need to act now to stop the city grinding to a halt. The temporary Congestion Charge changes are supporting our Streetspace programme, which will make it easier and safer for people to walk and cycle and keep the bus network reliable for those who need to use it. Our new reimbursement schemes will also ensure that those at the heart of the battle against coronavirus or who could be most affected by it can still make essential journeys by car. These temporary changes will also help ensure that those who can't work from home can travel safely and make the city's recovery from the pandemic sustainable and healthy.'
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