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Congestion charge Hike in London

Category: Transport & Logistics

Posted: 06-23-20 10:37 AM - Views: 350

By: Richard Biggs

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Can't believe what I've just heard - London to raise daily congestion charge by 30% to a daily rate of £15 ($20 US) and extend the hours to 7 am to 10pm - now 7 days a week.  Have an older car then you'll also have to pay a Toxicity charge - adding another £10 to the daily rate - so a vehicle older than 2006 is charged £25 ($32) daily plus of course parking - which in the City of London is £1.70 per 15 mins for on street parking for cars older than 2005, £1.30 for newer cars and a bargain £1 per 15 minutes for electric/hybrid or hydrogen cars.  WOW

To further dampen my appetite for driving in my home city I am faced with a speed limit of 20MPH and should I be brave enough to drive to the edge of the congestion zone then I doubt I'll find anywhere to park in order to get on public transport anyway. 

I know, I'll get on my bicycle or walk - spending by Transport for London (the authority in charge of congestion) is now spening just 2.5% of the budget (down from 6%) on cycling/walking. 

Get myself a greener new car - think again, the greener vehicle discount has been ended,  there is an ultra low emmision discount I think but I've lost the will to fight now - I reminisce about the good old days when all I had to worry about when I used to drive into the West End for a meal, theatre or pub - finding a parking space.  Now I need to make sure I'm not too early, keep under 20MPH, drive a new car and that it is Ultra Low Emmision - how will restaurents, theatres and pubs survive with Covid 19 + congestion charges, who will bother going to church on a sunday morning in London - it's not as though the transport options are great and they are bloody expensive as well for a family like mine.  I know,  I'll just stay at home and become even more isolated. 

Am I alone in my driving frustration?  Am I an old dinasaur that is out of touch with what people want in London now (did I mention that 86% of businesses surveyed hate the CC and that air quality has not seen any significant improvements)?  more at

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Reply Nr.6 from Catherine Filippini on 06-24-20 2:03 PM

In the Greater Puget Sound they adopted HOV lanes and bridge tolls, sometimes charging upwards of $10 per trip/one-way to access the lanes if you are not a 3+ carpool. Add to this the cost of parking in Seattle, which can run upwards of $15-20/hr. If you work in Seattle, you must account for these transportation costs against your salary, which often can cut into your bottom line net earnings by 20-25%. There are many companies that will cover public transport, however, our public transport continues to be slow and often a car is a more efficient way to travel from point A to point B. The interesting component moving forward will be the success of virtual working. As a technology hub, we may see more companies offer a hybrid working model in the future, which both alleviates traffic congestion and eliminates the cost around daily bridge tolls and usage of HOV lanes. Of course this will mean decreased revenue for local and state governments, which may impact improvements to roads and bridges. In this state, that may mean another review of car tabs and a proposed increase in price to fill the coffers for infrastructure maintenance and improvement.


Reply Nr.5 from Richard Biggs on 06-24-20 7:54 AM

Susana, never considered working in central London to be a luxury but maybe you are right.  $80 a day for public transport each day to get to work is just crazy and obviously drives up wages and everything else (I remember the crazy price of a sandwich)  Who can do that on a secretary's wage - somebody on minimum wage of £8.72 is only earning around £70 daily before taxes - sums just don't add up.  I actually remember being in Buenos Aires about 20 years ago and talking to a bus driver I met - I asked him why a coffee at a coffee shop seemed so expensive to me and for him it just wan't affordable - there seemed like a counter economy for real locals.  Can this be happening in London in I wonder?  where Londoners are just priced out of the West End and it continues to turn into a tourist disneyland.

Interesting conversation to have but as you say Susana - complex subject that I'm sure has and will be debated for a very long time.

Reply Nr.4 from Susana Ecclestone on 06-24-20 3:52 AM

Living 100 km south of London, in Hampshire, my daily commute to London on public transport costs me around $80/day in the peak hour.

A monthly pass costs £560 (around $700). A yearly is over £6,000! Working in London is a luxury and only permitted to those living in the London surrounding area who pay exhorbitant rentals for ridiculously poor real state or high end executives living outside. Organizations need to pay a London surcharge to attract talent due to the fact that rents and transport is so expensive adding to the overhead of companies to stay competitive.

This is in my view a false economy that deters a lot of other financial and commercial opportunities.

It is very difficult for young adults to leave their towns and look for work elsewhere, in some cases no further that 6 miles away due to the high costs of buses, the poor frequency and timetables that in some cases run no later than 5pm! Imagine being a teenager wanting to go clubbing outside of your village, town? This creates a lot of additional pollution with uberparents trying to allow their children to have a life outside of the limits of their remote villages and in some cases towns and not so remote. Let's not talk mental health issues... another big problem that definitely is linked to connectivity in many cases

The prices of public transport do not show any signs of going down but more dramatically, the frequency and offer of connecting services is insufficient. Parking rates in any village are so outrageous that even the daily shopping comes at a higher price and main streets are suffering the effects of reduced foot traffic as a consequence of these varied factors

I think I could write a whole dissertation on this but I am not optimistic things will improve...

Reply Nr.3 from Richard Biggs on 06-23-20 1:52 PM

London is a model for many cities around the globe inc Milan, San Diego, Stockholm. New York would be the first US city to adopt congestion pricing when it starts in 2021 but others could soon follow. Elected officials in Portland, Seattle, and Los Angeles are mulling their own plans to ease gridlock while also raising money to improve aging transit systems. Vancouver is weighing a fee of between $3 and $8 for motorists driving into the busiest parts of the city. And European cities, already known for their strict rules on urban driving and congestion charges, are cracking down even more on petrol and diesel-burning vehicles in an effort to fight climate change.

The timing is critical: Despite early promises that ride-sharing would lead to fewer cars on the road, Uber and Lyft have been found to cause an increase in congestion in many cities. US Government funding is expected to be drying up in the wake of Covid19 (to improve and expand public transportation), leaving cities scrambling to find other revenue streams. And autonomous vehicles, held up as a remedy for the chilling increase in traffic deaths, could actually make things worse. It's not crazy to think that robot taxis could ultimately choke roads with “zero occupancy vehicles,” circling for the next fare or running errands. Even if we end up sharing these robot taxi trips with each other, the trips will be so cheap they could poach riders from public transportation, causing ridership to plummet and fare revenue to dry up.

Congestion charging is complex, political and will have consequences on many parts of the economy.  Income from congestion charging in London only makes up 10% of the budget for Transport for London - it is not enough to transform public transport.  Money has got to come from somewhere to improve public transport and make it cheaper for London bound commuters then maybe we can successfully force drivers away from London  Right now I think consumers are going to spend their money on food & entertainment elsewhere.

Reply Nr.2 from J T on 06-23-20 12:42 PM

In order to stay professional I wont type any obscene words here. This is just utterly ridiculous! Not everyone can afford a new car and if that's the case you probably can't afford the daily charge after a week. What brainless bureaucrat or clueless politician came up with this brilliant idea? There are other ways to address the issue.  

Reply Nr.1 from Rose Marshall on 06-23-20 12:39 PM

Believing that all the various (un)intended consequences have been raised before this went into effect, it still seems incredibly expensive for a landmark global city. How many people will be, like you, avoiding downtown London and finding convenient suburban places to shop, eat, and hang out? 

Who is benefitting from the increased revenue generated? It can't benefit the downtown businesses unless the improved air quality will get people to flock downtown even at this outrageous cost. Paint me confused. 

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