The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced that the daily London congestion charge will increase by 30% from £11.50 to £15 a day in June.
Operating hours of the charge will also be extended to seven days a week, not just weekdays, plus temporarily from 6pm to 10pm in the evenings.
See our guide on Cars exempt from the London congestion charge
The low emission zone and ultra-low emission zone which impose levies on older, high-polluting vehicles, remains at £12.50 a day and applies 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The congestion charge for most new and used cars and vehicles driving into central London will be reintroduced under the terms of a £1.6bn government bailout.
It follows a deal in which Transport for London (TfL) secured emergency funding from the government to keep transport services running until September, it requires £3.2 billion to balance its proposed emergency budget for 2020/21.
The Mayor of London said it was ‘not the deal I wanted but it was the only deal the government put on the table’. ‘I had no choice but to accept it to keep the Tubes and buses running,’
Mr Khan added. ‘Fares income has fallen by 90% in the last two months because Londoners have done the right thing and stayed at home, so there simply isn’t enough money coming in to pay for our services.’
The prime minister’s official spokesman said roads in these areas “would come to a halt without it” and it was an “important tool to ensure that emissions in London remain low and support better air quality“.
TfL said the plans would “create more space for social distancing when walking and cycling, ensuring that the people who have no choice but to return to work in central London can do so as safely as possible”.
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From the motor trade sector, Edmund King, president of the AA, said “It is difficult to justify the weekend charge at all and in due course this will backfire on trying to get things back to normal in terms of encouraging Londoners back to retail, leisure, arts, and religious activities. The only saving grace may be a rush for more Londoners to buy electric vehicles to avoid the charges.”
Any incentive to buy a new or used vehicle in the current climate would be welcomed by the motor trade, especially now as new and used car showrooms and other members of the motor trade need to generate revenue quickly to balance their annual running costs, like utilities, the renewal of motor trade insurance policies and trade plate licence costs.
Additional conditions of the government deal also mean children will no longer have free travel across London, and restrictions will also be imposed during peak hours on travel passes for people over the age of 60 or with a disability.
All of this comes as the London Mayor announces plans to turn parts of central London into “one of the largest car-free zones in any capital city in the world”.
Some streets in the city centre are to be converted to walking or cycling only, with others restricted to all traffic apart from buses, with Khan aiming to prevent air pollution levels in London returning to where they were before the coronavirus crisis.