London congestion charge changes proposed
25 May 2010
London mayor Boris Johnson has proposed a range of changes to the way the city's congestion charge operates, including scrapping the western extension zone introduced in 2007 and a 20% price hike to £10 per day, reduced to £9 for vehicles registered with the new auto-pay scheme. Vehicles emitting 100g/km or less are also set to be given free access to the zone In a move replacing the current alternative fuel discount.
The ditching of the western extension across Kensington and Chelsea was part of Johnson's mayoral election campaign, and would take effect from 25 December this year, with the other proposed changes being introduced after the annual Christmas period shut-down of the system on 4 January 2011.
The charge is proposed to rise to £10 if paid on the day, or £12 if paid the following day, and the new auto-pay system would operate by registering vehicles for a £10 per year charge, with a monthly bill issued to the driver at £9 per day rather than the £10 for paying manually. The system means vehicles registered for the system wouldn't ever be issued Penalty Charge Notices for forgetting to pay the charge, and vehicles would be logged as they entered the zone, instead of the current system where drivers can pay in advances then lose the money if their plans change and they don't actually drive into the zone.
Another change is the proposed removal of the alternative fuel discount, replacing it with a scheme that registered vehicles under 101g/km would get a 100% discount after paying an annual £10 registration fee.
"Some benefits of the alternative fuels have been outpaced by technological developments in other vehicles," said the mayor's statement. "This means that some new vehicles that do not qualify for the Alternative Fuel Discount have better environmental performance than some vehicles that do qualify." The change could be good news for the likes of Ford, Seat and Volkswagen that have lower medium-seized models at under 100g/km.
The document proposes that registration for the current Alternative Fuel Discount, that covers hybrid and LPG-powered vehicles, closes this Christmas Eve, with those vehicles registered by then still eligible for the discount until the end of 2012.
The Fleet Auto Pay facility would also be tweaked, with six vehicles needed to qualify rather than the current 10, and the discount for registered users taking the daily charge to £9, in line with the standard auto-pay system.
The consultation will run until 2 August, with a report concluding the public opinion to follow, at which point Johnson will decide whether to go ahead with the proposals, or to make any modifications. For more information, go to www.cclondon.com
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