Transport for London (TfL) is today asking Londoners for their views on a number of proposed changes to the Congestion Charging scheme. The proposed changes include the introduction of a new Ultra Low Emission Discount (ULED), an increase in the penalty charge and the removal of the under-used retail (shop) payment channel.
The introduction of the proposed Ultra Low Emission Discount (ULED) would take place in July 2013 and provide a single 100 per cent discount from the Congestion Charge for electric and ultra low emission cars and vans. To qualify for the discount vehicles will have to either be pure electric or be cars and vans that emit 75g/km or less of CO2 and meet the Euro 5 emission standard for air quality.
The ULED would replace the current Greener Vehicle Discount (GVD) and the electric vehicle discount, and would ensure that only ultra low emission vehicles would be provided with a 100 per cent discount to the Congestion Charge.
While the ULED is technology neutral, no currently available diesel car would meet the criteria for the discount and this is unlikely to change for the foreseeable future. Therefore, the proposed ULED will help tackle the increasing dieselisation of London's car fleet. Over the past decade diesel car sales have increased from around 10 per cent to 50 per cent, partly as a result of low carbon vehicle incentives. A Euro 4 diesel car emits about 22 times as much particulate matter as the equivalent petrol car.
The introduction of the ULED would complement the comprehensive set of measures the Mayor has introduced to tackle air pollution. Over the past four years the Mayor has: tightened the standard of the Low Emission Zone, further reducing the emissions of 150,000 vehicles; introduced the first age limits to retire the oldest and most polluting taxis; and delivered a package of innovative local measures through his Clean Air Fund. In addition the Mayor has built Europe's largest fleet of hybrid buses and developed the new bus for London, the cleanest and greenest of its type. There are currently eight prototype new buses in service with funding agreed for a fleet of 600. They emit under half the CO2 and NOx of a traditional diesel vehicle.
Nick Fairholme, TfL's Director for Congestion Charging, said: 'We are really keen to hear what Londoners and motorists have to say about the proposed changes to the Congestion Charging scheme. We do listen to the views of our customers and have made significant changes to the scheme in recent years, including the removal of the Western Extension and the introduction of Congestion Charging (CC) Auto Pay. The proposed changes will make the scheme greener and more efficient.'
TfL is also seeking views on increasing the penalty charge for the Congestion Charge from £120 to £130. This would be only the third increase in the penalty charge since the Congestion Charge was introduced in 2003 and would bring the penalty charge in line with other moving traffic, bus lane and parking penalty charges within London.
In recognition of the fact that many drivers made the decision to purchase a low emission car in order to benefit from the existing GVD, if these changes are approved, then the current owners of vehicles registered for the discount would continue to receive a full discount for that vehicle for a further two years from the proposed commencement of the scheme, until 29 June 2015.
Congestion Charge Auto Pay was introduced following the Mayor's manifesto commitment to make the charge easier to pay. Around 220,000 people have now registered for CC Auto Pay, which sees account holders pay £9 per day (rather than £10) and offers protection from receiving Penalty Charge Notices. As a result less than one in ten payments of the charge is now made in shops or petrol stations.
As a result of that trend, and to reduce the costs of operating the scheme, the consultation is also proposing a removal of the retail payment option. Drivers will still be able to pay the Congestion Charge using a wide range of other means including online, by phone, by text message or by CC Auto Pay.
More information on the consultation, including the supporting documents, is available from TfL's website at tfl.gov.uk/ccyourviews. Visit the website to give your views on the proposals or call 0844 544 9780 for an information leaflet.
The 12-week public consultation closes on Friday 8 February 2013. TfL will then prepare a report for the Mayor setting out the comments received during the consultation. The Mayor will then make a decision on whether or not to go ahead with the proposals with or without modifications.
Notes to Editors