Exemptions for the central London Congestion Charge are to be tightened to help improve air quality in the city.
Proposals launched for consultation by Transport for London (TfL) today (6 July) will see the Ultra Low Emission Discount (ULED) replaced with a new phased ‘Cleaner Vehicle Discount’.
Since the Congestion Charge launched fifteen years ago, the number of vehicles entering the zone every day has decreased by around 30%, TfL claims.
Currently, under the ULED, cars or vans that meet the Euro 5 standard for air quality can avoid paying the £11.50 per day Congestion Charge.
But, from April 2019, TfL is proposing to bring the Congestion Charge criteria in line with that of the Ultra Low Emission Zone, which will require diesel cars or vans to meet the Euro 6 standard, in effect from 2014, in order to be exempt from paying the charge.
This would then be tightened from October 2021, when only electric vehicles would quality or the discount, and phased out altogether from December 2025.
Alex Williams, TfL’s Director of City Planning, said: “If we are to clean up the capital’s toxic air and tackle congestion in central London, we need to have the appropriate incentives as well as the right interventions.
“The Congestion Charge has had a real impact on improving London’s roads for all since it launched fifteen years ago.
“However, over that time the availability and standard of low-emission vehicles has greatly advanced and the number of private hire vehicles entering the zone during charging hours has rocketed.
“It is only right that we keep the discounts and exemptions for the scheme under review to make sure it continues to be effective.”
As part of the consultation, TfL is also seeking views on plans to remove an exemption from the Congestion Charge for private hire vehicles (PHVs).
The transport body claims that since 2003 the number of PHVs entering the zone in charging hours has gone from an expected 4,000 a day, to more than 18,000, with knock on impacts on air pollution and congestion in central London.
Analysis carried out for TfL suggests that the removal of the PHV Congestion Charge exemption could reduce the number of individual PHVs entering central London by up to 45%.
Removing these vehicles, which often repeatedly circulate within the zone, could reduce congestion and improve journey times for bus passengers, while reducing emissions, it says.
It is proposed that the exemption would remain for wheelchair accessible PHVs, to support TfL’s commitment to make the capital an accessible city for all.
The consultation runs until Friday 28 September.
TfL Congestion Charge consultation