photo : AP and telegraph.co.uk
About the Congestion Charge
Vehicles which drive within a clearly defined zone of central London between the hours of 07:00 and 18:00, Monday to Friday, have to pay an £8 daily Congestion Charge.
Payment of the charge allows you to enter, drive within, and exit the Charging Zone as many times as you wish on that day.
The charge aims to reduce traffic congestion and improve journey times by encouraging people to choose other forms of transport if possible.
Some individuals and vehicles are exempt from payment, or can claim a discount on the charge.
All monies raised from Congestion Charging are spent on London’s transport facilities.
More than five years after the Congestion Charge was launched, and over a year after the Western Extension began, traffic levels are still down but congestion has risen back to pre-charging levels.
However, congestion would be significantly worse without the sustained traffic reductions brought about by the charge.
Decreasing levels of road space in both the original charging zone and Western Extension has caused congestion to return to levels experienced before the charge was introduced.
A widespread programme of water and gas main replacement works has greatly reduced the road capacity in both zones, as have various traffic management measures to assist pedestrians and other road users.
One of the biggest current contributory factors within the Western Extension is a major property development at the Scotch House Corner junction in Knightsbridge.
By law, all net revenue raised by the charge has to be invested in improving transport in London.
Since the Congestion Charge scheme started:
- Traffic entering the original charging zone remains 21 per cent lower than pre-charge levels (70,000 fewer cars a day)
- Traffic entering the Western Extension has fallen by 14 per cent (30,000 fewer cars a day)
- There has been a six per cent increase in bus passengers during charging hours
- There has been a 12 per cent increase in cycle journeys into the Western Extension
- £137m being raised, in the financial year 2007/08, to invest back into improving transport in London
Traffic congestion clogs up roads, threatens businesses and damages London’s status as a thriving world city.
When the Mayor took office in 2000:
- London suffered the worst traffic congestion in the UK and amongst the worst in Europe
- Drivers in central London spent 50% of their time in queues
- Every weekday morning, the equivalent of 25 busy motorway lanes of traffic tried to enter central London
- It was estimated that London lost between £2-4 million every week in terms of lost time caused by congestion
The Mayor’s election manifesto included a pledge to tackle congestion. Following his election the scheme was fine-tuned in order to meet demands from businesses, residents and a large number of other interested groups.
In February 2002 the final form of the scheme was announced, and the charge was introduced in February 2003. In February 2007 the charging zone was extended Westwards.
Congestion Charging is part of a wider, comprehensive transport strategy, which was published in July 2001.
(source : Transport for London website)
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