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London congestion charging – find out what you need to know!


On Monday February 17 2003, London will become the first major city to charge car users in a central area a toll to drive within it. With the impact on both employers, employees and individuals a potentially huge one, we take a brief look at some of the key facts surrounding the scheme, and list some useful websites you can access for further information.

What is it, who pays and when?

The basic requirement is that all vehicles will need to pay a £5 fixed charge to enter the charging zone (see below) during the hours of 7am and 6.30pm Monday to Friday (there will be no charge on Public Holidays). There is an additional £5 surcharge if payment is not made by 10pm the same day.

Among those exempt from the charge are vehicles with 9 or more seats, motorbikes, drivers with disabilities and drivers of vehicles using alternative fuels. More information about who is exempt can be found here.

Why has it been introduced?

The aim of the charge is to try and reduce the sheer amount of traffic within the centre of London, raise money for public transport and to reduce the estimated £2m a week business are estimated to be using as a result of city centre jams.

Where is it operating?

The charge will apply within a central area of the city, bounded by Marylebone Road, Euston Road, Pentonville Road, City Road, Commercial Street, Tower Bridge Road, Kennington Lane, Vauxhall Bridge Road, Park Lane and Edgware Road. Click here for a map of the area affected.

How will drivers be monitored and how do they pay?

A network of cameras at each point of entry will record car registration numbers and these are matched automatically against a database to check whether the driver has paid to enter. Drivers can pay either in advance, during or after their journey either online, at selected shops and petrol stations, by post, telephone or by mobile ‘phone text message (find out more about how to pay here). Companies with fleet schemes of more than 25 vehicles can register to pre-pay, more information can be found here.

What happens if the payment isn’t made?

If you are due to pay and don’t a Penalty Charge Notice will be issued.

There is a wealth of websites dedicated to providing information on the subject – the following are worth a look:

Transport for London

Fleet News

The Commission for Integrated Transport

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