London’s ULEZ and Congestion Charge Are Back In Effect

London’s ULEZ and Congestion Charge have been reintroduced today after having been suspended due to the coroanvirus crisis…

London’s Road Charges Are Back

The capital’s ULEZ and Congestion charges have been reintroduced today (May 18th) as Transport for London begins to relax coronavirus measures. The charges were temporarily suspended on March 23rd; in a move designed to assist key workers as they avoided public transport. Car parking restrictions were also relaxed. According to the Evening Standard, the charges have been reintroduced two weeks earlier than was originally planned. In addition, the newspaper has claimed that the Congestion Charge will be raised from £11.50 to £15 from June 22nd. It’ll also be enforced seven days a week, rather than just on weekends. Operating hours in the evening will also be extended from 6pm to 10pm. The morning start time of 7am, however, will remain in place.

Tough Times For TfL

These changes come at a time when TfL’s finances have been hit by a steep decline in passenger numbers. Mike Brown, London Transport Commissioner, spoke of the challenges faced by the organisation. He said, “enormous challenges remain. Including agreeing longer term sustainable funding for transport in the capital”. The government has recently announced a £1.6 billion financial package to support TfL.

The reintroduction of the ULEZ and Congestion Charge two weeks ahead of original plans is bound to raise eyebrows. Whilst the number of people contracting coronavirus in London has declined significantly, it’s definitely not in the clear. One might be tempted to argue that Londoners have, on the whole, been better at obeying lockdown measures than many people expected; driving instead of using public transport and working from home instead of from offices. As a consequence, state and government bodies, including TfL, are haemorrhaging money. As it stands, it looks as though it’s Londoners that are set to pick up the bill. Raising the congestion charge is also bound to be controversial; critics argue that it targets the poorest drivers and essentially forces them off of the road. Even more disturbingly, it may force some of them back onto public transport before it’s really safe to do so.

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