Congestion Charge to rise by 30% after TfL's government bailout

15 May 2020, 12:05 | Updated: 15 May 2020, 12:14

The Congestion Charge is rising by 30%
The Congestion Charge is rising by 30%. Picture: PA

By Adrian Sherling

The congestion charge in London is to increase by 30% next month - and will be enforced seven days a week.

The fee to drive into the centre of London, which has been waived throughout the lockdown, will rise from £11.50 to £15 a day.

The hours will also be extended. Currently, the fee is paid on travel from 07:00 to 18:00 on weekdays. From 22nd June, the new hours will be 07:00 to 22:00, seven days a week.

It follows the confirmation of a government bailout of Transport for London, which was agreed late last night to stop TfL being forced to cut services.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, says people should avoid commuting at all if possible.

He told LBC: "Many of us who have been able to work from home should continue to do so for the immediate future.

"Only if you really can't work from home and you have to return to work should you do so. Even then, please try to avoid the rush hours. We're speaking to employers and lobbying the government to try to persuade employers to stagger their start and end times.

LBC's Westminster Correspondent Ben Kentish questioned whether increasing the Congestion Charge would force people on to public transport.

He pointed out: "It's unclear how hiking congestion charge by 30% and extending hours fits with government urging people to drive to work if they can and avoid public transport.

"It would cost someone £75 a week in London just in congestion charges, basically incentivising them to use public transport.

"The whole point of the congestion charge is to disincentive car use, which in normal times makes sense.

"To reintroduce and then hike it in the middle of a pandemic when you’re trying to get people people to use their cars MORE would seem to make very little."

Sadiq Khan warns TfL will run out of money today without government grant

The story exploded yesterday when Sadiq Khan told James O'Brien on LBC that TfL would run out of money and start cutting services if a deal wasn't agreed by the end of the day.

He said: "We're the only transport system in Western Europe that gets no government grant. We're paid for ostensibly by the fares we bring in, the congestion charge and by advertising.

"Over the last two months, we've lost more than 90% of our fares, advertising is down and so is the congestion charge. We've been spending £600million a month to offer services and get nothing back.

"At the start of this crisis, we had a cash reserve of more than £2.1billion. That's running out.

"We're required by law to keep two months' worth of money in reserve to pay for services.

"We've been involved in weeks and weeks of negotiations with the government and it is really hard to get support from them.

"Being blunt, today is the last day.

"Unless the government today gives us confirmation of the grant that we need, the consequences could be quite severe and the implications for all of us will be huge.

"I'm hoping the government today agrees a grant for TfL to help us to do our bit to help. But if they don't, I'm very concerned about the consequences.

"We'll have to start reducing services. The only way to balance the books is to cut services."