Mayor increases congestion charge to pay for £1.6bn TfL bailout

15 May 2020, 12:01

London's Mayor Sadiq Khan will be increasing tube fares and bringing back the congestion charge
London's Mayor Sadiq Khan will be increasing tube fares and bringing back the congestion charge. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

London's congestion charge will increase by 30 per cent next month and will run for seven days a week, as the Mayor tried to find ways to pay for the capital's transport system.

On Thursday the Government confirmed a £1.6bn bailout of Transport for London (TfL) after fares income fell by 90 per cent since the coronavirus pandemic began.

As we reported earlier, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan accused the Department for Transport (DfT) of "making ordinary Londoners pay the cost for doing the right thing on Covid-19".

On Thursday the Mayor told LBC, TfL would require a Government bailout by the end of the day to prevent them having to cut down services.

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Under the terms of a Government bailout, Sadiq Khan must also end his fares freeze, which will see tickets for buses and Tube travel rise above inflation from January.

Though the congestion charge was suspended on March 23 to help key workers to move around safely under lockdown, it is due to be re-introduced on Monday (19) at the pre-lockdown cost.

Free travel for 1.5 million London schoolchildren will be temporarily axed this summer and over-60s will no longer be able to travel for free at peak times, the Evening Standard reported.

Read more: Sadiq Khan hits out at TfL bailout which will 'make Londoners pay for doing right thing'

City Hall said the Congestion Charge, Ultra Low Emission Zone and Low Emission Zone will be reinstated on Monday, May 18.

Read more: Government faces pressure over plans to reopen schools

The charge for using congestion zone will increase from £11.50 a day to £15 from 22 June and the hours of operation will also be extended to run from 7am to 10pm, seven days a week, as opposed to just weekdays.

A City Hall spokesperson said: "As a Government condition of TfL funding deal it is proposed to review the Congestion Charge. As a temporary measure and to support the transformation of London’s streets, it is proposed that the Congestion Charge will increase to £15 next month and the hours of operation extended."

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The Mayor's office also added that "public transport must now be a last resort."

Transport for London will also temporarily extend the congestion charge reimbursement scheme for NHS and care home workers.

The transport body will also bring back fares on the capital's buses, which had previously been suspended as part of a move to protect bus drivers.

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Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, said: “Covid-19 poses the biggest challenge to London’s public transport network in TfL’s history. It will take a monumental effort from all Londoners to maintain safe social distancing on public transport as lockdown restrictions are gradually eased.

“That means we have to keep the number of people using public transport as low as possible. And we can’t see journeys formerly taken on public transport replaced with car usage because our roads would immediately become unusably blocked and toxic air pollution would soar.

“I ask that Londoners do not use public transport unless it is absolutely unavoidable – it must be a last resort. If you can work from home you should continue to do so. We should all spend more of our leisure time in our local areas too.”

“We will need many more Londoners to walk and cycle to make this work. That’s why these plans will transform parts of central London to create one of the largest car-free areas in any capital city in the world.

“If we want to make transport in London safe, and keep London globally competitive, then we have no choice but to rapidly repurpose London’s streets for people. By ensuring our city’s recovery is green, we will also tackle our toxic air which is vital to make sure we don’t replace one public health crisis with another. I urge all boroughs to work with us to make this possible.

“I fully appreciate that this will be incredibly difficult for many Londoners. It will mean a fundamental reimagining how we live our lives in this city. And this transformation will not be smooth. But I promise to be as clear and upfront with Londoners as possible about what we are doing, why and exactly what we need from you in order to keep us safe.”

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