I will never forget the first time I drove into London’s congestion charge zone and didn’t even realise till a week or so later when a fine awaited me at my front door. This article will prevent that from ever happening to you.
Where is the Congestion Charge in London? The London congestion charge zone, which the public calls it, covers much of the central area of London. This includes the City – which is also known as “the Square Mile”- and the West End with all its shops, pubs, theatres, restaurants, etcetera! Use our map below to make sure you avoid it or know when you’re entering it.
Read on as there are many more valuable tips and info on the London congestion charge subject.
What is the Congestion Charge in London all about?
The Congestion Charge is a payment charged mainly to car drivers entering central London. Its main aim is to reduce traffic volume that enters London’s specific areas and release traffic congestion and air pollution. Besides, it has been a welcomed source of income for further public transport activities.
The charge is in operation on weekdays only from 07:00 to 18:00 and not at the weekend, Bank Holidays, or those days between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day when there is less traffic.
The charge was an idea that began in 2003 following extensive research and consultations. It has been a success since its introduction, despite some minor adjustments made to it over time. The most recent change came when Mayor Boris Johnson took office at the start of 2008- he introduced legislation that removed all aspects of this extension by December 2010.
Why does London need the Congestion Charge?
London was the worst city for traffic congestion in Europe and one of the top contenders worldwide. The Congestion Charge encourages motorists to use other modes of transport like public transportation or cycling instead, which has dramatically helped London become a leader in sustainable urban development.”
The council put this measure into place because they were concerned that all these cars are causing too much congestion on their roads, which leads to severe problems with air quality and people experiencing health issues due to breathing polluted air from vehicles emitting particulates from diesel engines so they decided there should be some incentive or penalty system that would discourage individuals from driving alone during peak hours (7-10 am) or else pay £21.50 per day.
How Does the Congestion Charge Work?
The fee enables motorists to drive around, leave and re-enter the charging zone as many times per day as they like.
The tollbooth is a thing of the past. Now, drivers are paying to register their Vehicle Registration Number (VRN) on a database for them to be able to enter or exit designated zones during charging hours. Cameras read and check vehicle numbers against this database before issuing an access permit that lasts 24 hours in most peruse cases- meaning if someone were to drive within the zone but never leave… they’ll have been charged you twice!
The information provided by cameras will record number plates as vehicles enter, leave, or drives around these areas where charges exist. Once it passes through one of those three states, its VRN gets written into both databases simultaneously, so there’s no chance for fraud.(:
Why not pay for your daily charge before or on the day of travel?
How to Pay for the Congestion Charge
There are many ways to do so. You can pay by
- By telephone
- Text message
- By post
It just takes a few minutes – what’s the worst that could happen?
You can also pay by Congestion Charging AutoPay. This automated payment system has a discounted daily charge rate of £10.50 for drivers who register with TfL to use the service.
Then they will automatically record how many charging days your vehicle travels within the charging zone each month and bill you for them monthly – it’s simple!
What if I don’t pay the London Congestion Charge?
- A £160 Fine will be issued
- £80 if paid within 14 days
If you drive within the congestion charge area in central London, you have until midnight of the following charging day to make a payment, or a Penalty Charge notice of £160 will be sent out to you by post. This penalty is reduced to £80 if paid within 14 days.
Map of the Congestion Charge in London
Be prepared when you’re entering the congestion charge zones. There are signs both on the roads themselves and with signposts, but still see the map below to now in advance.
Here are the areas the Congestion charge in London covers:
- Charing Cross
- City of London
- Covent Garden
- London Bridge
- St. James’s
- St. Pancras
- Partial areas of Marylebone, Lambeth, and Southwark.
How Much is the Congestion Charge in London
How much is the Congestion Charge? The Congestion Charge is £15. It applies between 7.00 and 22.00 Monday to Sunday and is free only on Christmas day.
Day of the Week Congestion Charge Fee Time
Monday to Sunday £15.00 7.00 to 22.00
Christmas Day FREE 00.00 to 00.00
Who are Exempt from Paying the Congestion Charge
Discounts and exemptions are available to specific categories of vehicles.
The following types will be automatically exempt:
- wheelchair accessible private hire vehicles
- DVLA licensed vehicles with nine seats or more
- 90% Discount to Residents
Congestion Charge Fleet Scheme
You might be wondering why a business would want to register for the Congestion Charging Fleet Scheme. Well, it’s straightforward! If you are a company that operates six vehicles or more. You can pay £10.50 per day instead of paying £15.00 every time you drive into Central London during peak hours (7 am-9 am and 4 pm-6 pm).
What is the Congestion Charge Money Spent towards?
The Congestion Charge has significantly impacted public transportation in London, but there’s still more to be done.
The Congestion Charge has proved to be one of the most effective and efficient ways to reduce traffic congestion across London. The revenue generated from this charge continues to go towards further improvements that will further benefit citizens by making the roads safer and less congested and air healthier to breathe in.
Congestion charging is a valuable contribution to London’s transport network due to the reduced congestion, cleaner air, and safer roads. The Congestion Charge’s primary aim was to cut traffic levels and congestion for better transportation services and provide less travel time on delays from cars clogging up lanes with exhaust fumes.
With a 27% reduction in traffic entering central London daily, the scheme has proved to be very successful and is here to stay. Also, the cycling rates in the Congestion Charging zone have gone up by a whopping 66% since its introduction, and that can’t be a bad thing at all.