Transport for London has announced it is preparing to shrink the London congestion zone to its original 2003 footprint under orders from Mayor Boris Johnson.
The proposed changes, which would abolish the second phase ‘western extension’ of the congestion zone by Christmas 2010, are in the final stage of a public consultation and look likely to be given the green light.
It is thought that Transport for London could lose an estimated £55m a year in revenue from the zone shrinkage. To compensate the daily charge for the remaining zone will be forced to rise from £8 to £10 per day. Next day charging will also rise from £10 to £12.
As part of the proposals, Mayor Johnson is hoping to introduce a new automated pre-pay scheme, which should make paying the congestion charge easier and help drivers avoid being fined for non payment.
More importantly, the way cars are categorised for congestion charge exemption is also changing. Currently, motorcycles, electric vehicles and all petrol-electric hybrid vehicles automatically receive a free travel ticket into the C-Charge zone.
But from 2011, all cars that, by any means, emit less than 100g/km of CO2 and meet the other Euro V emissions standards will get a 100% exemption from the charge.
That means that cars as varied as the all-electric Nissan Leaf and Ford Fiesta TDCI Econetic will all be able enter the zone for free. It also means that owners of hybrid vehicles like the Honda Insight and Lexus RX450h, who had formerly been exempt from the charge, will now have to pay. This is because, although they are hybrid vehicles their emissions are above the 100g/km threshold – the Insight emits 109g/km and the RX450h 148g/km.
Follow Which? Car on Twitter
The Which? Car team is on Twitter, to offer you help and advice as and when you need it.
We’re monitoring our Twitter account every day, so if you have an account, please send us you thoughts and questions to @whichcar.
Don’t worry if you haven’t got a Twitter account – you can still stay in the loop by regularly checking www.twitter.com/whichcar.