Congestion Charge Becomes Emissions Charge in London ~ Hybrid Car Review
Hybrid Car Review: Congestion Charge Becomes Emissions Charge in London

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Congestion Charge Becomes Emissions Charge in London

Big Ben in LondonLondon mayor has modified the congestion rules once again, tripling the charge to those who drive cars and trucks that emit more than 225 grams of CO2/kilometer. They will charged £25 (around $49) just to drive downtown for the day.

Those driving low-emission vehicles like the Toyota Prius or Ford Focus can have the fee waived completely. But their exemption will be coming to an end. New registrations will close in October, and exemptions will cease in 2010. Toyota Prius sales have skyrocketed in London, partly in result to being exempt to the waiver.

Mayor Livingstone plans on implementing the changes on Oct 27. Livingstone estimates 81 percent of drivers will will continue to pay the current fee of £8, while 17 percent will face the higher charge. Around 2 percent will go free.

"Nobody needs to damage the environment by driving a gas-guzzling Chelsea tractor in central London," Mr Livingstone said.

Before congestion charging began on 17 February, 2003, 334,000 vehicles entered the zone each day. Transport for London says traffic entering the zone is down by 21 per cent, with 70,000 fewer vehicles a day entering central London.

In the western extension of the zone, which has covered the boroughs of Kensington and much of Westminster since last February, traffic decreased by up to 15 per cent in a year.

The new changes are being attacked by Federation of Master Builders (FMB), which criticizes Transport for London for failing to consider the needs of consumers and builders who need to enter London’s congestion zone to carry out essential repairs.

The FMB fears the new charge could be detrimental to the industry's ability to maintain the fabric of London’s built environment.

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