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Scheme Design

Congestion Charging was introduced in Central London on 17th February 2003. The Western Extension was implemented on 19th February 2007. Capita Group is currently responsible for certain operational aspects of the scheme under contract to TfL. In late 2009 the functions undertaken by Capita Group will pass to IBM.

The central London Congestion Charging Zone covers a total area of approximately 42 square kilometres. The ‘original’ 2003 zone covers approximately 22 square kilometres and the Western Extension covers a further 20 square kilometres .

Figure 2 2 shows the Congestion Charging Zone implemented in 2003 – that includes The City of London, most of City of Westminster and parts of the boroughs of Lambeth, Southwark, Camden, Islington, Hackney and Tower Hamlets and the Western Extension, introduced in 2007 – that includes Kensington & Chelsea, further parts of the City of Westminster and a small part of Hammersmith & Fulham.

Figure 2 2 - Central London Congestion Charging Zone (including the Western Extension)

At a strategic level the London Congestion Charge is a traffic management scheme. Its clear intention is to control traffic flow in the Central area of London. It is the largest fully operational existing Congestion Charging scheme in the United Kingdom.
Users pay a daily charge to enter the Charging Zone. They can then exit and enter as many times as they like during the day. The charge is operational between the hours of 07:00 and 18:00 Monday to Friday.
The first stage of Congestion Charging was introduced in Central London on 17th February 2003. The charge was originally set at £5 (€6) per day which rose to £8 (€9.60) per day in July 2005. This assumes payment in advance of travel.

The daily charge

The Congestion Charge in London is currently an £8 (€9.60) basic daily charge for driving or parking a vehicle on public roads within the zone between the hours of 07:00 and 18:00, Monday to Friday . Payment of the daily charge allows drivers to drive within, exit and re-enter the charging zone as many times as desired in one day.
The £8 (€9.60) charge is applicable if paid before or after the journey on the day of travel, by midnight on the day of travel. If there is a further delay in paying the charge the fee rises to £10 (€12) if paid by midnight the following charging day. If the charge remains unpaid, a £120 (€144) penalty charge is sent to the registered keeper of the vehicle, which is reduced to £60 (€72) if paid within 14 days.
Advance payment discounts
There are further discounts for payment in advance of travel for monthly and annual trips - £136 (€163.20) per month and £1,696 (€2,035) per year and for vehicles registered on the Transport for London (TfL) ‘fleet scheme’.
Residents’ discounts
Residents within the charging zone receive a 90% discount on vehicles registered at an address within the charging zone .
Transport for London lists the following automatic (100%) exemptions from charging:

  • Two-wheeled motorbikes (and sidecars), mopeds and bicycles
  • Black cabs licensed with the Public Carriage Office (PCO)
  • Minicabs licensed with the PCO
  • Emergency Service vehicles - e.g. ambulances / fire engines
  • NHS vehicles that are exempt from road tax
  • Breakdown recovery vehicles
  • Vehicles used by disabled people that are exempt from vehicle excise duty (road tax) under the 'disabled' class
  • Vehicles for more than one disabled person (e.g. Dial-A-Ride) exempt from road tax
  • Public transport vehicles with nine or more seats that are listed within the taxation classes Buses or Reduced Pollution Buses

TfL also list 100% exemptions, subject to registration and a £10 (€12) administration fee, for electric, and bio-fuel vehicles.
The Congestion Charge is enforced through a network of cameras located at all entry and exit points to the charging zone, as well as at key locations within the zone.
These were until recently supplemented by mobile camera units and on-street patrols.
Vehicles observed within the charging zone for which a valid payment, exemption or discount is not found are subject to enforcement action. Keeper details are obtained from the appropriate vehicle licensing authority and a Penalty Charge Notice of £120 (€144) is sent to the registered keeper of the vehicle.