Congestion Charge coming soon
It is only two months until Ken Livingstone extends his congestion charge zone into Kensington and Chelsea, despite widespread opposition from the Council and a Transport for London (TfL) consultation that showed only 24 per cent of London residents support the scheme.
So how will the extension work, what will it mean for residents and businesses in the borough and how will the Council monitor its impact?
When will it operate?
The extended Congestion Charge Zone will come into force on 19 February 2007. Those affected will be drivers entering or travelling within the central London and extended zone between 7am and 6pm on weekdays. The charge will not operate on public holidays and the days between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
How will it operate?
If you drive within the expanded Congestion Charge Zone during charging hours, you will be liable to pay the charge. The charge is payable daily (£8), weekly (£40), monthly (£136) and annually (£1,696).
However, the Council has successfully negotiated a 90 per cent discount for all Royal Borough residents (including those who live outside the enlarged Congestion Charge Zone).
The £8 charge is payable by midnight on the day of travel. If the charge is paid the following day before midnight no penalty will be incurred, but the charge will increase to £10. Vehicles spotted by the cameras, and not paid for or registered as exempt will incur a £100 fine, reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days.
Where will it operate?
The extended scheme will include the area to the west of the current zone, broadly bound by Harrow Road, the West Cross Route, the Earl’s Court one way system and Chelsea Embankment. The Inner Ring Road, as a route around the current charging zone will stay free-of-charge.
How will it affect residents?
Residents’ discounts will be available for weekly (£4), monthly (£16) or annual (£201.60) payments. If you register before 19 January 2007, you will receive your 90 per cent residents’ discount without having to pay the £10 registration fee. By registering early, it will also mean you can drive into the existing zone at the discounted rate before the zone extends to the west.
To apply, see TfL Congestion Charging or telephone 0845 900 1234.
How will it affect businesses?
Businesses will face an additional cost to operate vehicles in the borough. Businesses and other organisations that operate a fleet of vehicles can join TfL’s automated fleet scheme. The scheme allows vehicles registered on it to pay a reduced rate of £7 a day for driving into the zone.
The Council’s role
The Council continues to believe that the Earl’s Court One Way System is not the best boundary. It will monitor the impact of the extended zone and if the information supports this view, it will be used to press the Council’s case.
The Council has carried out surveys that show traffic flows in the borough before the zone has been extended and it will be doing the same from February onwards.
The Council will monitor inside and outside the zone and look at TfL’s own traffic counts. New Automatic Traffic Counters have already been installed by the Council and they will give a clearer indication of the extension’s impact.
The Council has asked TfL to build new or improved pedestrian facilities and to make sure that, on the boundary roads, conditions for pedestrians are not made worse.
Air quality monitoring
The Council has been monitoring air quality on the Earl’s Court Road since 2002. This gives the Council a good starting point for assessing the effects of the congestion charge when it is extended.
The Council has been concerned for some time about the impact the extension will have on air quality in the area. TfL’s own modelling shows a predicted increase in pollution. The Council has put in a bid to TfL for an additional piece of monitoring equipment to be installed on the Earl’s Court Road. If this bid is successful, it would enable the Council to monitor levels of pollution in a far more detailed manner.
The Council already has extensive data on how full its parking bays are and will review the whole borough after February to assess new levels of demand. It is thought that visitor bays will be less full during the week as motorists will be less willing to enter the zone. However, as the charge does not cover the weekend, the Council expects the bays to be back to capacity at the weekends.
The Council is also to become the first local authority in London to introduce permit-only motorcycle bays, as demand for motorcycle parking has increased significantly since the introduction of the congestion charge in 2003. It is almost certain to continue to increase when the Congestion Charge Zone is extended.
The Council has long been pressing for more bus routes that pass from the north to the south of the borough and will continue to do so. Although TfL has increased bus provision, the Council does not believe that it has gone far enough and that the changes do not address the long-standing problems of north to south movement in the borough.
This is of particular importance as more and more people are likely to use the bus once the extension comes into force. In a direct response to the Council’s representations, TfL will be consulting on two new bus routes but the Council is concerned that they may not be in place until after the extension.
As always, we are interested to learn your thoughts on the congestion charge extension.
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