By Jessie Matthewson, Local Democracy Reporter
London’s congestion charge will rise on Monday and longer hours will be introduced, Sadiq Khan has confirmed.
The mayor said the changes are a temporary response to the coronavirus pandemic.
From next week, the daily fee to travel in the central London zone will be £15 per vehicle.
Operating hours will be extended from 7am until 6pm on week days to 7am until 10pm seven-days-a-week.
The residents’ discount, which saves local people 90 per cent of the fee, will also be closed to new applicants from August 1.
But Transport for London (TfL) has now made charity workers and some council staff exempt from the charge – a major concession to previous plans.
NHS staff and care workers are already exempt from the congestion charge during the coronavirus outbreak, and can continue to claim reimbursement.
The levy was initially paused during lockdown to help key workers avoid public transport on their commute – but was reintroduced on May 18.
Bringing back the charge was one of the conditions of a Government bailout of TfL agreed last month.
Ministers also told the mayor to urgently bring forward proposals to widen the scope and levels of the congestion charge.
Traffic in the city centre has already surged back to pre-pandemic levels, and could double as lockdown eases without a higher payment, TfL has warned.
But the network believes raising the fee could cut traffic by a third – and see air pollution drop by as much as 11 per cent in toxic air black spots.
Mayor Khan said the changes would keep roads moving for essential trips in the capital.
“Coronavirus continues to present our city with unprecedented challenges,” he said.
“But I am determined to ensure that we emerge from this pandemic with a cleaner, greener and more sustainable transport system.
“The reality is that due to social distancing requirements public transport can only carry a fraction of the number of passengers compared to pre-pandemic levels – even when we are back to running completely full services.
“While capacity on the network needs to be preserved for those people who need it most, we can’t allow journeys that were previously taken on public transport to be replaced with car trips.”
Liberal Democrat London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon welcomed the exemption for charities – something she had been pushing for.
She said: “Volunteers and charities who are doing such important work helping vulnerable people during the pandemic should be helped, not hindered.
“The changes announced are very welcome – I just regret that that they have taken so long to be introduced.”
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