Wednesday 19 December 2018 4:53 pm

Minicab and Uber drivers to lose exemption from congestion charge

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Minicab and Uber drivers will no longer be exempt from the £11.50 congestion charge from April next year, Sadiq Khan announced today as part of his push to curb pollution levels.

TfL expects the changes to reduce the number of private hire vehicles entering the congestion zone each day by up to 8,000, a 44 per cent drop from current levels.

The congestion charge applies from Monday to Friday from 7am to 6pm and covers London’s central zone. The boundary stretches round King’s Cross, the city, the Imperial war museum and Buckingham palace.

Higher costs can be expected to hit operators as well as customers looking for a ride in the centre. Uber rival Addison Lee has previously come out with a prediction that the plans will cost it £4m a year. 

“We need private hire vehicles and taxis to play their part and help us clean up our filthy air,” said Sadiq Khan, who argued that "tough decisions" needed to be made in order to "protect the health and wellbeing of London".

Khan has also argued that scrapping the drivers' exemption is necessary to drive down congestion. TfL has said that the pace of the rise in private hire vehicles, which has been bolstered by ride-hailing apps such as Uber, had not been anticipated when the exemption was originally put in place 15 years ago.

The move can also be expected to generate some extra cash for TfL at a time when its revenues have been squeezed as a result of fare freezes and the continued delays hitting its Crossrail project.

The Licensed Private Hire Car Association set up a petition opposing the changes last month, which reached just under 10,000 signatures. Responding to the decision, the group said: "We will do everything we can to challenge this disappointing decision." 

"We do not agree that removing the congestion charge exemption for private hire drivers in London is indeed fair, nor going to reduce congestion."

An exception will be made for vehicles that are wheelchair accessible, while those that meet certain requirements will be eligible for a new type of cleaner vehicle discount.


Richard Dilks, transport director at London First, said: “The congestion charge has cut traffic in the capital, but London’s roads are still grinding to a halt.

“While it’s right to address the impact of private hire cars, in isolation it is not enough. London is Europe’s second most congested city, and after 15 years of the charge it’s time to modernise the entire system to make sure it continues to work for the capital well in to the future. That includes looking at how to tackle congestion and emissions together, help freight be even more efficient, and make bus journeys faster and more reliable.”

 

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