Congestion Charge

City Congestion Charges

Motorists who travel within London’s Congestion Charge Zone (CCZ) and those within some other UK cities are charged a fee for doing so. The purpose of this car tax is to reduce the total amount of congestion seen throughout the city and to help raise monies for the ongoing maintenance and improvement of the city transport infrastructure system. Originally started in February of 2003 in central London, the zone had been extended into West London as of 2007 and was rolled out to other cities and is still being considered for expansion.

The London Congestion Charges project was not the first of its kind, but it is currently one of the largest in the world and several other nations and cities throughout the world have used London’s system as a basis of their own. Currently a charge of £8 is needed for each day a vehicle travels in the zone. If the fee is not paid, a ticket is issued with a fine attached. The fine ranges from 60 - £180. This program is administered by the Transport of London group and is run automatically by employing Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology.

Congestion Charge Payment Options

In order to make it simple for citizens to make their payments, there are several different ways to pay the fee. These include using the phone, website, SMS message, or Pay Point. Additionally, it is possible to pay the fee the day after for an increased price of £10. Commercial enterprises, with fleets of businesses can pay a single fee for the entire day which will cover all of their vehicles in the zone. They must present a registration document for each fleet vehicle to do this legally.

Congestion Charge Exempt Vehicles

The government has allowed for the exemption of some vehicles. These include buses, motorcycles, minibuses, police vehicles, green cares, fire engine, ambulances and taxis. These vehicles are all exempt from the charge, although in some cases the exemption is actually a 100% discount that still requires the vehicle to be registered. For residents of the zone, it is possible to receive a 90% discount if the entire week is paid for in advance. Foreign vehicles are not exempt from this charge, and there has been much debate as to whether embassy vehicles from foreign countries must pay the fees. There is some question as to whether the fee is a tax, which under the Vienna Convention foreign dignitaries would not have to pay, or a toll.

Car Monitoring System

The program is run through the use of automated systems. Closed Circuit Television cameras are used to record vehicles that enter and exit the zone. By using automatic number plate recognition, there is an accuracy rate of 90%. The system also uses many mobile camera units which can be placed randomly throughout the congestion one. Once a list of vehicle numbers has been complied, it is check against a list of paying customers. In the case that the system does not recognize a number, the number is manually checked. If a car is discovered in the zone and its owner is not on the list of paying users, a fine is implemented.

Under this the City Congestion Zone Charge system, people who drive through certain designated parts of the city are charged a daily fee for doing so. Because of the extremely high levels of congestion in London and the related smog and emissions problems that it created, the United Kingdom implemented this program in order to combat the problems and the degree of success has seen it rolled out to other areas. It was hoped that by charging a fee to drivers, they would be more likely to carpool or use public transportation instead of driving on the overly congested roads of London.

Congestion Charge Profile

The program has indeed seen a high degree of success and London’s program is now considered to be one of the best in the world. By implementing a system of fines for non compliance that are much higher than the relatively inexpensive daily fee, most Londoners comply with the program. There are, of course, people who attempt to thwart the system and get ‘free’ rides through the Congestion Charge Zone. The administration of this program has developed several pieces of software designed to automate the system and catch the ‘free riders.’ This system includes CCTV and Automatic Number Plate Recognition. The fees and fines collected under the program are used to maintain and improve the roadways of London.