The congestion charge will be hiked to £15 a day under the Government’s coronavirus bail-out for London’s transport system, the Evening Standard can reveal.
The central London levy, suspended on March 23 as part of the lockdown to make it easier for key workers to get to work safely, will be re-introduced on Monday, about two weeks earlier than expected.
It will increase from £11.50 to £15 – a 30 per cent hike – from June 22 and be enforced seven days a week, rather than just on weekdays at present. Its operating hours will temporarily extended in the evening from 6pm to 10pm. The charge will continue to be levied from 7am.
The changes are among the conditions imposed on mayor Sadiq Khan and Transport for London in return for the £1.6 billion bail-out agreed last night .
A reimbursement scheme that was already in place for NHS staff will be extended to care home workers.
The £12.50-a-day ultra-low emission zone (Ulez), which was suspended alongside the C-charge, will also be reintroduced on Monday. It applies 24/7 to drivers of older, more polluting petrol and diesel vehicles.
Tube and bus fares will rise above inflation from January. Free travel for 1.5 million London schoolchildren will be temporarily axed while the Government works out how schools should be reopened.
“Urgent discussions” are underway to hammer out the full details on how the restrictions on free travel for Under-18s will be imposed.
Londoners who have a Freedom Pass – used by one million adults who are over 60 to travel free on the Tube and buses – will be suspended during the morning and evening rush hours. Disabled passengers will not lose their free travel passes.
Mayor Sadiq Khan said the Government bail-out, which includes TfL taking on £505m of debt, would allow services to keep running for the next four-and-a-half months. It was needed because coronavirus had a “catastrophic impact on TfL’s finances”. Income was predicted to drop £4 billion by the end of the financial year.
Mr Khan said: “I want to be completely honest and upfront with Londoners – this is not the deal I wanted. But it was the only deal the Government put on the table and I had no choice but to accept it to keep the Tubes and buses running.
“This deal is a sticking plaster. Over the next few months we will have to negotiate a new funding model with Government – which will involve either permanent funding from Government or giving London more control over key taxes so we can pay for it ourselves – or a combination of both.
Full details of the curbs on free travel – which are expected to include the temporary but day-long removal of the ability of teenagers to travel for free on buses and at a discounted rate on the Tube – are expected in the next four to six weeks.
The Ulez will be reintroduced on Monday (PA)
The hike in the C-charge and extension of its operating hours are expected to cut traffic in the zone by a third. The levy was last increased, from £10 to £11.50, in 2014.
The 90 per cent C-charge discount for residents living within the zone will temporarily end for new applications.
Drivers who pay the C-charge by direct debit will no longer receive a £1 a day discount. All C-charge changes are subject to an “impact assessment” to ensure disadvantaged Londoners do not suffer further unintended detriment.
The changes also include the creation of “one of the world’s largest car-free zones” in central London as part of new measures to encourage walking and cycling and improve air quality.
UK begins to return to work as Coronavirus restrictions are eased
Londoners were told to use public transport as a “last resort”, to continue to work from home where possible for the “foreseeable future”, and to “stay local” for leisure activities.
Some central London streets will become walking and cycling only, with others banning all traffic except buses, under the Mayor’s Streetspace measures.
Streets between London Bridge and Shoreditch, Euston and Waterloo and Old Street and Holborn may be limited to buses, pedestrians and cyclists to help boost safe and sustainable travel.
Cars and lorries may be banned from Waterloo Bridge and London Bridge, with pavements widened to enable social distancing by Tube and rail passengers.
TfL is also working with the City of London Corporation to improve routes between Old Street and Bank, and between Cannon Street and Holborn to Bank for walking and cycling.
Sadiq Khan urges people to wear face masks as thousands get back to work
Mr Khan said: “We can’t see journeys formerly taken on public transport replaced with car usage because our roads would immediately become unusably blocked and toxic air pollution would soar.
“We will need many more Londoners to walk and cycle to make this work. That’s why these plans will transform parts of central London to create one of the largest car-free areas in any capital city in the world.
“If we want to make transport in London safe, and keep London globally competitive, then we have no choice but to rapidly repurpose London’s streets for people. I urge all boroughs to work with us to make this possible.
“I fully appreciate that this will be incredibly difficult for many Londoners. It will mean a fundamental reimagining how we live our lives in this city. And this transformation will not be smooth. But I promise to be as clear and upfront with Londoners as possible about what we are doing, why and exactly what we need from you in order to keep us safe.”
A Whitehall source told the Standard that the Mayor asked for £2 billion but was beaten down to accepting £1.1 billion in cash plus £505 million in loans.
“We were always prepared to put more money into keeping Tubes and bus services running in London and helping the travelling public stay safe from coronavirus,” said the source.
“But we were not prepared to accept ludicrous demands from a profligate mayor and this money comes with many strings attached.”