London’s congestion charge could be extended to cover evenings and weekends and be applied to low emission vehicles to tackle rising congestion, the deputy mayor for transport has hinted.
Speaking at a hearing of the Commons Transport Committee, deputy mayor Val Shawcross suggested that the mayor’s forthcoming transport strategy, due in early May, might bring in changes to the charging regime, although more extensive changes would require new technology.
Congestion in London is getting worse
Ms Shawcross told MPs: ‘The obvious issue to look at is that the data is now telling us that congestion on the shoulders of the charging time – so the very early morning and in the evening after six o’clock and at weekends – is actually worse than during congestion charging hours.’
She added: ‘So, there will be things that we can be looking at but those are relatively short-term things; for the future, we do need to be looking at the technology we’ve got.’
Referring to the fact that the congestion charge is a single daily payment, she said: ‘What [the technology] doesn’t do, for example, is it doesn’t incentivise in any way journeys that come to an end.’
Asked by one MP whether, given that the charge was intended to tackle congestion, discounts for hybrid and low emission vehicles should continue, Ms Shawcross said: ‘we are keeping the congestion charge under active review and the mayor’s transport strategy will be the first really good opportunity to look at how that charge needs to be refreshed in its management.’
Ms Shawcross was also asked whether the charge should reflect areas of growth, such as vans and private hire vehicles (PHVs). She replied that while PHVs were causing a significant congestion problem, this was ‘not something we have enough leverage over’.
She added that both the current mayor, Sadiq Khan, and predecessor Boris Johnson had wanted to the right to cap the number of PHV licences. She said: ‘There clearly is a problem there and that’s something that we do need to be looking at.’
Asked by another MP whether evening deliveries of internet orders could be encouraged, Ms Shawcross said: ‘There are some tunes that can played around congestion charging.’