The Freight Transport Association has accused Transport for London of deliberately announcing an above-inflation rise in London’s daily congestion charge on the same day as the comprehensive spending review to hide the news.
Natalie Chapman, FTA’s head of policy for London, said: “TfL has not only ignored our concerns and gone ahead with a policy of completely unreasonable price hikes, but has done so on the same day as the biggest public spending cuts in decades were announced. Given the dire business implications that the £2 rises will represent to businesses, we suspect that this in not purely a coincidence.”
The FTA had urged TfL to immediately cap the current rate for commercial fleet operators at £7 and consider different charging levels for essential business journeys and discretionary private car journeys.
The changes announced yesterday that will come into effect from 4 January go against these suggestions, with charges increasing to:
• £10 if paid in advance or on the day of travel
• £9 if registered for the new congestion charging auto pay system (charged in arrears) or the fleet scheme (where payment is upfront)
Chapman said: “Some businesses will be able to qualify for a discount under the fleet scheme, but given the additional constraints that paying up front has on cash flow, a freeze on the current fee would have been more appropriate. After all, individual motorists can pay for their fees in arrears under the Charging Auto Pay scheme but are entitled to the same discount being applied to commercial vehicle operators.
“TfL has deliberately tried to wrong foot the industry to get these charges in without anyone noticing and it has done nothing to justify why they are even being imposed. It could be that TfL needs to look more closely at controlling its operating costs, but quite why commercial vehicle operators should be picking up the tab is unclear.”