London Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced plans to reduce the operating hours of the Congestion Charge at an estimated cost of £70 million per year while London’s public transport faces severe cuts and fare rises.
His decision to permit reductions in operating time – and subsequent loss of income – follows just a day after announcing plans to increase council tax which will disproportionately impact upon poorer Londoners.
He claimed that was essential to raise income for TfL – yet that rise is entirely wiped out by his congestion charge move today.
He also seeks to end Travelcards being used on TfL services thus encouraging those from beyond London to drive into the centre of the city each evening.
Another pro-car move is to remove the congestion charge throughout the entire Christmas and New Year period – while no free new years travel on TfL transport is being provided this year.
While there is usually a break from the Congestion Charge, this year’s gap is the longest there’s ever been, which Khan’s deputy Mayor was happy to boast about today.
Following his strong support for the Silvertown Tunnel and continual willingness to ignore questions about it (note how he never responds or talks about increased afternoon congestion throughout Greenwich borough upon completion according to TfL), it’s revealing how his platitudes often fall apart when it comes to action.
TfL will be spending over £100 million in coming years on the tunnel. Around £2 billion is funded by a PFI type deal with tolls, yet TfL are to spend £175 million in addition.
Even the bus argument falls apart when looking into details. The bus lane is shared with HGVs and ends immediately at the tunnel exit pushing buses into four lanes of increased traffic. That along with wider congestion predicted by TfL will hardly make bus use appealling.
Yet forcing tax rises through one of the most regressive forms of taxation a mere day before allowing drivers to avoid the congestion charge goes even further to show his words are not matched by action. After all, how many poorer Londoners are driving into Zone 1 in the evenings?