Do you ever drive through London for reasons other than "it's your job"? Well what's wrong with you, why would you do that to yourself? Not only are London's roads horrendously busy, going into the centre means you have to contend with the congestion charge. Don't go claiming you're OK because you have an 18 year old Prius. Transport for London proposed tightening the congestion charge exemption criteria from next April, and it could mean your old hybrid might become ineligible.
The proposal is quite simple currently the Ultra-Low Emission discount allows vehicles emitting less than 75g/km of carbon dioxide to enter the congestion charge zone without having to pay - provided they meet Euro 6 emissions limits. The proposed 'Cleaner Vehicle Discount' would keep all that as is, but would also add a requirement that exempt vehicles must have an electric range of at least 20 miles. So some older, traditional hybrid vehicles would fail to quality.
While it may seem irritating for hybrid owners, TfL estimates that 90 per cent of cars that are currently eligible for exemption will still qualify after next April. Assuming the proposals are accepted, that is. But things go a bit further than next year, with the proposals suggesting that only pure electric vehicles will qualify for exemption from 2021, followed by an abolishing discounts altogether from 2026. By then a lot more people will likely be driving electric cars anyway, and we don't want them all clogging up the roads do we?
TfL is also proposing taking away an exemption for private hire vehicles, which it claims will reduce emissions by 45 per cent and help improve access for buses. But, PHV that meet the Cleaner Vehicle Discount would naturally be exempt, as will those with wheelchair accessibility. Black Cabs will also be exempt, since they are legally bound to accept all fares under 12 miles and have no choice but to travel inside the congestion charge zone. They're also all wheelchair accessible.