TfL Proves the Congestion Charge Has Absolutely Nothing to Do With the Environment

By Sam Gibbs on at

Right now, hybrids like the Prius, as well as super-efficient diesels, are exempt from London's pricy Congestion Charge, but TfL's latest proposals to rake in another £2 million a year aim to change that. Got a tiny diesel or a hybrid? You'll have to pay a tenner a day just to drive in London, and that plain stinks of yet more government money grubbing.

When the Congestion Charge was first introduced, along with the Low Emission Zone introduced later covering a large swath of London, it was billed as cutting congestion in the city and potentially reducing the pollution in the air we breathe on a daily basis. It was used as an incentive to steer people away from horrendous Chelsea tractors, and towards fuel-efficient cars like the Toyota Prius. Later, when super-efficient low carbon diesels became popular, they got a good kick from Charge-avoidance too. It was good -- great for the environment and the advancement of eco-tech alike.

But cynics assumed the real reason for TfL's stinking Congestion Charge was to rape motorists ever more of their hard earned cash. These proposals go ahead and confirm what we they, and increasingly me, all thought. TfL's really only in it for the damn money.

It may not seem like a big deal to those who don't live in London, but hear this. London's being used as a guinea pig here -- if it works in London, which TfL obviously thinks it does, other cities will follow suit, and some already have. Durham's apparently got one, and Manchester tried to implement one too. Do you fancy being charged £10 a day just to drive in your city, and hell, if you happen to live in the zone, you even have to pay if you don't move your damn car.

The only cars that are likely to be exempt from the Congestion Charge going forward are electric vehicles, which is about the only ray of sunshine in this dark cloud of Whitehall stealth taxation. Motoring groups are, of course, absolutely incensed, and I have to say, I am too. I can't say I'm particularly enamoured with hybrids -- a needless evolutionary stop-gap in the procession to electric or fuel-cell cars -- but by cutting their subsidy, TfL's killed one of the biggest reasons to buy a more fuel-efficient vehicle for travel in the city. If you can't skip the charge, hell, you might as well plunk for a Range Rover, if you can afford one that is. [Telegraph]

Image credit: Congestion Charge from Shutterstock