Increases in London Congestion Zone fines and penalties are a big headache for fleet firms, but vehicle tracking is a fast acting remedy.
From June 16 2014 the standard daily charge will rise 15% on from £10 to £11.50, while the fleet user charge would increase nearly 17% from £9 to £10.50.
That is a huge increase on the £5 a day fee, which was originally set when the congestion zone began at 7am on 17 February 2003 - the day when a network of closed-circuit television cameras started capturing the registration numbers of motorists entering the City or the West End.
The news may have been broken softly and largely forgotten in the six months since Transport for London first hinted at the proposed rise in London’s congestion charge, but in the next six months the reality could hit hard, especially for those fleet reliant businesses who will be effectively running blind in and out of the London congestion zone.
Last year, drivers handed over a staggering £252.4m in congestion charge payments to TfL who calculate the increase will yield a further £84m by the end of 2017/18. The charging zone was also extended to take in western Westminster, as well as Kensington and Chelsea.
And with the planned 2020 introduction of the London Ultra Emission Zone, which will almost certainly be based on the existing congestion charging zone, future increases in the number of penalty charge notices incurred by fleet drivers are expected.
Of course, the benefits for the nations capital are compelling. For example, there has been a 21 per cent reduction in the volume of traffic entering the congestion zone (70,000 fewer cars a day) and a six percent increase in the usage of buses, not to mention well over £100 million being raised each year to be invested in improving the city’s transport infrastructure.
However, congestion zone charges are something of a problem for fleet operators who need to cover an area such as London. In fact, it is estimated that 30,000 people each week forget to pay the London Congestion Charge. Many of these are drivers of fleet vehicles who cost their employers a considerable sum of money in fines. Although you only have to pay the charge if one of your vehicles enters the congestion zone, if they do enter it then you must remember to pay.
Whilst the initial penalty charge in London is £14 if paid by midnight the following night, failure to pay by then escalates to a £130 fine thereafter. Very often, drivers who are not used to driving in the city may not realise that they have entered the zone and could incur a fine.
Where drivers do not regularly enter the London Congestion Zone it would clearly be very useful for a fleet manager to be alerted in some way when one of his drivers has entered the congestion zone so that he can pay the fee and avoid costly fines.
To find out how we can counteract the risk of your drivers encroaching into the London congestion zone and also protect your business from unnecessary congestion charges click here or call us on 0845 521 1188.