By Bronwyn Cook
It currently costs a staggering £10 (!) to enter the congestion zone that surrounds London’s central hub and is set to rise by an additional £1.50 by the 16th June. With the total cost of living unlikely to drop anytime soon throughout the UK, those entering London’s inner zone can be forgiven for feeling the squeeze. So what can be done to circumvent this charge whilst still sampling the delights of our capital’s culture? Lowering Emissions to Lower Expenses Through driving a greener vehicle with lower emissions (no more than 75g/km) a 100% discount can be attained.
Alternatively, if the vehicle is considered under the Euro 5 Standard regarding air quality, again free entry into the zone is achievable. Granted the majority of vehicles that provide this are hybrids this reflects the Government’s incentive for a greener London. Suitable models that meet this criteria include the Toyota Prius Plug-in and Nissan Leaf. Mini Bus and Coaches Go Free! For those vehicles with 9 seats or more exemption is granted but only if the vehicle is firstly registered and the £10 fee is paid annually. Peculiar as this is (we doubt most commuters won’t be doing so in a 9 seater) this provides the grace needed by mini bus and coach companies to make inroads into the heart of the Capital without incurring additional expenses.
With the average coach four times cleaner than a car this gives the local environment and air quality a grateful boost. Jay Raja from Compare A Coach commented “coach travel is safer and cleaner than both car and train travel whilst offering unparalleled levels of comfort for tourists to see London the best way”. Alternatively, park and ride or parking outside the zone and using the tube are alternatives for savvy tourists. The Shorter The Vehicle The Better Motorbikes, mopeds and motortricyles that are 1 metre or less wide are eligible for a 100% discount. With registration for the latter, your best vehicle photographs are required and a £10 one off fee.
Know Your Rights If you are disabled or provide primary transportation for someone who is, the granting of a Blue Badge provides 100% exemption from charges. Up to two vehicles can be registered and on receiving the approval letter you are ready to go. If all else fails living within the congestion zone makes you eligible for a 90% reduction, just remember to never leave!