Government reportedly wants them to extend zone to North and South Circulars
The government is reportedly demanding a huge extension of the Congestion Charge Zone in London as a condition of providing funding to Transport for London (TfL).
According to a report by Sky News, the next tranche of financial support needed to cover lost revenue due to the drop in passenger numbers is being made conditional on a number of changes including more fare increases and the scrapping of free travel for children and older people as well as the congestion charge being enlarged to all of London within the North and South Circulars.
The £1billion funding being asked for will only cover two months of operating costs but without it TfL faces the prospect of having to issue a Section 14 notice which means it would only be able to operate a basic service.
An emergency meeting of TfL's finance committee is due to be held but a source close to the Mayor has been quoted as saying that a £15 daily charge for cars entering a zone within the North and South Circulars and the loss of free travel for children and the elderly would be ‘totally unacceptable’.
Senior Labour party figures in London claim that the government is deliberately playing brinkmanship with TfL to make them implement a series of unpopular measures that would undermine Sadiq Khan in the next Mayoral election.
The government made the last tranche of funding to TfL conditional on it having the right to nominate two board members one of which is Andrew Gilligan, the Prime Minister’s transport advisor who is widely seen as the main proponent of the radical traffic schemes that the government is currently trying to get London boroughs to implement.
The Department for Transport (DfT) has appointed KPMG, the accountancy firm, to conduct the review of TfL's business plan and funding requirements.
A TfL spokesperson said, "We continue to discuss our immediate funding requirements with the government and hope these discussions can be concluded successfully soon, so we can help London through this next phase of the pandemic.
"We are doing what we can to minimise costs and aim to continue operating a full service across our network while our funding discussions continue."
The DfT said, "The government continues to engage with Transport for London and the mayor on the impacts of COVID-19 on TfL's finances.
"These discussions are ongoing and will ensure London has a safe, reliable network while delivering a fair deal to UK taxpayers.
"Discussions are underway, and it would be inappropriate to disclose further details at this stage."
We have asked TfL for comment on the possibility of a Congestion Charge extension.
October 16, 2020