LONDON CONGESTION CHARGE: WHAT IS IT AND WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR PCO DRIVERS

January 13, 2022

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As a private hire driver, you should already know that PCO cars are no longer be exempt from paying Congestion Charge when driving in Central London. In order to help you maximise your Uber income, the Otto Team has put together a comprehensive guide to how the London Congestion Charge works and whether you are impacted or not. From the charging dates and hours to the types of Uber cars affected, read on to find out everything you need to know.

What is Congestion Charge?

The Congestion Charge was first introduced in 2003 by Transport for London (TfL) to reduce traffic congestion in Central London.

How much is the Congestion Charge?

You need to pay a £15 daily charge if you pay in advance or on the same day, or £17.50 by midnight of the third day after travel. You can pay to drive around, leave and re-enter the charging zone as many times as needed in one day. If you don’t pay by midnight on the third day after travelling in the zone, you will receive a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) which will cost you £160 (reduced to £80 if paid within 14 days).

Read more: Best maps for Uber drivers in London

💡 Tips

Uber has introduced the Central London Fee to support drivers and help them maintain their earnings. For every trip that starts, ends or passes through the Congestion Charge zone, a £1.50 contribution will be added to the drivers.

When does the Congestion Charge operate?

Currently, the Congestion Charge operates between 7am to 10pm, every day except Christmas Day and the period up to and including New Year’s Day Bank Holiday. 

Starting from February 21, 2022, the charging time will be reduced to 7am to 6pm on weekdays and 12pm to 6pm during weekends.

Where is the Congestion Charge zone?

The Congestion Charge zone covers Central London including areas such as City of London, London Bridge, Waterloo, Holborn, Soho, Mayfair, Westminster, and parts of Lambeth and Southwark.
Find out if a specific address is in the Congestion Charge zone on the TfL website.

Read more: The ultimate guide to City of London PCN

TfL Congestion Charge zone map

Are private hire vehicles exempt from Congestion Charge?

Unfortunately, private hire vehicles are not exempt from the Congestion Charge. You still have to pay the Congestion Charge if you travel within the zone during charging hours. However please note that the following groups of people and vehicles are fully exempt from the Congestion Charge or eligible for a discount:

  • Battery electric vehicles, such as Volkswagen ID.3 and Kia e-Niro
  • Vehicles with 9+ seats
  • Vehicles used by disabled people that are exempt from vehicle tax and have a ‘disabled’ taxation class
  • Vehicles for more than one disabled person (for example Dial-a-Ride) that are exempt from vehicle tax and have a ‘disabled’ taxation class
  • Residents of the Congestion Charge zone

Find out the full list of discounts and exemptions on the TfL website.

You may check if your vehicle meets emissions and safety standards required to drive in London, or if you need to pay a charge here: https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/check-your-vehicle/

So, driving an EV means that you don’t have to pay the Congestion Charge.

Want to switch to electric vehicles? Check out our PCO Car Ownership schemes.

How to pay for the Congestion Charge?

Congestion Charge can be paid in advance, on the day of travel, or by midnight of the third day after travel. You can pay the Congestion Charge in several ways, such as paying it online or setting up Auto Pay.

As a part of the Otto Family, we will help you automatically include the charge* in the weekly rent so there’s nothing you need to do.

* A 45p administration fee from Otto Car is included.

Looking to switch to electric?

With an electric car, you can enter the Congestion Charge zone for free.

If you’re looking to change to electric this year, the Otto Team can help. We specialise in electric PCO cars for the private hire community.

Learn more about our PCO Car Ownership schemes.

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