London’s Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), Low Emission Zone (LEZ) and Congestion Charge have been reinstated today (May 18), after being suspended on March 23 due to the coronavirus lockdown.
The lockdown saw several London Underground lines and bus routes closed so driving to work was encouraged. However, City Hall now wants commuters to walk or cycle to work and have also announced several streets will go ‘car-free’ for the foreseeable future.
As part of a government bailout deal for Transport for London (TfL), the Congestion Charge will increase to £15 from June 22 and the hours of operation extended as part of a package of temporary changes. TfL hopes this will encourage Londoners not to make unnecessary car journeys and could reduce journeys within the Congestion Charge Zone by a third.
TfL will be temporarily extending the Congestion Charge reimbursement scheme to continue to support NHS and care home staff. NHS and care home employees who work in the Congestion Charge zone will be reimbursed for journeys relating to coronavirus, including for their journeys to and from work.
Jemima Hartshorn, founder of Mums for Lungs, said: ‘We are delighted that the Mayor and TfL are taking leadership in reinstating the ULEZ/CC and are excited about the new routes to make walking and cycling safe in these challenging times. We need pollution levels to stay reduced because pre-corona levels, caused primarily by traffic, stunts lung growths and are linked to many illnesses from cancer to diabetes.
‘The need for safe travel – physically distanced from others and pollution-free – has never been as urgent as during this respiratory pandemic. We urge government to support these measures with the funding needed to transform London into a city with clean air – to ensure Londoners and visitors stay healthy during and after this health crisis.’