Fleet News

Congestion charging: fleets have no option but to bite the bullet

FLEETS feel trapped into paying London's new congestion charge because there is a lack of other transport alternatives. A new survey has found that despite 68% of businesses not agreeing with the scheme, launched last week, the vast majority of fleets will not stop their employees from driving into the centre of London.

LeasePlan, which conducted the study, found that 96% of businesses will cover congestion charging fees if employees are on business in the capital, although more than half (53%) have not implemented new policies and procedures to manage the payment of charges by their drivers.

LeasePlan managing director Kevin McNally said: 'Companies with a fleet of company cars that regularly visit the capital on business are reluctant to stop their staff from using the company car before fully assessing the impact that congestion charging will have on their business.

'Some companies are even predicting that their employees will benefit from reduced congestion within the charging zone.'

Other key findings include the fact that most businesses (84%) expect that less than a quarter of their workforce will be affected by the congestion charges and that nearly all (98%) understand the new congestion charging regulations.

But while fleets struggle to cope with the launch of congestion charging, London Mayor Ken Livingstone is enjoying a massive windfall from fines. Currently, fines are being racked up at an average rate of £50,000 every hour through non-payment, based on the first two days of the scheme.

Issued fines for non-payment by Wednesday last week were £1.2million as more than 15,000 penalty charge notices worth £80 each were sent out. This fee is reduced to £40 if paid within 14 days but jumps to £120 if not paid within 28 days.

Transport for London managing director of street management, Derek Turner, said: 'Overall, congestion charging has had a smooth start with all payment channels working effectively. There really is no excuse for anyone not paying the charge. More than 15,000 people are now liable for an £80 fine instead of paying £5. I strongly urge everyone who drives in central London to pay the £5 charge.'

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