FOI request detail

Availability of realtime congestion charge zone data

Request ID: FOI-3100-2324
Date published: 20 December 2023

You asked

Please advise if you have real time data available when a vehicle enters the congestion zone. If so, please advise where and when this is made publicly available. Is there any reason this information is being concealed? Are there any plans to make this information available online so drivers can see in real time (i.e. straight away) if they have entered the congestion zone. Is TFL deliberately concealing this data to raise the number of Penalty Charge Notices it can issue to drivers unsure if they have entered the congestion zone and unable to check on the same day whether they have accidentally entered the congestion zone. Is it right that the first notification a driver who has accidentally entered the congestion zone is a penalty charge notice?

We answered

TfL Ref: FOI-3100-2324

Thank you for your request which we received on 28 November 2023, asking for information about real-time data of vehicles entering the Congestion Charging Zone.

Your request has been considered in accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act and our information access policy. 

We have extensive information available which outlines the operational hours, zone boundaries and payment options available to motorists wishing to travel into the Congestion Charge Zone. We also have in place a comprehensive traffic management and signage strategy that seeks to ensure that drivers will be aware of the charging zone as they drive towards and around central London. In addition, our website includes a fully interactive map where road users will find a location check facility. This allows motorists to enter a location such as a street name, postcode or building name and they will be advised whether the location is within the charging zone.

Unfortunately we do not hold the information you have requested. The Congestion Charge operates using Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology. Each entry point to, and exit from, the Congestion Charge zone is clearly signed and as a vehicle either enters, leaves or drives within the zone its registration is recorded along with a colour image of the vehicle. When the charge is paid, any images of that vehicle in the zone are deleted. We only need to keep images of vehicles who enter the Zone when the charge hasn’t been paid - these images are then used for enforcement purposes, issuing of a penalty charge notice.

As we do not process the images of vehicles until the end of the following charging day, we are unable to provide a timely service which allows motorists to verify immediately whether their vehicle has been in the Congestion Charge Zone.

Please see the attached information sheet for details of your right to appeal.

Yours sincerely
Eva Hextall
FOI Case Management Team
General Counsel
Transport for London

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