TfL consults on C Charge changes
- TfL to refuse to accept payments from copycat websites or other unauthorised parties
- Replace under-used SMS payment channel with a Smartphone app that would allow customers to manage payments and view account information
Transport for London (TfL) is today (Monday 4 August) asking Londoners for their views on a number of proposed changes to the way that they can pay the Congestion Charge.
One key proposal is to make specific provision for TfL to refuse to accept Congestion Charge payments which are made by unofficial "copycat" websites or other unauthorised third parties which can mislead customers into paying more than they need to for the Congestion Charge. This change will be another step in combating the menace of rogue unofficial Congestion Charge payment websites.
These unofficial sites charge unsuspecting customers up to an £8 extra on top of the daily Congestion Charge fee for non-existent "additional services". In some cases the sites have not even paid the Congestion Charge on behalf of customers, resulting in Penalty Charge Notices being issued.
TfL has worked closely with Google and a number of other search engines to better enforce their advertising policies to ensure ads for Congestion Charge payments are not misleading or otherwise unlawful. Customers should always pay via the official TfL website to avoid paying unnecessary charges imposed by unofficial sites and remove the risk of receiving a Penalty Charge Notice. The proactive action taken by TfL and others has seen the number of payments being made by unofficial payments sites fall significantly. This additional provision will make it even harder to operate an unofficial payment site that misleads TfL's customers and is otherwise unlawful.
The other proposal is to replace the under-used SMS (text message) payment channel with a smart phone app. The SMS payment channel is only used by 0.6 per cent of customers - representing around 400 payments a day out of a total of around 130,000 Congestion Charge payments. The new Smartphone app would enable customers to pay the daily Congestion Charge, carry out basic account checks, make amendments to accounts, view their CC (Congestion Charge) Auto Pay balance and check the expiry dates of discounts. With more and more people using Smartphones, the app will offer customers an easier and broader service than currently available. Customers will also not need to go online or register to make a payment and can continue to pay using their Smartphone via the new app.
Garrett Emmerson, TfL's Chief Operating Officer for Surface Transport, said:
'We are always aiming to improve services and use technology to improve the experience of our customers. By creating an app we will offer our customers a simple and effective way to pay the charge and provide them with a range of new functionality. This will replace the under-used SMS payment service with new and improved functionality. We continue to work hard to protect our customers from unofficial third party websites that charge extortionate prices for non-existent services. By blocking unauthorised payments we will be making a further step towards removing the threat of these sites.'
For more information on the consultation, including supporting documents, and to give your views on the proposal, visit TfL's website at: www.tfl.gov.uk/ccyourviews The 6-week public consultation closes on 12 September 2014. TfL will then prepare a report for the Mayor setting out the responses received during the consultation. The Mayor will then make a decision on whether or not to go ahead with the proposals with or without modifications.
Notes to Editors:
- The central London Congestion Charging zone was introduced in February 2003.
- The scheme continues to be effective in reducing traffic congestion.
- The scheme generates net revenues which are reinvested in transport in London.
- The Congestion Charge scheme has made an important contribution to an unprecedented 9 per cent shift from car use to public and other forms of sustainable transport.
- In the decade from its introduction (in 2003) to 2013 the £1.2bn net revenue generated has been fed straight into ongoing investment in the capital's transport infrastructure. Some £960m was spent on improvements to the bus network, £102m on roads and bridges, £70m on road safety, £51m on local transport/borough plans and £36m on sustainable transport and the environment.
- CC Auto Pay remains the most straightforward way to pay the Congestion Charge and there are more than 235,000 registered accounts. It is an automated payment system which automatically records the number of days a vehicle travels within the charging zone each month and bills the account holder's payment card accordingly. Drivers registered for CC Auto Pay never have to remember to pay the charge, avoid fines and pay a reduced daily rate. An annual £10 registration charge per vehicle applies to register for CC Auto Pay and account holders are able to register up to five vehicles per account.