London is suspending all road tolls from today to ensure that all employees in “critical professions” can move freely in the face of the coronavirus pandemic and amidst resulting tube suspensions. The city will not enforce the congestion charge and ULEZ until further notice.
The measure to temporarily waive the congestion charge and the charges for the low emission zones (Low Emission Zone and Ultra Low Emission Zone, formerly T-Charge) mainly aims to facilitate rescue and delivery vehicles. The government continues to advise people to avoid social contact and only travel when “absolutely necessary”.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan warns that drivers of private cars should not exploit the measure: “This is not an invitation to take to your cars. To save lives, we need the roads clear for ambulances, doctors, nurses and other critical workers.” He also ratified the move stating that it would ensure the city’s supply chain remains intact and helps “keep supermarkets fully stocked and the city’s continued operation”.
In addition to the easing of vehicle restrictions on London’s roads, travel has been further facilitated for “critical workers” by Transport for London (TfL). The transit authority has added a measure to provide “NHS workers with a code that waives the 24-hour access fee for Santander Cycles, meaning any journey under 30 minutes is free”. This offer is limited until 30 April, however – for the time being.
Furthermore, TfL has decided to increase the availability of e-bikes for hospital staff that doesn’t want to use public transport or drive a car. “In addition to free access, docking stations near hospitals are being prioritised to ensure there is a regular supply of bikes for medical staff to use,” TfL announced.
Paul Cowperthwaite, TfL’s General Manager, noted that “critical workers” includes significantly more than just hospital workers: “What we are seeing through this crisis is that London’s critical workforce is wider than just the core emergency services. Emergency services workers are absolutely fundamental to our response, but supermarket workers, utility engineers, refuse collectors, and many more, also need to be able to travel to keep the city functioning”.
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