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Bikers to benefit from congestion tax

January 20, 2003
Filed under Features

Motorcycle traffic on London’s streets isn’t too heavy today, but it’s expected to increase sharply after Feb. 17, 2003, when England’s capitol city begins charging drivers a daily fee of about $7.50 for entering its metropolitan area.
Faced with massive gridlock on surface streets, community leaders decided to impose the fee in an effort to decrease the number of vehicles entering the city center by 15%.
The charge will apply to commuters between 7 am and 6:30 pm, Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays. Drivers entering the city from what is called the Inner Ring Road will be forced to prepay the fee by telephone, post, Internet, or in person at a retail outlet. The purchase of weekly ($39), monthly ($173) or annual ($1,968) passes also will be possible.
More than 100 cameras capable of reading license plates will police the zone.
All two-wheeled vehicles will be fully exempt when the “Congestion Charge” comes into effect, and many drivers are expected to abandon their cars in favor of motorcycles, mopeds, scooters or bicycles.
“There is anecdotal evidence that one in four drivers is thinking about swapping his or her car for a motorbike once the charge takes effect,” Craig Carey-Clinch, public affairs director of Britain’s Motorcycle Industry Association (MIA), told the BBC.
Others exempted from the Charge Zone include disabled drivers, cabs, alternative fuel cars, and emergency and public service vehicles.
The Charge Zone is expected to raise at least $204.75 million a year which, by law, will have to go back into the city’s transport system. London officials say the funds will be used to improve the bus network and make central London a more pleasant location for residents, visitors and businesses.

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