Congestion Fees

If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street,
If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat.
If you get too cold I’ll tax the heat,
If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet.

George Harrison

London has it. Singapore as well. It’s coming to New York in a couple of years. The concept of congestion fees; additional charges – like a bridge toll – to drive your car in certain designated areas at times of high volume. 

If you want to drive your car within the area shown on the map below from Monday to Friday, between 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. you will have to pay a fee of £11.50 (about USD$15).

I heard a radio interview with an urban sociologist on this topic recently. The interviewer pointed out that we already pay significant taxes for street maintenance and repair. The sociologist responded that the congestion fees are not for road upkeep, but for road access. It is considered a surcharge, not a tax.

Collection is by bar-code scanning much like bridge tolls. You can pay in advance and get a reduction, or get a bill at the end of the month.

What’s next? A surcharge to sit on the bus or subway – one fee for strap-hangers and an increased fee for seated passengers. 

Perhaps it’s just me, but this seems patently unfair.  Cars are expensive, gas is expensive, insurance is expensive and taxes are high. To impose a surcharge on folks trying to make a living seems counter-productive. 

Even those who use public transit don’t get off free. Unless you are in a standard black London taxi, which are exempt from the fees, you will be hit with an increase. UBER will add a £1 surcharge to clients’ bills if they enter the charge zone.  There are those who blame the various ride sharing companies, chief among them UBER, for causing the increase in congestion and leading to the fees. 

What’s next? A surcharge to sit on the bus or subway – one fee for strap-hangers and an increased fee for seated passengers (and don’t get caught sitting with a standee ticket or the fine could be significant). 

Restaurants could start charging for utensils.

Restaurants could start charging for utensils. Aside form the price of one’s meal, the final bill would include a breakdown of knives, forks, spoons, etc. used and the subsequent surcharge. Smuggling in your own utensils will be easily detected and result in being ousted from the establishment. 

Seems to me these congestion fees are a very slippery slope; one that will no doubt involve a fee to use!

2 thoughts on “Congestion Fees

  1. Linda Blackwell Phelan April 11, 2019 — 1:21 am

    I couldn’t agree more. And while we are at it, why not require bike owners to buy a licence (they get the best road space and snow clearance all for free.) while I applaud cyclists, you can’t run a city for them alone… it’s getting harder for the elderly, people with mobility issues, parents with a slew of kids! By the way, we are all sharing a pool of cold germs brought home from Narnia, we think, by Molly and generously shared by her sibs with the family in an endless cycle. Please tell Pat I will get in soon when it is safe. Cheers to you both, Lin

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. I think the time is coming for my long-suggested restaurant: the trough. No dishes, no utensils. They shoot a mess of slops down the shoot and you stick your muzzle in and eat. Don’t worry about what it is. It’s cheap and you can eat until you are sick.

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