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Congestion charge cheats to pay £800,000 in fines

TRANSPORT FOR London (TfL) picked up £800,000 in fines from congestion charge dodgers on Monday alone - cash that will be ploughed straight back into transport improvements.

Ten thousand penalty charges at £80 each were issued on the first day of the congestion charging scheme, which finally came on line on 17 February.

From now on drivers wishing to enter central London between 7am and 6.30pm on a weekday will have to pay a £5 fee.

On day one 190,000 vehicles were recorded as moving inside the charging zone, down from 250,000 on an average weekday.

This meant that traffic in the charging zone was recorded as being down 25% on a normal weekday.

However this week is half term holidays when traffic is typically 14% lower.

Of the 190,000 vehicles, around 125,000 had paid, around 45,000 were exempt, leaving 10,000 unpaid.

Buses had been expected to cater for those choosing to leave their cars at home, with an extra 300 laid on.

Bus operators reported occupancy rates as normal for a Monday morning but up on a half term week, suggesting the strategy is working.

London Underground (LUL) reported no additional crowding on Monday. Anticipated problems around the inner ring road - which forms the zone boundary - did not materialise.

TfL said it was pleased with the results so far, but stressed that the real test would be in two weeks when all schools resume.

(See comment page 17)

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