It’s been a while since I’ve been caught out, but I’ve just had a £60 Congestion fine passed onto me by the Jaguar press office. It is very easy to forget to pay, especially when you drive into central London for the evening and don’t return home until after midnight.
Indeed, the forgetfulness of drivers, and the ease of straying into the C-Charge zone, was one of the only things keeping the C-Charge alive for its first few years of existence. The costs of administering the scheme was far higher than predicted, but so was the level of fines for non-payment, so the scheme staggered on for two years before the charge was hiked by 60 per cent, from £5 to £8.
Then-Mayor Ken Livingstone claimed that the hike would raise another £45m per year, to be spent on buses and the underground. The Mayor was, however, being economical with the actualité.
I’m no great accountant, but I looked at the C-Charge accounts, and executed a bit of basic GCSE-level maths, to make an alarming discovery. The admin costs of the scheme were £4.75 per car, per day. Which meant that the C-Charge was making just 25p per vehicle. The rest of the profit was made up of fine income. No wonder the charge was hiked by 60 per cent.