Pay Congestion Charges & Tolls while COVID-19 is Happening?

Much of society has rallied together to support key workers during the COVID-19 outbreak. People are finding thoughtful ways to make essential workers’ lives easier during their long days. Supermarkets have designated certain shopping times for NHS staff and some nurses and doctors are now able to park at hospitals without paying.

Another industry still at work is courier and delivery services. These people are supplying households with items to get them through lockdown boredom and individual issues. Their continued work on UK’s much emptier roads has caused some to ask: should couriers stop paying tolls and congestion charges during COVID-19?

Tolls and Congestion Charges Explained

Tolls and congestion charges were introduced for different purposes.

Tolls were introduced on the busiest roads to help keep them maintained. Frequent use of busy roads meant they would wear quicker with potholes. Thus, tolls covered maintenance costs. But introducing these costs also deterred motorists from using toll roads. Instead, they chose other roads to save money, which then disperses traffic and mitigates the number of traffic jams.

Congestion charges are slightly different. These payments are made when a vehicle enters a certain area, the most notable being the centre of London. If a London courier wants to enter a specific inner area of the city, they must pay a charge to do so. This is to deter regular drivers from using the busiest roads, but it has another aim. Congestion charges also want to make inner-city living more enjoyable through reduced noise pollution and cleaner air.

Arguments for Scrapping Charges

Some people believe courier businesses in the UK should not have to pay for tolls and congestion charges during the COVID-19 pandemic. They argue that significantly fewer cars are on the road and therefore the tolls and congestion charges are no longer justified. For example:

  • Air quality has improved significantly with fewer vehicles on the road
  • Traffic has also decreased significantly, resulting in less noise coming from main roads
  • With fewer vehicles on the road, roads are not subject to increased wear and will not need as much maintenance
  • Delivery drivers and UK couriers predominantly do not get a choice between these roads and others due to customer location, logistics and the efficient service they aim to deliver.

If charges were stopped during lockdown, it would show appreciation for those still working in the general public and be a way to reward the businesses for their continued hard work.

Arguments to Keep the Tolls and Charges

However, not everyone agrees with removing these charges. Tolls and congestions are long-term projects which need continual investment. When clean air and road quality are at stake, some people would like to see these causes retain investment. Delivery services have also increased during lockdown, meaning many courier services will not have been financially impacted by the virus outbreak.

It is not an easy question. There are good arguments to scrap and keep these charges right now.

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