Belfast Telegraph

Long phone waits to pay London congestion charge a 'disgrace'

Motorists have spent up to 86 minutes trying to pay London's congestion charge by phone, it has been revealed.

The chairwoman of the capital's Transport Committee described the long waiting time as a "disgrace".

Liberal Democrat Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon said thousands of people had given up "in despair" because of the frustration of holding on the phone.

She obtained information revealing that on one day in December there were almost 12,000 calls to the congestion charge telephone line, but half were abandoned without being answered.

The average waiting time was 15 minutes and the longest was 86 minutes.

Ms Pidgeon said: "The ability to get through to the congestion charge telephone line is vital, especially for people who occasionally drive into central London and are not familiar with how it operates.

"It is a disgrace that over such a long period of time average waiting times to get through have frequently been a quarter of a hour, forcing thousands of people to simply give up in despair.

"I am a strong supporter of the congestion charge but this appalling service gives it an appalling name and undermines its credibility."

In response to the issue being raised by Ms Pidgeon, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said Capita, which runs the payment system, had faced a number of problems following a system upgrade.

"I have been assured that customers have not been penalised if they have been unable to pay as a result of these problems," he said.

Motorists pay a daily charge of £11.50 for driving into London.

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