Belfast Telegraph

Friday 31 October 2014

Congestion charge texting 'to go'

Text messages are to be dropped as a way of paying congestion charges under plans being looked at by Transport for London

Text messages are to be dropped as a way for drivers to pay for their congestion charge under plans being considered by Transport for London (TfL).

A new Smartphone app may replace text messages which make up around 400 out of the 130,000 congestion charge payments made each day.

TfL, which is launching a six-week consultation ending on September 12, describes texts as an "under-used SMS payment service" and claims the app would enable drivers to carry out a wider range of tasks. Drivers would be able to carry out basic account checks and make changes, and check charge balances along with expiry dates of discounts.

TfL also plans to refuse to accept payments from copycat websites or other unofficial sources which have been known to dupe unsuspecting motorists into paying an extra £8 on top of the congestion fee for non-existent services.

Some drivers who have used these rogue sites have found that their congestion charge has not been paid and they face a penalty.

TfL, which has been working with Google and a number of other search engines to try to ensure that ads for congestion charge payments are not misleading, urges drivers to always pay via the official TfL website.

Garrett Emmerson, TfL's chief operating officer for surface transport, said: "We continue to work hard to protect our customers from unofficial third party websites that charge extortionate prices for non-existent services. By blocking unauthorised payments we will be making a further step towards removing the threat of these sites."

After the public consultation TfL will prepare a report for the mayor who will decide whether to go ahead with the proposals.

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