All cars must pay the congestion charge if they enter the congestion zone. That's £8 a day unless you are driving a taxi, a police car or one of those little buggies that runs on jam. Of course, Londonist sidesteps having to pay the charge by bounding around the city on the back of a giant mechanical deer.
However, a number of enterprising individuals are registering their cars as taxi cabs in order to get out of paying the charge. To register your car as a taxi costs £82 in advance, followed by a £27-a-year licence fee. You could make that back in savings in under two weeks.
The London Private Hire Car Association told the Evening Standard that at present it is not necessary to be a minicab operator, or even a licensed minicab driver, to get a vehicle licensed as a cab.
Watch out though, creative scammers! TfL are onto you. Suspicions were raised when two £77,000 Maserati Quattroportes, seventeen £117,500 Bentley Continentals and three £300,000 Maybach 62s were registered as taxis. (Surely if you can afford a £300,000 car, the congestion charge is nowhere near being a dent on your finances?)
A TfL spokesman said a small number of expensive cars were registered legally by hotels and chauffeuring firms but he added, "We are taking this very seriously. We call for anybody who has evidence to get in touch." Apparently regular checks are being made and illegitimate users will be "thrown off the register".
Thrown off the register? That isn't a punishment or a disincentive. If TfL are happy to wave around threats of £1000 fines for those who haven't paid a 90p busfare, there should be a fine for regularly evading the £8 congestion charge in this way.