Cardiff congestion charge: council could introduce road charging, ULEZ and parking levies

Multiple measures being considered to cut pollution and improve public transport

Watch more of our videos on Shots!
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Drivers in Cardiff could have to pay to enter the city centre under new proposals being considered by councillors. 

Measures including a congestion charge, low-emissions zone and workplace parking levy are all set to be discussed as part of a report which aims to tackle pollution and congestion in the city. Cardiff City Council said that revenue from any new charges would be used to improve public transport. 

Council leaders in the Welsh capital are due to consider the report on 27 April and if it is accepted the council will begin consultation on a range of possible measures designed to cut traffic levels in the city with a view to introducing them within the next five years.

Council leader Huw Thomas said: “We know our residents want action on climate change and they want the air their children and their loved ones breathe to be cleaner.

“We know residents want to see electric buses and taxis serve the city, to have new train/tram links and stations, to drive on better maintained roads, with safe cycling and walking routes.

“We know they see the queues of traffic and know the damage this is causing to their health and the environment, whilst also strangling the city’s economy.

“It’s clear that action is needed if we are going to change the dial on this.”

According to the council, road transport is responsible for 40% of carbon emissions in Cardiff - the joint highest among the UK’s 11 core cities. Data analysts Inrix also estimated that congestion cost the city’s economy £109 million in 2019. 

Cardiff. Credit: GettyCardiff. Credit: Getty
Cardiff. Credit: Getty

The council said any revenue generated from charging motorists would be put towards public transport schemes including £1 bus fares, a new tram network and improved regional links.

Cllr Thomas said: “The people and communities who rely on public transport are often the worst served by our bus and train services. They are also breathing the dirtiest air and suffering the worst rates of childhood asthma and other illnesses. Improving our transport system is essential if we are to connect some of our most disadvantaged communities with the opportunities that are available in the city.”

The council said it would consult with residents on what form any charge should take as well as any exemptions or discounts, such as the 90% discount for Lononders living within the city’s congestion charge zone. Cllr Thomas said any charges would be "low cost" with "fairness at the heart of our approach".

Cllr Thomas added: “I understand that there will be those who say that, ‘This is just another tax when the country is facing a cost-of-living crisis’. So let me address that head on. The current levels of traffic in Cardiff are costing the average resident hundreds upon hundreds of pounds each year and holding our economy back. That’s on top of the environmental and health damage caused by congestion.”

However, Cardiff’s Conservative councillors said they were "vehemently opposed to congestion charging". Group leader Adrian Robson said: "More people would use public transport if it was reliable and cost effective, but this is not the case. We need to ensure that people can choose their own modes of transport which work for them and are not penalised for that choice."