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blog home Limo News Obama Presidential Motorcade Pays London Congestion Charge Like Everyone Else

Obama Presidential Motorcade Pays London Congestion Charge Like Everyone Else

By San Francisco Limousine Specialist on June 7, 2011

Yet another presidential limousine story in the news this month! The city of London, England took a radical step some years ago to combat traffic congestion that paralyzed traffic throughout the city: it began imposing a congestion charge on all vehicles entering the city, and the plan has mostly worked. Traffic in the city is down overall, and people living there can get around with much greater ease since the plan was enacted. As President Obama found out recently, no one is exempt from paying the charge to enter the city, not even presidential motorcades. Each limousine in the President’s fleet was ordered to pay the charge, but administration officials refused, saying that diplomats should be excused from paying the charges.

This is not the first time American officials have refused paying the congestion charge. An investigation revealed that vehicles belonging to the American Embassy owe at least 5.2 million English pounds in charges since the anti-congestion measures were enacted. Boris Johnson, London’s Mayor, met with President Obama and implored him to settle the Embassy’s transportation tab with the city, but it appears that he was mostly unsuccessful.

“But on the wider principle of U.S. and other diplomats following on the lead of the majority of good embassies in London, who pay the congestion charge, a discussion was had, points of views were exchanged, I would say that discussions were ongoing,” the Mayor told BBC.

At the heart of the issue is whether the charges constitute a tax or a charge. American officials claim it is a tax, a charge that should be revoked according to the 1960 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. The Convention prohibits countries from charging each other’s embassies taxes of any kind. The British, however, claim that the congestion fee is a charge, which is acceptable under the terms of the Convention. Along with the U.S. Embassy, the London Embassies of Russia and Japan have also refused to pay congestion charges for their vehicles. At last count, these embassies owe London a total of 51 million pounds or 83.7 million U.S. dollars, a princely sum, to be sure.

Here in San Francisco, we have congestion problems of our own. These traffic hassles are all too familiar to anyone living in and around the Bay Area. Fortunately, there is an easy and affordable solution: renting a San Francisco limousine from us! If you’re planning a trip into the city but shudder at the thought of traffic, parking fees and other hassles, give NLS Limo a call at 1-800-339-8936 to leave the driving to us! We promise to give you and your guests the presidential treatment, and we also promise that the tab will be far more reasonable than that of the U.S. Embassy in London. Cheerio!

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