LONDON – Most U.K. drivers are prepared to ditch their cars to commute to work and hop on public transport rather than pay city emission charges.

Evidence has emerged that London’s “T-Charge,” which took effect Oct. 23, will hike the daily cost of a journey by up to £21.50 ($28.87) for drivers of older, more-polluting vehicles, pushing many more commuters onto already-stretched rail and bus services in the heart of the U.K. capital.

The online retailer BuyaCar.co.uk surveyed more than 1,300 motorists on their reaction to what is officially called the Emissions Surcharge before it took effect. Two-thirds said they would change their commuting habits, with most planning to leave their cars at home and switch to public transport.

While about one-in-three drivers remain willing to bear the extra cost of driving into London, almost one-in-five say they simply will visit the heart of the city less.

The T-Charge of £10 ($13.34) applies to diesel and gasoline vehicles registered before 2006 and covers the same area as London’s existing congestion-charge zone, which charges motorists £11.50 ($15.35).

Other U.K. cities are considering similar measures, including Birmingham, Leeds, Southampton, Derby and Nottingham, which suggests pressure on public-transport networks in those areas also could increase.

BuyaCar.co.uk also found younger people and women were most likely to switch to public transport as a result of London’s T-Charge. Older drivers and men in general were least likely to abandon their cars but also were more inclined to reduce visits to central London.

The survey indicates the T-Charge may prompt about 10% of affected drivers to consider changing their vehicle for a less-polluting one.

Austin Collins, managing director of BuyaCar.co.uk, says: “Everyone wants to enjoy cleaner air in our cities, but our findings show that financial penalties on the drivers of higher polluting vehicles potentially spell problems elsewhere. For example, it looks as if the concerns expressed ahead of the T-Charge’s introduction that some people might visit the center of London less, or even stop coming altogether, are coming true.

“And with public transport already under a lot of strain at the best of times, the prospect of more drivers switching onto buses and trains spells more pressure still,” Collins says. “It is to be hoped that other U.K. cities considering similar anti-pollution measures will be learning from the results of London’s T-charge to avoid negative consequences for residents and city center businesses.

“We also hope that those people without easy access to public transport are not forgotten.”