London Mayor Sadiq Khan has called for the introduction of a pay-per-mile driving charge in the UK capital, along with a daily fee of up to £2 (US$2.70) for “all but the cleanest vehicles”.
A new report commissioned by City Hall has revealed that a 27 percent reduction in car traffic is needed by 2030 for the city to meet its net-zero ambitions, and the mayor is also considering charging drivers from outside the capital who wish to travel into Greater London.
The road pricing proposal would revamp current charges already in place, and is part of a push to encourage people towards public transport, walking, cycling or electric vehicles.
“This new report must act as a stark wake-up call for the Government on the need to provide much greater support to reduce carbon emissions in London – it’s clear the scale of the challenge means we can’t do everything alone,” said Mayor Khan.
“But I’m not willing to stand by and wait when there’s more we can do in London that could make a big difference. We simply don’t have time to waste.”
Replacing current charges
Such a system could abolish all existing road user charges – such as the Congestion Charge and the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) – and replace them with a simple scheme where drivers pay-per-mile, with different rates depending on how polluting vehicles are, the level of congestion in the area and access to public transport.
Subject to consultation, it is likely there would be exemptions and discounts for those on low incomes and with disabilities, as well as consideration around support for charities and small businesses.
The Mayor’s Office has said more “sophisticated types of technology” would be needed to introduce this kind of charging scheme and has asked Transport for London (TfL) to start exploring how it could be developed.
But it also said that the technology to implement such a scheme is still “years away” from being ready.
Other proposals being considered include extending the current ULEZ even further to cover the whole of Greater London.
The mayor and TfL will now begin a period of consultation with Londoners, local government and businesses on the proposals, but some have already hit out at the plans.
Massive financial challenges
Auto-services group the RAC has said the changes would create “massive financial challenges” for individuals, families and businesses.
“We all want to see cleaner air and cleaner vehicles on the road and it’s right the mayor has ambitions to reduce emissions from road transport but these proposals could be beyond the means of many and will punish those who simply cannot afford an electric car,” said RAC’s Head of Roads Policy, Nicholas Lyes.
“Our research suggests fewer than a third of drivers in London expect to switch to an electric vehicle within the next five years, and at the same time the mayor himself cannot commit to a zero-emission TfL bus fleet until 2037.”
“Worse still, proposals to charge vehicles outside of London to enter the boundary are likely to impact hardest on workers such as carers, tradespeople and night-time economy staff for whom there is no alternative to using a vehicle.”
The Mayor’s Office has said all options under consideration would be subject to full equality impact assessments, with mitigations and exemptions put in place for Londoners on low incomes and with disabilities a key focus of any scheme development.
Image: Greater London Authority
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