Lib Dem London Assembly member Stephen Knight says Source London charging network is â€˜failing to have much impactâ€™
Members of the Liberal Democrat Party in London have criticised the Mayor of Londonâ€™s support for electric vehicle charge points, claiming that as many as three quarters of those installed in the capital are not used.
Source London â€“ the capitalâ€™s publicly available electric vehicle charging network, which is partly funded by the Department for Transport â€“ was launched by Boris Johnson in May 2011. Improving air quality in the capital by encouraging the uptake of low emission vehicle usage is among its goals.
Figures on the scheme released by the Mayorâ€™s office in response to a question raised by the Liberal Democrats show that in the last three months of 2012, only 198 of the then 800 existing electric charging points were used.
The scheme has since been expanded to include 1300 charge points across the city, which the Liberal Democrats say could be better spent in other areas.
Liberal Democrat London Assembly member Stephen Knight has urged the Mayor to consider changing the focus of the scheme to investing in low emission buses and taxis, as he says this will have a greater positive effect on air quality in London.
Mr Knight said: â€œIt is quite clear that Source London is failing to have much impact. A growing network of charging points, which are aimed primarily at private, electric cars, clearly has long term merit, but the Mayorâ€™s number one priority must be to switch Londonâ€™s 20,000 diesel taxis and 8,500 diesel buses to electric power.
â€œIt is these diesel vehicles which clock up the most miles and make the greatest contribution to air pollution, especially in central London.
â€œThe Mayor should concentrate on what he can actually deliver. Taxis and London buses are either run or licensed by Transport for London and the Mayor is in charge of the running of Transport for London. If the Mayor is serious about reducing air pollution in London he should concentrate resources on what he can actually influence.â€
Responding to the comments, Source London said that the network will be used more regularly once the technology becomes more popular with drivers.
John Mason, Director for Source London, said; â€œSince its launch over 1,300 publicly accessible charging points have been installed across the capital as part of the Source London scheme, making it Europeâ€™s largest charging network. Weâ€™re putting in the infrastructure now so that motorists know there is somewhere convenient to recharge their vehicle and ensure there is capacity as electric vehicle use becomes more commonplace.
â€œThe tightening of the Congestion Charge discount so that only the cleanest and greenest vehicles qualify and the introduction of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone are set to encourage further electric vehicle take-up in London.â€
In September 2012, MPs on the Transport Select committee criticised the governmentâ€™s plug-in strategy for not effectively encouraging a strong enough uptake of plug-in vehicles in the UK (see airqualitynews.com story).