Scrap London’s Congestion Charge & ULEZ, charge motorists by mile, says think tank

Motorists in London should be charged for every mile they drive in a radical overhaul of the current Congestion Charge and Ultra-Low Emission Zone systems, says think tank Centre for London.

They say costs would vary according to vehicle emissions, local levels of congestion and pollution as well as how close they are to bus stops or tube stations, with prices set before a journey begins.

They’ve called the new system ‘City Move’ and say it could be integrated within London’s wider transport system via a new app, run by Transport for London (TfL).

They say whilst the ULEZ, which came into effect earlier this month, is a ‘much-needed’ environmental measure, it means that by 2025 London could have at least five separate road user charging schemes, confusing drivers with different payment requirements and emissions standards.

Researchers at the think tank believe that by charging drivers on the most congested roads the ‘equivalent of a cup of coffee or a bus ticket,’ it could reduce total emissions and air pollution levels across the whole of London by up to a fifth.

They also believe it would be fairer for motorists as the scheme would force motorists to consider the impact of individual journeys in terms of journey length, road surface damage, economic costs and environmental damage.

Silviya Barrett, research manager at Centre for London said London must ‘keep up with the pace of change,’ when it comes to road user charging.

‘The Congestion Charge was pioneering when it was introduced 16 years ago, and the ULEZ is desperately needed to address a growing air quality crisis,’ she said.

‘But new technologies are rapidly transforming the way people travel – and how they pay for their journeys.

‘The Mayor should move towards embracing new technology and create a simpler and smarter approach to road user charging. This would be both fairer for drivers and better for the city overall.’

The report was also welcomed by the motoring charity RAC Foundation, with their director Steve Gooding saying: ‘Rules and regulations need to be simple to understand and easy to plan for.

‘One wonders whether this is the case in London – and increasingly in other towns and cities across the country – where drivers are confronted with an array of charges designed to do different things across different geographical areas. Many could be forgiven for confusing their CCs, CAZs and ULEZs.’

Air Quality News has asked TfL for a response to the report.

Photo credit – Pixabay.