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Pay-per-mile charge under consideration in London

New plans designed to cut emissions and reduce congestion include charging drivers for every mile they drive in the capital

Words By Darren Moss

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A Nissan Leaf driving in London

Drivers could soon be banned from entering certain areas of London, and have to pay more to drive in the capital, under new proposals announced by mayor Sadiq Khan.

The plans, dubbed the Transport Strategy, call for 80% of all journeys within the capital to be made using public transport by 2041 – thus reducing the amount of car journeys each day by three million. Most radically, the mayor wants London’s entire transport system to be electric by 2050 – a target which would be achieved by first making central London a zero-emissions zone by 2025. Similar zones will follow for wider areas of the city in 2040, before the whole city goes electric in 2050.

Pay-per-mile charging for cars

Existing and upcoming charging schemes – such as the congestion charge, Low Emission Zone (LEZ) and the planned T-Charge – will be kept under the new plans, but Transport for London (TfL) will also explore β€œthe next generation of road user charging”, which could include paying for every mile you drive in the capital. Charging on local roads within areas of the city could also be brought in to reduce traffic and emissions. Once all the charges are taken into account, motorists with conventionally powered cars could have to pay as much as Β£24 per day to drive in the city at peak times.

Without going into specifics, the plans also call for extra incentives to increase the uptake of electric vehicles and extra funding β€œto ensure sufficient and appropriate charging and refuelling infrastructure.” Those extra incentives are likely to revolve around extended the current electric vehicle grant, which can net you a saving of up to Β£4500 off an electrified car. While almost 48,000 alternatively fuelled vehicles have been sold so far in 2017 (and that includes hybrids and plug-in hybrids as well as fully electric cars) they still account for just 4.1% of the total market.

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In addition, new housing developments in the city will be restricted in the number of parking spaces they can offer, especially those close to public transport links. Where car parking is allowed in new developments, provisions will be made for charging electric cars. The idea of car-free streets, where traffic is physically blocked from entering an area, and even car-free days is also under discussion.

Public transport network to 'lead by example'

TfL says that all taxis will be at least partly electric (likely using plug-in hybrid technology) by 2033, with buses following five years later. For the London Underground, extra investment will result in more trains running across an extended network. In fact, by 2023, the Jubilee, Northern and Victoria lines will offer one of the most frequent services in the world. A new β€˜Healthy Streets’ campaign will also promote walking and cycling routes, with the hope that 70% of Londoners will live within 400 metres of a cycle route by 2041.

As more people are encouraged to use public transport, the mayor says that a new Vision Zero approach to road safety will aim for nobody to be killed by a road collision in London by 2041.

Currently, more than 8.7 million people live in London, but that number is expected to rise to 10.5 million by 2041. The extra influx of people into the capital – and not forgetting the thousands who commute into and out of the city – will create an additional five million journeys every day. Alongside a reduction in car journeys, the public transport network is likely to see a surge in extra passengers.

UK-wide measures possible

Announcing the plans, Sadiq Khan said: β€œLondon is the greatest city in the world and as it continues to grow it is vital that we take a bold approach to ensure our transport network works for all. We simply cannot afford to take the same old approach to travel as our growing population puts increasing pressure on our network.”

If Khan’s plans prove successful, other cities and authorities across the UK may adopt similar measures in a bid to lower pollution in urban areas. Many of these proposals build upon the government’s own air quality plans, which were published in May. Those plans call for the creation of more clean-air zones across the country, as well as a small-scale scrappage scheme to take the most polluting diesel cars off the road.

It’s worth noting that these plans are currently at the consultation stage, and will remain so until October. Some of these proposals are likely to anger the motor industry, which has spent millions on producing more efficient and cleaner petrol and diesel engines.

What Car? has approached the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT), which represents the views of the industry, for comment.


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