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Is road pricing getting nearer?

Featured in the Future Transport London Newsletter September 2022

The Mayor has asked TfL to start exploring how a new kind of ‘integrated road user charging system’ could be implemented to address the problems of toxic air pollution, the climate emergency and traffic congestion. Such a system could replace all existing road user charges such as the congestion charge and ULEZ with a single integrated scheme. It could be based on such factors as distance travelled, with different rates depending on how polluting their vehicles are, or where they are driven ‘in order to better reflect the impact of their journey’. Whilst the Mayor says that any such scheme is many years away from being ready for implementation, Hackney has volunteered to be a pilot, ‘saying the pace of change needs to be faster, especially if London is to make progress in reducing traffic by 27 per cent by 2030 in line with the ‘accelerated green’ pathway to a net zero carbon city by that date’.

It is recognised that such a proposal will meet with vehement opposition by those who resent any restriction on their right to drive anywhere at any time, but it is beginning to be realised that there is no alternative to some such restriction.

Apart from the obvious dangers from too much traffic the other looming issue is funding, not just for TfL but for national government. The privileges granted to drivers of electric vehicles is leading to a progressively increasing shortfall in tax revenue. Road user charging could deal with that issue whilst still privileging electric car drivers with preferential charging for them.

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