The Centre for London has published a new report calling for an amalgamation of London’s separate road-user charging schemes into one single system for the capital, charging drivers for every mile they use in areas of congestion and poor air quality.
With existing separate charging schemes for entering both London’s congestion charge zone and ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ), along with proposed charges for using the new Blackwall and Silvertown tunnel, London’s leading non-profit think-tank believes the city’s patchwork road charges should be unified under a more sophisticated scheme.
The Centre for London warns that the capital may have as many as five active road-user charging schemes dotted across the city by 2025, with varying degrees of vehicle standards, charge fees and hours of operation.
Its report, titled “Green Light: Next Generation of Road User Charging for a Healthier, More Liveable London”, claims that the Mayor of London should consider implementing a single overarching road-user charging scheme, making it easier for commercial fleets and residents to navigate.
The report suggests a single system could be called ‘City Move’, with drivers asked to pay per mile for using roads known for congestion and poor air quality. The fees per mile would vary depending on a vehicle’s emissions, the availability of public transport alternatives and many more variables.
The Centre for London claims City Move would be a fairer reflection on a vehicle’s usage and a driver’s contribution to air pollution and road congestion throughout Central London; as opposed to charging drivers a flat daily rate, regardless of how far they drive in the capital.
The think-tank argues a single system could be launched via a mobile app and on a website, allowing fleets to plan their journeys and consider available travel alternatives via London’s public transport.
Silviya Barrett, research manager, Centre for London, said: “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. But they are both relatively blunt systems.
“Embracing new technology can help create a simpler and smarter system, one which is fairer for drivers and better for the city overall.
“The scheme could be designed to reduce car usage and improve air quality as well as encouraging Londoners to lead more active lifestyles.”
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, committed Transport for London (TfL) to investigate the viability of next-generation road-user charging systems in his 2017 transport strategy.
However, Mr Khan informed the London Assembly last year that a unified road-user charging system was not the capital’s number-one priority, so progress could be slower than hoped.