ULEZ: TfL disputes claim Sadiq Khan asked it to investigate pay-per-mile to replace clean-air scheme

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Roads minister Richard Holden said TfL officials told him they had been asked “to investigate the technicalities of introducing road charging across London in the future”.

A government minister has been asked to correct his “misleading comments” in parliament, after telling the commons Sadiq Khan had asked Transport for London (TfL) to investigate road user charging in the capital.

Roads minister Richard Holden yesterday (July 13) told MPs he had met with top TfL officials and Seb Dance, the deputy mayor for transport, who told him they had been instructed to look into the “technicalities” of road user charging.

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He said: “They informed me that the mayor of London, in anticipation of falling revenues from ULEZ in the future, in the next few years, had asked them to investigate the technicalities of introducing road charging across London in the future.”

Under such schemes, also known as ‘pay-per-mile’, motor vehicle users are charged depending on factors such as how far they drive, and the amount of pollution emitted.

They are seen by advocates as fairer than systems which operate using a flat fee, such as the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), which in its current guise charges drivers of non-compliant vehicles £12.50 regardless of how far they travel.

Mr Dance has however now written to Mr Holden, asking him to correct the record for what he claims were “misleading comments”.

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Seb Dance said the claim TfL had been asked to look into road charging in London was “misleading”. Credit: Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images.Seb Dance said the claim TfL had been asked to look into road charging in London was “misleading”. Credit: Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images.
Seb Dance said the claim TfL had been asked to look into road charging in London was “misleading”. Credit: Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images. | AFP via Getty Images

Mr Dance wrote: “Thank you for a productive meeting this week about TfL’s financial sustainability. The Commissioner and I were reassured by your interest in discussing the longer-term capital funding that TfL needs, and which will ensure London continues to create jobs elsewhere in the UK.

“Given this I was dismayed to note your misleading comments in Parliament yesterday about road user charging in London. We could not have been clearer in our meeting that there are no proposals whatsoever for such a scheme. I plainly stated that the technology to replace existing road charges with a single scheme is many years away.

“I am sure you will not wish your comments at the despatch box, which give a demonstrably false impression, to remain uncorrected and I invite you to set the record straight.”

Mr Khan has previously spoken of the benefits of a pay-per-mile scheme in London in an interview with the Financial Times.

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In Jacobs’ Integrated Impact Assessment (IIA) report on the ULEZ, commissioned by the mayor last year to detail the pros and cons of the scheme ahead of his decision to expand, it stated Mr Khan “recognises” London could benefit from a “simple and fair” pay-per-mile system, and that he had asked TfL to “start exploring how it could be developed, for implementation later”.

A spokesperson for the mayor told LondonWorld that while an initial assessment was done, TfL reported the technology required was not likely to be available anytime soon, and that there are no current investigations into road user charging in the capital.

On Mr Holden’s comments, the spokesperson said: “This is categorically wrong. Officials actually told the minister the opposite - there is no prospect of it being introduced in the foreseeable future.”

Mr Holden has been approached for comment.

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