A new report by independent cross-party think-tank Centre for London has called on the mayor of London to lead on “the development of a smarter, fairer and healthier transport system – one with a new approach to road user charging at its heart.”
The report, Green Light: Next Generation of Road User Charging for a Healthier, More Liveable London, calls for London to move towards an innovative new road user charging scheme which charges drivers on a per-mile basis, and is urging the first version of the system to be in place before the end of the 2020-2024 mayoral term.
The proposals, which the report calls City Move, would see costs vary by vehicle emissions, local levels of congestion and pollution, and availability of public transport alternatives, with prices set before the journey begins.
If approved, City Move would be integrated with London's wider transport system via a new app and digital platform, which the report proposes would be run by Transport for London.
The report emphasises the need to update the existing system; saying that while the new Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is a much-needed environmental measure, it comes on top of the existing Congestion Charge, and proposed charges for the new Silvertown and Blackwall tunnels.
This, says the report, means that by 2025, London could have at least five separate road user charging schemes, each featuring different vehicle standards, hours of operation, charge amounts and payment arrangements.
The report outlines a number of benefits of the City Move app and connected road user charging scheme, including:
- It says it is fairer than the Congestion Charge and ULEZ.
- It tackles city-wide air pollution.
- A better experience on the roads.
- Better for business.
- A healthier, more liveable city.
Silviya Barrett, research manager at 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 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.”
Richard Dilks, transport director at London First, said: “London paved the way for congestion charging 16 years ago and, as charging for road use becomes more common-place in big cities across the world, we need to plan to stay one step ahead. In order to keep London an attractive place to visit, live and work we need to modernise and cohere our charges as part of a package of measures to effectively tackle congestion and air quality.”