London mayor should back road pricing plan with EV investment, says Addison Lee

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Addison Lee has called on London Mayor Sadiq Khan to back up his plans to charge drivers on a pence-per-mile basis with greater investment in electric vehicle infrastructure – and to clarify whether strict new proposed measures were designed to cut pollution or congestion.

Mayor Khan is proposing a new charging scheme to replace both Congestion Charge and ULEZ, under which drivers of “all but the cleanest vehicles” will initially be charged a daily fee of up to £2, with a pay-per-mile system introduced further in the future. A recent report commissioned by City Hall found that a 27% reduction in London car traffic was required by 2030 to meet net-zero targets.

Addison Lee CEO Liam Griffin said he supported that ambition, but disagreed with the Mayor’s approach. “The current approach focuses on removing vehicles from London’s roads by increasing taxes on road use,” he said. “However, to truly remove pollution from the capital’s air the main focus should be supporting drivers to switch to full electric vehicles as soon as possible. We are doing our bit by electrifying our entire fleet by 2023 – which will remove an estimated 20,000 tonnes of CO2 from London’s roads each year. We call on the Mayor to be clearer on whether his aim is to remove pollution or congestion.”

Griffin continued: “We urgently need an EV charging infrastructure revolution to ensure that fleets and private vehicle owners can shift to fully electric vehicles as soon as possible. We are encouraging the Mayor to start talking to fleet operators and professional drivers to fully understand the importance of a more comprehensive rollout of EV infrastructure.”

The RAC also criticised the plan, calling it “poorly timed”, and stating that electric vehicles were still “too expensive for most people” and the proposed scheme charges would impact carers, tradespeople and night-time economy staff. Nicholas Lyes, RAC head of roads policy, said: “Our research suggests fewer than a third of drivers in London expect to switch to an electric vehicle within the next five years and, at the same time, the mayor himself cannot commit to a zero-emission TfL bus fleet until 2037. At a time when the basic cost of living for Londoners is soaring, these proposals seem to be poorly timed, so we strongly urge the mayor to think again instead of defaulting to extracting more money from the pockets of London’s drivers.”

Khan said he was prepared to act in order to reduce emissions. “We have too often seen measures to tackle air pollution and the climate emergency delayed around the world because it’s viewed as being too hard or politically inconvenient, but I’m not willing to put off action we have the ability to implement here in London,” he said.

Road user charging would be a “simple and fair scheme” that could replace existing congestion charge and the Ultra Low Emission Zone, according to the City Hall report. Transport for London and the mayor said there would be a public consultation on the proposals, with the chosen measure potentially implemented by May 2024.