ULEZ – The Latest Information Including Poor Financial Outcome

The London Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is currently suspended due to the coronavirus epidemic. This enables key workers to get to work without taking the risk of taking the still crowded public transport. This is a wise move by Sadiq Khan but it will create yet another hole in his TfL budget.

However, the plans for the expansion of the ULEZ to the North/South Circular in October 2021 are still proceeding. One of our supporters has recently submitted a Freedom of Information Act request and obtained some more useful information. I highlight the interesting points:

  1. The scheme is likely to be enforced in the same way as the existing ULEZ and Congestion Charge, i.e. via cameras, both fixed and mobile ones. A map showing where the boundary will be is present here: http://lruc.content.tfl.gov.uk/ulez-boundary-2021-map-local-detail.pdf
  1. But one concession is that vehicles parked, but which don’t move within the zone, and which are non-compliant won’t incur any penalty. However, there are very large numbers of cars parked on roads within the enlarged zone that are only used occasionally. But as the current ULEZ operates all day, every day, their owners will find themselves paying £12.50 for virtually every vehicle movement (the daily charge).
  1. The expected operating income of the expanded ULEZ for 2021/2022 is £160-£170 million with operating costs of £100-£110 million, i.e. a profit of perhaps £60 million. But the infrastructure set-up costs are forecast to be up to £120 million so it will be at least two years before those costs are even recovered, i.e. by 2024.

Note: in reality by 2024 the vehicle fleet will have changed considerably so the level of emissions will by then have reduced very significantly and few vehicles will be non-compliant thus substantially reducing the income from the scheme. For example the chart below shows the NOX emissions that were originally forecast by TfL, with and without the ULEZ. By 2030 there is no benefit from the ULEZ at all.  This means that this is yet another financial mistake the Mayor is going to make if the scheme is implemented as planned.

ULEZ NOx reduction-web

However, it seems that more detailed design of the scheme is still being undertaken so perhaps Mayor Sadiq Khan and TfL management are having second thoughts. They would be wise to do so as TfL are already running a massive deficit with debts rising. That was before the decline in public transport income from bus and underground fares that will have been badly hit by the epidemic plus the suspension of the ULEZ, LEZ and Congestion Charge.

It would be simply madness to proceed with the ULEZ expansion based on what we now know. But the Mayor is now so desperate for money that he might increase the proposed charge, expand the zone even further, or class even more vehicles as “non-compliant”.  That should go down well in the 2021 election year!

Note that the above financial figures are much worse than the last numbers we reported in January 2019 on our blog. There will be a very substantial amount of cash taken out of the London economy from the ULEZ taxes. This  will hardly help the economic health of the city, when it might still be recovering from the severe recession that is predicted from the virus epidemic. In addition, there may be a cost to Londoners of over £200 million from having to upgrade to compliant vehicles.

In conclusion, the expansion of the ULEZ makes no sense. A very expensive project that will not have much impact on air pollution.

See this page of our web site for more information: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/environment.htm

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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  1. Pingback: Mayor Spells Out His Policies in the Times | Freedom for Drivers Foundation

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