Electric Cars More Expensive to Run and Number Plate Cloning

The conventional wisdom is that although electric cars are more expensive to buy, they are cheaper to run. The cost of electricity, particularly if you charge at home, means a lower cost per mile travelled in comparison with buying diesel or petrol. But an interesting article in the Daily Telegraph has debunked that assumption.

They say that as the unit cost of electricity will nearly double under the new energy price cap as a result it will cost more to travel in an electric car than a petrol one. They compared the cost of running a Jaguar i-PACE, and electric SUV, with the equivalent Jaguar f-PACE, a petrol driven version. To cover 400 miles the electric version would cost £99 more to travel the same distance. Likewise a Kia e-Niro would cost £88 more than a Kia Sportage.

With electric models often costing twice as much has petrol versions, you can see that there is a big financial disincentive to buy an electric vehicle (a Jaguar i-PACE is 66% more expensive than an f-PACE). The main difference is of course the battery cost and they are not coming down in price as rapidly as expected mainly due to the demand for lithium.

Telegraph article here: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/consumer-affairs/electric-cars-will-expensive-run-petrol/

Comment: As the overall carbon cost of an electric vehicle during its lifetime, including construction and scrapping costs, is little lower than that of a diesel/petrol vehicle one has to be a committed green fanatic to ignore the economics. The better solution if you want to minimise emissions, particularly in cities, is probably to buy a self-charging hybrid such as the Toyota Yaris Hybrid – starting price £20,500 (Note: the Prius is no longer made but Toyota now have several hybrid models).

People buying new cars when we near 2030, after which sales of pure diesel/petrol cars will be banned, will need to consider the costs carefully and whether to anticipate the ban.

Cloning Rising

With the introduction of the ULEZ across much of London, the practice of cloning car number plates to save money has grown rapidly. According to an analysis by Fleetpoint, based on TfL data comparing April 2021 with April 2022, there was an alarming rise of 857% in cloning.  

Cloning a vehicle number plate is relatively easy and if you drive a popular car model you may find it wise to mark your vehicle near the number plates so that it can be differentiated from any clone. Otherwise you may find it difficult to prove it was not you when a PCN is issued.

Roger Lawson

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Park Lane Cycle Lane To Be Made Permanent?

I have received an email from TfL concerning the Park Lane scheme which was introduced in 2020 as an emergency response to the Covid epidemic. The latest email tries to justify making the scheme permanent and says “there is a strong case for less motor traffic and more space for walking and cycling along Park Lane including at Hyde Park Corner and Marble Arch”.

It rejects the argument that cyclists can ride through the park because that is “inconvenient for people on foot using the park….”. It looks like TfL have already made up their mind to make the scheme permanent although they do say there will be another public consultation in the autumn.

Comment: Park Lane is a key route for north-south traffic in London and has always been a major road – it used to have a 40 mph speed limit now reduced to 20 mph. The scheme as introduced has created a lot of unnecessary traffic congestion when the number of cyclists using the cycle lane is very small.

In reality a small number of cyclists are being favoured while thousands of vehicle users are being prejudiced.

You can read what TfL have said about this scheme and their latest missive on this web page: https://haveyoursay.tfl.gov.uk/park-lane

Note: the latest email from Fraser MacDonald, Strategic Consultations Lead, does not contain his contact information. This is symptomatic of the approach of TfL management who do not want to receive any feedback on their statements. Appallingly undemocratic.

Photo above is of Park Lane opposite Stanhope Gate in the August Bank Holiday week from a TfL camera showing a queue of slow-moving traffic in mid-morning. Totally unnecessary but due to the road being reduced to one lane.

Roger Lawson

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Greenwich Transport Policy – Have Your Say

Greenwich Transport Policy – Have Your Say

The London Borough of Greenwich is conducting a public consultation on future transport policies using the Commonplace platform. To quote: “The council has ambitious plans to make the borough greener, healthier and more connected, with a particular focus on how walking, cycling and public transport can be improved”.

They say this in the published Transport Strategy document: “Having declared a climate emergency in June of 2019, this strategy supports the Royal Borough’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030 and supporting a green post-pandemic recovery. Transport is the second biggest source of emissions in the borough. The Royal Borough has recognised that to become carbon neutral it is necessary to work to: a) reduce the number of journeys made by polluting motor vehicles, and b) enable people to walk, cycle and use public transport wherever possible”.

In other words, the use of vehicles will be attacked in the name of addressing the climate emergency. Is there a climate emergency and will reducing vehicles make any difference to the climate? The simple answer to both those questions is NO.

Just because we have had a slightly hotter and dryer period of weather this summer does not mean there is a climate emergency and emissions by vehicles in Greenwich cannot have any significant impact on the climate even if you accept that carbon emissions might be influencing the climate.

The whole of the UK produces less than 1% of worldwide emissions so any reduction in Greenwich alone will have a negligible impact.

In reality this is just another unnecessary and unwelcome attack on the use of cars.

How do they propose to discourage vehicles? By introducing more Controlled Parking Zones (CPZs), more Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) and more School Streets.

Reading the detailed report shows how Greenwich is failing to meet the Mayor’s targets for active travel, improving road safety and reducing emissions – see page 26. A particularly telling statistic is that the percentage of people killed and seriously injured (KSI) in collisions in Greenwich is on average lower compared to adjacent boroughs but a high proportion of such collisions are made up of people who are cycling (17%). Given that people cycling in the borough makes up less than 2% of the mode share, this demonstrates how dangerous cycling is in reality.

Make sure you respond to this consultation by going here: https://royalgreenwichtransport.commonplace.is/

Meanwhile Mayor Sadiq Khan has committed to spend £4million on making London a greener and more climate resilient city despite him being desperately short of money to keep TfL afloat. This includes funding more LTNs in Hackney and Enfield but it will also include rain gardens and tree pits (rain gardens might replace parking spaces and help to absorb excess rainfall which we are not exactly overwhelmed with this year).

Planting more trees and generally greening the environment may be welcomed but spending more money on non-essential projects at this time of economic difficulty is surely unwise.

More details on the Mayor’s expenditure here: https://www.london.gov.uk/press-releases/mayoral/4m-announced-to-aid-future-climate-resilience

Roger Lawson

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Regulating Cycling – Is It Overdue?

Regulating Cycling – Is It Overdue?

female cyclist riding bicycle along mountain road in summer

Transport Minister Grant Shapps has suggested that cyclists should be insured, required to have some form of identification (e.g. number plates) and be subject to a 20 mph speed limit. There was an interesting article in the Daily Mail by Melissa Kite on this subject. I quote from parts of it:

The last time I rode my horse on the country lanes of Surrey, I nearly didn’t come back. All thanks to a gang of cyclists.Only a few steps from the gate of the stable yard, a racing club in formation swarmed downhill towards me, spread across the lane. As poor Darcy began to panic, I screamed: ‘No, please!’ But they kept on coming. The bikes swirled around Darcy and suddenly she was spinning in circles – right into the path of a car behind me. I clung to her neck to stop myself falling, and saw the look on the driver’s face. We were so close I think we both thought I was about to end up on the bonnet. To this day, Darcy trembles when she hears the faintest whoosh of a bike. Anyone prepared to hurtle past a woman clinging to the neck of a terrified horse is not safe to be on the roads unlicensed and uninsured.

Some cyclists flagrantly break the law: running red lights, ignoring pedestrian crossings, weaving in and out of lanes and mounting pavements.

As my experience shows, the situation is dire in the countryside, where weekend cycling clubs are increasingly using the public roads as a racing track. And it’s not just the accidents they cause. It’s their anti-social behaviour. The atmosphere in many once-genteel areas has been ruined by the arrogant mentality of cyclists, hurtling along with selfish aggression”.

Comment: There is certainly a big problem in London and other major UK cities. Cyclists ignore red lights and do not give way to pedestrians. Modern bikes enable cyclists to exceed safe speeds and their brakes are not fit for purpose. If they are involved in an accident, as they are often are, they can ride away as they know there is no way of tracing them.

It has been suggested in the past that registration of cyclists or cycles would be expensive and not justified by the benefits. But a modern electronic registration system would not be expensive and a small number plate not difficult to affix to bikes. It should not put off anyone from cycling.

Tougher laws about cycling behaviour would also be welcomed by many people. Riding on pavements is a major problem which pedestrians heartily dislike and now that we have users of electric scooters doing the same we need a review of laws in this area.

Unfortunately many cyclists now think they are competing in a race against other cyclists and this has been encouraged by the promotion of cycling events. Organised events on public roads should be banned.

Roger Lawson

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Grant Shapps Wants a Bus Fare Cap

Grant Shapps Wants a Bus Fare Cap

Transport Minister Grant Shapps has written an article published in the Daily Telegraph which argues that the Government should impose a cap of £2 on all bus fares in England outside London. This would be paid for by a taxpayers’ subsidy of £260 million for 12 months.

It is suggested this cap would help those most affected by the cost-of-living crisis. Needless to say, this idea has apparently been opposed by HM Treasury.

Comment: This is economic lunacy. For example the typical bus far from London to Newcastle is £10 so £2 clearly nowhere near covers the cost of providing the service. In reality those who can currently afford the £10 would be massively subsidised so it would be a subsidy for both the wealthy and the poor, i.e. it’s not a targeted subsidy for those who can least afford to travel as claimed.

It would also undermine the economics of the rail network as people would choose to travel by bus rather than trains. So the true cost would be even higher as the Government already subsidises rail travel and those subsidies would need to increase if usage was reduced.

Once you start interfering in the economics of transport, you distort demand. Free or low cost travel increases demand which is then supplied at an uneconomic rate.

Where’s the £260 million coming from? From taxes that we all pay so raising the tax burden and reducing the income of everyone else.

This is yet another hare-brained scheme from Grant Shapps to follow on from his support of LTNs, active travel , HS2 and bail-outs of TfL.

Telegraph article: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2022/08/14/grant-shapps-introduce-2-bus-fare-cap-ease-cost-living-burden/

Roger Lawson

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Bromley Council Opposes ULEZ Expansion

Bromley Council Opposes ULEZ Expansion

The London Borough of Bromley has opposed the expansion of the ULEZ to cover the borough and have condemned it as a “cynical tax raid against the borough’s residents”.

Councillor Colin Smith, Leader of Bromley Council, said, “Quite simply, this proposal is wrong on just about every level and is really about paving the way for the introduction of road charging taxes across the whole of London by stealth.

Our borough already has amongst, if not actually the best air quality levels in London, and if this were truly about improving air quality even further, which we obviously support, those responsible would be thinking far harder in terms of broadening the scrappage scheme for non-compliant vehicles and accelerating the roll out of green vehicle charging points and buses”.

You can read his full response to the consultation on ULEZ expansion here: https://www.bromley.gov.uk/news/article/366/no-to-mayor-of-london-s-ulez-expansion-proposals

Comment: The Council’s response is well argued and basically says that the Council is already doing a good job of minimising and reducing air pollution while the expansion of the ULEZ to cover outer London will not significantly help and will be very costly for many residents.

Expansion of the ULEZ to outer London will hit those with older vehicles hard which are generally the poorer segment of the population. A good article on this subject was published by the Daily Telegraph here: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2022/08/10/sadiq-khans-hatred-motorists-control/ . It’s a symptom of Mayor Sadiq Khan’s hatred of cars despite the fact that public transport in outer London cannot be relied on and many people drive into the outer boroughs from surrounding counties for employment and shopping.

Expansion of the ULEZ makes no economic sense – the money involved would be better spent on other measures to reduce air pollution which is already very low in boroughs such as Bromley.

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TfL Board Meeting and Finances

TfL Board Meeting and Finances

gold colored coins near calculator

There was a Transport for London (TfL) Board Meeting on the 9th of August to discuss negotiations with the Government on finance. Such meetings should be public but in fact almost all the meeting was closed to the public; even the Government representative who has a seat on the board was excluded.

But there is an interesting board paper that spells out the dire financial position of the organisation – see link below. In summary they need £900m in Government subsidies to stay afloat in the current financial year, i.e. to offset the shortfall in revenue from the pandemic.

The paper says this: “The 2022/23 TfL Budget is based on a ‘managed decline’ scenario. This involved significant service reductions, deteriorating asset condition and no new enhancement schemes. This not only would mean that we will fail to make progress on critical priorities such as safety, decarbonisation and air quality, but it would trap London’s transport network in a vicious circle of deteriorating services and declining demand. Avoiding managed decline is critical to supporting the London economic recovery, and therefore the national economic recovery, following the pandemic”.

In essence they want to continue spending instead of cutting their cloth to meet the new circumstances. They need £1.2 billion just to balance the budget in the current financial year and even more for “longer-term capital funding to avoid the managed decline scenario”.

Looking at TfL as a business (which is what it is) this is surely pure hogwash. Businesses that do not reduce their expenditure to match income end up going bust. As will TfL unless they change their approach.

It’s interesting to look at who is on the board of TfL. It’s full of academics, trade unionists and politicians, not business people. And it’s chaired by Sadiq Khan. This is one of the key problems. Until TfL is taken out of the control of the Mayor and the board is replaced by people with business experience of running transport organisations, nothing will change. They will continue to rely on Government (i.e. taxpayer) hand-outs rather than taking the tough decisions necessary.

Roger Lawson

Board Paper: https://board.tfl.gov.uk/documents/s18400/board-20220809-item03-Update%20on%20TfL%20Funding.pdf

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ANPR Cameras Eroding Privacy

Are you concerned about the erosion of privacy? One issue that is coming to the fore but has not yet caught the attention of the public is the use of cameras on our roads to monitor our behaviour and potentially to catch criminals.

The cameras used to monitor drivers to ensure they pay the Congestion Charge or ULEZ charges were never intended to be routinely used by the police. Limited access to ANPR cameras was granted for specific investigations some years ago but Sadiq Khan now wants to expand their use. This is being legally challenged by London Assembly Member Sian Berry and an organisation called the Open Rights Group. Ms Berry has said:” I am deeply disappointed that the Mayor has not listened to repeated warnings that sharing the cameras from the expanded clean air zone with the police was a huge increase in surveillance of Londoners that should not be signed off by his office. I have been telling the Mayor since 2019 that sharing this data with the police is wrong and that Londoners must have their say in any decision”.

The expanded use of the cameras might include pictures of vehicles and their occupants and include the use of facial recognition technology which the Met already has available.

The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) has laid down guidelines on the use of cameras in public places and in essence there needs to be reasonable justification. There is a Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner who has recently questioned the legality of the use of ANPR cameras to enforce the proposed expanded ULEZ. He said there is limited evidence it would benefit society and therefore its legality is questionable.

Cameras are now being used to enforce Low Traffic Neighbourhood and School Street schemes by some Councils and this has turned into a money-making project in many cases. The profits to be made from such schemes should not be a justification for the use of ANPR cameras but they often are.

Comment: This whole area needs to be more subject to public debate and regulation. Some people think that expanding surveillance would reduce crime although there is limited evidence to support that. Others think that they do not want to live in a surveillance society where your every move is monitored and recorded.

One question is how cost effective such monitoring would be. Accessing ANPR images when specificially required and justified for the investigation of crimes is one thing. But a more general monitoring capability might involve enormous costs even if some of the activity could be automated.

Roger Lawson

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Speed Humps Come to Chislehurst

New speed humps have appeared in the Chislehurst High Street Car Park. Such humps are exceedingly painful to people like me with back pain complaints (of which there are a great number).

As Bromley Council have an adopted policy of a preference for non-vertical deflection traffic calming schemes I am very surprised that these humps have been installed. I would guess they have been installed to stop wheelies and other motorised ASB in this car park, no doubt to the annoyance of local residents, but I am not sure they will stop that anyway. Why has the Council ignored its own policy?

Was there any consultation with councillors or the Chislehurst Society before these were installed? I am not currently aware of any.

I have campaigned against the use of speed humps for many years. You can read all about the negative aspects of them on this web page: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/speed-humps.htm

Postscript: I complained to recently elected Councillor Mike Jack about these humps. After trying to justify the humps he said “I 100% support the council decision to use speed humps in this situation”. Note that he and the other Chislehurst Matters candidates campaigned on the basis that the previous Chislehurst councillors did not listen to the electorate or failed to take action. But it seems nothing has changed in that regard.

Roger Lawson

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The Death of the UK Motor Industry?

Toyota have warned the Government that it may cease making cars in the UK if a ban on sales of hybrid vehicles is introduced. That is currently scheduled for 2035 but even after 2030 there may be very tight restrictions on what qualifies for an exemption. Self-charging cars such as the Corolla might not qualify.

Toyota have a big car manufacturing plant employing 3,000 people in Burnaston, Derbyshire and in Deeside, North Wales. There is also the problem that Toyota might be impacted by Government mandates on the proportion of vehicles sold that are purely electric when Toyota has promoted hybrid vehicles for some years starting with the Prius.

Honda has also closed their plant in Swindon and these closures will reduce UK car production very significantly. Meanwhile it looks like Aston Martin will need another bailout to keep it afloat.

The Corolla is a reasonably priced self-charging hybrid with either a 1.8 or 2.0 litre petrol engine. It is a reasonable compromise between emission reduction and flexibility. It is a great pity that the UK Government is not encouraging the retention of hybrid vehicle sales past 2030 or 2035 which are not far away now. Purely electric vehicles are far from ideal for those in remote parts of the country where charging points are limited, or for those who do not have off-road parking.

A self-charging hybrid can go some distance on electric power alone so can substantially reduce emissions on short trips which are common in city driving conditions.

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