Sadiq Khan’s ‘war against commuters’: Now London Mayor warns Tube and bus fares could rise by ANOTHER 10 per cent – as he is blasted for plans to expand ULEZ and slap motorists with pay-per-mile charges
- Fares for Tubes, buses, DLR and trams already rose by five per cent in March
- Today Mr Khan painted a grim picture of what could be ahead for commuters
- Came as Commons Leader Mark Spencer attacked Mayor’s transport policy
Sadiq Khan could hike fares for London commuters by as much as 10 per cent from next year, it emerged today – as he was blasted for plans to expand the £12.50-a-day Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez) and introduce pay-per-mile charges for motorists.
Transport for London fares for Tubes, buses, the DLR and trams already rose by five per cent in March, and another significant rise would place an extra burden on households amid the cost of living crisis.
The five percent hike was the biggest rise in fares since 2012, with Tube fares within Zone 1 increasing from £2.40 to £2.50 as a condition of the government’s £5billion bailout of cash-strapped TfL. And today Mr Khan painted a grim picture of what could be ahead for commuters.
‘My concern is what happens this September when inflation is at nine or ten per cent. That’s a nine or ten per cent fare increase next year if the government requires RPI [inflation] plus 1 per cent,’ he told the London Assembly.
Transport for London fares for Tubes, buses, the DLR and trams had already risen by five per cent from March, and another significant rise would place an extra burden on household budgets amid the cost of living crisis
Mr Khan was today criticised for his plans to extend the Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez) boundary from the North and South Circular roads
TfL, which Mr Khan oversees, saw its revenues collapse by as much as 95 per cent during the pandemic, and another bailout is needed to cover next April after which the organisation is expected to become ‘financially sustainable’.
‘It’s really important that the government gives us a decent deal,’ Mr Khan said, as he admitted perks such as free travel for under-18s could be under threat.
It comes as Mr Khan was attacked in the Commons for his travel policy, including expanding the controversial ULEZ zone across the whole of the capital.
‘It almost feels like the Mayor of London is launching a war against commuters,’ Commons Leader Mark Spencer said.
He was responding to Conservative former minister Theresa Villiers, who said: ‘Could we have a debate on Mayor of London’s plans to extend the Ulez (Ultra Low Emission Zone) to the greater London boundary, and introduce pay-per-mile driving charges?
‘Because I am deeply worried about the impact of these new charges on my constituents at a time of rising inflation.’
Mr Spencer said: ‘It almost feels like the Mayor of London is launching a war against commuters.
‘Extending the Ulez to the boundary, working with the union bosses to cause misery on tube strikes, I think is going to cause commuters coming in and out of London huge challenges.
‘I think he should be supporting those people who are coming in and out of this great city to work, not making their life more difficult.’
More than 100,000 cars are set to be affected by the expansion scheduled for August 29 next year, costing drivers an extra £4,500 a year and therefore bringing a total boost for City Hall’s finances of up to £450million a year.
Sadiq Khan, pictured on an Elizabeth line preview ride with Boris Johnson on May 17, wants to expand the Ulez zone next year
Mr Khan is proposing to extend the Ulez boundary from the North and South Circular roads, which have been covered since October 2021, to cover the whole of Greater London and encompass 3.5million more people.
What is the Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez) and do you need to pay it ?
The easiest way to establish whether you will need to pay for using the Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez) is by using Transport for London’s numberplate checker here
The Ulez operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year except Christmas Day.
Most vehicles need to meet the Ulez emissions standards or the driver must pay a £12.50 daily charge to drive inside the zone, which includes cars, motorcycles, vans and specialist vehicles (up to and including 3.5 tonnes) and minibuses (up to and including 5 tonnes).
Residents of the Congestion Charge area also need to pay the charge, as do motorists living within the Ulez zone when they drive around and go past a Ulez camera – but not on days that their car is left in the driveway.
Lorries, vans or specialist heavy vehicles (over 3.5 tonnes) and buses, minibuses and coaches (over 5 tonnes) do not need to pay the Ulez charge.
The zone now covers all areas within the North and South Circular roads after being expanded in October last year. The North Circular (A406) and South Circular (A205) roads are not in the zone.
Anyone driving into London in a diesel car that doesn’t meet Euro 6 emission standards – generally motors registered after September 2015 – has to pay a daily £12.50 levy to enter the zone.
For petrol car drivers, only vehicles that fail to meet Euro 4 standards – registered after 2005 – are charged under the scheme’s existing rules.
Drivers who fail to pay receive a £160 fine, which is cut to £80 if paid within a fortnight of receiving a penalty notice.
The Mayor argues that the expansion is necessary to tackle London’s ‘toxic air crisis’, claiming that pollution has been a factor in about 4,000 premature deaths during 2019 and most of these in outer parts of the city. A consultation on the extension is currently underway and running for another two months until the end of July 29.
But Conservative politicians say the extension would be unfair on locals in the outer suburbs, which often feature higher proportions of Tory voters and where access to public transport is not as good as in the inner zones.
Gareth Bacon, Tory MP for Orpington, said there was an acceptable argument for Ulez in Central London but ‘a much less plausible argument for the extension that he’s already implemented to the North and South Circular’.
Mr Bacon told the Sunday Telegraph: ‘There is no argument for that really to push out to the Greater London boundary, none whatsoever. He’s doing it because he knows that it will raise a lot of money.
‘If you are in outer London, and you have a vehicle that fails the Ulez standard, this is going to cost you and if you use that vehicle every day is going to cost you an extra £4,500 a year.’
Bob Blackman, Conservative MP for Harrow East, also told the Telegraph: ‘People in outer London depend on cars and vans for their livelihoods. The Tube is concentrated on moving people in and out of London.’
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a former Mayor himself, has also urged Mr Khan to halt the expansion plans as the cost-of-living crisis continues, saying during a visit to Bromley: ‘Don’t add more burdens to families now, don’t add more burdens to business.
‘We can improve air quality together but I think another tax on families and businesses and white vans and the rest of it, is going to hit people just when we’re trying to put more money into their pocket.’
Mr Khan is desperate to raise funds for Transport for London after its finances were devastated during the pandemic due to a collapse in demand while people stayed at home during lockdowns – and will be hoping that the delayed opening of the Elizabeth line last Tuesday will also help towards balancing the books.
But Mr Khan has said the expansion is needed because the ‘current and long-term threat from toxic air pollution to public health is significant’, adding that harmful emissions will cost the NHS and social care £10.4billion if no further action is taken to improve air quality.
The Ulez expansion is the latest phase of Mr Khan’s so-called ‘war on motorists’ in recent years, which has included Low Traffic Neighbourhoods that shut some roads to through-traffic but resulted in higher local congestion for many areas