ULEZ Rakes In More Than £100m Profit In First Year

Tue 20th Jul 2021

Transport solutions in the UK capital should be seeing significant investment after congestion charges in London saw profits jump by £107m thanks to the Ultra Low Emission Zone.

The huge increase, from £160m to £267m, should be spent on the transport network according to Transport for London, however campaign groups are arguing that the massive profits far outweigh any infrastructure projects currently planned.

The data, which has been published by the AA, comes a little over three months before the ULEZ will be expanded to areas within the North and South circular roads, a zone 18-times its current size. The AA estimates that the switch in October will affect some 300,000 residents who drive cars that don’t meet the ULEZ criteria, leaving these drivers facing a £12.50 charge every time they use their car.

While Transport for London argues that it makes no profit from the Ultra Low Emission Zone, the AA questions whether improvements in buses, cycle lanes and the Tube is matched by these investments.

“All that expenditure they list used to come out of transport spending paid from taxation or fares,' said Luke Bosdet from the AA.

“Now it comes from targeting users of vehicles going about their daily lives and not having the wealth to buy up-to-date models of cars. 

“What the Greater London Authority gets from charges and fines vastly exceeds the cost of the infrastructure required to implement its restrictions.

“They don't spend it on facilities that would reduce all car traffic, regardless of the motorists' means, such as effective park and ride or park and cycle facilities on the outskirts of London.

“If Cambridge can convert 3.6 million car commuter trips into park and ride bus journeys each year, just think what London could do if it followed the example.

“Yes, the ULEZ will have the desired environmental effect – by pricing poorer people off the road and as to what the financial impact of the ULEZ being expanded will be, we can only wonder.”

Transport for London’s argument is that the ULEZ is encouraging car owners to make greener decisions when purchasing a car. They point out that the number of eligible vehicles has grown from 39 percent in February 2017 to more than 80 per cent in August 2020, having a positive effect on air pollution.