The Sunday Telegraph

Khan ‘committed’ to considerin­g pay-per-mile road charging


SADIQ KHAN is committed to exploring a pay-per-mile scheme for drivers, a legally binding document suggests.

In his official transport strategy, which has a formal legal status, the mayor says Transport for London (TfL) would “investigat­e proposals for the next generation of road user charging”.

Since the Mayor has had opportunit­ies to update his transport strategy and to remove any policies he does not wish to pursue, the Tories have claimed that his failure to do so is evidence he remains wedded to exploring pay-permile. Mr Khan has firmly rejected the claims and insisted that he has “ruled out pay-per-mile”.

In his transport strategy, originally published in 2018 and subsequent­ly revised in 2022, Mr Khan said: “The Mayor, through TfL, will investigat­e proposals for the next generation of road-user charging systems. These could replace schemes such as the Congestion Charge, Low Emission Zone and Ultra Low Emission Zone [Ulez].”

The document says that “more sophistica­ted road user charging” could achieve policies in the strategy relating to “mode share, road danger reduction and environmen­tal objectives, and to help reduce congestion on the road network and support efficient traffic movement”. “In doing so, the Mayor will consider the appropriat­e technology for any future schemes, and the potential for a future scheme that reflects distance, time, emissions, road danger and other factors in an integrated way,” it says.

In further explanator­y text, it adds that “an integrated ‘per mile’ charge could replace pre-existing schemes … with a single, unified scheme which takes into account both congestion and emissions objectives”. In February, The Telegraph revealed that TfL was working on a scheme, Project Detroit, to create a “more sophistica­ted … new core technology platform for road-user charging”, with £21 million spent on the

project to date. But with Labour still bearing the brunt of criticism for the expansion of Ulez, Mr Khan has repeatedly insisted that per-mile charging of drivers will not be introduced on his watch. But the Tories have said that such denials can only be given weight if the Mayor formally revises his strategy.

The transport strategy is a document which is legally mandated by the Greater London Authority Act 1999. The legislatio­n states that the Mayor must “prepare and publish” a transport strategy which contains their policies for “safe, integrated, efficient and economic” transport. The Act also says “where the Mayor revises the transport strategy he shall publish it as revised”.

In November 2022, Mr Khan was required to amend the strategy in order to allow him to expand Ulez to Greater London. With the London Assembly having powers to reject the strategy – or any revisions to it – by a two thirds majority, Mr Khan told Assembly members at the time that he needed “a revision to the policy foundation in the Mayor’s transport strategy to give permission at a future date to widen the Ulezs”. Susan Hall, Mr Khan’s Conservati­ve opponent in the mayoral race, said that if he was serious about ruling out pay-per-mile he would revise the strategy, with the Tories willing to lend support in the Assembly.

Instead, she said he had relied on non-binding statements to the media, as well as a letter to Andy Lord, the TfL commission­er, in which he said his plans for tackling air pollution “will not include a new pay-per-mile road user charging scheme or amending the standards for the Ulez scheme”. Ms Hall said: “Sadiq Khan has been disingenuo­us in his denials, given he has refused the opportunit­y to remove pay-per-mile from his legally-binding transport strategy. We can expect more of these dodgy lawyer tricks from Sadiq Khan if he gets another four years.”

A spokesman for Mr Khan said: “This is nonsense from a Tory party desperate to distract from their 14 years of failure, and is categorica­lly untrue. Sadiq is clear he has ruled out pay-per-mile.”

Mr Khan remains the favourite in the mayoral race. Polling last week showed that he was on 50 per cent with Ms Hall on 26 per cent.

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