New London road use charge to be trialled in Hackney

Hackney Council will trial a new road use charge system that will adjust the charge based on a number of factors including congestion and time of day.

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Hackney is set to become the first area in the UK to trial a new dynamic congestion charge system. 

The London borough is set to become the first trial area for the new scheme which London Mayor Sadiq Khan is hoping to roll out.

According to the British Motorcyclists Association (BMF), Khan says the scheme is “many years away from being ready to implement.” The scheme would make congestion charge adjustable depending on time of day, congestion and pollution levels. 

Hackney Council, the BMF says, takes the opinion that London needs to move faster on such a scheme. The borough council thinks the scheme should also take into account the personal circumstances of individuals, as well as the kind of vehicle they use. For example, whether they drive a car, or ride a motorcycle, perhaps.

A council spokesperson said: “Distance-based road user charging needs to also take account of factors such as income, disability and journey purpose.

“Otherwise it is just a scheme for improving motoring conditions for the rich. There needs to be a ‘just transition’ to ‘net zero carbon’. 

“The limited road space in London and road user charging should be prioritised for tightly defined ‘essential traffic’ such as supporting the mobility of disabled people and freight, servicing and emergency trips. 

“The system needs to build on emissions-based charging and take account of vehicle type, but also should ramp up to heavily penalise second or third cars owned by the same individual.”

It is of course somewhat amusing - if promising - to hear a spokesperson for Hackney Council describe the transition to net-zero as one which needs to take into account vehicle type, for example, considering its stance on parking in the borough. 

In that case, it takes the position that motorcycles should be treated the same as cars, and 125cc motorcycles should be treated the same as 1200cc motorcycles, because it says they are all as polluting as each other. 

BMF Chair Jim Freeman takes a more cynical stance on the scheme, saying it is simply to rescue the finances of Transport for London (TfL). 

“The dire state of TfL’s finances continues to drive what appear to be increasingly desperate attempts to increase revenue,” Freeman said. “People are literally voting with their feet, despite the coercion, not enough are ‘walking, cycling or using public transport’ [WCPT].”

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