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TFL ULEZ CHAOS: No signage, slow website and road users cover registration plates with Mayor’s face

Updated: Sep 1, 2023

(Image credit: Andy Orr)

On the day that the controversial London Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) expanded to cover most of Greater London, drivers were greeted with slow website checker speeds, missing signage and motorists covering their registration plates with images of the Mayor of London.

The Transport for London (TfL) website was struggling to cope with the overwhelming demand from drivers checking whether their vehicle was compliant. Frustratingly long waiting times left drivers waiting for at least 15 minutes to access the service.

ULEZ, operating 24 hours a day, aims to enhance London's air quality by dissuading drivers of older and more polluting vehicles from entering the city. Those with vehicles that fail to meet the required emission standards are subject to a daily charge of £12.50.

Originally introduced in 2019 for the same area as the London congestion zone, ULEZ was expanded in October 2021 to encompass the region within the North Circular Road (A406) and South Circular Road (A205). However, the recent expansion has been surrounded by controversy, with opposition growing among Londoners and vigilantes targeting ULEZ cameras.

Motorists have even gone to lengths to cover their vehicle licence plates with images of the Mayor of London to evade the cameras that are now active.

Despite the negative sentiment surrounding ULEZ, TfL and London Mayor Sadiq Khan face further challenges. Several councils bordering London have refused to install ULEZ signs to inform drivers when they are entering the emission zone. Among the seven local authorities neighbouring London, Kent, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Essex, Surrey, and Thurrock have not displayed any ULEZ signage. Only Slough has taken the step to adequately notify drivers when they are entering a ULEZ area.

The combination of the struggling TfL website, long waiting times, and the lack of signage from neighbouring councils has created frustration and confusion for drivers navigating the expanded ULEZ.

With the implementation of stricter emission regulations hitting the most poorest of families who rely on road surface access, it remains to be seen how these challenges will impact the success and acceptance of the ULEZ initiative in the long term.

On its launch yesterday the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “This is a landmark day for our city which will lead to a greener, healthier London for everyone. The decision to expand the ULEZ London-wide was a difficult one, but necessary to save lives, protect children’s lungs and help prevent asthma, dementia and other health issues.

“All the evidence shows that it’s clean air zones like ULEZ that are the gamechanger in a city like London when it comes to cutting toxic air quickly and meaningfully to protect people’s health. It’s thanks to the ULEZ that we are now set to get London’s air to within legal limits in the next couple of years, 184 years earlier than previously projected.

“As Mayor, I’ve continued to listen to the concerns of Londoners, which is why we have massively expanded the scrappage scheme. This means all Londoners with non ULEZ-compliant cars can now get financial support to switch to greener, less polluting alternatives. We still have millions of pounds left in the scrappage scheme pot, so I encourage all Londoners who are impacted by ULEZ to apply today for the support we’ve made available. I continue to call on the Government to give London and Home Counties money for scrappage, as they have other cities around the UK.

“I’m determined to continue being a doer, not a delayer when it comes to reducing air pollution and taking bold climate action. The easiest thing for me to do would have been to kick the can down the road, but we simply don’t have time to waste. I am not prepared to stand idly by when we have the ability to save lives and help tackle the climate crisis.”


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