London Assembly members have been duped into opposing the mayor’s plan to clean up London and improve traffic flow by making minicab drivers pay the congestion charge say the LTDA.
In a highly controversial move, Gareth Bacon AM (the Conservative Assembly Member for Con, Bexley and Bromley) led a motion against Sadiq Khan’s green proposal.
The mayor wants private hire drivers to pay the £11.50 charge from April next year.
But assembly members have been convinced that the proposals would have a devastating impact on smaller minicab firms while driving up costs for passengers.
They passed the motion against the plan 16-3.
Only Caroline Pidgeon AM (Lib Dem, London wide) and the two Greens, Sian Berry AM and Caroline Russell AM, stood firm and opposed Bacon’s motion.
TfL say that the number of vehicles entering the zone each day has decreased by around 30% since the Congestion Charge was introduced in 2003. But the number of private hire vehicles (PHVs) entering the zone soared from 4,000 a day to more than 18,000.
The PHV industry has been lobbying against the mayor’s plans, saying that will they have a devastating effect on its ability to operate.
But Mr Khan’s supporters say that minicabs are only supposed to be exempt from the charge when working, but the technology is old, which allows many to use it as a blanket exemption.
The proposal would make it easier for operators to direct their fleets by using just a few of their cars in central London, eg., if an operator used only five out of a hundred in the city, the £57.50 total cost, would be spread over every job done by the whole fleet.
Uber would also have to control its cars.
This would cut the thousands of empty PHVs clogging the streets of London.
But Florence Eshalomi AM (Lab, Lambeth and Southwark) and Bacon claimed that the move would not have a significant effect on traffic congestion and claimed it was really a fund-raising ploy by a hard-up TfL.
Gareth Bacon, said: “Unfortunately, this policy is just an excuse for the mayor to raise some of the money he needs to plug the nearly £1 billion black hole in the transport budget. Talk of congestion and pollution is just a smokescreen.”
The consultation on the proposed congestion charge changes closes this week on September 28. Make sure you have your say here.