TfL's income has increased by £93.6m from expanding London’s ultra-low emission zone

The Ulez zone was first launched in April 2019 Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Expanding London’s pollution charge zone for older vehicles boosted Transport for London’s (TfL) income by almost £100 million, according to new research.

RAC analysis of TfL figures found the move to make the ultra-low emission zone (Ulez) 18 times larger generated an estimated £93.6 million of additional revenue from drivers.

The data was published ahead of the first anniversary of the expansion on Tuesday.

Sadiq Khan said expanding the Ulez is ‘one of the toughest decisions I’ve taken’ Credit: Victoria Jones/PA

The Ulez was first launched in April 2019 but initially only covered the same area of central London as the congestion charge.

Since 25 October last year it has included all areas within the North and South Circular roads as part of efforts to boost air quality.

Drivers of most vehicles which do not comply with minimum emissions standards are charged a daily fee of £12.50 for entering the Ulez.

Failing to pay can result in a penalty charge notice of £160, reduced to £80 for early payment.

The analysis by the RAC found that between the start of November 2021 and the end of June 2022, an average of 1.9 million journeys were made into the zone every month, resulting in £112.5 million of revenue from those required to pay.

That is compared with revenue of less than £19 million between February and September 2022, before the Ulez was expanded.

Drivers of vehicles which do not comply with minimum emissions standards are charged a daily fee of £12.50 for entering the Ulez area

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has proposed to make the zone even bigger – covering the whole of the city – from August 2023.

TfL has consulted on the measure and Mr Khan is expected to announce his decision on what will happen by the end of the year.

RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said last year’s expansion meant drivers of non-compliant vehicles faced a “stark choice” of either replacing their vehicle or paying the daily charge.

He went on: “Londoners living outside the current Ulez will now be worrying about the prospect of further expansion, mooted to be at the end of August 2023.

“While we accept that action is needed to reduce toxic emissions from vehicles, the cost-of-living crisis is hurting drivers in the pocket and there is a risk that further enlarging the zone will be hugely costly for those with older vehicles who can least afford to change them for something newer.

“As it is, RAC research suggests drivers are holding on to their vehicles for longer, so there is a real risk that more people with non-compliant vehicles will be forced to pay a charge they can ill afford to.

“We would encourage the mayor to take a pragmatic approach and redouble his efforts to support lower-income families and businesses with non-compliant vehicles with a targeted scrappage scheme ahead of any expansion plans.”

Earlier this week, Mr Khan insisted “the status quo in relation to the poor quality of air in London is just not on”.

He said: “There has been no single policy that’s improved the air as much as the Ulez.

“In central London and inner London, we’ve managed to reduce toxic air by almost a half.

“I think clean air is a human right. Why can’t those in outer London who suffer the worst air pollution, have the worst numbers of premature deaths, also benefit from clean air?”

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