London Assembly Members have joined forces to vote against Sadiq Khan’s proposal to take away the Congestion Charge exemption from private hire vehicles (PHVs).
Members voted on a motion which urged the Mayor to scrap the policy on Thursday afternoon, which was passed by 16 to 3.
Critics say that the policy would fail to reduce congestion and is only being pursued to plug the deficit in the transport budget.
The Mayor's own figures show that the change would reduce the number of PHVs in the Congestion Charge zone by only 600 a day – with the total traffic in the area falling by a meagre 1 percent.
Fares could rise by 16 percent, as operators would have to cover the cost of paying the Congestion Charge.
The analysis also shows that the move could raise up to £30 million per year, which could help to fill the Mayor's almost £1 billion black hole in the transport budget.
Commenting, Gareth Bacon AM said:
“The fact that Assembly Members have united to vote against this flawed policy speaks volumes.
“This policy is nothing more than a smokescreen – it won’t have any real impact on London’s congestion problem and Sadiq Khan knows it. The Mayor has blown a £1 billion black hole in the transport budget and now he wants to fleece the PHV industry to boost the coffers.
“It’s not only the PHV industry that will suffer from this reckless policy; increased costs will be passed on to customers to pay in higher fares. The Mayor’s own figures show that fares could rise by up to 16 percent, which would hit the elderly and disabled people who rely heavily on this affordable form of transport particularly hard.
“The Mayor is increasingly isolated, and this should be final nail in the coffin. Khan needs to scrap this damaging proposal”.
Steve Wright Chairman of the Licensed Private Hire Car Association (LPHCA) said:
“It would be a catastrophic mistake to remove the Congestion Charge Exemption from Private Hire Vehicles (PHVs) in London.
“PHVs are widely used by the elderly, the vulnerable and the disabled as a safe and affordable mode of licensed door-to-door public transport. They are also used widely by hospitals, schools, local authorities and businesses to get undertake essential journeys.
“It is fact that PHVs reduce car ownership and car usage in cities. The London PHV fleet is extremely green and year-on-year has modernised into one of the most environmentally friendly fleets in London.
“TfL’s own research predicts that there would be very little if any reductions in congestion, in fact we believe there will be more, alongside increased overheads for the travelling public and Londoners.
“This idea is fatally flawed and the Mayor should do the right thing and immediately withdraw the proposal”.