Transport for London (TfL) managed to pocket a hefty sum of £73.3 million in fines from drivers cruising through London's ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) last year. If drivers neglected to pay the £12.50 fee, they were slapped with a penalty charge notice (PCN) amounting to £180. However, if they managed to cough up the cash within a fortnight, the penalty was reduced to a more manageable £90.
According to recent figures obtained through a freedom of information request, the ULEZ proved to be a money-making machine, raking in over £224 million in 2022. That's an average of £18.7 million per month, with a significant portion of £151.3 million coming from daily charges.
Initially implemented in April 2019 to encompass central London, the ULEZ was later extended to cover the boundaries of the North and South Circular in October 2021. Come August 29, it will blanket the entirety of the capital.
Earlier this year, TfL estimated that the expansion of London's ULEZ would bring in a staggering £300 million during its first year. However, they anticipate that revenue from this pollution-curbing initiative will become "insignificant" by 2027.
During a discussion with the London Assembly, Patrick Doig, TfL's group finance director, stated that their "central estimate" predicts an additional £200 million generated by the ULEZ in the year following its expansion to the Greater London boundary on August 29 this year. However, there is a margin of error of "50% plus or minus," meaning the range could be anywhere from £100 million to £300 million.
TfL assures that when the expanded ULEZ goes live, around 95% of vehicles within the zone will meet compliance standards, saving their owners from the daily £12.50 charge. Compliance rates are expected to increase gradually each year thereafter.
To assist fleets in meeting the requirements, TfL has introduced a scrappage scheme worth a generous £110 million, allowing more businesses to participate before the ULEZ expansion takes effect. Starting from the end of July, London-based businesses with fewer than 50 employees will be eligible to apply.
At present, charities, sole traders, and businesses with 10 or fewer employees registered in London can apply for grants to scrap a van (£5,000 grant) or a minibus (£7,000 grant), retrofit certain vans or minibuses (£5,000 grant), or replace a van or minibus with a fully electric vehicle (EV) (£7,500 or £9,500 grant respectively).
Moreover, the new scheme permits charities operating in London to scrap or retrofit up to three vans or minibuses instead of the previous limit of one.
Additionally, sole traders, microbusinesses, small businesses, and registered charities who have ordered compliant vehicles or booked an approved retrofit appointment for a non-compliant light van or minibus will enjoy a new grace period.