BORIS JOHNSON, who won the Mayoral election by promising to scrap parts of the Congestion Charge, now wants to RAISE the taxes motorists pay when they drive in London.
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“The Mayor may consider road user charging,” is the killer line, tucked away on page 147 of Johnson’s new 148 page Transport Strategy, published today.
“Road user charging could reduce traffic, congestion and vehicle emissions,” it continues.
Later, a spokesperson for the Mayor admitted that Johnson had done a bit more than “consider” road user charging; he’s been in touch with the government’s Transport Secretary, Lord Adonis, about it.
“It is something Boris is looking at and talking to Lord Adonis about,” said the spokesperson.
Unlike the Congestion Charge, where drivers pay a flat fee for taking their cars into town, with ‘road user charging’, drivers are taxed according to how many miles they drive, calculated by a Big Brother-style tracking device.
Transport experts reckon the scheme would come in at about £1 a mile, hugely increasing costs for many commuters into and out of central London, especially as it appears this new tax would be on top of the current Congestion Charge.
Not that Johnson is to stop there with the cost-hikes for drivers.
“The Mayor will also consider imposing charges or tolls to support specific infrastructure improvements, such as river crossings,” is another line from the Transport Strategy, which raises the spectre of more and more toll roads.
There is also a proposal to introduce road charging to outer London traffic hotspots. “Charging in London’s metropolitan town centres might be considered,” is how the Strategy puts it.
All this is a far cry from last year, when Johnson painted himself as the motorists’ friend in contrast to public transport fan Ken Livingstone.
“We need an improved system that is fairer to the people who are paying a hell of a lot of money to drive into London,” said Johnson during the election battle with Ken Livingstone.
He did keep a promise to get shot of Livingstone’s proposed £25 CC rate for gas-guzzlers, saying it “would have hit families and small businesses hardest”.
But now it seems he is to replace it with a scheme that will hit hard all cars and therefore even more families and businesses.