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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Ross Lydall

Most drivers hit with £180 Ulez fine since expansion have failed to pay it

Seven in 10 drivers issued with a Ulez penalty charge since the zone expanded have failed to pay the £180 fine, Transport for London revealed on Tuesday.

TfL said almost a million fines were “outstanding” – or unpaid after a month – leaving it owed £218,316,553.

One motorist has clocked up 200 fines and owes TfL £47,682. Drivers who have failed to pay the £12.50-a-day levy have received an average of 12 fines.

The figures, published in a freedom of information response, came as TfL commissioner Andy Lord predicted that the Londonwide Ulez would deliver “very significant” improvements to air quality.

He suggested that the first analysis of the impact of the Ulez expansion on roadside pollution – which is due next month - would justify Sadiq Khan’s decision to widen the zone across Greater London last August.

He also denied that the mayor and TfL were engaged in a “war on the motorist”, despite the expanded zone having generated more than £160m in levies and fines by April and being seen by some Londoners as a “tax on drivers”.

Speaking to the Transit Unplugged podcast, Mr Lord said: “There will be a report in the next month or so which will show, six months on, what the impacts and benefits have been of the ultra-low emission zone expansion.

“We are expecting it to be very significant. We already know from our own data that the number of compliant vehicles has increased, and therefore by default the air quality should have improved.

“We have seen some congestion improvements as well. Some people will say this is us having a ‘war on the motorist’. It absolutely isn’t. It’s around improving air quality. At the same time, if it delivers some traffic easing, that’s great.”

Prior to giving the go-ahead for the Ulez expansion, Mr Khan had been warned by the independent consultancy Jacobs that the benefits of the Londonwide zone were likely to be negligible.

Only a “moderate” positive impact on nitrogen dioxide road traffic emissions was predicted, alongside a “minor” positive impact on PM particulate emissions, leading overall to a “minor positive impact” on Londoners’ health, Jacobs said.

TfL revealed it had issued 1,348,938 Ulez fines between September 26 last year and April 26. Of these, 282,448 have been paid, raising £43.8m of income, but that number is expected to increase over time. A total of 974,590 tickets are classed as “outstanding”.

Drivers have 28 days to pay – and get a 50 per cent discount if they pay within 14 days. The bill increases to £270 after 28 days.

Net revenue raised from Ulez levies and fines is reinvested in London’s public transport network. The Ulez is projected to stop making a surplus by 2026/2027 as drivers switch to compliant vehicles.

Prior to the expansion of the zone to the Greater London boundary, 42.8 per cent of Ulez fines went unpaid – more than 1.8m fines.

TfL has yet to update its Ulez vehicle compliance figures for 2024. By last December, an average of 95.8 per cent of vehicles spotted by the zone’s cameras complied with the exhaust emission rules and thus were not liable for the £12.50 levy. This included 96.7 per cent of cars but only 87.8 per cent of vans.

A TfL spokesperson said: “The Ulez is not about making money. It will lead to cleaner air while generating ever smaller net revenues, as has been the case with the previous expansion to inner London where people switched to greener vehicles.

“We encourage all PCN [penalty charge notice] recipients to engage with us, particularly if they are struggling with any difficulties or hardship. Unpaid PCNs are passed on to our debt recovery services and can lead to further action.”

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