London assembly member says Khan's policies will not reduce congestion.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has been accused of “fleecing” minicab drivers to pay for a transport funding shortfall.
Earlier this month, Transport for London (TfL) announced that it would be changing the Congestion Charge to remove the discount for pre-booked private hire vehicles, or minicabs, as well as cutting the discount for vehicles that emit fewer than 76g of carbon dioxide per kilometre.
London Assembly member Gareth Bacon, of the Greater London Authority Conservatives, criticised the mayor’s plans to remove the Congestion Charge discount for private hire vehicles, saying the move would have little effect on traffic levels.
Speaking at Mayor’s Question Time earlier this week, Mr Bacon quizzed Mr Khan on his policy, pointing out that the government assessment showed that the new policy would result in a mere one percent reduction in congestion.
Bacon said the move could, however, raise up to £30 million a year, which would help fund TfL’s £1 billion transport budget shortfall.
However, Mr Khan denied that the scheme was purely there to make money, and said the assessment showed that the number of private hire vehicles entering the capital could be reduced by 45 percent if the policy passes the public consultation.
“The purpose of these changes is to reduce traffic and congestion in central London, as well as improve air quality,” he said. “If we do not take further action by 2041, forecasts show that it will take more than an hour to travel 10km (6.2 miles) by road in central London. That’s 15 minutes longer than it does today.
“It’s not about raising revenue, it’s about dealing with congestion.”
However, Mr Bacon said Mr Khan’s plans would have no “significant” effect on congestion, and that the scheme would simply cause expense for minicab operators and users.
“This move is unlikely to have any significant impact on London’s congestion problem and Sadiq Khan knows it,” he said. “The Mayor wants to fleece the minicab industry to boost the coffers.
“It’s not only the cab drivers who will suffer from this reckless policy; increased costs will inevitably be passed on to customers to pay in higher fares. These customers are often elderly or disabled people who rely heavily on this affordable form of transport.
“This policy shows that the Mayor is hell-bent on hammering small businesses and consumers. Londoners deserve better than this – Sadiq Khan needs to think again.”