Transport for London investing £150 million in technology capable of enforcing pay-per-mile road charging

February 05, 2024 by

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Transport for London (TfL) is investing £150 million into a new platform for existing road user charging schemes, such as ULEZ, and it’ll have the capability to enforce pay-per-mile road charging in the future. Read on for all you need to know. 

  • Transport for London developing new ANPR technology
  • Set to be used for Ulez and congestion charging for now
  • Could be expanded in the future to include pay-per-mile road charging
  • Estimated project cost of £150 million

A new platform for existing road user charging schemes, such as Ulez and the Congestion Charge, is being developed by Transport for London to replace the outsourced system currently in place as the contract is due to expire in 2026.

A series of Freedom of Information (FoI) requests submitted to TfL and reported by The Telegraph show that this scheme has been dubbed “Project Detroit”, and it’s a ‘road user charging’ platform which will be able to support the London Congestion Charge, Ulez, HGV permit scheme and, in the future, will also support toll charges for the Blackwall and Silvertown tunnels.

According to the FoI request, this system could also be adapted to support “other forms of charging based on distance, vehicle type etc” if TfL decided to implement such schemes in the future.

The London Assembly launched a consultation on pay-per-mile road charging last year, describing it as having the potential to represent “the biggest change in how daily transport is paid since the introduction of Oyster and the Congestion Charge nearly 20 years ago”.

A distance approach would see motorists pay depending on how far they drive, while the variable aspect could see differing fees applied depending on if a journey were for work, leisure, or the provision of essential services.

While there are no official plans to introduce distance-based road charging, London Conservative Assembly Member Peter Fortune told The Telegraph: Sadiq Khan can deny it all he wants but it’s pretty clear he plans to introduce pay-per-mile road user charges for every motorist if he wins a third term.

“He has a history of saying one thing and doing the opposite. Remember he told us he wouldn’t expand Ulez, then did precisely that.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Transport for London are insistent that there are no plans at present to introduce pay-per mile charging. In a statement to the Daily Mail, a TfL spokesperson said: “Any work carried out or staff hired as part of Project Detroit has been in relation to TfL’s existing road-user charging schemes.

“Pay-per-mile charging has been ruled out by the mayor and no such scheme is on the table or being developed.”