Request ID: FOI-0233-2324 Date published: 18 May 2023
I'd like to please know why when someone doesn't pay the ULEZ charge is TFL's first contact automatically to fine the person/vehicle rather then send a reminder to pay the fee/tax/charge especially when the signage is extremely unclear on why/how to pay.
How is the £12.50 ULEZ charge amount calculated?
How is the fine figure calculated and why is the fine/charge so extortionately higher than the initial charge?
TfL Ref: FOI-0233-2324
Thank you for your request which we received on 20 April 2023, asking for information about the ULEZ. Your request has been considered in accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act and our information access policy. I can confirm that we hold the information you require. You asked: I'd like to please know why when someone doesn't pay the ULEZ charge is TFL's first contact automatically to fine the person/vehicle rather then send a reminder to pay the fee/tax/charge especially when the signage is extremely unclear on why/how to pay. We have endeavoured to provide information to all motorists on the existence of the ULEZ and how it operates. This includes extensive information on our website and a comprehensive signage strategy. Our website contains full details of how the scheme operates, including a detailed map of the ULEZ and a vehicle compliance checker. An extensive multi-channel advertising campaign has been running since May 2018 to raise awareness of the implementation of the ULEZ scheme, please see herefor more details. Furthermore, as part of the implementation of the expanded ULEZ, TfL launched a multi-channel campaign in January 2023 to raise awareness of the ULEZ expansion across all London boroughs. The campaign targets Londoners and Home Counties drivers to explain who is affected, where the expanded zone will operate and how the scheme operates including hours of operations, daily charge and how to pay. The campaign aims to encourage vehicle checking to help drivers prepare ahead of when the scheme expands from 29 August 2023. The campaign also raises awareness of the scrappage scheme amongst those who are eligible for financial support to switch their vehicle.The campaign will enable TfL to reach over 3.3m vehicle owners in London six or more times as well as 6.5m vehicle owners in the home counties six or more times so those who drive in London are aware of the upcoming expansion including boundary and how the scheme operates. The signage advising of the ULEZ complies with the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2016 (TSRGD) which prescribes the designs and conditions for use of traffic signs. There is only a limited amount of messaging that can be placed on a traffic sign which can be safely read and assimilated by drivers moving at speed. For this reason the signage doesn’t contain details of how to pay the charge, but advises of the presence of the ULEZ and in some cases the hours of operation. Some signage also highlights that it is TfL who operate the scheme. In addition, the daily charge payment period has been extended until three days after the day of the journey into the ULEZ and this ensures motorists have time to establish whether a charge is payable, prior to potentially receiving a penalty. With over 45,000 non-compliant vehicles being driven in the existing inner London ULEZ on a daily basis it would be neither practical nor cost effective for us to issue letters reminding motorists of the need to pay the daily charge. To help drivers of non-compliant cars avoid receiving a PCN, TfL has removed the annual £10 per vehicle Auto Pay registration fee. Drivers signed up to Auto Pay are automatically billed for the number of charging days their vehicle travels within the Congestion Charge Zone, LEZ and ULEZ. How is the £12.50 ULEZ charge amount calculated? How is the fine figure calculated and why is the fine/charge so extortionately higher than the initial charge? The ULEZ charge level was decided upon following evidence-based analysis for the Central London ULEZ in 2015 and following consultation for the inner-London expansion in 2017. For the London-wide ULEZ the charge level has been retained at the existing level. The Report to the Mayor for the Central London ULEZ published in March 2015 sets out the rationale for the charge level. This stated that the charge level is, “based on the contribution to emissions of the vehicle, the propensity to travel in the zone and the likely response of the vehicle owner.” The supplementary information published for the inner London ULEZ consultation included analysis of the impact of the charge level to determine the extent to which different groups respond to different charge levels. The supplementary information document for the inner-London ULEZ noted: “The behavioural response to a range of charges for car drivers was modelled using stated preference survey data. At the lower range of charges there was a significantly lower range of expected compliance with the standards as a larger proportion of drivers would opt to stay and pay the charge.” The Report to the Mayor for the London-wide ULEZ states, “The charge level of £12.50 has proved successful for both the central and the inner London ULEZ. It provides an effective incentive for frequent drivers of noncompliant vehicles to change their vehicles or mode of transport while still allowing infrequent journeys to be affordable.” The level of the penalty charge notice (PCN) is designed to provide an effective deterrent and achieve the scheme objectives for the ULEZ and Congestion Charge. These include increasing compliance and persuading the most frequent entrants into the zone to upgrade their vehicles. Over time the deterrent effect of receiving a PCN has decreased. This is due to a number of factors including inflation, increases to public transport fares and, particularly for the Congestion charge, the level of the charge itself reducing the relative disbenefit of the penalty charge. This is why the PCN level increased from £160 to £180 in January 2023. If this is not the information you are looking for, or if you are unable to access it for any reason, please do not hesitate to contact me. Please see the attached information sheet for details of your right to appeal as well as information on copyright and what to do if you would like to re-use any of the information we have disclosed. Yours sincerely Eva Hextall FOI Case Management Team General Counsel Transport for London