INCREASED pressure on Britain’s hard-pressed urban public transport networks is on the cards for cities planning to charge higher polluting vehicles.
Evidence has emerged that London’s ‘T-Charge’ bumping up the cost of a journey by up to £21.50 extra for the highest polluting cars and vans is pushing significantly more drivers onto already stretched rail and bus services in the heart of the capital.
The online motor retail specialist BuyaCar.co.uk asked over 1,300 motorists how they are responding to the new anti-pollution charge and discovered that – of those who regularly enter central London – many are already switching to public transport.
While around one in three drivers remain willing to suck up the extra costs of driving into central London a small but almost one in five say they will simply visit the heart of the city less.
But the most common reaction to London’s T-Charge among those who have changed their behaviour in response is to use public transport more often.
More cities around the UK are considering similar measures, including Birmingham, Leeds, Southampton, Derby and Nottingham, which suggests that pressure could also increase on public transport networks in those areas too.
BuyaCar.co.uk also broke down the data to see which types of motorist were most reactive to London’s T-Charge and found that younger people and women were most likely to switch to public transport as a result. Older drivers and men in general were least likely to abandon their cars but were also more inclined to reduce visits to the centre of London.
The T-Charge also looks set to prompt around ten per cent of affected drivers to consider changing their vehicle for a less polluting one.
Austin Collins, Managing Director of London-based BuyaCar.co.uk, said: “Everyone wants to enjoy cleaner air in our cities but our findings show that financial penalties on the drivers of higher polluting vehicles potentially spell problems elsewhere.
“For example it looks as if the concerns expressed ahead of the T-Charge’s introduction that some people might visit the centre of London less, or even stop coming altogether, are coming true.
“And with public transport already under a lot of strain at the best of times, the prospect of more drivers switching onto buses and trains spells more pressure still.
“It is to be hoped that other UK cities considering similar anti-pollution measures will be learning from the results of London’s T-charge to avoid negative consequences for residents and city centre businesses.”
“We also hope that those people without easy access to public transport are not forgotten.
“Scrappage schemes have proved successful in the past for helping remove the dirtiest vehicles from our roads. A comprehensive approach to tackling pollution should perhaps also ensure that drivers of older vehicles, who may not have the funds for a replacement, receive support so that they can upgrade to a newer and cleaner model.”