Now Big Stupid Cars May Get Charged in London

In March, we noted that London mayor Ken Livingstone had labeled drivers of Urban 4x4s as "complete idiots." We learned yesterday that Livingstone plans to do more than just call "Chelsea tractor" drivers names; he wants to make them pay more for the privilege of driving large SUVs in London's "congestion zone." According to The Times,
The London Mayor said he wants to introduce an emissions-based congestion charge fee in an attempt to reduce pollution in the capital that will hit the pockets of drivers of the most heavily-polluting vehicles.

Vehicles in the excise duty Band G with carbon-dioxide emission above 225g per km, would pay the top charge, while drivers of the least polluting cars, like the G-Wiz, would be charged nothing under the proposals.

Mr Livingstone said: "Most vehicles that will be charged £25 [~$47.50 US], in Vehicle Excise Duty Band G, are high priced models. Those who buy them can afford to choose from pretty much the whole of the mainstream car market but have chosen to buy one of the most polluting vehicles. [my emphasis]

"By making these changes to the congestion charging scheme we are encouraging people to take into account the impact of their choice of new car on the environment and the planet."

If that weren't enough of a blow to Urban 4x4 drivers, the Mayor also proposed eliminating the 90% discount given to residents of the congestion zone if they choose big polluting vehicles. This also comes on top of the Richmond Council's plan to institute emissions-based parking charges on residents in its SW London district.

While some will certainly complain about these proposed changes, it's hard to argue that they're unfair: drivers only pay if they choose to continue driving a gas-guzzler in the Duty Band. In a city with world-class public transportation, that seems like a luxury that should carry an extra price. ::The Times via Streetsblog

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