Press Release

Mayor should prioritise extra road charges over cuts to services in the face of revenue crisis, Londoners say

Most Londoners are worried about Transport for London’s (TfL) finances and support new charges for road users to help fund the running of bus, tube and train services, according to a new survey published today by Centre for London.  

The survey is the latest issue of the Snapshot of Londoners, by Centre for London in partnership with Savanta. It was undertaken from 23 February to 7 March 2022.  

The survey, which asked 1,549 Londoners their experience of the public transport network and their views on different solutions to help solve TfL’s funding crisis, found that: 

  • Over two thirds (69 per cent) of Londoners were worried about the impact of the pandemic on TfL’s finances, while only 25 per cent were not.  
  • People with children under 18 were more likely to be worried or very worried (51 per cent compared to 42 per cent for people who don’t have children under 18), possibly reflecting concerns over the future of free travel for young people.  
  • Disabled people were more likely to be ‘very worried’ about the impact of the pandemic on TfL’s funding (26 per cent, compared to 16 per cent for people who are not disabled) 

When presented with options for TfL to increase revenue due to loss of income since the pandemic, the top choice was increasing charges to drive in parts of London, with more than one in four choosing this (27 per cent). The second most popular choice was cutting services, which was chosen by 15 per cent of Londoners. Further down the list of preferred options were fare increases (12 per cent), 11 per cent supported a nationwide tax increase, and 9 per cent an increase in taxes in London. 

Londoners were also asked whether they would support the introduction of pay-per-mile road user charging as an alternative to the existing road charges in the city (ULEZ, and the Congestion Charge). 42 per cent of Londoners said they would support this change, while 26 per cent said they were opposed. Nearly a third didn’t express a view either way (23 per cent would neither support nor oppose it, and 9 per cent didn’t know). 

Labour and Conservative voters were equally as likely to support the introduction of road user charging (44% were in favour in both groups). Of particular significance is that car owners were also as likely to support the introduction of road user charging as people who don’t own a car (43% and 41% respectively), yet car owners were also more likely to oppose (30%, compared to 20% among people who don’t own a car). 

Reacting to these findings, Nick Bowes, Chief Executive of Centre for London, said: “Londoners know just how critical a successful Transport for London is to the functioning of the city. The threat of worsening bus, tube and train services and fares rising even higher will worry Londoners that getting to work and visiting family and friends risks becoming much more difficult and potentially more expensive. The state of near constant crisis in TfL’s finances is demoralising to the organisation and undermines confidence in the city. Both the Government and the Mayor need to agree a long-term funding deal as soon as possible to provide more certainty. But, as our polling shows, there is general backing for more road user charging. The Mayor should feel emboldened by this, and be brave enough to push forward with a pay per mile road user charging scheme, helping with TfL’s finances, tackling poor air quality and congestion and promoting more walking and cycling. ” 

Oliver Worsfold, Director at Savanta, said: “When compared to other global cities, London has seen a lower proportion of workers return to the office and lower numbers of visitors using public transport.  This shortfall certainly affected Transport for London’s finances, despite a temporary funding agreement from central government before this poll was taken. The capital needs to move forward into finding alternative funding for Transport for London, and, as our survey shows, increasing charges for private vehicles to drive around the city streets is a necessary step that Londoners are willing to take.” 


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Notes to Editors  

  • Centre for London is the capital’s dedicated think tank. The Centre develops new solutions to London’s critical challenges and advocates for a fair and prosperous global city. 
  • The Snapshot of Londoners survey was conducted by Savanta, who polled 1,549 London residents between 23 February and 7 March 2022. 
  • For more information about how London could utilise the latest technology to create a simpler, smarter and fairer approach to road user charging, please read Centre for London’s 2019 report ‘Green Light: Next generation road user charging for a healthier, more liveable London’.