back to article London mayor: Self-driving cars? Not without jacked-up taxes, you don't!

London mayor Sadiq Khan has come out against driverless electric cars, telling Parliament that adoption of the vehicles by Londoners could harm government tax revenues, reduce the number of cyclists – and leave questions over who would build the roads. “A move towards new technologies like electric vehicles is likely to reduce …

  1. Gordan

    What about the downsides?

    "London mayor Sadiq Khan has come out against driverless electric cars, telling Parliament that adoption of the vehicles by Londoners could harm government tax revenues, reduce the number of cyclists"

    [...]

    "The transport authority, whose chairman is Khan, expressed concern that driverless car technology could encourage Londoners to give up forcing themselves onto overcrowded trains or slow-moving buses packed onto the capital’s ever-busier roads"

    Are there any _negative_ effects?

    1. AndyS

      Re: What about the downsides?

      I know you're being facetious, but I think the article is slightly harsh on Khan here. He doesn't appear to be opposing the new tech, but recognising that it's likely to lead to a loss of revenue, largely because it is better. Hence the statement:

      >A move towards new technologies like electric vehicles is likely to reduce taxation income for the government which could impact on the funding available for highway improvements

      This doesn't say "new tech is bad", but the opposite. New tech is good, but we need to make sure we don't lose tax revenue.

      Seems perfectly reasonable.

      1. jmch Silver badge

        Re: What about the downsides?

        "This doesn't say "new tech is bad", but the opposite. New tech is good, but we need to make sure we don't lose tax revenue."

        Yes. And more pertinently, not taxes for taxes' sake but specifically to fund road improvements and maintenance

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What about the downsides?

          @jmch "Yes. And more pertinently, not taxes for taxes' sake but specifically to fund road improvements and maintenance"

          The money for services/infra has to come from somewhere, so less raised on petrol duty/rfl means more needs to be raised elsewhere. If you want to pay less tax I hear Eritrea has very a very low tax regime.

        2. nijam

          Re: What about the downsides?

          > specifically to fund road improvements and maintenance

          Haha. Hahahaha. Hahahahahhahahahaha.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: What about the downsides?

            But the children! Thnk of the children!

            Business need to more with less. Government wants to do less with more.

        3. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: What about the downsides?

          The interesting part is that 1 bus carrying 40 people does about 5000 times as much roadbed damage as 40 cars carrying 1 person and that damage doesn't decrease much if the bus is empty.

          Driverless cars are more likely to smooth traffic flow too, because they don't do stupid things like jumping red lights or fouling intersections.

          The really interesting part is that overall traffic levels (and numbers of parked cars) are set to radically decrease (driverless cars means cheaper taxi services, which means more people not bothering to buy a car, or leaving it at home when going into the city) - which is a real cause for concern to areas like Westminster which have become totally dependent on parking income.

          Sadiq is seeing the things as a threat and not an opportunity. They come with the Knowledge built-in and updated as to the best route every second of every day.

        4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: What about the downsides?

          "not taxes for taxes' sake but specifically to fund road improvements and maintenance"

          We've been here before. There used to be the Road Fund. Then it was morphed into the VED, sucked into the Treasury and the roads see less and less of it. In part new roads and bridges which the Road Fund should have financed have instead been built on a toll basis, taking us back to the late C17th.

          Impose a new tax to fund road improvements and you'll see (a) even less Treasury funding for roads and (b) the Treasury getting its hands on the new tax.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: What about the downsides?

        "A move towards new technologies like electric vehicles is likely to reduce taxation income for the government which could impact on the funding available for highway improvements"

        Well thats what happens when you take the road tax, which is for building roads , and do something else with it , like turn it into a co2 tax

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: What about the downsides?

          "Road tax" (VED) - nets about 5-7 billion per year

          Fuel duties and taxes net about 70 billion per year

          Only about 5-7 billion is spent on roads each year and the vast majority of damage is caused by vehicles in excess of 7 tons (damage goes up with the 5th power of axle weight and the square of speed)

          A fleet of self-driving 6-8 seat minibuses would be _far_ better for the roads than any kind of double decker bus and the interesting thing is that they'd probably give better speeds for passengers.

          1. hititzombisi

            Re: What about the downsides?

            14-seater minibuses are ubiquitous elsewhere in the world and work significantly better than large double-buses. More frequent and quicker service (reduced loading/unloading times at the stops).

            On the other hand, if you are to transport a very large amount of people to similar destinations, large buses have their point.

          2. Nonymous Crowd Nerd

            Re: What about the downsides?

            Very interesting @Alan Brown...

            "5-7 billion is spent on roads each year"

            Is that the national figure - including maintenance and all three repeat announcements of road "improvements". Do you know the source(s) for your figures?

        2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

          Re: What about the downsides?

          There is no such thing as road tax, and there is no such thing as a hypothecated tax that goes directly into road building. All, but ALL UK taxes go into a single general tax pot; all, but ALL spending comes out of that single general tax pot.

      4. rh587 Silver badge

        Re: What about the downsides?

        I know you're being facetious, but I think the article is slightly harsh on Khan here. He doesn't appear to be opposing the new tech, but recognising that it's likely to lead to a loss of revenue, largely because it is better.

        ...

        Seems perfectly reasonable.

        Sure, but he seems to be presenting it a bit of an "OMG crisis" manner.

        It's not rocket science. At one stage VED was based on engine size, at others CO2 emissions. Sooner or later it will just get changed again based on weight or something (i.e. if you get to the point where most cars are electric, you would either flat-rate them or separate on weight as a proxy for load/road wear).

        Same for the Congestion Zone. Charges have varied for different classes of vehicle. When a shift in road usage becomes a problem, you change the tariff.

        Crying "woe is us, who will build the roads?" is more than a tad melodramatic.

        1. hititzombisi

          Re: What about the downsides?

          Power rating of a car is a sensible starting point for leccy cars.

      5. alexnode

        Re: What about the downsides?

        We need to introduce electric vehicles as soon as possible and we need to install charging points all over London. I would have assumed that with such horrible air quality, we should have paid and subsidised EVs ... not tax it ! If you are in the country side you can have diesel and all but in Big cities the air and noise are horrible.

      6. Bent Metal
        Alert

        Re: What about the downsides?

        “A move towards new technologies like electric vehicles is likely to reduce taxation income for the government which could impact on the funding available for highway improvements,” said Kahn

        and

        TfL insisted that “a modal shift from car use to walking, cycling and public transport use is the only way to maintain and improve our streets"

        Yet surely, if successful, such a modal shift in behaviour will also have a dramatic impact on congestion charge & vehicle tax income - thus impacting funding available for highway improvements.

        Unless of course the endgame is to tax cyclists and pedestrians.

        1. Gordan
          Thumb Up

          Re: What about the downsides?

          "Unless of course the endgame is to tax cyclists"

          That part sounds really good.

    2. Mage Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: What about the downsides?

      The "carbon emissions" are moved, not saved and may even increase due to grid losses, charging losses and battery losses. UNLESS you have most electricity sourced from non-fossil sources. Electric cars in UK really need Nuclear or hybrid Nuclear /Fusion power.

      Autonomous electric cars might increase on road congestion if they are single person carrying "taxis" as the journey distance can be nearly doubled, worst case.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: What about the downsides?

        "The "carbon emissions" are moved, not saved and may even increase due to grid losses, charging losses and battery losses"

        Tank to wheel efficiency of most cars and busses is in the region of about 5% - less than 1% in stop start traffic.

        Tank(furnace) to wheel efficiency of electric vehicles is around 35% and stop/start traffic makes little difference if they use regenerative braking.

        The interesting part that goes with that is that the electricity cost of refining the fuel to run a car is about the same as charging an electric car.

        Carbon emissions are a problem. Look up "Leptav Sea Methane Emissions" and then "Storegga slide" and then "Anoxic Oceanic Event". We're going to have to stop burning carbon sooner rather than later and not just for electricity (which only accounts for about 35% of carbon emissions).

        This brings in some interesting problems:

        1: To replace the other 65% of emissions (with electricity), you're going to need to increase electrical generation capacity by a factor of _AT LEAST_ 6, probably 8. Electric vehicle fleets alone will double the requirement at minimum, and replacing gas/oil heating systems will be as much again - which you CAN'T timeshift by much even with storage heating. Industrial processes will need considerably more electricity than a 1:1 reduction in carbon you might naively think, because a lot of it is making high quality heat.

        2: Assuming perfect solar panels on every rooftop and windmills everywhere, renewables can _just match_ current electrical generation capacity (forget drax, it and its kin are greenwash which are destroying old growth forest at a prodigious rate)

        3: Hydro is tapped out, tidal won't make enough different to matter. Electricity can only be economically transported about 1000-1200 miles before line losses and construction costs kill the feasibility of the project - less than 200 miles underwater (and underwater links top out around 2GW).

        3a: That means "paving the desert" and using electrricity from there is a non-starter - for starters the deserts belong to african countries (colonialism writ large) and secondly the transmission lines _alone_ would be the largest engineering project in the history of humanity, with 75+% losses into Europe (No, superconducting cables are not practical. They need to be cooled and trenched, which is ok for 20 miles but not thousands)

        4: If the developed world stopped using carbon tomorrow, the developing world has the capacity to make up the emissions and then some, whilst bootstrapping themselves to developed status.

        The only logical path is nuclear and lots of it - to the tune of about 60 Hinkley points in the UK alone and deployment fo the same across the developing world.

        By the time those reach midlife to end-of-life we (or rather the chinese, as they're the ones doing the lion's share of R&D) should have Molten Salt Reactors sorted and commercially viable. These are at least 100 times safer than current nuclear (which is already 300,000 times safer than coal) and break down conventional "nuclear waste"(*) - both the 99% viable stuff that comes out of a conventional reactor and the 90+% "depleted" uranium that's currently discarded after enrichment or turned into H-bomb casings/bullets, - leaving 1% waste output which is safe to handle in 100-300 years (5-10 for some byproducts, which are saleable commodities such as helium and other noble gasses. Anything "hot" or toxic goes back into the reactor melt pool for further breakdown)

        (*) A conventional 800-1000MW reactor over a 60 year lifespan produces enough high level waste to fill a large swimming pool and is safe to handle for reprocessing in about 300 years (less if you wear gloves)

        Ideally molten salt reactors will be ready long before conventional plants reach end of life, but we can't afford to sit around another 30 years waiting for them to be commercially viable and then 20 more to build the things. Carbon-emitting power plants need replacing now and we don't _have_ 50 years to sit around with our thumbs up our arses.

        Yes, I'm aware that nuclear technology has drawbacks, but even with a worst case chernoybl event every decade(**) that'd be 50-60,000 deaths vs 500million or so if climate change gets bad and 2-3 billion if the atmosphere drops to 15-16% oxygen or less in the case of an Anoxic Event.

        (**) The world's coal plants emit enough radium alone to equal the radiation output of several chernobyls each year. Making a fuss about nukes when that's going on is on par with panicking about plane crashes but not bothering to wear a seat belt when you're in the car.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What about the downsides?

          "Electric vehicle fleets alone will double the requirement at minimum"

          That sounds like made up statistics to me. Do you have a reliable source for that?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What about the downsides?

        The "carbon emissions" are moved, not saved and may even increase due to grid losses, charging losses and battery losses. UNLESS you have most electricity sourced from non-fossil sources.

        Which we do. It was in the news earlier this year that for the first time, at one point more than 50% of our electricity came from renewables....and that's only going to increase....

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What about the downsides?

          When you fudge the numbers or just plain lie about uantities, you can claim anything.

      3. hititzombisi

        Re: What about the downsides?

        IC engines are significantly worse in efficiency compared to thermal power stations, even after you account for grid losses etc.

      4. davyclam

        Re: What about the downsides?

        There are three types of fuel available for road vehicles; Petrol Diesel and Coal.

        1. Roger Mew

          Re: What about the downsides?

          What about trolley buses. They are cheap to make, easy to drive and make no pollution, asuming they are using wind power!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What about the downsides?

      "A move towards new technologies like electric vehicles is likely to reduce taxation income for the government which could impact on the funding available for highway improvements,"

      Surely the purpose of the current lower tax is just to encourage adoption of what are relatively expensive vehicles. Once a significant proportion of the population does, and indeed once they are the main choice on the market then presumably the discount will disappear. A very short sighted view to discourage clean vehicles on the basis of future revenue!

      It does beg the question what will all the Uber / Cab drivers do once we have "Johnny Cabs"?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What about the downsides?

        "It does beg the question what will all the Uber / Cab drivers do once we have "Johnny Cabs"?"

        From my extensive experiences with Uber I would guess for most it would be return to their country of origin?

    4. tfewster Silver badge

      Re: What about the downsides?

      A move towards public transport and bicycles is likely to reduce taxation income for the government too. Better recognise that times are changing and invent a new tax. How about an Air tax? Where everyone pays and some of the money goes towards improving air quality?

      </sarc>

    5. macjules Silver badge

      Re: What about the downsides?

      London mayor Sadiq Khan and official spokesperson for the London Taxi Drivers Association has come out against driverless electric cars, telling Parliament that adoption of the vehicles by Londoners could harm government tax revenues

      There. FTFY

    6. TheVogon Silver badge

      Re: What about the downsides?

      This just needs a mass purchase of Bloom Energy Servers strategically placed to power these recharging points. They you would have a completely pollution free solution...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They give with one, then take with the other.

    1. Spudley

      They give with one, then take with the other.

      Well yeah. They kinda have to do that if you want them to maintain the level of services they offer.

      Or alternatively, they could, you know, just stop maintaining the roads.

      Nobody likes taxes, but go look at the countries that have low taxes and you'll find countries that also have low levels of public services.

      The current low taxes on EVs are explicitly intended to accelerate adoption of low-pollution vehicles. But don't expect EVs to remain untaxed when they become mainstream.

      1. MrXavia

        " they could, you know, just stop maintaining the roads."

        I thought they already had?

        1. Tigra 07 Silver badge

          RE: MrXavia

          Yeah, like MrXavia has said, if you've been to the Midlands you'll know that ship has sailed.

          They routinely leave potholes so long (5+ years generally) that when they do fix them they have to resurface the entire road.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: RE: MrXavia

            @Tigra 07 "They routinely leave potholes so long (5+ years generally) that when they do fix them they have to resurface the entire road."

            Report the pot holes, they will be fixed if they meet the threshold to avoid being found guilty when taken to court by someone injured by a pot hole. You problem is differnt authorities have different diameter and depth numbers.

            1. tiggity Silver badge

              Re: RE: MrXavia

              You would need a lot of time on yer hands when a road is nearly all potholes & local councils too corrupt to bother fixing, they don't care if sued, they just close another library to cover the bill

            2. Tigra 07 Silver badge

              Re: RE: MrXavia

              There's a pothole on the main road near Great Bridge ASDA that's at least 3 inches deep and the size of a manhole.

              It's next to the bus stop too and it's been getting bigger for years. Eventually the council may just decide to build a bridge over it instead of filling it in...

              1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                Re: RE: MrXavia

                "Eventually the council may just decide to build a bridge over it instead of filling it in..."

                Report it as a material hazard to cyclists and see how fast they react. Councils don't like paying out £20-60k at a time.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: RE: MrXavia

                And then they could tax bridge crossings. Sound.

      2. jmch Silver badge

        " alternatively, they could, you know, just stop maintaining the roads"

        One of the problems here is that AFAIK the fuel tax, congestion charge, vehicle licensing fees etc go into the UK general budget, not int a pot reserved for road upgrades and maintenance. So what is spent on roads is far less than what road-related taxes bring in.

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "Or alternatively, they could, you know, just stop maintaining the roads."

        If motoring taxes were actually spent on roads we'd have superb roads. Taxes are taken from road users but not spent on roads.

    2. nijam

      > They give with one, then take with the other.

      They take with one, then take with the other.

      FTFY

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      They give with one, then take with the other both.

  3. DavCrav Silver badge

    Khan being an idiot on this one

    This is a stupid report. "We don't like electric vehicles because we would get less tax under our current system" is a moronic reason to continue supporting fossil fuel burning ICEs.

    1. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: Khan being an idiot on this one

      @ DavCrav

      It really does show where his loyalty lies when his issue is money.

    2. AndyS

      Re: Khan being an idiot on this one

      I don't think that's how it was intended.

      If you read it as "this new tech is great, people will convert to it but that means we will lose revenue, so we need to change our tax systems," isn't that a perfectly reasonable thing for him to say?

      1. Spudley

        Re: Khan being an idiot on this one

        <blockquoteI don't think that's how it was intended.

        If you read it as "this new tech is great, people will convert to it but that means we will lose revenue, so we need to change our tax systems," isn't that a perfectly reasonable thing for him to say?</blockquote>

        Yes, it's a perfectly reasonable thing for him to say.

        However, if that is what he's saying then he's being wilfully ignorant of the fact that the current low road taxes on EVs have always been intended to rise once EVs become mainstream.

        Indeed, these changes are already happening -- the level of road tax is (partially) based on a vehicles' emissions, and the emission thresholds for getting lower tax rates have been going down steadily: cars that used to be taxed as low-emission have been pushed into higher bands and are no longer getting such a good tax rate as they used to.

        The change is gradual, and not easy to notice as long as the headline is zero tax for pure electric vehicles, but that will change too eventually.

      2. ukaudiophile

        Re: Khan being an idiot on this one

        What would actually be more reasonable to say would be 'I will live within my means and use the money I have wisely and intelligently, not just hold my hand out and demand more at gunpoint when I've spent everything inefficiently and recklessly'.

        His tax income is falling, you either get more efficient, or simply stop wasting money on fatuous projects with no ROI, but as a typical socialist he believes that everyone works to pay taxes for his pet projects.

        If he actually cared about the air quality, he'd be spearheading a campaign to reduce the the density of people in offices in London, stopping further development within the M25, & accepting the loss of tax income as acceptable to achieve real reductions in pollution within the M25, but that is clearly not his agenda, his agenda is clearly to prioritise increasing his tax income over everything else. I hope people remember this when the next mayoral election is held.

    3. Tigra 07 Silver badge

      Re: Khan being an idiot on this one

      It''s even more stupid when you see that London has some of the most polluted air in the country...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Khan being an idiot on this one

        It''s even more stupid when you see that London has some of the most polluted air in the country...

        Because they've discouraged modern petrol engined vehicles, and invested in huge fleets of farty diesel buses, and encouraged an immense fleet of antiquated diesel taxis. The bulk of central London's pollution is caused by public transport.

        Things don't get any better on the underground, where air quality on several lines would routinely fail EU air quality tests (but those only have to be performed at street level). So much for pollution free electric transport.

    4. Not also known as SC
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Khan being an idiot on this one

      I can't help suspect that this is one of the pushes behind smart meters. If the smart meter can determine that you are charging an EV (through current drain, separate dedicated charging circuit or whatever) then it is quite possible for an alternative tariff (including additional tax) can be implemented just for the electricity used to charge the EV. The EVs will eventually cost just as much to run as ICE vehicles.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Khan being an idiot on this one

        "If the smart meter can determine that you are charging an EV (through current drain, separate dedicated charging circuit or whatever) then it is quite possible for an alternative tariff (including additional tax) can be implemented just for the electricity used to charge the EV"

        What if you charge by off grid power sources? Will it become illegal to charge your vehicle by solar or battery storage?

        How politically toxic is it to say we are going to punish you (as that is how the tax would be perceived) if you use this electricity for car charging. Also current drain would be similar for a shower/ac/heating/cooker etc. If it was a separate circuit you could just plug your car into a 13amp socket and get untaxed electric - good luck policing that.

        The taxing will be based on car usage - you pay for miles travelled or more congestion zones or road tolls or just plain VED.

        1. Not also known as SC

          Re: Khan being an idiot on this one

          You're not looking at this from the view of tax raising politicians. Once smart meters are in place, the general population will be eventually conditioned to paying different rates for electricity used for various purposes (think the already touted demand based tarifs) and there is then nothing to stop the cost of the electricity relating to EV charging rising faster than electricity used for other purposes in the name of road / infrastructure funding, congestion reduction or whatever suits the government's purpose. This would probably be a gradual increase in the way fossil fuel tax increases are gradual so wouldn't amount to political suicide anymore than raising tax on petrol or diesel.

          Agreed, the government will probably tax through VED, road charging etc as well but do you honestly believe that they would give up a source of income?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Khan being an idiot on this one

            You are overestimating the abilities of smart meters. They are nothing more than an electrical meter with a wireless connection that can communicate with the provider.

            They have no ability to separate electrical tariffs by the consuming device.

        2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

          Re: Khan being an idiot on this one

          We are already taxed based on car usage - it's called fuel duty.

    5. David Nash Silver badge

      Re: Khan being an idiot on this one

      "We don't like electric vehicles because we would get less tax under our current system"

      I thought it said Self Driving cars (which happen to be Electric) not EVs generally.

      Anyway it doesn't say "we don't like them", it says "if we have them, we need to change taxation to compensate".

    6. charlieboywoof

      Re: Khan being an idiot on this one

      Like I said, if published, the lefts priority is getting hold of your money (they have none of their own) and control.

    7. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Khan being an idiot on this one

      "a moronic reason to continue supporting fossil fuel burning ICEs."

      Remember that the EVs will simply move the fossil fuel burning to power stations. That's probably OK with Kahn; they're not in his manor.

  4. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Just let's not go down the Blair + Brown route shall we?

    It took only a couple of years for people to forget that Blair and Brown government threatened any local authority wanting to improve traffic flow with a reduction in their budget equivalent to the loss to the exchequer from less fuel being burned at start/stops.

    We are now back at it again - we are looking at sabotaging a technology which can potentially reduce urban pollution and make thousands of lives better instead.

    FFS, taxation is a form of "buying civilization". Just tax the lot. Actually start by taxing the Pri(ck)us infestation in London. There is way too many of them defeating the "congestion" part of the congestion charge.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just let's not go down the Blair + Brown route shall we?

      Could I have a link to that?

      (I'm not doubting you, just want to read more)

    2. micheal

      Re: Just let's not go down the Blair + Brown route shall we?

      On that subject..

      Didnt the services (Plod, Ambulance, Army) all do the single fuel evaluation based on the Brown / Livingstone "Diesel is good" policy?

      Bet some large companies got good dividends for that one.

      Are they going to rethink it based on the "new" evidence?

      1. SkippyBing Silver badge

        Re: Just let's not go down the Blair + Brown route shall we?

        'Didnt the services (Plod, Ambulance, Army) all do the single fuel evaluation based on the Brown / Livingstone "Diesel is good" policy?'

        The military at least subscribe to the NATO single fuel policy which is Diesel, I believe for logistics reasons (i.e. you have to move less of it than petrol) and safety (i.e. it has a higher flash point so fire is less of a worry).

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Just let's not go down the Blair + Brown route shall we?

      "There is way too many of them defeating the "congestion" part of the congestion charge."

      As opposed to bangers with cloned plates?

  5. Redstone
    Devil

    So..

    ...with the £250M they got last year (and previous years) from 'congestion' charging and the money they would get anyway from road tax I assume all the roads in London are billiard-table smooth and will soon be multi-level to ease said congestion - eliminating the need for congestion charging?

    Surely they don’t want to perpetuate the congestion problem simply for financial and political gain? Say it ain’t so…

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So..

      They might get money from Congestion Charging, but seeing as Road Tax was abolished in 1937 (and replaced by Vehicle Excise Duty) they don't get much from that at all...

      Yes, I know most people refer to VED as Road Tax, but that doesn't mean it is.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: So..

        "Yes, I know most people refer to VED as Road Tax, but that doesn't mean it is."

        Shhh. HMG don't wish people to know that. They want them to go on thinking that VED is spent on roads and NI on health and social services. If people didn't believe that they'd have to start thinking about a transparent taxation system.

  6. derek burns

    the truth is out there

    So what we knew all along finally comes out.

    Its not about the environment but how much money we can take out of peoples pockets.

  7. TRT Silver badge

    He's missing a trick here...

    He should be adding them as a TfL service. Khan Khars. Like Boris Bikes and Boris Buses.

    1. Tigra 07 Silver badge

      Re: He's missing a trick here...

      Khan Cars = Khars?

      Boris Bikes = Borks?

  8. corestore

    I've never understood...

    I have no idea why Brits (and to be fair many other countries) tolerate the confiscatory levels of taxation that currently apply to fuel. I suspect the 'boiling frogs' analogy applies. It defies all logic; roads are a common good; a necessary service best provided by government. Since they benefit all (directly or indirectly) they should be paid for by all, in a fair manner - paid for by revenue from taxes such as income tax where the poor pay little or nothing and the rich pay their fair whack (at least in theory). Taxes and charges HAVE to be related to ability to pay to be fair.

    Fuel taxes (and things like the ridiculous 'congestion charge' or road pricing) are paid at the same rate by rich and poor alike; that's bad and wrong and evil; ALL products sold at retail shouldn't carry any more tax or duty or charge beyond basic VAT or sales tax - and that should be kept low. And, as Mr. Khan indirectly points out, it can cause a big problem for government revenue when people switch to an untaxed fuel! But the fair and correct solution is the opposite to the one he proposes; put a penny on income tax and abolish all fuel taxes.

    1. AndyS

      Re: I've never understood...

      > I have no idea why Brits (and to be fair many other countries) tolerate the confiscatory levels of taxation that currently apply to fuel.

      Meanwhile, we in the free world will never understand the bullshit that USians put up in terms of crap public services, expensive (or non existent public) education, abusively awful healthcare, failing infrastructure... It turns out that an ideological crusade against tax, run by corrupt idiots like Trump and Moore, isn't exactly a good way to run a country either.

      Fuel tax is a perfectly reasonable way of raising revenue. Own a small cheap car, and minimise your use of it? Pay less tax. Own a flashy 4x4, and drive it all day every day? Pay more.

      The alternative is a higher level of vehicle tax (an annual charge, which does not reflect the vehicle usage), or higher general taxation. Increasing general taxation isn't normally very popular.

      1. corestore

        Re: I've never understood...

        Increasing general taxation isn't very popular - unless it's perceived as very FAIR.

        Abolish fuel tax. Increase income tax fractionally to make up the shortfall. Poor people will pay less. Average people will pay about the same. Rich people will pay more. People will see the fairness in that.

        I have triple citizenship (long story!) including US. The US healthcare system in a soundbite: "Never in the field of human healthcare have so many paid so much for so little" - me!

        1. ArrZarr Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: I've never understood...

          This idea of a Tory government taxing the rich more is where your argument falls down, I'm afraid. It's also not as if Labour are any better as their current direction is leading towards nationalisation or large spending increases which aren't mirrored by tax hikes.

          We put up with fuel tax because it's not too bad a concept while we have bigger fish to fry.

          1. DJO Silver badge

            Re: I've never understood...

            At some point the number of electric vehicles on the road will significantly impact the fuel duty revenue.

            Be prepared for a mileage tax, it (or something similar) will happen.

            1. katrinab Silver badge

              Re: I've never understood...

              Most likely a tax on electricity supplied via an electric car charging point.

              You could avoid that by charging from a 13A domestic plug, but it would take so long to charge a car with a reasonable range, that it probably wouldn't be worth the effort.

              1 litre of petrol is about 10kWh, so it would take about 3h 10m to get the equivalent of 1 litre of petrol through a 13A plug. A typical petrol pump pushes through 50 litres per minute.

              1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                Re: I've never understood...

                "1 litre of petrol is about 10kWh, so it would take about 3h 10m to get the equivalent of 1 litre of petrol through a 13A plug. A typical petrol pump pushes through 50 litres per minute."

                It would be on par with the current motor fuel exemption system which allows you to produce up to 1000(*) litres of biodiesel or other fuel per annum for personal use

                In any case, electricity prices are going to increase drastically in the near-mid term to pay for all those nuclear power plants needed to keep the lights on. People might only be 3 meals away from rioting, but they're probably less than 3 missed eastenders' episodes away from it too (actually a lack of clean water will do it fastest and no power == no water being treated)

                (*) It's been a while since I made my own biofuels and I can't remember if it's 1000 or 2000.

              2. Gordan

                Re: I've never understood...

                "1 litre of petrol is about 10kWh, so it would take about 3h 10m to get the equivalent of 1 litre of petrol through a 13A plug."

                As a rule of thumb that will get you into the right ball park, burning petrol will get you 1/3 of the energy through the wheels, 1/3 will go out of the radiator as head, and 1/3 will leave via the exhaust pipe.

                An overnight charge will get the vast majority of people enough for their total daily commute, with a little left spare on top.

                There is also no reason you cannot fit 3-phase 40A supply in your garage at home. Power grid connection for a house is typically 40KW.

                1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

                  Re: I've never understood...

                  What garage at home?

              3. corestore

                Re: I've never understood...

                Why? What's the point in taxing electricity differently according to the use to which it's put? it's _electricity_! There is NO logic to that.

                1. katrinab Silver badge

                  Re: I've never understood...

                  Same logic as taxing red diesel and white diesel differently.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I've never understood...

            ArrZarr: The Tories have been doing exactly that since 2010. Check the ONS figures if you don't believe me.

        2. Spudley

          Re: I've never understood...

          Abolish fuel tax. Increase income tax fractionally to make up the shortfall. Poor people will pay less. Average people will pay about the same. Rich people will pay more. People will see the fairness in that.

          If only it actually worked like that.

          Sadly, the rich people of the world don't like playing that game, and they're very good at working out ways to avoid paying tax.

          So what actually ends up happening when you do that is that the poor pay less (yay!), the rich continue paying very little (boo!), and the average people get to pay more to make up the shortfall. It's called the "squeezed middle", and it is one thing that really does play badly and gets governments elected out, because the "middle" generally represents the majority of the population.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I've never understood...

            > It's called the "squeezed middle", and it is one thing that really does play badly and gets governments elected out, because the "middle" generally represents the majority of the population.

            I upvoted you anyway, but this certainly doesn't get governments elected out. The tories are the party of tax avoidance; look at non-dom Ashcroft.

            It's not entirely true that rich and poor pay the same for fuel. It varies a lot around the country,. London is expensive, but so are remote regions. However, in a particular region, rich and poor pay the same. In London (where I live) we have excellent public transport. Yes it's crowded at times, and I avoid it and walk where I can, but when you compare it to the west country, or northern Scotland, to provide two examples, it really is excellent. Most car journeys could easily be avoided although of course there are journeys where you have no choice.

            Tradesmen who need to use a van also pay extra, but they pass that cost on.

            It's not as simple as taxing income. A salary of £50K will get you a nice house in many parts of the country. Round here you'll struggle to get on the housing ladder, especially if you're currently paying £3K a month on rent.

            Khan is right that there are far too many cars on London's roads. Uber's loss-leading has made it comparable to public transport so more people are using it, and clogging up the roads. Emissions or not, private car hire should be taxed and that money spent on decent transport.

        3. Blotto Bronze badge

          Re: I've never understood...

          how much income must one have to be classed as:

          poor

          working class

          middle class

          rich

          genuine question as different people have different opinions of how much income makes you wealthy

          1. David Nash Silver badge

            Re: I've never understood...

            "how much income must one have to be classed as:....."

            It's all relative, and very interesting to see the discussion. Generally people who earn plenty still don't think they are rich, because as long as multi-billionaires exist, there is always someone richer than you, so you never think of yourself as "rich".

            Whereas a "comfortably-off" middle-class person would be thought of as rich by many at the low-or-non-existent income scale.

          2. nijam
            Happy

            Re: I've never understood...

            > how much income must one have to be classed ...

            A. I'm poor.

            B. Anyone with less than me is a sponger.

            C. Anyone with more than me is rich.

            1. Tigra 07 Silver badge

              Re: I've never understood...

              D. I'm going to bill these plebs for cleaning my moat and duck house...

              1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

                Re: I've never understood...

                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nxpZkKKbDgA

          3. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: I've never understood...

            One metric is that if you are paid so little that you require _any_ government assistance, then you'd qualify as poor. (I'm not counting things like subsidies, etc)

            Working poor in the UK are a large fraction of the population and you can also argue that any employer whose staff need government topups is benefitting from an undeclared state subsidy,

            There are a lot of people who consider themselves "middle class", who are in fact "working class", by economic metrics. Owning one's own house doesn't magically transform someone into the middling classes and its this group who are being hardest hit by tax hikes as they can't avoid them on one side and unlike the _real_ middle classes, ithere are few-to-no tax loopholes available to reduce the tax burden.

            One thing the government _could_ (but won't) do is to streamline the entire tax system and remove most of the loopholes. A government's income is "tax take, minus the costs of collection" and New Zealand proved 30 years ago that if you do that, you can get rid of 1/3 of your revenue/customs staff, set lower tax rates and STILL end up with a higher _net_ take than previously. The interesting part is that even though the rich ended up paying a lot more tax, they were generally ok with it as the perception of punitive marginal rates went away and it was still less than notional tax liability before loopholes were taken into account.

          4. J.G.Harston Silver badge

            Re: I've never understood...

            "how much income must one have to be classed as:

            ...

            rich

            genuine question as different people have different opinions of how much income makes you wealthy"

            That's 'cos income doesn't make you wealthy, assets make you wealthy, income makes you rich.

        4. David Nash Silver badge

          Re: I've never understood...

          I agree, small increase in Income Tax would be fairer, however Income Tax is the "headline tax" so would be seen as "increasing tax" even if it was entirely offset by reductions in fuel or other taxes.

    2. ArrZarr Silver badge

      Re: I've never understood...

      Well it's not like we have much choice in the matter, as somebody who lives outside of London either you have a car or spend three times as long (at least) on public transport or cycling every day competing for road space against cars & lorries doing 50-60 MPH.

      It's also not likely that the govt are going to give up on a lucrative source of income coming from what is still the overwhelming majority of cars.

      I'm guessing that it'll probably be the mid 2020s where the government introduce a "fuck you" tax on electric cars with declining fuel tax revenues.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: the F**k you tax on EV's

        As an EV owner, the reduction to zero in my VED was not the main reason for getting the EV. Far from it.

        The main reason was to use the Electricity produced by my PV System and reduce the cost of the fuel for my motoring. That is the largest cost (When you compare the cost of Petrol/Diesel to VED).

        Most of my motoring between April and September is now powered by Electricity that I have generated myself.

        No matter what the Government might do in the future with respect to charging EV owners more for leccy, I'm pretty immune to that. I don't miss going to the petrol station.

        From the records I have kept, my motoring costs have gone down by more than 80%. I've done 36K miles and the brake pads and rear tyres are original so it is not just fuel that you save on.

        My reason for buying the EV was that my old car went to the scrapyard because of the rust.

        IMHO, EV's are the future. I had a test drive and I was sold. Oh, I don't drive a Tesla ok. I'm not made of money.

    3. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: I've never understood...

      The amount of fuel you use is proportionate to the amount of use you make of the roads / the amount of pollution you cause, and it is pretty difficult to avoid paying it.

      So, given that if you didn't pay it at the petrol pump, you would have to pay it by some other means, I think fuel tax is a pretty fair tax.

      1. corestore

        Re: I've never understood...

        The unfairness is that it's paid by the same rate by rich and poor alike! That's not how a fair tax is supposed to work and I'm astonished so many people don't see it! Poor people should pay little or no tax; rich people should pay a lot of tax. Who would object to that as a principle? Why has it been ignored for many decades when it comes to fuel tax?

  9. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

    Sadiq "I'm an uber man. I've never used an Uber" Kahn once again protecting the interests of his union

    paymasters.

  10. jmch Silver badge

    Congestion Charge

    "The current Congestion Charge netted TfL a quarter of a billion pounds (£249.6m) in fiscal year 2016/17, even though drivers of cars and vans that “emit 75g/km or less of CO2” are exempt from it"

    Congestion charge is a charge for taking up space on the road, so just make it a true congestion charge and remove the exemption.

  11. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

    The answer is simple - tax cars in the same manner as Singapore.

    1. myhandler

      The problem with Singapore's car tax model is that it relies on having poor neighbours where cars past their use by date can be dumped. It's a very eco-unfriendly use of resources.

      Anyway there's no opposition in Singapore so government can do whatever the hell it likes. (The opposition is a symbolic pantomime.)

      Here it would be political suicide, not that they need much help on that score...

      I think Khan has been wilfully misrepresented here.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    and just to show real progress he will have men walking with red flags in front of the vehicles

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      That would speed up the flow of traffic in central London.

  13. TheDataRecoverer

    Electric cars & taxation is the tip of a very large iceberg, I would say.

    The broader question to me is how we run civilisation once we get to the point where many more things are robotic....driverless taxi's, robotic lawyers, etc, etc - there are few industries exempt from this progress.

    Finland and others are dipping toes into the idea of a 'basic income for everyone - the question is how to raise the funds for it, & the answer (to me!) appears to be some form of taxation on robotics.

    Tough to properly visualise, but in 50 years time I doubt we would recognise the tax environment to keep mankind functioning......

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      " once we get to the point where many more things are robotic....driverless taxi's, robotic lawyers, "

      It's boiling a frog. We already have robotic accountants and accounts clerks - noone noticed.

      Whte collar jobs are at MORE risk of being automated out of existence than blue collar ones. The return on investment is higher.

      There's a net benefit for robotic drivers in terms of the massive reduction in crash rates we'll see. Insurance company premiums will ensure that once driverless cars are "good enough", wanting to get behind the wheel anywhere other than on a private track is going to cost you a fortune. They're also likely to insist on seeing drivers certified to a much higher standard than is currently accepted and regularly retested, even if the government doesn't. Failure to do that will attract even higher premiums.

      Shortly after that, private car ownership is likely to nosedive - which means less parking congestion and an awful lot of councils looking around for new income streams.

  14. Locky Silver badge

    Driverless cars reduce the number of cyclists

    Indeed they do :(

    Googles driverless car confused

    1. Not also known as SC
      Coat

      Re: Driverless cars reduce the number of cyclists

      Driverless cars reduce the number of cyclists

      To be fair so do vehicles with drivers.

  15. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

    I'd like the public transport to be viable replacement to cars ...

    ... however it is just a wish. What with signal failures occurring everyday on the tube, the air quality on platforms worse than middle of a very busy road, and buses running to some unimaginable and very unreal schedule. If tube was fixed and buses replaced by, say, level 5 autonomic public transport electric cars at the 10% of a price of a regular cab, that would be most useful. And this not happen for a very very long time, because unfortunately anyone in position to push such change will be beholden to transport unions.

    1. Locky Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: I'd like the public transport to be viable replacement to cars ...

      Maybe not in that there London, but Leeds is the largest city in Europe with no mass transport. This is potentially viable here.

  16. WylieCoyoteUK
    Holmes

    Missing the point.

    Driverless cars are the new version of public transport..

    Once driverless cars are a reality, the need to own a vehicle will start to reduce.

    Most of us own a vehicle that only spends a fraction of its lifetime actually moving, and is usually under occupied.

    Our pride and joy spends most of its time sitting parked somewhere while we do other stuff.

    Not to mention the cost of finding somewhere for it to depreciate quietly without being stolen or damaged.

    1. Graham Cobb

      Re: Missing the point.

      I think this is the point. And I will be surprised if this isn't TfL's real main concern.

      Driverless, electric cars will encourage people to not own them but use them like much-cheaper taxis. That will drive a lot of people away from much more efficient mass-transport (trains and even buses) to very inefficient (in terms of road space as well as other resources like energy) driverless cars with one occupant. Much more convenient, door-to-door, and no parking, insurance, capital, etc costs.

      That will really screw up transport in London.

      I think the only answer will end up being some form of congestion-based road-pricing (at very high rates in congested areas) for driverless cars. The tax revenues will be enormous but the personal freedom we all imagine that driverless cars will bring will be non-existent.

      Presumably TfL aren't talking about this now because no one wants to point out that the automated cars emperor has no clothes. At least while there is money to be made from gullible investors.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Missing the point.

        "That will really screw up transport in London."

        Only if you think of "transport in london" as being busses and trains - which are horribly disjointed. If you look at the way dutch timetables work and the way you can step off a train onto the bus home without waiting 15 minutes, you realise just how broken the idea of UK "customer service" is.

        With cheap electric vehicles (johnnycab) operating in a cooperative manner on the road, busses are redundant. They're only _barely_ economic at peak traffic times and wild subsidy guzzlers the rest of the time. Better to use smaller vehicles which can entrain themselves on the road and which have the ablity to take groups of passengers from stop A to stop M without pausng at stops B-L in between.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Missing the point.

        "That will drive a lot of people away from much more efficient mass-transport (trains and even buses) "

        _less efficient_,on average. Mass transport is efficient only when vehicle used is full and at least here in North any mass transport is basically empty outside of rush hours. I.e. 20 hours out of 24. Or 16 if doesn't move at all in the middle of the night, like here.

        Of course no-one ever counts that in and "efficiency" is calculated from maximum capacity, not actual usage as it would look very, very bad.

        Typical diesel bus emits more everything than 20 typical modern cars and it's a rarity to see more than 20 people in a bus, except in rush hours.

        Only one thing is better with buses: A bus uses less street space than 20 cars.

        But even that advantage of "public transport" is totally lost when we count trains in: Tracks use huge amount of real estate and are totally empty about 99% of the time.

    2. Mage Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Missing the point.

      Only if you live inside the city and are single!

      How is it kept clean?

      What if you need an adapted vehicle?

      No, I can't see the majority of families or anyone rural giving up having a dedicated vehicle (with leasing or HP etc they might not actually own it today).

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Missing the point.

      "Once driverless cars are a reality, the need to own a vehicle will start to reduce."

      Has taxis existing reduced the need to own a car? Not much: Way, way too expensive per mile.

      Driverless car is a taxi, only even more expensive, so it is not an alternative to your own car. Not for a long time.

      And not so much 'public transport' either when it's comparable to private jet in price.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So..

    ...the London Emission Zone IS to do with raising revenue rather than giving a fuck about air quality after all.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So..

      Did anyone actually ever believe otherwise?

      I didn't, not a second.

  18. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge

    Long range

    In ye olden days it was possible to syphon some petrol from a car to put into your moped. Would it now be possible to plug into an electric car and charge up an electric bicycle? Asking for a friend :)

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Using the EV to charge a bike

      With some EV's this will be possible. AFAIK, the new Nissan Leaf will allow you to even power your home from the car battery.

      IMHO, all new homes need to be built with a PV system, a Charging Point and a Battery.

      We'd not need Hinckley Point if that was the case.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: Using the EV to charge a bike

        No, we'd need at least 10 Hinkley Points. Possibly more.

  19. Danny 5

    I've got a feeling

    That self driving cars are only going to be here for a transitional period. I'm half expecting the drone to take over in the foreseeable future. What could be better than having a drone fly out to your house to pick you up and fly you right over to your destination?

    Weren't there already delivery companies looking at autonomous drones to deliver food?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I've got a feeling

      "What could be better than having a drone fly out to your house to pick you up and fly you right over to your destination?"

      You can do almost that even now, just call a helicopter service and they'll do exactly that.

      Oh, it costs a lot? Well, that kind of drones won't be cheap either. I'm not at all convinced that they'd be any cheaper than the helicopter.

  20. Stoke the atom furnaces

    Self driving car

    Avoid parking problems by having your self driving car drive around in circles all day whilst you are shopping/at work.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Self driving car

      "avoid parking problems"

      You may laugh, but if you can avoid Westminster (and other) councils' £30-40 quid per day parking charges by having your car trundle off to $CHEAP_PARKING_SPOT for £3-4/day, wouldn't you do that?

      It's something that's been on the horizon for some time. Councils should have come up with strategies to adapt, but instead they've gone to a knee-jerk focus on maintaining income, despite parking money not being legally allowed to be used for anything other than roading/transportation.

      Many councils have been illegally diverting parking and fines money into general expenditure - they can get away with this for a while as the only time it can be challenged is when the annual plan is announced, with an objection period of only a few weeks each year.

  21. charlieboywoof

    Gimmi Gimmi Gimmi

    Funny how the left squeal at the thought of less of your money to spend, London's a subsidised hell hole as it is.

    1. Tigra 07 Silver badge

      Re: Gimmi Gimmi Gimmi

      That's the problem with the left. We're borrowing a huge amount of cash atm, but because it's a bit less than they would they've led a crusade against "austerity" for 7 years.

      Eventually the left will run out of other people's money.

  22. Moosh

    Living and working in London I wouldn't trust a driverless car here for at least another few decades of technology development. Far too much traffic, random and unpredictable incidents, winding roads, genuinely perplexing and poorly signed one-way systems, roads that are technically able to be driven down but which are functionally closed, etc. etc..

  23. Tubz

    Khan is an idiot, glad he's London's Mayor !

  24. Mark 85 Silver badge

    "The transport authority, whose chairman is Khan, expressed concern that driverless car technology could encourage Londoners to give up forcing themselves onto overcrowded trains or slow-moving buses packed onto the capital’s ever-busier roads"

    So just curious here... has he given up driving or being driven to his office and is now using the train/bus/bicycle? Leading by example? Oh.. wait.. politics and the trappings that go with it.

  25. Mog_X

    Surprised that he hasn't said 'paying more tax on driverless cars is part and parcel of living in a big city'

  26. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge
    Trollface

    Cars, vans, lorries are the problem

    They are multipurpose vehicles and have loads of safety features not required in cities.

    Just ban all standard vehicles and replace them with electric vehicles with 20 mph top speed and minimum padding.

    Think of a city with a modern take on a milk float for goods, and perhaps a modern take on a bumper car (without the bumping ability) for personal transport.

    Capacity of the streets would be adequate. Journey times would be fine.

    Biggest problem would be the parking garages on the perimiter. Oh, and the politicians who like to travel in big expensive cars.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Cars, vans, lorries are the problem

      "20 mph top speed"

      Inside Zone 4, you'd only need 10mph and still be faster than driving yourself.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cars, vans, lorries are the problem

      "Capacity of the streets would be adequate. Journey times would be fine."

      Capacity of the street is measured as cars per hour. The slower they move, the lower is the capacity.

      Dropping speed to half means capacity is not halved, but dropped 60%. And then we have a good reason to raise congestion tax as there's "so much congestion".

      Of course journey times increase respectively as average speed drops. From an hour to hour and three quarters. But of course 'other peoples' journey times don't matter and 60% increase is "fine".

  27. The Nazz Silver badge

    Increased taxation is required.

    To deal with all the increased terrorism from driverless EV.

    What's not to like?

    1. No obvious guilty party.

    2. Very rapid acceleration into unsuspecting innocents.

    3. No need of a range greater than say 100m plus the distance into town.

    Missing the point?

    As with "man made global change/man made warming", as it is with congestion, isn't the ultimate problem an already too great a population* never mind the ever increasing population ( some 580,000 increase in 2016 alone)

    *Overall, but certainly in concentrated areas, especially the "small village of 500 is soon to be a town of 25,000" scenarios, often without increased amenities.

    Progress?

    Case in point, near here a main A road had a single crossroads. Then a small roundabout, then a two lane, then a three lane, and now a four lane roundabout, now with lights on every 30 yards or so.

    You know when your set is gonna change to green cos the set beyond are just turning red.

    £10's of millions spent, if not >100m. Result? Ever increasing queues on all approach and side roads, which themselves are falling to pieces for lack of maintenance.

    Yeah, carry on with the progress folks.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Increased taxation is required.

      "Yeah, carry on with the progress folks."

      My friend, these morons measure "progress" as amount of roundabouts and traffic lights!

      Unncessery or not, who cares.

      Literally. And that makes them morons.

  28. m-k

    could harm government tax revenues, reduce the number of cyclists

    ...

    on second thoughts, f...the cyclists - TAX REVENUES!!!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: could harm government tax revenues, reduce the number of cyclists

      re: on second thoughts, f...the cyclists - TAX REVENUES!!!

      Or at the very least get them to get pay for a motoring test to prove they have been trained adequately to use the roads.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Count your chickens first

    Driverless cars won't be a reality for most people in the UK until the other side of 2050.

    There are just too many issues to solve - cost,reliability, safety, range, insurance, ethics, tax, liability, fuel infrastructure, job losses etc. to name but a few.

    To be honest, I'm not sure who exactly of the British public is crying out for driverless vehicles, apart from business owners eager to increase their robot quotas....

  30. veti Silver badge

    Whose idea was it to exempt low-emission vehicles?

    The congestion charge is meant to reduce congestion. Exempting vehicles because they're "cleaner" never made sense.

    The "pollution charge" is called petrol tax, and it's a separate thing.

    Hint to Sadiq Khan: parking spaces. It's within your power to divide up every road in London into areas where (a) you can't park at all, or (b) are divided into discrete, marked spaces, each owned by an identifiable entity. At that point you can tax them.

  31. dnicholas Bronze badge

    If I owned a self driving eV I'd have no issue paying a road tax that pays for road maintenance BUT road tax hasn't existed for donkey's years. It's Vehicle Excise Duty, a tax for tax sake.

  32. Timmy B Silver badge

    Make Road Tax simple....

    Remove duty from fuel and charge based on miles driven. All road users should pay for the upkeep of roads and this tax should be ring fenced. It's that simple. This includes cyclists btw. Cyclists are one of those effected most by poor road condition so they should want to pay for the upkeep of roads.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Make Road Tax simple....

      That's foolish because it's trivial to evade.

      People don't bother faking mileage much because there's littlw reward for doing so. Change that and poof!

      VED should die. Fuel taxes are a really good proxy for road impact as it scales with distance, vehicle size and driving style, and is extremely difficult to evade (red diesel is easily detected)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Make Road Tax simple....

      "Remove duty from fuel and charge based on miles driven."

      Err ... no.

      That's how you get personal, constant GPS tracking and a police state where you can't even go to shop without being tracked. And you know what? You, as the car owner, pay the tracking equipment, through the nose.

      There are many Stasi-covert agents in EU already demanding exactly that: Government mandated 24/7/365 GPS tracking for every vehicle (except bicycles of course).

      "For mileage tax" they say but we've already seen that that data is used anything authorities can imagine, starting from speeding fines (obvious, eh?) to murder accusations (you were there when this person was killed, GPS doesn't lie) and proving infidelity (same explanation).

      That box of Pandora must not be opened.

      1. Timmy B Silver badge

        Re: Make Road Tax simple....

        @AC RE:

        "That's how you get personal, constant GPS tracking and a police state where you can't even go to shop without being tracked. And you know what? You, as the car owner, pay the tracking equipment, through the nose."

        errr. no. we just track miles. All cars have a system for doing this now. They track how many units of leccy you use but don't know what you're powering. Just improve the security of milometers.

    3. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: Make Road Tax simple....

      But duty on fuel ***IS*** a charge on miles driven.

      And how do you charge cyclists? The wear on the road is proportional the the fifth power of the weight of the vehicle, so my 100kg cycle+rider would be charged 12^5 times less than my car. Where do I send my cheque for 0.05p?

      1. Timmy B Silver badge

        Re: Make Road Tax simple....

        @JGH

        No. Duty on fuel is a duty on the amount of fuel purchased. Different cars and even driving styles use different amounts of fuel per mile. Miles are a constant. You would charge the same per mile covered for cycles as for cars. Weight has nothing to do with it as the wear on the road is only a part of the road tax, you have road signs, maintenance and policing amongst a whole load of stuff.

  33. BlokeInTejas

    Suppose for a moment that we should tax the use of roads; then the solution is simple. The best indicator of actual road usage (including damage done etc) is the rate at which tyres are replaced on a vehicle. So slap an added purchase tax on tyres.

    1. Timmy B Silver badge

      "The best indicator of actual road usage (including damage done etc) is the rate at which tyres are replaced on a vehicle"

      no. The best measure of road usage is how much road is used. Some types of tyres last longer and some don't What if a tyre gets damaged after 50 yards? Daft.....

  34. hoola Bronze badge

    EV & Driverless

    There appears to be two confused threads here. Is a driverless vehicle automatically an electric vehicle? The real issue is the greater adoption of electric vehicles simply moves the pollution from the point of use to point of generation. There is insufficient generation capacity as it is to support large scale electric vehicle adoption and unfortunately, the quickest and cheapest way to add capacity is to build a gas powered plant. Worse is that there is never going to be renewable generation capacity to provide the energy required for large-scale EV use. There has to be shift from the current view that electric vehicles are in any way green. They are not, and in many ways have a carbon/natural resource footprint over the designed lifespan that is far worse than conventional vehicles. This is all about certain, currently niche pseudo tech companies, lobbying governments to get their piece of the pie at the tax-payers expense. What electric vehicles are very good at is moving pollution to places where people are unaware/don't care/NIMBY.

    I am all for electric vehicles but the range and charging limitations simply do not make them viable as an only vehicle. In order to sort both out there has to be a step change in battery technology to support greater capacity and faster charge times or the battery has to be a leased item that is swapped. Fast charge and higher energy densities come with many problems that are currently being buried because it is inconvenient. The sorts of currents required to fast charge are surrounded by miles of red tape safety regulations. If you reduce the current you have to increase the voltage which then has equal limitations. Petrol and especially diesel do not spontaneously combust and if a pump host is damaged it is very obvious and the margin for error in putting the nozzle into the tank is huge. Also, and this is hugely important, someone is ALWAYS in attendance during the filling process.

    Compare that with a cable, it is much more difficult to detect damage that causes heating/fire and the plug/socket interface has to clean, fully connected and low resistance every time. If it is not then it is a huge fire hazard and the process is designed to be left unattended.

    High power DC supplies can do immense amounts of damage as the internal resistance of the batteries is so low that current is almost unlimited. Even a 12v car battery can melt/weld a piece of steel.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: EV & Driverless

      "I am all for electric vehicles but the range and charging limitations simply do not make them viable as an only vehicle."

      Yup. Expensive toys for rich people. Case example: Tesla.

      And I can bet it uses at least 4 times of the resources of an ordinary car during its lifetime. Just making it uses more than 2 ordinary cars.

      The damage aspect is interesting: Phone batteries burning and/or exploding is already a major problem in airplanes. Imagine what happens when batteries are 100 times that size and do the same.

      Exploding gas tank doesn't happen often, exploding battery is almost daily news.

      1. Timmy B Silver badge

        Re: EV & Driverless

        @AC RE: "Yup. Expensive toys for rich people. Case example: Tesla."

        No. We have a Leaf and it does SWMBOs commute every day @30 miles each way. Whole of life resource use puts EVs at between 65 and 85% of a ICE depending on comparisons. We have a leaf and as they have had no battery fires IIRC. As for comparing cars to phones..... well....

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "current Congestion Charge netted TfL a quarter of a billion pounds "

    And this, my friends, is the reason Khan lies anything to anyone, every time. He wants to keep _his money_. All of that quarter billion pounds per year. All his.

    Example: Bulls***it like this: ",,, which could impact on the funding available for highway improvements"

    As if Khan would use a single penny from his money to highway improvements, ever. If something is done it's done to create _more_ congestion to have an excuse to raise the "congestion" tax.

    That's the way it's done everywhere. That money _never_ goes to lessen the congestion.

  36. EnviableOne Bronze badge

    London Transport Tales

    during normal hours most double decker busses (saftey capacity 88) cary approximatley 50 during 80% of the route and during rush hour (or four as it is in london) through the same part they tend to cary about 110 each.

    Suburban Trains are overcrowded during rush and generally full between, ooh they are generally half empty.

    The Underground is gernerally full in the centre of town, and half full outside.

    TfL's traffic control room have the stated aim of keeping traffic moving at 10mph.

    The roads in SE london are AT capacity during rush, so any incident on any route grinds all of them to a halt.

    TfL have rapid reaction patch teams to tackle potholes and do a pretty good job on the main roads.

    Has anyone tought of using a cabbie to design a satnav's guidance system?

    Khans Kars is a good idea, giving TfL the Fare revenue to maintain the roads.

  37. Roger Mew

    They are going on about diesel, well funnily enough diesel buses do not run the engine in the best way so the exhausts get all black and full of soot. When the bus is going for its test they take off the exhaust, put a new one on, then when it comes back from being tested they take off the new exhaust and put the old one back! However what is the date for all London buses to be trolley buses. All of the diesel buses will not pass the centre of London regulation! 1 Bus will make loads more fumes than a small car or motor bike, yet the small car pays no tax, the small bike pays more than a lot of cars, and buses, the biggest polluter, nothing.

    When are the buses going to have to be trolley buses?

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