(Updated, adding par 6 and changing evaluation to: “Missing context”)

Conservative mayoral candidate Susan Hall has said that current London Mayor Sadiq Khan has “plans” to introduce pay-per-mile charging for drivers.

Alongside a picture on social media platform X, formerly Twitter, Ms Hall said: “Stop Sadiq Khan’s pay-per-mile plans. Vote for change.”

In a separate post Ms Hall said: “He’s (Mr Khan) spent £150m on tech for pay-per-mile already.”

Evaluation: Missing context

Mr Khan has in the past considered, and spoken favourably about, a pay-per-mile system which would replace other charges, such as the Ultra-low Emission Zone (Ulez).

However, he has since abandoned that position and ruled out introducing such a system while he is Mayor of London. Meanwhile, Transport for London (TfL) has said that “no such scheme is on the table or being developed”.

“As of January 2024, approximately £3m had been spent on elements of the Future RUC (road user charging) project and it is now closed,” TfL added.

The £150 million system which Ms Hall said was “tech for pay-per-mile” is likely a reference to a system called Project Detroit which is intended to manage current charges such as the Congestion Charge, Ulez and many others. Only £21 million has so far been spent on Project Detroit.

One of the social media posts from Ms Hall also includes a doctored photo.

The facts

What Sadiq Khan, TfL and Labour have said recently

Mr Khan’s public statements, and statements from TfL, say there are no plans to introduce pay-per-mile.

“As long as I am Mayor, we are not going to have pay-per-mile,” Mr Khan said in September 2023.

“Pay-per-mile charging has been ruled out by the Mayor and no such scheme is on the table or being developed,” TfL said in February 2024.

In response to Ms Hall’s post with a doctored image, London Labour said: “This sign does not and will never exist. Sadiq has been clear — ruling out Pay Per Mile categorically while he is mayor. This is a photoshopped image and is a lie.”

What Sadiq Khan and TfL have said in the past

Although Mr Khan is now ruling out a pay-per-mile system, he has in the past spoken in favour of it, and told TfL to explore how it might work. He said last year that he had abandoned this in favour of expanding Ulez to Greater London.

In January 2022 he said about pay-per-mile that “I think it’s inevitable that that’s the direction of travel,” although added that the technology “is simply not there” to do so in the “next two, three years”.

In February 2022 a report from then-TfL Commissioner Andy Byford said Mr Khan had “asked us to develop proposals” which would consolidate several charges for road use “into one simple and fair scheme where drivers would pay per mile”.

However Mr Khan has later said that while he had tasked TfL to look into it, he has now rejected the policy.

In September 2023 he said: “I often ask TfL to do stuff that I reject.”

He added: “I have asked TfL to look into a boundary charge, which I rejected. I have asked TfL to look into a carbon charge for every time somebody drives a car, which I have rejected.”

In an interview with the Evening Standard in October 2023, he said that he had decided against pay-per-mile in favour of expanding Ulez to Greater London instead.

Project Detroit

Ms Hall claimed that Mr Khan has “spent £150m on tech for pay-per-mile already”.

This appears to be a reference to Project Detroit. According to a Freedom of Information response from TfL in January 2024, Project Detroit has an “estimated final cost of between £130m to £150m”.

This means that Mr Khan has not “already” spent £150 million, as Ms Hall said. That is instead the maximum amount that TfL currently estimates the project will have cost by the time it launches, which is expected to be 2026.

As of January 2024, the project had spent £21 million.

Project Detroit is also not just “tech for pay-per-mile”.

While in 2022 TfL said it was building Detroit with “flexibility” which could allow it to introduce payments “based on distance” if that is decided in the future, the main purpose of Detroit is to manage the current system, such as Ulez and the Congestion Charge.

The project was initiated in September 2021.

The current system, which is outsourced to Capita, uses number plate recognition to manage the systems. The contract is set to expire in 2026 and Detroit is designed to replace that contract.

Detroit will be used to manage the “Congestion Charge, HGV permit scheme linked to the Direct Vision Standard, Low Emission Zone, Ultra Low Emission Zone, and, in the future, user charges at the Blackwall and Silvertown Tunnels”.

In a Freedom of Information response from December 2022, TfL said the Detroit platform would be built “flexibly so that other forms of charging based on distance, vehicle type, etc., could be catered for if a decision was made in future to do so”.

In January 2024, TfL said the remit of the project “remains the same” as it had in December 2022 and there were “no plans to change the remit”.

However in February 2024 it said: “No resource, headcount or physical infrastructure on Project Detroit is dedicated to pay-per-mile.”

It added: “TfL teams are not undertaking any work on pay-per-mile road user charging schemes.”

Claims of dishonesty

In a post on X Ms Hall said: “Pay-per-mile will never exist? Didn’t Sadiq Khan say the same thing about the ULEZ expansion? He didn’t tell the truth then. Why would he now?”

In an email to the PA news agency, Ms Hall’s team said that Mr Khan has a “record of dishonesty on this matter – especially when he had, last election, said he was not going to bring in the Ulez expansion and then did so anyway”.

As evidence the team provided a link to a statement made by Mr Khan. In it he said “I have no plans to extend the ULEZ to outer London,” although did not explicitly rule it out.

Contrary to the claims of Ms Hall’s team that Mr Khan said this during the last election, the statement was made on July 1, 2021, weeks after the last election on May 6 2021.

Mr Khan’s manifesto from prior to that election had promised to expand Ulez. The manifesto’s expansion specifically referred to the October 2021 expansion to the area within the North and South Circular roads.

Ulez was later expanded again in 2023 to all of Greater London. This was not a manifesto promise, nor was it explicitly ruled out in the manifesto.

It is the 2023 expansion that Mr Khan in July 2021 said he had “no plans” to implement.

He has been more categorical in ruling out pay-per-mile pricing.

“As long as I am Mayor, we are not going to have pay-per-mile,” Mr Khan said in September 2023.

The photograph

As was pointed out by several users on X, the photograph which accompanied Ms Hall’s post has been doctored.

The original photograph shows two green Ulez signs. It appears to have been originally posted to Flickr in February 2023.

The photograph appears to have been taken by the intersection of Pier Road and Albert Road in Woolwich, London, just south of London City Airport.

Google Street View images from August 2021 show the same signs and buildings in the background as can be seen in the photograph.

The photograph Ms Hall posted has however been doctored. In it the sign on the left has been changed to remove the TfL logo and add “at all times” to the bottom. The sign on the right was previously also a green Ulez sign but has been doctored to show a red “pay per mile zone” sign.


X post by Susan Hall (archived)

X post by Susan Hall (archived)

TfL Future RUC Schemes (archived)

London Assembly Pay-per-mile in London (archived)

X post by London Labour (archived)

Mr Khan on Evening Standard podcast (archived post and video download)

TfL Commissioner’s report (archived)

Evening Standard – Londonwide Ulez has enabled me to ditch pay-per-mile road charging plans, reveals Sadiq Khan (archived)

TfL – Project Detroit 16 January 2024 (archived)

TfL Project Detroit 29 January 2024 (archived)

TfL Project 2030 (archived)

TfL Project Detroit 23 February 2024 (archived)

London Assembly Ulez (archived)

London Elects – Results factsheet 2021 (archived)

Sadiq Khan’s 2021 manifesto (archived)

IfG – ULEZ and its expansion (archived)

Flickr image (archived)

Google Street View 1 (archived)

Google Street View 2 (archived)