The ULEZ expansion has already taken huge numbers of ‘dirty’ vehicles off London roads, says TfL

There’s nothing worse than coming home from a long day in the city covered in a thin layer of grime from the pollution. It gets everywhere: under your fingernails, on your clothes, even up your nose (don’t deny it, all Londoners have experienced black bogeys). Luckily, some of the people in charge are trying to elminate the most polluting vehicles in the city so Londoners can breath clean air. 

Since the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) expansion in August of this year, the number of pesky polluting vehicles has fallen by almost a half, according to TfL. Almost 80,000 older cars were taken off the roads when the zone grew to cover the whole of London. In September, analysis showed that there were 45 percent fewer non-compliant cars on the roads compared to June 2023. 

Now only five percent of the vehicles driven in London are non-ULEZ-compliant, according to a progress report from TfL. London Mayor Sadiq Khan says that more than 19 in 20 vehicles on London roads are now ULEZ-compliant, meaning they won’t need to pay the daily £12.50 charge. 

Khan, who has faced plenty of ongoing backlash over the ULEZ and its expansion, said the results were a ‘testament to the huge progress we’ve made in tackling toxic air pollution’. 

TfL’s director of strategy and policy, Christina Calderato, said the figures showed that the ULEZ was ‘highly effective in taking the oldest, most polluting vehicles off the roads’.

She added: ‘We know that tackling London’s toxic air is crucial to ensuring the health of those who live in the capital and that the greatest number of deaths attributable to air pollution occur in outer London.’

Exhaust fumes are so last year. 

Time Out’s take

This time last year, London was ranked the eighteenth most polluted city in the world. Not a good look. According to London Air, dirty air is responsible for up to 9,400 extra deaths in the city every year, while in 2020 nine-year-old Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah from Lewisham, who died in 2013, became the first person in the UK to have air pollution listed as a cause of death. We don’t want a tragedy like that to happen again, so a step towards cleaner air is always a good thing.

Listen to Time Out’s brilliant new podcast ‘Love Thy Neighbourhood’: episode 12 with Paul Feig in Mayfair is out now.

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