Life on bikes

Bikers will be paying for TFL’s lost revenue

A dramatic drop in passenger numbers means Transport for London needs to find new revenue streams, possibly explaining why they will be charging motorcycles as much as heavily polluting cars to use the Capital’s roads.

Motorcyclists baffled by Sadiq Khan and Transport for London’s proposed £12.50 daily charge to use the Capital’s roads may have at last found the answer – dropping revenues from Tube and bus passenger journeys.

Writing in The Conversation, Nicole Badstuber, a Researcher in Urban Transport Governance at the Centre for Transport Studies, UCL, claims that falling revenues from ticket sales have now left TfL with a £240m hole in its finances. The problem is compounded by a central Government cut of £700m in Transport for London’s funding.

Passenger numbers on the Capital’s London Underground and London Bus networks are down 20% in the decade to 2016, the latest available numbers. This is despite an increase in population.

Part of the reason for the drop in numbers is far fewer journeys are being taken, as workers increasingly spend a day a week working from home and shopping trips are less likely thanks to internet shopping.


This leaves the Mayor of London and his transport strategists with a headache. Passenger numbers may be dropping, but the size of the infrastructure needed to support any sizable number of passengers isn’t. London still needs the same number of stations, bus stops and staff to service the remaining passengers.

One solution is to raise revenue from non-ticket sales. And it could be the reason why one of the least polluting forms of transport, the motorcycle, will have to start paying a pollution charge.

Charging motorbikes
© Flickr/Lars Ploughman | Older motorbikes will be charged £12.50 every day of the week using new infrastructure placed inside the North and South Circular roads.

Why are they charging bikes?

Transport for London has so far failed to provide any reasonable excuse for why older bikes have been included in the £12.50 daily 24/7 charge that will apply to older vehicles inside the North and South Circular from 2019, other than they are not Euro 3 compliant.


As anyone who has thought about the issue for longer than 10 seconds will have realised, older motorcycles do pollute, but moving vehicles pollute far less than stationary vehicles. So why is a 125cc 4-stroke required to pay the same as a 4.2ltr V8 Range Rover?

Maybe the dropping passenger revenues are the reason why.

So much for the Mayor who promised to include motorcycles in his reforms of London’s transport strategy, but then completely turned his back on the motorcycling population.

Get yourself sorted:

If you are still not clear on the proposed charges for pre-Euro 3 motorcycles, read here:


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