At Kiffgo.com, we are deeply involved with the man and van driver community – from everyday communication and organizing driver meetups, to representing our drivers in discussions with the TFL and other organizations.
Kiffgo.com spoke with various individual van drivers to understand their perspective, organized a public meeting with people and the drivers, as well as met with TFL’s representative on the case.
We believe that the TFL’s ULEZ approach at lowering emissions in London is incredibly inefficient, without much concern for independent van drivers and owners in London, as well as the actual emission levels. In fact, we would go as far as calling the TFL’s approach at ULEZ a very lazy attempt at reducing emissions. In reality, it’s biased, urged, unfair and without broader thought on the consequences.
The driver community agrees on lowering the emissions
Everyone cares about emissions and public health. Van drivers and owners as well as the Kiffgo.com team, agrees that emission levels in London are high.
In fact, reducing pollution is one of the problems we tackle with Kiffgo.com – we optimize load allocations and routes in order to fully utilize each van on the road, as well as decrease the number of miles travelled.
We are in favor of ULEZ. However, we wish to point out how incredibly inefficient the TFL’s attempt at the ULEZ really is.
Where are the emissions coming from
The majors polluters in London:
Privately owned diesel vehicles: 24%
TFL buses: 20%
Black cabs: 20% (23 000 diesel vehicles)
Air traffic ground pollution: 8%
20% of the pollution in Central London comes from black cabs, yet these 23,000 diesel vehicles are getting an exemption. There is no real reason to exempt these vehicles – there are amazing alternatives, such as the bus, the tube, private hire (Uber and similar) which offers hybrid vehicles with lower emission than Black Cabs. Back Cabs are a luxury, not serving public mobility.
This is very unfair against the average Londoner – he rarely uses a black cab, yet still has to inhale the emissions from these cabs and they pay no ULEZ fees. Vans on the other hand, that pollute just 13%, is the lifeblood of London’s economy.
Parts of London’s economy runs on individual van drivers
There are multiple airports around London and those airports don’t transport just humans – 1,541,029 tons of cargo went through Heathrow in 2016 alone. That’s the 2nd largest hub in Europe and the 20th world-wide. It appears that the TFL and other policy makers are completely unaware of the logistics chain that this cargo enters after landing in London.
It goes to warehouses, run by medium size companies that partner with individual van drivers to deliver pallets and other bulky packages across London. Van drivers will be tempted to take longer routes, go around the ULEZ zone – emitting more pollution in the air to avoid ULEZ charges.
For house moves, the man and van hire service provides a crucial role to London’s mobility. When moving flats, a bus or the tube is not an option. Event services such as Uber XL are not suitable for house moves.
This is where individual man and van operators provide an incredibly useful service to the average Londoner and with the introduction of ULEZ fees, the costs will be passed on to the consumer who will have no other alternative than to pay the fee.
TFL’s arguments don’t match the reality
A TFL spokesperson argued that this is not in question, they are not trying to stop packages being moved around, people buying new furniture or moving houses. Instead, they just want people to get the older vehicles off the roads.
The reality however is that there’s no alternatives – small electric van models cannot carry big loads and the second-hand van market for ULEZ compliant vehicles is close to non-existing.
The drivers are also confused, there’s multiple scraping schemes coming out, yet there’s no details about them. The TFL itself is launching a £23mn scheme to scrape old vans, however this sum is really a small drop in the ocean, and there are no details about it yet. The drivers are left without much information, not many van models to buy and forced to rush their decision or lose competitive advantage.
ULEZ will fail to reduce emissions from vans
The TFL is basing the success of the ULEZ policy on a behavioral model – it’s an assumption that drivers will change their vehicles if the ULEZ fees pill up.
Ultimately, we at Kiffgo.com are predicting that the ULEZ policy will fail to reduce emissions from vans in London. Drivers will pass on the charge to their consumers or avoid the zone – both scenarios end up with the same amount or even more emissions in the air.
Even if drivers wanted to change their vans, in reality, they will receive little support from the government and will have a very limited choice of vans.
We believe that the the TFL should:
Include one of the top polluters in London in the ULEZ fees – the black cabs.
Give more time to man and van drivers to adjust to ULEZ.
Support logistic tech startups addressing optimal job allocation and routes for van drivers/owners.