London Uber users will fund bid to go green as 15p charge is added

London Uber users face up to 15p per mile hike in fares from TOMORROW as minicab app firm bids to raise £200m to help its drivers buy electric cars

  • Minicab app firm expects the scheme to raise £200million in the coming years 
  • Uber ‘keen to expand’ initiative and expects surcharge of 45p for average trip
  • Drivers will be given £3,000 towards purchase cost of electric car in two years
  • Clean air fee will not include miles travelled to a passenger’s pick up location

Uber fares in London will be increased from tomorrow to help drivers buy electric cars, with a clean air fee of 15p per mile will be added to every trip.

The minicab app firm expects the scheme to raise more than £200million in the coming years, which will be used to help drivers convert to electric cars.

Uber said it is ‘keen to expand’ the initiative to other UK cities and expects the surcharge to be around 45p for an average trip.

Uber fares in London will be increased from tomorrow to help drivers buy electric cars

A London driver using the app for an average of 40 hours a week will be given about £3,000 towards the purchase cost of an electric car in two years, the firm added.

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The clean air fee will not include miles travelled to a passenger’s pick up location and will not be affected by dynamic pricing. 

Uber’s new fee and how it will affect drivers and passengers tomorrow

From tomorrow, trips picked up within the M25 will be subject to a ‘Clean Air Fee’ of 15p per mile.

Riders will pay this fee as part of their trip fare, and it will be applied across all products in London – UberX, XL, Exec, Lux, Assist, Access and Pool.

It will not apply to cancellation fees, will not surge – and it will only apply to miles travelled on a trip.

The fare will only apply to miles travelled on a trip, and will not include miles travelled to a pick up location.

Uber says all the money raised will go towards supporting drivers who want to move into an electric vehicle and other clean air initiatives.

Once drivers have an electric vehicle, the fee will then be used to support their ongoing vehicle costs.

Uber wants 20,000 cars on its app in London to be fully electric by the end of 2021, increasing to every car by 2025. There are currently around 45,000 Uber drivers in the capital.

When the plan was announced in October last year, Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said: ‘The Mayor of London has set out a bold vision to tackle air pollution in the capital and we’re determined to do everything we can to back it.

‘Our £200 million Clean Air Plan is a long-term investment in the future of London aimed at going all-electric in the capital in 2025.

‘Over time, it’s our goal to help people replace their car with their phone by offering a range of mobility options – whether cars, bikes, scooters or public transport – all in the Uber app.’

London mayor Sadiq Khan introduced a £10 toxicity charge for older, more polluting vehicles in the centre of the capital in October 2017.

This will be replaced by an Ultra Low Emission Zone, which will create stricter emissions standards for diesel vehicles at all times, from April.

Uber expects the surcharge added from tomorrow to be around 45p for an average trip

In June, a judge granted Uber a short-term operating licence in London after its permit was initially not renewed over safety concerns.

1,000 London minicab drivers protest over congestion charge 

Nearly 1,000 minicab drivers joined a protest against congestion charges they claim will cut their take-home pay by up to 25 per cent.

The demonstration yesterday in London was called by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), which claims the charge is a ‘tax on the poor’ and will do little to reduce congestion in the capital.

Minicab drivers stage a congestion charge protest at Transport for London yesterday

The daily charge of £11.50 will have to be paid by private hire drivers, such as those working for Uber, from April.

The union said roads outside Transport for London’s (TfL) offices were blocked by the demonstration, which it vowed to repeat every Monday. 

Spokesman James Farrar said the protest showed how angry drivers were about the extension of the congestion charge.

‘The ball is now in TfL’s court as we have raised our collective voices and stand united against this unjust and regressive tax on the poor.’

Alex Williams, TfL’s director of city planning, said: ‘Bold action is required to tackle London’s public health crisis. More than 9,000 deaths are linked to air quality every year.

‘The private hire trade, along with all road users, have a central role in reducing the filthy fumes circulating in our city.’ 

The firm conceded it had made ‘serious mistakes’ and Transport for London was correct in its renewal decision, but told an appeal hearing it had made ‘wholesale’ reforms.

It comes amid reports that controversial subsidies for burning wood in power stations could be scrapped in the drive to clean up Britain’s air.

Firms that burn wood pellets currently receive about £1billion a year because, unlike coal, these are considered renewable sources of energy.

But critics say burning wood produces similar amounts of carbon dioxide to coal, contributing to air pollution.

It also increases the logging of forests in the US, while shipping them to Britain in vast quantities has a further negative effect on the environment.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove yesterday revealed subsidies for burning wood could be scrapped as he unveiled the Government’s clean air strategy.

It comes after years of state support for ‘biomass’ such as wood pellets, in schemes pioneered by disgraced ex-Liberal Democrat energy secretary Chris Huhne.  

Britain’s drive to meet tough new air quality targets could also see an end to some subsidies for red diesel, which costs around 62p a litre compared with about 131p for standard ‘white’ diesel. 

Officials said they wanted to ‘ensure its lower cost is not discouraging the transition to cleaner alternatives’. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said he hopes more people will be persuaded to support the drive for clean air after a nine-year-old girl’s death was linked to unlawful levels of air pollution.

Ella Kissi-Debrah lived 25 metres from the South Circular Road in Lewisham in South East London – one of the capital’s busiest roads, and died in February 2013 after three years of seizures and 27 visits to hospital for asthma attacks.

On Friday her family was given permission by the Attorney General to apply for a fresh inquest, after their lawyers said the original held in 2014 did not investigate the potential impact of air pollution.

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