Driving through London is confusing enough without the added stress of trying to figure out whether you’ve passed through certain areas that require you to pay special fees or charges. The new By Miles app update can help drivers avoid unexpected ULEZ charges. Think of this gadget as being a ULEZ insurance policy in your smartphone.
What is ULEZ? Here’s the word from By Miles
The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is an area around the centre of London where drivers have to pay a fee depending on the level of pollutants their vehicle emits when they drive through it, kind of like the Congestion Charging Zone. The good news is that it’s resulted in a 20% reduction in emissions since its introduction in April last year, and nitrogen dioxide has also fallen by a third thanks to the scheme.
We’ve been spending some time learning a bit more about ULEZ charges. We started by putting in a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to Transport for London to see what the breakdown of costs looks like and, more importantly, to see if there was anything we could do to make things a bit more straightforward for our members.
The numbers are pretty interesting. Drivers have paid £48.9 million in daily charges since ULEZ came into effect in 2019, but a staggering £21.5 million has been collected in late penalty charges – many of these by motorists who may have had no idea the charge exists, or even how to pay it.
In one case, the highest number of penalties issued to one vehicle in the last eight months was 165. That means someone spent nearly half a year stumbling into the ULEZ zone (impressive as it’s only existed since mid-April 2019) and either didn’t notice, or just didn’t care about the charge. A penalty is £160, or £80 for an early payment. This means that one unlucky driver had to pay a minimum of £13,200 in ULEZ charges, which is a bananas amount of money.
It’s an extreme case, but it’s something we’d like to help our members avoid happening. If a late ULEZ payment can be prevented, we’ll let you know using a new feature in our app.
By design, the ULEZ payment deadline is pretty tight, meaning you have to pay by midnight on the day of travel (or the next working day if it’s a weekend). That means you may need to up your intake of fish oil before every journey to increase your chances of remembering to pay on time.
There’s also the potential for you to unknowingly enter a ULEZ zone and end up with a late payment that way, too.
How does this new feature work?
We’ll send you a notification at the end of a trip to let you know that you’ve travelled within a ULEZ zone. Think of it as the digital equivalent of scribbling ‘Phone Mum’ on your hand when you notice the date during work and then realise it’s her birthday.
It’s all done through the By Miles app using the GPS information we have about the your journey. A notification will pop up at the end of your journey to remind you that you’ll need to pay the ULEZ charge, along with a link to the TfL website for payments, so you can double-check what fees you owe for your car – because sometimes life can, and should, be as easy as that.