Friday 3 November 2023

The London ULEZ in action

Transport for London have published their first set of what must loosely be described as "numbers" since the ULEZ was extended, from their ANPR cameras and payment / fines records.  It's fair to say that little can be taken by way of meaningful conclusions from this effort, although it is conceivable they'll be in a position to do better between now and the Mayoral election next year.  Whether "better" will include anything genuinely meaningful and useful is open to question.  Don't bother looking at what has appeared in the meejah on this: the TfL numbers provided are so ropey that pressmen and politicians alike have been resorting to guesswork in an attempt to make a commentary-narrative from it.

Under the weighty heading "Compliance Data" we have been given numbers for the first month, plus historical figures, supposedly for the purpose of demonstrating "improvements".  Can they properly be compared?  No, because the number of cameras deployed has been changing p- increasing - throughout, AND coverage by cameras in the extended zone was very patchy indeed in that first month.  (Some boroughs have not been cooperating, which means TfL has been largely confined to installing cameras on "its" roads - the Red Routes - although these do, or ultimately will, provide quite a mesh for capturing vehicle movements of any distance within the full zone.)  Maybe, perhaps some time in 2024, they'll have a fairly full network of functioning cameras.  Even then, there are helpful online resources enabling the crafty driver to (attempt to) plot a route that avoids them.

Then there's the obvious issue that drivers' behaviours in the early weeks of a scheme aren't necessarily indicative of how things will be when it settles down.  

TfL's own commentary cheerfully mashes up DVLA data relating to vehicles known to exist and be registered to a London address, with vehicles actually logged by the cameras.

Finally, there are as yet no data whatever on air quality which in principle is the purpose of the exercise.

Granted that much of this data shortfall will "improve" over time (in the statistical sense of more cameras in action, data collated from a longer period of the scheme's operation, and air quality data actually being provided), it still isn't clear we'll get solid conclusions on what ought to be the political issues arising.  Partly that's because all the politicos involved are quite capable of cherry-picking data, not to mention abusing statistics and of course lying outright.  But even if the data were turned over to the most objective statistical analysis, there are several fundamental problems, including:

  1.  It is really obvious that the number of dirty old bangers on the road has anyway been decreasing steadily, for the simple treason that they fall off the perch eventually and are replaced, if at all, by inevitably newer, cleaner models.  This has been going on inexorably for decades.  Khan won't be able to prove what part, if any, of the "increase in compliant vehicles" is down to his ULEZ extension, as opposed to the steady march of technology, or indeed to people no longer being able to afford to drive - including firms going out of business.  He may not even find a handy inflexion-point on the graphs to call in aid.
  2. Still less will he be able to conclude definitively on any changes in air quality that might be registered in due course.  (a) Road vehicles are only one contributor to air pollution.  Another very large contributor is the vast fleet of diesel engines associated with building sites: diggers, cranes, gennies, etc etc.  According to Private Eye, Khan has resolutely refused to implement the latest European standards on building-site emissions, on the grounds that to do so might impact on London's economy (and he's probably right, at least at the margin).  Plus, (b) the road network is constantly changing - indeed, Khan himself is having a new cross-Thames tunnel constructed, which is bound to result in increased traffic.  Stick all that up yer exhaust pipe, Sadiq, and smoke it.
None of these objective difficulties will prevent the politicos from bandying their chosen "analysis" next year - and of course Khan from brandishing his cute little book "Breathe" on the subject of air quality.  (Nicely reminiscent of Gordon Brown who laughably wrote a tome on "Courage" ...) 

There are several possible desiderata in play**, that in an ideal world we might seek to audit.  The easiest will be "number of compliant vehicles on the road".  But that is at best a proxy for "air quality", and if the latter doesn't show a material improvement that can somehow legitimately be claimed by Khan's scheme, the former will be irrelevant.  Which leads us to "value for money".  Ah yes, VFM.  Well, let me simply say that last month I scrapped a car, for which Khan kindly paid me £2,000.  Which was around double its market value (or three times what Webuyanycar offered me).  Me and tens of thousands of others.  Thanks, Sadiq.



** Some will suspect that another desideratum is - more cameras surveying our streets ...


Anonymous said...

If Khan was serious about improving quality of life in London then he would be banning all the cars and motorcycles with illegally modified exhausts. And maybe ridiculously loud car stereos. Bloody noisy.

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile our best friends in the Middle East are bombing hospitals and slaughtering kids (they've managed to surpass the civilian deaths in Russia/Ukraine in less than a month) - and our government, with Keir close behind, it trying to think of ways to make criticism of Israeli genocide illegal!

I can't understand it. Eight years ago much less sustained and deadly bombing in Aleppo was cause for 24/7 BBC coverage, anguished calls in Parliament for a no-fly zone (aka a Syrian war to add to Iraq and Libya), the brave White Helmets ...

That's a point. Where are the White Helmets? Wiki says they're "an impartial humanitarian NGO, with no affiliation to any political or military actor and a commitment to render services to anyone in need" - and Syria is right next door! I simply cannot understand why they aren't pulling children out from the rubble?

Where's Bellingcat? Those impartial seekers of truth and enemies of propaganda?

I must be stupid, because I can't understand their silence.

jim said...

Most of the problem with the Israel/Hamas story is because no one is allowed to talk about it and no one is allowed to discuss the Realpolitik. Like God, if Israel did not exist we would have to invent it. The question, who owns Washington, Israel or Americans?

Diogenes said...

Getting back to ULEZ. ULEZ numbers at this point, as you point out, are moot.

There is an example of what happens by reference to the Dartford Bridge when it switched from pay booths to the ANPR that ULEZ uses. Initially there is 'light touch'. If you appeal you'll get the charge cancelled perhaps the first or even second time. After that you go into the penalty sausage machine which can lead 50% uplift.

It's what would be called a 'nudge' to encourage a change in behaviour but not to p*ss people off. Certainly there will be initial anger as demonstrated before but we are such a compliant nation that it will get bedded in.

* On the 'other' unmentionable subject, is there a wider issue of the decline of the American Empire and the parallels with Rome? And for fun which Emperor is Biden and which Trump? Will America's 'true friends' become China's 'true friends'

Jeremy Poynton said...

Israel v Hamas.

This not a war over territory; it's a religious war as savage as those that scorched Europe in the past. Note clearly. Hamas intent is the genocide of the Jews. They have been quite clear about this.

I'll leave it at that.

Nick Drew said...

Diogenes pt 2 - a great idea! The other parallel people like to tease out is: which of Athens / Sparta is China / USA? (and which nation Macedonia ..?)

We'll certainly have a future post on the Decline of America. For very many years, I've been saying "bet against the dollar at your peril" (and I've made a lot of money out of it). Not so sure now ...

Sobers said...

The US is very close to the debt doom loop - rising rates means more debt repayments, but its running a massive deficit anyway and seems incapable of cutting any spending whatsoever, so can only finance those rising interest payments through taking on more debt, which drives rates higher still. Rinse and repeat until the collapse of the entire system. Or it starts printing money to buy its own debt and force interest rates down, in which case it drives the currency into the floor and drives inflation higher, possibly into a hyperinflationary event. See banana economies the world over.

The only solution is to bite the bullet and cut spending NOW - the longer you wait the more painful it becomes and at some point the necessary cuts become too large to be practically achievable anyway.

It'll be a slow motion crash, until the end, which will be lightening fast.

jim said...

Back to ULEZ, an elderly relative had some character offering her small money for her oldish but low mileage petrol 4wd. Sucking of teeth - can't drive that in ULEZ missus. Was a load of b&*&cks, looked up the plate - perfectly OK.

Another elderly relative called up a burglar alarm bod. Who sucked teeth and said oooh we'll have to take it away madam. Turned out to be a very simple problem. I wonder whether these older alarms are worth fixing at all what with Ring doorbells and internal cameras n all.

Anonymous said...
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electro-kevin said...

ULEZ = You can gas kids in London if you're rich enough to do so.

electro-kevin said...

Plenty of playboy Palestinian supporters tearing around London in Aston Martins and Maseritis whilst Arab oil Sheikhs blame Jews for their people being poor.

electro-kevin said...

Sobers - Do you think a nation with ten super carrier battle fleets and hyper-tech warships off Israel is going to collapse because of a mere thing called money ?

Sobers said...

"Do you think a nation with ten super carrier battle fleets and hyper-tech warships off Israel is going to collapse because of a mere thing called money ?"

Money is not a thing in and of itself. Its a claim on resources. If you can no longer use whatever you call 'money' to lay claim to resources then you're f*cked, regardless of how much of it you have. Do you think the people manning all those battlefleets are going to fight if their pay buys their families back home the square root of b*gger all? If of course they can even get the fuel and ammunition to fight with.

Every empire there's ever been that has thought it could spend more than it earned has crashed and burned, and the US empire will be no different if it continues on its current path.

dearieme said...

"This not a war over territory" I disagree. It is precisely a war over territory: each wants sovereign domain over the same patch of earth.

Hamas recruits allies via pan-Arabism and Moslem jihad. Israel recruits allies through God's Covenant and Being the Only Democracy in the Middle East. The ideologies are exploited but they are not the central point.

Both sides would like to genocide the other because then their sovereign domain would be more secure.

Thank goodness it's none of our business.

Elby the Beserk said...


Read, watch digest and come back. This is not about land. Superficially it may seem to be, and the West as it is now configured, will see it as so.

Anonymous said...

100% OT but I see Lee Halfpenny kicked 5 conversions from 5 for Wales against the Barbarians yesterday. If Wales had played him against Argentina or even had him on the bench they'd have been in the semis - admittedly NZ would have been a bridge too far, but I'd have loved a 3/4 place tie against England.

Anonymous said...

An awful lot of teams will be regretting missed kicks in that RWC.

Anonymous said...

Not a very credible source, Elby, check their credentials. Then try this instead.

""What confusion would ensue all the world over if this principle on which the Jews base their 'legitimate' claim were carried out in other parts of the world! What migrations of nations must follow! The Spaniards in Spain would have to make room for the Arabs and Moors who conquered and ruled their country for over 700 years…"
— Palestine Arab Delegation, Observations on the High Commissioner's Interim Report on the Civil Administration of Palestine during the period 1st July 1920 – 30th June 1921

The Palestinian Arabs said No to the idea that in the 20th century a people who last lived in Palestine in large numbers over 2000 years ago could claim, on the basis of a religious text, rights to the land where the current inhabitants had been living for a millennium and a half.

They did not base their rejection on a denial of Jewish historical and religious ties to the Holy Land. Rather, they said No to the idea that highly secularized Jews arriving from Europe, who seemed to abjure religious life, manners and practices, could use the Bible to support a political project of a Jewish state in an already populated and settled land."

Anonymous said...

I believe the ULEZ cameras are the first nudge, next will be to use the cameras to create London zones, the more zones any car travels through the more you pay.

Given the air quality in the tube is far worse than above ground, it's never been about air quality but an anti-car agenda.

The car represents individuality, commies like Khan can't allow the proletariat to have such individual freedoms, we need to be stuffed onto public transport.

Only the elite like Khan should be allowed the privilege of driving around in a chauffeur driven car.

dearieme said...

"where the current inhabitants had been living for a millennium and a half." A daft underestimate: the Palestinians are largely the descendants of the Jews of Judea and Galilee at the time of Jesus. Some of the hard men who set up Israel certainly thought so and I'll bet they were right.

Put otherwise, the Palestinians are more Jewish by descent than the Ashkenazi who are only about 50%, the rest being European.

Not that it much matters: even if they had been there only 1500 years, so what? The fact is that both sides want to own and rule the same land. It's a simple conflict of interest with no simple solution in view bar horrors.

electro-kevin said...

Sobers - Physical might is the ultimate claim on resources. If a nation can fight then it can print.

Dearieme - That's interesting. I read yesterday that over 50% of Israelis are derived from Jews exiled from Arabia during the partition era and are oriental.

The greatest propaganda coup by the Arabs was to depict the Jews as white settlers. Whereas the truth is that Jews were distinct enough to be singled out for pogroms.

Anonymous said...

Something else to think about:

Anonymous said...

Guardian business:

German industrial production dropped by 1.4% month-on-month in September, following a 0.1% drop in August. On an annual basis, German industrial output was down -3.7% year-on-year.

"There is no end in sight for the weakness in German industry, which has become more broad-based in Q3. Hard to pick out any positives. German industrial production now a staggering 17% below the trend from 2010s, meaning over a hundred billion Euros in lost output."

"Insolvencies have risen in Germany – in another sign that Europe’s largest economy is struggling. The Leibniz Institute for Economic Research Halle (IWH) has reported that 1,037 partnerships and corporations in Germany fell into insolvency in October – 44% more than a year ago, and 2% more than in September."

It's an absolute tragedy that "we" trashed the most - indeed the only - truly productive economy in Europe.

And what a stroke of genius selling our steel industry to India and China, who are busy shutting blast furnaces and rejigging them to only run on electric-melted recycled scrap steel i.e. the steel that's of no use for armour, nuclear castings etc.

Anonymous said...

We know how cheap electricity is...

Nick Drew said...

Anon @ 3:58 - not my special subject: is that all that electric arc furnaces are good for?

dearieme said...

@Kev: "the Ashkenazi" are the boys who set it up and have ruled it until the past few years. For all I know the oriental Jews may be just as Jewish of descent as the Palestinians but the Israeli founders weren't - not even close.

It's tricky, of course, if lots of people want to hide the answer - oops, I beg your pardon, claim to want to protect the dignity of the bodies of the deceased from sacrilegious scientific scrutiny.

Red Indian tribes play the same trick - you can't prove that some tribe replaced an earlier one because they deny you access to grave sites. You might almost think they had something to hide.

Anonymous said...

ND - electric arc furnaces are as good as the scrap fed into them, the issues come with the cost of checking the scrap. Specialist steels i.e. for nuclear or missile use are going to be hard and expensive to source from scrap.

Aren't we going for mini-nukes?

"(Reuters) - NuScale Power said on Wednesday it has agreed with a power group in Utah to terminate the company's small modular reactor project, dealing a blow to U.S. ambitions for a wave of nuclear energy to fight climate change and sending NuScale's shares down 20%.

In 2020, the Department of Energy approved $1.35 billion over 10 years for the plant, known as the Carbon Free Power Project, subject to congressional appropriations. NuScale has received about $600 million from the department since 2014 to support the design, licensing and siting of the project.

NuScale had planned to develop the six-reactor 462 megawatt project with the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) and launch it in 2030, but several towns pulled out of the project as costs rose."

Where exactly is this cheap electricity coming from again?

Anonymous said...

And European green energy just keeps on booming:

The German government is in talks to provide a multibillion-euro bailout to the engineering company Siemens Energy to shore up its balance sheet amid increasing problems at its wind turbine division. Shares in the company, one of the world’s biggest makers of wind turbines, plunged by almost 40% to all-time lows on the German stock exchange, wiping €3bn from its market value, after reports emerged that it was in talks to secure government guarantees as part of a €15bn rescue package.

Never mind, our British wind turbines lead the world with household names such as ... er ... er ...

Nick Drew said...

@ Anonymous said...
ND - electric arc furnaces are as good as the scrap fed into them, the issues come with the cost of checking the scrap. Specialist steels i.e. for nuclear or missile use are going to be hard and expensive to source from scrap.

That last sentence is clear enough. But you imply an electric arc furnace can only be fed with scrap. Can it be dedicated to output of high grade steel (with whatever consistent and quality grade of feedstock that would systematically require)? As opposed to "can only be fed with scrap, and that scrap is unlikely to be good enough quality for a high grade output", which is one clear interpretation of what you've written.

Do you know who I am? I've forgotten said...

What was the subject again?

Love the Alzheimer-like quality of the blog, wandering from subject to subject. Quite a lot of interesting comments popping up, completely irrelevant to the subject.

Keep up the good work. I'd like to renew my subscription if I could remember where I put it.

Nick Drew said...

We aim to , errr,

... er, what was it ?

You could go for the lifetime subscription - if you think you'll last long enough to get the benefit