ROAD PRICING: A TRANSPORT ACTIVISTS ROUNDTABLE
We support the principle of road pricing, believing
that it has an important role to play in a sustainable transport
policy by helping change how much we travel and by what means.
Distance-based charges for road use will make the costs of motoring
more transparent and encourage drivers to think more about the
individual journeys they make, about whether the journey is really
needed or if they could use alternative ways of making the journey.
However our support for road pricing in practice
as well as in principle depends on the following conditions being
met in any scheme which the Government introduces:
Road pricing must be designed not simply to cut
congestion, but to cut carbon dioxide emissions from transport
and to meet other transport objectives
The Government seems to see road pricing simply
as a way of tackling congestion. We believe that its purpose must
be much broader, aiming to change how much we travel and by what
means. Its principal role should be to help cut climate change
emissions from transport. The Department for Transport now has
joint responsibility for delivering the Government's Public Service
Agreement on reducing climate change emissions and a key policy
measure such as road pricing must contribute to meeting this target.
Road pricing should also be used to meet other
transport policy objectives such as improving air quality, reducing
transport's contribution to social exclusion, improving road safety
and bringing environmental benefits to urban and rural areas.
Road pricing must be used to increase the overall
cost of motoring
Government figures show that the cost of motoring
has fallen in real terms since 1997. Road pricing must be used
as one means to reverse this trend and increase the overall cost
Research shows that a revenue-neutral road pricing
scheme under which road pricing charges are offset by cuts in
fuel duty would lead to increases in both traffic levels and in
emissions of carbon dioxide because the cut in fuel duty would
make driving cheaper on less congested roads in rural areas. A
revenue-raising scheme under which road pricing charges are added
to existing motoring costs would lead to falls in traffic levels,
congestion and emissions of carbon dioxide.
Any revenue raised from road pricing should
be invested in measures which encourage travel by means other
than the private car or which reduce the need to travel. This
would mean that, whilst there would be increases in the monetary
costs of driving (in line with the "polluter pays" principle),
these would be compensated not only by the benefits of reduced
congestion, but also by benefits to those using (or switching
to) other transport modes. Hence road pricing could be "cost
neutral" to travellers overall. Alternatively, some of the
revenue could be used to support local services and other community
facilities which reduce travel demand, making it "cost neutral"
to society in general. Either way, the links should be explicit,
to counter any suggestion that road pricing is a revenue-raising
tool. The Government should investigate these options.
Road pricing will not work on its own, but must
be part of a package of measures
Road pricing on its own will not solve Britain's
traffic problems. Other demand management measures are also needed,
including road space reallocation, parking controls, higher density
developments, speed management and smarter choices.
Investment in alternatives to the car (public
transport, cycling and walking) must be increased immediately.
Safer, more efficient, more reliable and more affordable alternatives
to car use are needed now, and must not be delayed until road
pricing technologies and proposals have been fully developed.
Legislation must guarantee certainty in funding with clear plans
for expansion and improvement of these alternatives.
Road pricing charges must maintain incentives
for using greener cars
Any road pricing scheme must be designed, and
its charges set, so that it complements rather than undermines
fiscal incentives for using greener, more fuel-efficient cars
such as fuel tax and Vehicle Excise Duty (road tax). Replacing
fuel tax and road tax with a charge for road use that does not
differentiate between fuel-efficient cars and gas guzzlers will
not be acceptable.
Road pricing should not be introduced only for
Road-building is not the solution to the UK's
transport problems. Large-scale additional road capacity is not
needed. Road pricing should be applied to all existing roads rather
than just new capacity. Nor should road pricing be used as a way
of generating money to invest in building new roads or wider motorways.
Further private toll roads and motorways should
be ruled out
Further privately-funded and operated toll roads
and motorways, such as the M6 Toll to the north of Birmingham,
should be ruled out as the revenue goes to the shareholders of
the companies, and is not used for investment in sustainable transport.
Road pricing should not have adverse effects on
rural areas or increase urban sprawl
Road pricing should be designed so that traffic
is not diverted on to cheaper, less congested rural roads. Any
scheme should be designed so that it reinforces policies to deliver
an urban renaissance; and accompanied by tough land-use policies
so that it does not encourage development in inappropriate locations.
The Government should investigate providing clearly targeted support
for those on low incomes living in genuinely deep rural areas.
Local and regional schemes are useful stepping
stones to a national scheme
A nationwide road pricing scheme is probably
at least a decade away. As well as working towards this, the Government
should also continue to encourage the implementation of locallyand
regionally-based congestion charging or road pricing schemes.
The Government should issue guidance to all regions and the Highways
Agency so that Regional Spatial Strategies adopt the default position
for purposes of traffic modelling that national road user charging
is introduced during the lifetime of the Plans.