Toll plans run into traffic
Public sector finance: Pay as you drive is anathema to most motorists, but the DoT is determined not to give up yet. By Paul Gosling
Wednesday 17 April 1996
Participants' cars will be fitted with electronic equipment that will register a charge, with road prices rising on days of heavy atmospheric pollution. The project, part of the European Commission's Eurotoll scheme, is also being tested in France, Germany and Italy, and is based on proven technology.
Driver behaviour is assumed to be influenced by two factors: cost and convenience. As well as introducing road- charging, Leicester's council will change road priorities to make journey times shorter by bus than by car.
Eddie Tyrer, of Leicester council's traffic section, says: "Politically road charging is not acceptable nationally or locally. But if it does come, what we want to see is what it would do, how it might become acceptable, and how it might improve air quality. We also want to determine what price is necessary to create a change of behaviour."
The Department of Transport, one of the partners in Eurotoll, is keen to see tolls introduced on British roads, to reduce excessive traffic on some urban roads and as a way of encouraging more private finance into new road building, especially for motorways. But efforts to create toll roads in Britain have been hit by a series of problems.
Until now the biggest obstacle has been drivers themselves, who simply do not want to pay tolls. The RAC polled motorists and found strong opposition. Jeremy Banks, head of public policy at the RAC, says: "The outcome was that drivers were very strongly opposed to tolling. If it happens, they would prefer toll booths, and would like the money to go to road maintenance and public transport."
But booths would not fit easily on many British motorways, and would slow down traffic flows. Moreover, part of the attraction of tolling is to bring in private capital which, it seems, drivers would resist. And drivers are one of the most powerful vested interests.
What is more, all opinion polls of drivers have shown that tolls will lead to the diversion of traffic, rather than converting drivers into public transport users. Higher car-parking fees in town and city centres has been a factor in the popularity of out-of-town shopping malls. Urban tolls would have the same effect, and motorway tolls could dramatically shift traffic on to trunk roads.
One study predicted that introducing tolls on the M25 could lead to a 500 per cent increase in heavy goods traffic on parallel sections of the A25. While the extent of diversion is dependent on the level of charges, any charge produces a worryingly high level of diversion, according to the studies conducted. And anti-roads campaigners have warned that private motorway developers will be able to set their own tolls. This might lead HGV tolls to be set at deterrent levels so that privately built motorways were geared to car use, forcing heavy lorries on to suburban streets and narrow trunk roads.
The technology is proven, having worked satisfactorily in Germany and the Far East. Indeed, regular users of the M25 Dartford River Crossing have been able to use pre-paid tags combined with automatic vehicle identification since 1992. The result has been a significant improvement in vehicle throughflow compared with either manual or machine payment.
But the political problems currently seem insurmountable. These have led the Government reluctantly to turn its back on road pricing, and turn instead to shadow road tolls. Under this, a private developer would be paid by the Government for the level of traffic that uses a road, but will pay a penalty when roads are out of service for repair.
Even the shadow road tolling programme has hit problems, with eight consortia bidding for the supply of the technology now down to just four after the others withdrew. The remaining potential suppliers now face testing at the Transport Research Laboratory starting this summer, and then a further trial on the M3 next spring.
The bright new future of a network of privately financed toll roads no longer looks a realistic option. Toll roads might even be seen as a metaphor for the Private Finance Initiative as a whole. Private capital is being brought in, but not on the Government's original terms, and in much smaller sums than had been envisaged.
Bargain Hunter: Now's your chance to watch the best movies free of charge at home
The FTSE 100 is inching closer to its record high but can it maintain these levels?
MPs call for Equitable Life policyholders to be paid £2.8bn owed by government
You'll need £220,000 for a minimum wage in your retirement
Fuel poverty could claim 100,000 lives over next 15 years, warns energy charity
- 1 Isis burns thousands of books and rare manuscripts from Mosul's libraries
- 2 Scarlett Johansson new band 'already hit with legal complaint' from another The Singles
- 3 Husband and wife die holding hands within hours of each other after 67 years of marriage
- 4 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
- 5 'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News after accusing Kay Burley of Islamaphobia
Oscars 2015: Birdman beats Boyhood as Eddie Redmayne and Patricia Arquette win big - as it happened
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
Aqsa Mahmood branded a 'disgrace' by her parents after claims she recruited three UK girls flying to Middle East
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
iJobs Money & Business
£17000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity to join this new...
£18000 - £21000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...
£36000 - £44000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Encouraging more businesses to ...
Day In a Page
High Crest House covers an impressive 9384sq ft, with almost three acres of grounds including a tennis court and summer house enclosed by electric gates
A six-bedroom farmhouse with separate accommodation in converted stables. Situated in the village of Church Aston, within walking distance to the market town
A two-bedroom flat with under-heated walnut floors and bespoke built-in storage. The Tube and Clapham Common are a short stroll away
A refurbished seven-bedroom townhouse with staff quarters, cinema room, superb gym, steam room and plunge pool
A minimnalist four-bedroom home designed to the highest spec, featuring glass walls and a kitchen space lit by a glass roof
Hibernate during winter and make your living during the summer at this busy guesthouse with panoramic sea views, in the village of Lynton
A four-bedroom penthouse next to the Tate with direct views of St Paul's from two floors of luxurious living space
A four-bedroom detached home surrounded by spacious gardens and woodland, close to New Pudsey
An 18th-century, three-bedroom home near Langstone Harbour built from ships beams with vaulted ceilings and wood burning stoves
A five-bedroom semi-detached home with a mix of period and modern features in a popular and convenient location
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A deceptively spacious, beautifully presented Georgian home with 3000sq ft of living space and five reception rooms
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley