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.
Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
- 1 Michael Brown shooting: Police shoot and kill second young black man near Ferguson
- 2 James Foley 'beheaded': Isis video shows militant with British accent 'execute US journalist' – and warns Obama of more to come
- 3 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns aged 27
- 4 Cilla Black defends Cliff Richard: 'I am positive that the allegations are without foundation'
- 5 James Foley 'beheading': Met police warn public watching murder video could be criminal offence
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Crisis? What crisis? A visiting US doctor gives the NHS a rave review
Ukip MEP calls for reintroduction of death penalty on fiftieth anniversary of last deaths
Russell Brand calls for Israel boycott: Comedian urges big businesses that 'facilitate the oppression of people in Gaza' to pull funding
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
iJobs Money & Business
£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...
Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...
£450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - I...
£450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Solvency II SME (Pilla...
Day In a Page
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
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize
A three-bedroom red-brick cottage with outbuildings and pretty gardens, £200,000
This three-bedroom flat within a former textile factory spans the corner of the fourth floor and has a balcony