Mike Waters' Blog: 7 December 2012 - Taking its toll
07 December 2012
Mike Waters is senior insight & consultancy manager at Arval, the leading vehicle leasing and fleet management company.
I recently read an article about plans for a number of new tolling schemes in the UK.
This would mean that like the London congestion charge, drivers would pay via the internet or using their mobile phone to travel on selected stretches of road.
Reading between the lines, the proposals from the Highways Agency sound like they may be the tip of the iceberg and that this inititiative could pave the way for a growing number of such shemes in the future.
The expected arguments were clear to see. Many drivers will see this as an additional cost at a time when motorists are already under considerable cost pressure.
However, there is no getting away from the fact that on certain roads, congestion is a big issue, and the Government has a clear agenda to reduce vehicle related pollution and raise funds in a difficult economic climate.
So I think there are a few points to pick up on here, and the first is that we shouldn't be surprised.
An increase in the number of road charging schemes is almost inevitable, the only questions are when, where and how.
The second point is, while I am sure that over the coming years we will see growth in road charging schemes, it will be a phased approach and certainly in the inititial stages, it will only cover a small and select group of roads - those that are the most congested in the country causing the biggest delays to motorists and the highest levels of pollution.
While the other consideration is that putting the cost to the motorist aside, the shift towards what are known as free-flowing schemes, where motorists are not stopped at toll booths, is a logical one.
I for one hate being stuck in traffic and charging drivers based on road usage seems to be a fair approach.
Consistent with many drivers, this is not a cost that I want to absorb but taking a pragmatic view, it seems that growth in road charging is invevitable.
In this context my hope is that the Government takes a considered and consistent approach to the way that it implements these schemes across the country to ensure that they are fair and that they successfully reduce congestion and pollution rather than just generating revenue.
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