The UK Government should introduce dynamic road pricing, taking into account the sorts of roads a driver uses, the time of day, congestion on the network and their financial situation, according to a new report.

Funding Roads for the Future, released by the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE), suggests that the current system – raising funds through fuel and vehicle excise duties, and the HGV levy – is failing in the face of new technology and changing social trends such as zero-emission vehicles, ride sharing and increased urbanisation.

According to the report, there should be short-term reforms to the existing road taxation system, pushing it towards the longer-term aim of dynamic road user pricing.

ACE chief executive Dr Nelson Ogunshakin OBE said: “Our report argues that in the years ahead only a reformed funding regime based on dynamic road user pricing will manage traffic flows and deliver the significant investment needed to keep the country moving.

“It’s vital that the government starts these conversations with the public now, as to date there have been suspicions of road user pricing and fears that people will be priced off the road.

“This doesn’t have to be the case and there is a great opportunity to develop a fairer-for-all road funding system which delivers the first-class road network that this country needs long into the future.”

The report was created with input from ACE’s Road Sector Interest Group.

Its chairman Dave Beddell, also managing director for strategic highways in Europe at AECOM, said: “Such is the importance of the road network to our national economic and social well-being that we cannot allow the way in which we fund its future development and operation to become misaligned with emerging customer needs. 

“Alongside the increased levels of spend we have seen allocated to parts of the network in recent years comes an equally exciting opportunity for industry to work alongside government in order to create an investment framework that supports a modern and sustainable road network.”

Some of the report’s other recommendations are as follows:

  • Develop a new overall national roads strategy outlining a coordinated approach beyond the national network, including introducing a local roads fund to amalgamate and ring-fence funding for local roads.
  • Look at short-term reforms to widen the scope of vehicle excise duty to include zero-emission vehicles, therefore securing revenue for the national roads fund.
  • Establish a local infrastructure tariff allowing councils to develop a sustainable revenue stream for local road infrastructure investment.
  • Increase private investment in England’s road network.