The London Assembly’s proposed road pricing scheme to replace the Congestion Charge should target drivers who have a choice whether to use London’s roads, says the UK’s largest transport trade organisation the Freight Transport Association FTA .
Congestion is the biggest problem facing transport in London and FTA is pleased to see it being addressed in the Transport Committee’s report ‘London Stalling: Reducing Traffic Congestion in London’ which is released today.
But Christopher Snelling, FTA’s Head of National & Regional Policy and Public Affairs, said FTA had concerns over the complexity of a planned road pricing scheme and the cost impact on London’s businesses and freight transport operators.
“The Assembly surveyed car drivers to see if they would change behaviour but not commercial operators. Unlike car drivers, we don’t operate at a time of our choosing but respond to customers’ requirements – ie the needs of London’s businesses. If road pricing is not just to be a tax on London it needs to focus on those who have an alternative – mainly the car or taxi user. Water, rail and cycle logistics can all play a useful role in places but even used to the maximum it does not change the fact that the vast majority of deliveries in London will be made by vans and lorries,” he said.
The freight industry delivers around 400,000 tonnes of goods in London every day and each minute added to a lorry journey costs £1. Mr Snelling said FTA had briefed several members of the committee personally as well as submitting evidence for the report, which was generally a sensible and well thought-out set of policy suggestions.
“We are pleased to see the issues we raised reflected in the report and we especially welcome the focus on reforming the restrictions on night time deliveries. This has benefits for emissions and cyclist/pedestrian safety as well as congestion. The Assembly’s support for the use of consolidation centres and a workplace parking levy are also welcome,” he said.
However, FTA challenges the association of the growth in van use with logistics. As FTA pointed out to the committee, half of van use is actually by tradespeople with tools and supplies and much of the growth in van traffic can be attributed to the growth in the service sector. FTA says before progressing further with ideas such as restricting personal deliveries to offices, the London Assembly and Transport for London should further investigate the exact causes of the growth in van use rather than making assumptions.