The Freight Transport Association has published a complete guide to the eleven potential road pricing schemes which have been promoted by the Department for Transport and financed by the Transport Innovation Fund (TIF). Some of these are intended to be developed by local authorities for specific areas, and may be a pre-cursor to the creation of a national road pricing scheme in the longer term. For some others, decisions have been made not to proceed. The document reviews the proposals made so far.
FTA is prepared to support road pricing schemes where they can be shown to produce a net benefit for business users. However, the Association has identified a number of essential conditions that must be fulfilled in order for any scheme to gain its support. These include:
Any road pricing scheme should be part of a mix of policy actions to tackle congestion, including improved school transport, relaxation of delivery curfews, alternatives for journeys to work and discounts for the adoption of environmental best practice.
The purpose of any road pricing scheme must be to reduce congestion, not raise money.
The technology must be interoperable with other schemes in the UK and the rest of the EU.
A priority action must be to establish how the costs and benefits to industry of a road pricing scheme can be measured.
Evaluation of schemes must include the impact on deliveries to businesses in the charged area and on the edge of the charging zone.
FTA's Head of Urban Access Policy, Stephen Kelly said, 'The efficient movement and delivery of goods and services is a key ingredient in both the national and local economies, is vital to businesses, and serves consumers. We all have a stake in making deliveries and collections work as well a possible. If road pricing schemes can reduce congestion, cut costs, speed deliveries and benefit users, then they may be welcome. If by spending £5 a lorry operator can get £6 of benefits in saved time and slicker delivery, then all well and good.
'But if a scheme fails to produce any benefits, places additional costs on vehicle operators and is merely used by a local authority to raise money, then it will most certainly not be acceptable.
'The Freight Transport Association will be carefully examining all proposals to check their practical, operational and economic viability, and we will resist any proposal that cannot demonstrate worthwhile and measurable benefits to commercial vehicle operators.'
The eleven schemes examined by the FTA report are in Cambridge, Durham, East Midlands, Bristol, Manchester, Leeds, Norwich, Reading, Tyne & Wear, West Midlands and Shropshire. However, it is now clear that the schemes at East Midlands, Norwich, Tyne & Wear, West Midlands and Shropshire are not going ahead.
The FTA report is available from http://www.fta.co.uk/information/road-pricing/road-pricing-0908.pdf