Think-tank calls for 'pay-as-you-drive' charging


Think-tank calls for 'pay-as-you-drive' charging

A free market think-tank believes new private express lanes should be built to ease congestion, with the introduction of pay-as-you-go motoring.

Tolled express lanes would essentially allow motorists, tracked by satellite, to drive faster than other road users. This reform, advocated by the Institute of Economic Affairs, would introduce 'pay-as-you-drive' charging, where drivers would pay up to seven pence a mile in a series interlocking road pricing schemes.

The new pricing scheme would also see fuel duty cut and reductions in the cost of vehicle excise duty, but the new way to pay for motoring has proved controversial. Plans originally put forward under the previous Labour Government were only recently ditched, after 1.8 million people signed a Downing Street petition apposing the plans.

However, the revised proposals are now receiving increased support from the right, with members of the Tories Free Enterprise group now supporting the pay plan. To test out its viability, drivers would be asked to volunteer for a local pilot scheme.

Drivers would be charged up to seven pence per mile on local roads, dependant upon the time of day they drive. Volunteers will also receive a discount of up to £150 on their tax disc. If the new pay-as-you-go scheme proves successful, the strategy would be used in a number of counties, until it's adopted across the country.

To couple this proposal, an alternative method would see the introduction of privately-run tolled motorways, with charges of up to six pence per mile. Similar to before, the level of fuel duty would be cut to ensure motorists aren't left worse off.

As alternative strategy would be to allow private companies to build express lanes alongside existing motorways, with the introduction of a higher speed limit than the state-owned lanes. This could essentially tackle rush hour gridlock and potentially save the country £20 billion per year.

Director General at the Institute of Economic Affairs, Mark Littlewood, told the Telegraph: "If just 20 per cent of drivers opted to use these, it would have a substantial impact on congestion. Many customers would be prepared to obtain quicker travel by paying more to drive on commercially provided roads."

Littlewood added: "Rather than taxing motorists so heavily, we should encourage moves to a pay-as-you-go system of pricing. To keep our traffic flowing and to encourage the appropriate expansion of our transport network, we need road pricing to begin to replace upfront, one off taxes."