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Moving Towards Pay as You Drive

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Phil BlytheORCiD



Congestion charging and other derivatives of road user charging have been considered as a means of managing traffic demand since the 1960’s. However, apart from a few notable exceptions, it was not until the late 1990’s that we saw the successful emergence of working schemes, such as those in Singapore, London and Stockholm. In the past, the excuse that ‘the technology is not yet proven’ has been a significant reason why schemes have not been adopted, along with the obvious difficulty of being able to make a rational and lucid case to politicians, businesses and individual travellers that all would benefit from its introduction in congested cities and arterial routes. The paper argues that at this point in time technology can now provide solutions that could be configured to deliver numerous forms of innovative charging policies that could not even be conceived a decade ago. The paper reviews and analyses some of the key schemes, and more importantly technology trials, from around the world and suggest what can be learnt from these schemes and how the innovations now technically possible and the evolution in new policy thinking will help to design and implement schemes that make congestion charging more acceptable and relevant to the congestion, energy, climate change and fiscal challenges that we face today. Moreover, it is argued, these innovations will enable policy makers and road operators to consider offering a ‘new deal’ for road users whereby ownership and fuel taxes could be replaced by a more effective “pay as you drive” scheme based upon the proof of technology trials of TDP (time, distance and place) charging that have recently taken place in the UK, elsewhere in Europe and the US. We are at a critical junction in time with respect to how price-based demand management may evolve due to the financial, societal, environmental and political constraints we face – it is clearly time to take a step back to review where we are and explore whether future innovations could deliver a step-change in how we implement acceptable and effective policies in the future.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Walker J, Blythe PT, Pickford A

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: Road Traffic Information and Control (RTIC)

Year of Conference: 2012

Date deposited: 30/11/2012

Publisher: The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET)