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For whom the road tolls?

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Phil BlytheORCiD


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For those who regard today’s traffic levels as already too high, the prospect of a further 50% increase is unthinkable. And yet, if real disposable incomes go on rising over the next 25–30 years as they have since the mid-1970s, then the car population is almost bound to go on rising, until some ‘saturation’ level of ownership is reached by about 2030. By then, today’s 23 million cars registered in the UK could have grown to 33–36 million. If traffic is not to grow commensurately, the nettle of the hitherto radical policy of road-use pricing (including congestion charging in urban areas and the tolling of congested motorways) will have to be grasped. The legislation for this is in place, through the Transport Act 2000, and much experimentation is afoot, but the political will at the national level is still lacking. This brief review of the future for congestion charging and of emerging technologies, for vehicle/roadside communication and automated toll-collection systems, concludes that the lack of appropriate technology will not be the constraint in implementing road-user charging in the near future in the UK.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Hills PT, Blythe PT

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Ingenia

Year: 2002

Issue: 14

ISSN (print): 1472-9768

Publisher: Royal Academy of Engineering