British motorists could soon be charged by the mile, after the new Transport Secretary Douglas Alexander announced a £10m kitty to develop road charging schemes.
'As we travel more, because we live on a crowded island, congestion is set to grow,' Alexander told MPs in the House of Commons. 'If we do nothing we simply face eternal gridlock.'
The first 'costs per mile' are likely to be introduced in cities. Several towns, including cambridge and Greater Manchester, are already investigating road charging. The schemes are likely to utilise 'black box' technology fitted to vehicles, although number plates with embedded radio chips are also under development.
The British government has been considering road charging for several years. Several opposition MPs used the Commons debate to point out that the £10m promised falls short of up to £200m suggested in statements by Alexander's predecessors.