Manchester is on course for its own congestion charge. A report commissioned by the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities, proposing a pay-as-you-go scheme of charges, has been approved by 10 local councillors, and will now be offered up for public consultation. If it passes that stage, motorists as far apart as Wigan and Stockport could be paying by the mile to drive into Manchester city centre – and it could happen as early as 2012.
Council leaders met last week to discuss plans to charge drivers to use the 15 busiest routes in Greater Manchester on a pay-as-you-go system. As part of those plans, motorists would have to pay on a sliding scale according to which road they were using, when they were using it and the length of their journey. This makes it different to the London congestion charge, which currently costs an £8 flat fee per day, and permits drivers to use whichever routes they like.
The Manchester scheme is being designed to be better value than the London scheme, councillors say, and also to better incentivise drivers to travel outside of peak times. It's likely to use a combination of satellite tracking and number plate recognition technology, although exactly how it will do that remains to be agreed.
“A London-style charging scheme is not right for Greater Manchester,” said Manchester city council leader Sir Richard Leese. "Any charging scheme must take into account the time of day, length of journey, origin and destination, as well as the impact on communities and key workers.”
Motorists affected by the plans have been advised to keep regular checks on the AGMA's website (http://www.agma.gov.uk) to find out how the consultation process will be carried out.