27 July 2004

The Government could charge motorists up to £1.30 per mile to use parts of the UK road network by 2014, under transport secretary’s Alistair Darling’s 10-year transport strategy.

The Future of Transport plan paints a long-term picture in which motorists would pay a ‘national distance charge’ per mile, applicable on every stretch of road in the country. Darling said that better transport would only be possible through ‘new ways of paying for road use’. He is studying a national distance charge, which would be managed by local government and use GPS satellite systems to track cars. It would be flexible, with ‘the facility for local variation in the charge to reflect congested and uncongested conditions’.

In other words, drivers would pay more to use the busiest roads at peak times, and less at quiet times. It would cost up to £3 billion a year to run, raise three times that for the Treasury, and is feasible within 10 to 15 years.

Before then, ‘a number of congestion charging schemes at the more local level would amount to a trajectory towards a national road pricing system.’

The AA Motoring Trust said the report was ‘a clear signal that a fair deal for road users is still a long way off.’

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