CBI sets out case for road pricing

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The Confederation of British Industry has called for the introduction of a national time-sensitive road pricing scheme as a way to reduce traffic congestion.

In a new report, “Tackling congestion, driving growth” the CBI said that changes to how the road network operates and how it is funded could bring new ways of improving its cost-effective performance.

“Moving towards a model where the Highways Agency is independent of government could bring transparency to the funding for the strategic roads network and help deliver better outcomes.

“In the long term, user charging could also help create revenue streams for the new agency as well as bring other economic benefits and help manage demand. To keep open the debate on road pricing a new approach is needed whereby motorists receive a defined additional benefit in return for the charge.

“This should be done by tolling new roads and by combining tolls with lane widening – as has been done in the US – so that drivers have the option of paying to enter a free-flowing lane if the non-toll lane is congested.”

The also wants to see: 

* A real-time traffic information system that leta users match journey requirement and urgency with conditions

* A wider range of funding models – drawing on private capital where appropriate – ensures transport spending is less cyclical and capacity pinchpoints are addressed

* Technological developments enabling low-carbon vehicles to become mainstream

* More flexible working patterns and a national yellow school bus system improve productivity and reduced congestion on the roads at peak times

“The steps advocated to deliver this vision cannot all be taken overnight,” the CBI said. “Some are technically complex, others will require a degree of public funding that may not be affordable in the short term, and others will require the building of public support. But some first steps can be taken now. What matters is that the initial steps are seen as part of a larger exercise to reshape our road network and the way we use it.”

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