The government should pilot pay-as-you-go road charging technology to reduce traffic congestion, an independent review commissioned by the Treasury and the Department for Transport has urged.
The review by former British Airways chief executive Rod Eddington found that given the scale of road congestion, “there is no attractive alternative to road pricing”. Without a widespread scheme by 2015, the UK would require “very significantly more transport infrastructure”, it said.
The review report warned, “Road pricing on this scale is new and at this stage has unknown implementation costs. There are very significant risks and uncertainties involved in delivering a pricing policy, particularly around the technology needed for its delivery: potential technologies exist but have never been used at a national level.”
It called for pilot schemes to test different pricing structures and technologies. These should also look at “how to balance the benefits of early inter-operability of technology, with the benefits of testing different technologies” and be independently evaluated, the report said.
The Eddington review also points to the potential of new technologies to help manage transport supply and demand, and make better use of available capacity.
In October, the government announced a £12m project to develop "intelligent transport systems", looking at how new IT – including distributed networks of sensors, data mining, agent-based software, modelling technology and new communications tools – could be used to improve the transport system
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