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Charging per mile 'inevitable'

05 Jul 2010 at 08:44

A report from the RAC Foundation says it is "inevitable" that motorists will be charged for every mile they travel in order to avoid gridlock on the roads.

The foundation's director Professor Stephen Glaister believes a "pay-as-you-go" system could solve congestion problems.

He believes that motorists must accept a fundamental shift in the way England's roads were managed and paid for.

The report comes as an Ipsos MORI report for the RAC Foundation reveals that 58% of drivers said that a pay-as-you-go per-mile system across all roads would make them reconsider how much they drive.

Prof Glaister's report identified a series of problems facing road users and governments in the future, including a 33% increase in traffic by 2025 and a lack of overall vision for the road network.

He also highlighted reduced spending on road infrastructure due to financial and political constraints.

He said a system of charging motorists per mile travelled had to come alongside a cut in fuel duty and road tax, as well as a governing body to develop and implement a long-term strategy for maintaining and enhancing the road network.

The professor also called for a guaranteed sum of revenue put aside to pay for the work and a regulator to ensure the work was done efficiently, and more reliable journey times and compensation for delays.

Prof Glaister said: "Some form of 'pay-as-you-go' system is inevitable because of the benefits it will deliver for motorists and the country, and the lack of a credible alternative.

"Motorists are resentful of the relentless rise in the cost of fuel and feel short-changed by the amount spent on the road network. But these proposals address such issues. People are very familiar with the principle of pay-as-you-go. For example we are already charged for gas and electricity on the basis of how much we use.

"If politicians shy away from making difficult choices then so be it, but it will be the next generation which has to live with the consequences."

A Department for Transport spokesman said: "To tackle congestion in financially constrained times we will ensure we are making the most of our existing roads. We might however consider building new toll roads; the M6 toll road is a good example of how you can create new capacity with private capital."

Copyright © Press Association 2010