Announcing the scheme on the A61 into Leeds, Transport Minister Helen Liddell said: 'Road user charging is one of the tools which could help deliver integrated transport systems that reflect the social and commercial demands of the 21st century. I am looking forward to a closer and productive working relationship with the people and businesses of Leeds.'
The Scottish Executive is equally keen for company drivers to take part in the Scottish trial on the M8 between Edinburgh and Glasgow. The year-long demonstration projects aim to ensure electronic congestion charging systems are compatible across the whole country, on motorways as well as in city centres. The Government will announce the firms to provide the tolling equipment later this year, and the two trials are due to start at the end of 2000.
But research carried out by NOP Automotive for the RAC Foundation has shown company and private drivers oppose congestion charging unless the Government can demonstrate the money raised is going directly into improving alternative transport and the UK's road network. The majority of motorists (57%) would only be prepared to pay congestion charges if the cost were set at between £1 and £4 per journey, while 36% said they would not be prepared to pay anything. Edmund King, the RAC Foundation's executive director, said: 'Motorists are not opposing charges for the sake of it. But their feelings towards road tolls give credence to our view that it is a poll tax on wheels.'