Fleet News

Road tolls 'only for improved M-ways'

THE UK cannot Tarmac its way out of congestion, but road enhancements must go hand-in- hand with active traffic management measures such as road tolls, according to a new report.

The Orbit Transport Study insists that motorway charging should only be applied in tandem with road widening, and warns that charging drivers to use the current system 'would divert traffic from the motorway to the less suitable non-motorway roads'.

This would result in 'increased environmental nuisance, accidents and congestion on the minor roads. An area-wide approach would prevent this and would also provide a greater incentive to use public transport.'

The consultants from Halliburton KBR advise that any charging revenues raised should be ring-fenced for further transport initiatives, and advocate the development of a 'high quality orbital coach system'.

They acknowledge that 'the current public transport system is a very inconvenient means of making the commuting journeys currently made by cars on the M25, leaving aside the lack of capacity on many services in the peak periods.'

Their research found that about 50% of traffic on the M25 in the morning peak is for journeys to work, that 40% of trips on the motorway are longer than 100kms, although a further 40% are just for one or two junctions, and average car occupancies are low, at just 1.15 people per car.

They advocate the imposition of workplace parking charges so long as these are passed on to the users of the spaces, a move that would require legislation.

In terms of applying tolls to the south east region, or the M25 specifically, the consultants insist that any such initiative must be preceded by increasing the capacity of the motorway.

'The aim is simply to control the amount of traffic that may wish to use the improved motorway rather than reduce traffic levels on an unimproved motorway,' said the report.

Yet its outlook is gloomy for the ability of the current road infrastructure to cope with growing traffic demand.

David Hardcastle, project director for Halliburton KBR, said: 'To put some brake on this growth, at the same time as addressing congestion on the M25, a package of measures that combines new public transport alternatives with road widening and control of road use is needed.'

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