Last week, the Government officially unveiled its ‘pay-as-you-go’ transport plans, which could see charges per mile reaching £1.34p.
Transport Secretary Alistair Darling stressed that the objective of the scheme was ‘not to put people off the roads but to enable us to get more out of the network’.
Kevin McNally, UK managing director of vehicle management company LeasePlan, said: ‘The Transport Secretary is right to say that something must be done about UK traffic congestion. This is clearly an issue that needs to be addressed. However, I’m not convinced that the road-charging scheme recently highlighted is necessarily the best way to reduce congestion.’
McNally added that the proposed method is not such a consideration for private motorists as they are able to decide on when and how they travel.
But, he added: ‘The real issue is the impact a scheme of this nature could have on UK businesses. Business drivers often have to use the busy routes at peak times to attend a meeting or other appointment. In these situations, we could see businesses hit with huge rises in travelling costs.
‘Alternatively, company drivers could shift away from the busy roads to find cheaper routes, which could potentially offer more risk to both drivers and pedestrians.’
When unveiling the blueprint, Darling admitted there is a long way to go with many aspects to consider before such a scheme is introduced.
He said: ‘We need to safeguard our environmental objectives. We need to respect privacy. We need to work out how the prices would be set. And we need to make sure that a system works at a reasonable cost, with clear benefits to road users as well as the country as a whole.’
John Leigh, senior vice-president of National Car Rental and chairman of the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association, said: ‘I believe the Government should be concentrating on widening existing major roads and motorways to make better use of the current transport network.’
Darling said a pilot scheme to test the system should be up and running in a major area of the country within the next five to six years.