Money from the Transport Innovation Fund will be available from 2008/09, and will grow from £290 million in that year to £2.5 billion in 2014/15.
The money can also be used for schemes to improve productivity. Exactly how much will be available for each kind of scheme has not yet been decided, but at least £200 million a year will be allocated to schemes involving what the Government calls ‘demand management’, otherwise known as congestion charging and road pricing.
The fund is only available to English schemes and bids are being invited for proposals to tackle congestion at local level.Proposals will be assessed in three categories: individual smaller towns and smaller cities, groups of towns or cities in an area and major conurbations.
The bulk of the money is expected to go to large-scale schemes.
The Government says it is most likely to fund proposals involving road pricing, but may also consider, by exception, bids involving a Workplace Tax Levy, although its interest in workplace charging seems to have cooled.
It is particularly interested in new, more sophisticated road pricing systems that may take time to develop, but also in those that can be put into action within five years.
To be successful, bids should combine demand management measures with other supporting schemes, such as real time information and traffic management systems, redesigned roads to improve traffic flow and new initiatives to encourage cycling, walking and the use of public transport.
Schemes that have an impact over a wide geographical area will also be favoured. Bids will be examined for value for money and whether they impose heavy environmental costs.
The guidelines follow the news at the end of last year that Bristol, Newcastle, Stoke-on-Trent and Shrewsbury were considering introducing road charging, following the Government’s allocation of £18 million to fund feasibility studies (Fleet NewsNet, October 13).