Fleet News

Fleets hit out at road pricing

FLEET managers have voiced disquiet over proposals to introduce a nationwide road pricing scheme.

In a report to the government, ex-British Airways chief Sir Rod Eddington recommended that motorists be charged per mile to drive in the UK.

He said such a scheme would raise billions for the economy and possibly replace the tax disc and fuel duty.

But at the East Anglia regional meeting of fleet operators’ association ACFO, members raised a number of concerns about road pricing, particularly the need for better and more reliable public transport to help keep costs for business travel to a reasonable level.

They were also worried about the health and safety implications of the move which could drive traffic on to rural roads – already some of the most dangerous in the UK.

Tony Leigh, who chaired the meeting, said: ‘It would be easier to just get rid of road tax and put that on to fuel.

‘Surely that is the best answer, as you pay for what you use. If they want it introduced by 2015, it is going to be difficult however they do it.’

Members also felt that the £2-a-mile figure currently being touted by the media could be a scare tactic to lessen the impact when a less drastic cost is unveiled.

A major concern for fleets is that high-mileage drivers who have to drive for business will be the hardest hit. A 30,000-mile a year driver, even using the least congested roads at quiet periods could see a massive increase in the cost of motoring. Even charged at an average of 10p a mile (well below any figure currently being touted), their bill for travel would be £3,000 a year.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) welcomed the Eddington report.

‘Congestion is an issue for the industry, as well as for the private motorist,’ said SMMT chief executive Christopher Macgowan.

‘Apart from the environmental impact, time wasted in jams costs the industry millions of pounds every year. Transport is a key driver of a country’s competitiveness and government must take this opportunity to set out its stall for the future in a clear and transparent way.’

Eddington report findings

  • Road charging could cut congestion in half and raise up to £28 billion a year.
  • Grand infrastructure projects are less important than using existing networks better.
  • There are three strategic transport priorities – congested and growing city catchments, inter-urban corridors and important international gateways showing signs of congestion and unreliability.
  • Road charges will put some people off driving entirely, cut congestion and reduce CO2 emissions.
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