Fleet News

Minister in move to allay road toll fears

NEW Transport Secretary Douglas Alexander has moved to allay fleet fears that the introduction of a national road pricing scheme will cause an administrative nightmare.

In a speech announcing new funding for local road schemes, Alexander said it was ‘crucial’ that any national system was simple for drivers to use.

This meant, he said, that motorists do not require multiple tags, passes or accounts for different schemes as they drive around the country.

He stressed that introducing such a national charging scheme was a priority to tackle congestion on the roads and said new funding worth £10 million would be provided to the private sector to help develop technology such as satellite navigation and vehicle-tracking devices that local authorities could use.

Logistics experts are now calling on the Government to announce a detailed timetable showing how it intends to introduce the scheme over the next 10 years.

Jim Coates, chairman of the Chartered Institute of Logistics (UK) Road Capacity and Charging Forum, said: ‘We welcome the investment, albeit smaller than may be required.

‘However, without a detailed timetable of when we can expect to see pilot schemes up and running, the announcement could be seen empty rhetoric.’

The organisation said it welcomed the £10 million announcement which will secure ‘useful short-term experience and information’.

But Coates added: ‘The Government was right to take the bold decision to begin a national debate on road pricing last year, but we risk losing the momentum on this initiative.

‘The timetable it has mapped out for desktop studies in seven areas is frustratingly slow.

‘This cannot be of greater importance to the UK economy – cutting congestion through road pricing could save businesses and individuals £10 billion to £12 billion per year. We need to move beyond ‘if’ on road pricing, to ‘when’.’

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