Fleet News

Birmingham set for congestion charge?

UK transport officials are studying a report which suggests Birmingham should introduce a £4 a day charge for motorists in a bid to ease congestion.

An independent report commissioned by local authorities in the West Midlands predicts that congestion in the region could rise by 22% over the next 10 years if no action is taken.

The study said charges are the ‘most likely’ option to tackle congestion on the region’s roads but will not be in place until at least 2014. It says: ‘The West Midlands faces a stark choice – carry on as we are and watch congestion grow incrementally over the next decade and beyond, or face up to the problem and decide upon strategies to combat it.’

It proposes three alternative road user charging systems for debate. They are:

  • A distance-based road user charging system, using black box technology fitted into cars or based on the time and roads travelled.
  • A ‘zonal-based’ system, which identifies various areas and sets charges based on travel between them at specific times of the day and the levels of congestion.
  • A ‘9 centre system’, which introduces a number of boundaries around the area’s main commercial centres, labelled as the main congestion hot-spots.

    But the report warns that this option is likely to create ‘rat-runs’ through local centres and residential areas.

    A number of other cities around the country are also considering road pricing schemes, including Manchester and Bristol. These cities, along with the West Midlands, are vying for a share of the Government’s Transport Innovation Fund, worth £2.5 billion, awarded to local authorities with inventive ideas to tackle congestion.

    The Government is planning legislation to allow pilot schemes to go ahead next year, potentially as a precursor to a nationwide road pricing scheme.

  • The authors of the study are seeking views on their recommendations.

    Log on to the West Midlands Local Transport Plan website which has a dedicated section about the Transport Innovation Fund and a place to email your views. The address is www.westmidlandsltp.gov.uk.

    Or write to the Transport Innovation Fund Team, Faber Maunsell, Beaufort House, 94-96 Newhall Street, Birimgham B3 1PB. A telephone information line has also been set up on 0121 262 6769.

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