Recent media reports suggested the Government had dropped its controversial road pricing strategy from the draft Local Transport Bill.
However, a DfT spokesman said: “No decision has been taken on a national scheme. Our policy is to work with local authorities and we will only make a decision when these schemes have been fully evaluated.”
While confusion about the future of road pricing remains, opposition continues to mount – some 1.8 million signatures have been received on a Downing Street web-petition.
“The Government appears to have hit a brick wall in trying to convince the public about road pricing,” said the director of the RAC Foundation, Edmund King.
He suggests that a voluntary scheme with rewards for early adopters, including cuts in fuel tax, might be the way ahead.
“Even if only 10% of drivers sign up to such a voluntary scheme, significant congestion reduction will still be achieved,” said Mr King.
“Having a meter in the car outlining the cost of each journey will lead to a reduction in journeys by highlighting the actual cost of the trip.”
Meanwhile, the BVRLA has said a sense of reality needs to be attached to the potential cancellation of national road pricing.
“It would appear that the government is hastily removing itself from the front line of a new tax in the form of national road pricing, a new tax which would have been softened a little for motorists by corresponding reductions in fuel and Vehicle Excise Duty,” said John Lewis, BVRLA director general.
“By doing so, this canny government retains the mainstream income from these taxes while leaving the door open for local authorities to raise incremental revenue through their own individual road charging schemes.
He said the thinking behind the current policy of allowing local authorities to determine road pricing is flawed.
“This proposal is riddled with ambiguities and difficulties,” said Mr Lewis, adding that local schemes are just another tax on already over-taxed motorists.