The government has published a draft Local Transport Bill which would give councils the powers to introduce their own road charging schemes in a bid to tackle congestion.
Fleet expert Peter Cooke believes that the proposals, if approved, will change the way fleet managers work. Keeping close tabs on the times that employees travel on particular roads could have a huge financial impact on companies.
“The role of the fleet manager will increasingly turn into that of personal mobility manager,” said Mr Cooke, who is KPMG automotive professor at Nottingham Business School. “This bill will markedly speed up the day we reach that transformation. The fleet manager of the future is going to need a whole new range of skills, working with company employees travelling on business to be able to plan their routes and times they are going to drive.”
Local transport advisers have said national road pricing is inevitable and that Manchester may well be at the forefront for a government-funded pilot, having announced plans to launch a charging scheme by as early as 2012.
The city has applied for government funding for its scheme and could spend £3 billion on improved public transport at the same time.
Manchester’s scheme is likely to see drivers billed only for using the roads during rush hour.
It will be the first distance-based charging scheme in Britain and will charge motorists each time they cross into a congestion zone in the morning or out of it in the evening.
Charging points will be on the M60 Manchester ring road and on 15 roads into the city, with motorists being charged a maximum of £5 each time they pass the checking points. Drivers would use an electric card inside the windscreen that sends a radio signal to gantries above the road.
If successful the trial will be extended to other urban areas in the region – likely to be Bolton, Rochdale, Bury, Wigan, Stockport, Oldham and Thameside.