Report warns of need for rising charge

Road user charges may need to be ratcheted up continuously to have an ongoing impact on motorists' behaviour, according to latest research.

A study carried out by a team of researchers from Leeds University has found that drivers will respond "quite carefully, perhaps even logically" during the early stages of road user charging schemes.

But the Department for Transport (DfT)-commissioned report warns that the impact of any charging regime will tend to wear off over time. "To maintain a given response, the strength of the price signal may need to be increased over time," it cautions.

The report authors suggest that to win acceptance from motorists, congestion charging schemes need to be clearly explained, reflect the published rationale and correct any overcharging rapidly.

"Communication of the underlying logic is more difficult if it is intended that the charges should also seek to achieve environmental goals and a shift from fuel tax to distance-related charges," the study acknowledges.

It also notes that motorists may be won over to road user charging schemes by exemptions from vehicle excise duty and offering the first few thousand subscribers free equipment and cut-price tariff rates.

Road User Charging: Pricing Structures can be viewed via

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