Road pricing shouldn't be inevitable

Yesterday the RAC Foundation released a report that said charging motorists for each mile they drive is inevitable if congestion is going to be tackled. The report coincides with the release of an Ipsos Mori poll for the RAC foundation, which found that 58 per cent of drivers agreed that a per-mile, pay-as-you-go system across all roads would make them think about how much they drive.

Well that seems inevitable- and although it was not polled how drivers’ thoughts about their amount of driving would change - it is likely that drivers would be forced to drive less.

This is because implementing a road pricing system is very expensive. During the general election 40 council leaders – who staunchly opposed the Lib Dems plans to introduce road pricing - estimated such a scheme would cost up to £28 billion to set up and as much as another £23 billion to run annually. This means that drivers would be charged between 10.7p per mile and 30.1p a mile to drive on trunk roads and motorways for the scheme to break even. The annual total cost of scheme - for the average driver who travels 9,000 miles a year - would be between £963 and £2,709. That is before you actually get to any charges that might replace Vehicle Excise Duty or Fuel Duty. Or allow a reduction in the two taxes as the RAC foundation suggests should happen.

The truth of the matter is that drivers’ already pay enough for a decent road infrastructure. Our research shows that drivers receive 10 times less spending per passenger kilometer than rail passengers and pay £18.4 billion in excessive of road spending and road transport green house gas emissions.

It is this misguided budget prioritisation that has left drivers with little road for their tax. And solving the problems of road capacity created by this should not involve more taxes for drivers.

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