Two simple facts speak volumes about why “road charging” is an option worth considering.
Congestion on Britain’s roads is currently costing businesses £8 billion a year.
And, according to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), this figure will rocket to £22bn by 2025 unless something is done.
Congestion charging, road pricing, road user charging, pay-as-you-go driving – call it what you will – is now firmly on the Government’s radar.
For van operators, road charging looks certain to remain a burning issue for years to come.
Put simply, their profits are likely to be hit as these initiatives become more popular.
Every time they get behind the wheel, they will find themselves paying to drive on certain new roads.
But unless this country’s ageing road infrastructure receives investment in the near future – which is supposed to be levied from road charging – it could become increasingly difficult for those van operators to carry out their jobs effectively.
In December 2012, the Government announced that the Department for Transport (DFT) was beginning a feasibility study into whether private sector companies could own new roads – and how new road building projects could be funded.
The DFT's findings are expected to be published “before the summer”.
It is understood that the Government has committed not to toll parts of the existing road network and is looking at tolling schemes to fund “new capacity”.
John Cridland, director general of the CBI, says the Government must show “bold thinking” in securing new sources of funding to help support economic growth in the long-term.
He says: “Every day, people up and down the UK lose time and money because of our clogged-up roads. Gridlock is an all too familiar tale of life in the UK, and one that is already costing us £8bn a year.
“With public spending checked, the case for new funding solutions is even more compelling, and the Government recognises this.
“Infrastructure matters to business, and delivering upgrades to our networks is one of the highest priorities for the CBI to get the economy moving again.
“It’s clear we need a gearchange in how we manage and pay for our road network in the 21st century.
A lack of investment means we are really struggling to increase road capacity, let alone adequately maintain what we already have.”
Existing road charging initiatives
There are currently isolated examples of road charging in Britain, including the Dartford Crossing, the Severn Bridge, the M6 Toll, and the London Congestion Charge.
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