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Manage congestion problem with road pricing, say academics

Leading transport academics have sent an open letter to transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin recommending the introduction of road pricing to cut congestion and carbon emissions.

They warn the Government against simply throwing more money into new road building projects, arguing that more road capacity will simply generate more traffic to fill it up.

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Instead, the letter, signed by 32 academics including Prof David Banister of Oxford University and Prof Peter Mackie of Leeds, calls for a radical overhaul of how Whitehall tackles transport issues.

According to The Telegraph, the letter reads: "Our cities are simply not equipped to take further growth in road traffic and the benefits of faster journey times on the strategic network risk being lost in greater congestion on local urban roads where the majority of journeys are undertaken".

Instead so-called 'smart demand management' measures, in particular road pricing, could enable us to better manage traffic flow on our roads.

Such a 'pay-per-mile' approach to road taxation has always been controversial. The previous Labour government toyed with the idea, but ditched it after a nearly 2 million people signed a petition against such a move.

The academics called for an acceleration of what they describe as "smart demand management measures" to deal with the problem, in particular road pricing.

However, it is largely thought to be an inevitable move, so claimed the RAC Foundation in 2010, as technology to monitor cars and their mileage improves and as our roads become ever busier.

Even Norman Baker, a current Liberal Democrat transport minister, has said he supports the policy.

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Faye Sunderland

Filed under: Congestion

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