Pricing Our Roads: Vision and Reality

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Stephen Glaister & Daniel Graham

The only significant road pricing scheme in the UK is that introduced by Ken Livingstone in London. But the technology now exists to develop a nationwide scheme of road user charging, with prices to road users varying with the level of congestion in a given area at a given time. The only obstacles to implementing road user charging would seem to be political.

Stephen Glaister and Daniel Graham have used sophisticated geographical and economic modelling to examine the potential effects of different types of road user charging schemes. The results of the modelling are explained lucidly and clearly. Using the results of the authors’ models, policymakers should be able to find an approach which is acceptable given the practical realities they face. The authors also look carefully at the implications of road user charging and identify other policy areas that policymakers would need to consider. For example, in what circumstances would it be worth collecting the charge? Should any vehicles be exempt? Who should own and manage the roads? What should happen to rail and bus subsidies? For what other purposes could road pricing technology be used?

The authors use cleverly constructed multi-coloured maps to illustrate the effects of different road pricing policies and produce results that should make any policymaker think twice before rejecting new methods by which motorists could pay for roads.

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