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Call for ring-fenced road payment system

Managed motorways

A “socially, environmentally and financially sustainable” road payment system has to be implemented with the money ring-fenced to pay for highway improvements and maintenance, a conference was told.

Gergely Raccuja, the winner of this year’s Wolfson Economics Prize, told the Highways UK conference in Birmingham that his solution called Miles Better would be a distance based charge, which would offer reduced rates to lighter and cleaner vehicles. Payments could be made alongside insurance bills to streamline the process.

He said: “Ring fencing financing, this is something that we feel is fundamental for the public to accept the charge.

“It isn’t road pricing, but it is a system that can transform into it.

“It doesn’t affect privacy, and has both a no technology and high technology option. We have to cater for all UK road users.”

RAC foundation director Steve Gooding echoed the need for a simple approach.

He said: “People ask if it’s about managing traffic or spending money. It is both…what we need is a system of paying, then we might do something more clever with it, something more advanced.

“Nobody wants to worry about how we pay for the roads we just want them to be there as a utility.”

He added: “We need it to be practical to the point of boring.”

CEBR deputy chairman Doug McWilliams added: “The revenue has to be ringfenced. The congestion charge hasn’t solved the problem, it has reduced usage and slowed speeds.”

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