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Congestion surge sparks calls to extend charging


SUPPORTERS OF road charging schemes have this week jumped on government figures showing further rises in traffic congestion in Britain's towns and cities.

Figures from the National Statistics Office show that average peak period traffic speeds fell by 0.3mph to 21mph between 2000 and 2004. Almost 30% of that time is spent below 5mph.

Motoring lobbyist the AA Motoring Trust said there was increasing acceptance of charging schemes as congestion worsens in cities.

'There are growing levels of traffic and it is getting worse.

Peak journey times are getting longer as people start earlier and earlier, ' said AA head of roads Paul Watters.

Stephen Glaister, professor of transport infrastructure at Imperial College, said: 'It is a reflection of the fact that traffic volumes have gone up. The cost of motoring needs to rise or road user charging needs to be adopted.' Glaister is carrying out research for the Integrated Transport Commission on how different socio economic groups would be affected by road user charging. Results are expected at the end of September.

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