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No gain in motoring pain, claim drivers

MOTORISTS WILL reject the government's integrated transport initiatives to cut air pollution and road congestion, according to a survey published yesterday.

Lex Services, the vehicle leasing and car dealership company, claimed that in its research only 39% of motorists support the introduction of congestion charging, and that 75% would refuse to use public transport even at half the price.

The survey, based on 1,297 interviews, found that most motorists see integrated transport policies as just another form of tax with few direct benefits. Only 52% of motorists were actually aware of the Integrated Transport White Paper, and only 24% approved of the initiatives.

Lex Service chairman Sir Trevor Chinn said he backed the Government's intentions, but was not convinced that the proposed policies would work.

'The current ideas are unpalatable ... Motorists want something equitable ... they realise there could well be some pain, but there must be something positive in it for them,' he said.

Overall, 54% of motorists said a £3 town centre congestion charge would not affect car commuting, and 32% said it would make no difference to shopping.

A similar pattern was predicted for motorway charging. Asked if a £5 charge per 100 miles would affect them, 46% of motorists said it would make no difference to travel patterns. If this charge was doubled to £10 only 36% would continue to use the same route, but over a third would switch to toll-free routes.

The most effective jam-busting idea would be to introduce a £500 a year road tax. Two fifths of motorists said this would make them sell their car.

The survey follows criticism of the London Planning Advisory Committee's guidance for traffic reduction in London earlier this week, in which the London Chamber of Commerce claimed 71% of companies would oppose road charging unless revenue was reinvested in public transport.

Speaking in response to the survey, minister for transport John Reid said: 'The Lex Report confirms what we know - that encouraging changes in behaviour will be difficult ... Our challenge now is to build up an increased awareness of transport issues and to take people with us.'

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