Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Pulp paper permits

The Government's Green Paper on road user charging and a workplace parking levy creates a peculiar mix of excitement and panic (see News).

No-one with their ear to the political ground, certainly not NCE, expected road tolling or parking levy legislation in this Queen's Speech. What was important was that a consultation paper with a clear sense of direction was issued relatively soon, leading to properly prepared legislation next autumn which would come into force in 2001. We are now a step further down the road to well funded public transport (the carrot) and effective congestion control (the stick) - a critical combination for developing integrated transport.

But as always the devil is in the detail. Proposals for a workplace parking levy will be viewed as an addition to business rates and could be difficult to police. The fear is that it could be used as a blunt instrument by local authorities, whose other forms of revenue gathering are relatively constrained. The parking levy may emerge from the consultation process in a very watered down form.

That would put the onus on road user charging. However, the paper permit system which the Government envisages initially being used is inherently flawed - a beermat would probably fool most roadside cameras and how often would traffic really be stopped to visually inspect permits?

The most flexible and effective form of traffic control is electronic tolling. A usable system is at least four years away - perhaps even longer given the Government's welcome but ambitious aim to have 'interoperabilty' across the country.

The Government should abandon paper permit tolling and invest in developing a satisfactory electronic alternative in time for 2001. It makes little sense to found John Prescott's brave new integrated transport world on yesterday's technology.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.