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            october 22, 2019

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Busworld 2019

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Local road pricing must show clear benefit for road users


The Freight Transport Association (Great Britain) has told the Government that road pricing schemes proposed by local authorities should make clear the benefits they will bring, and show evidence approved by an impartial auditor before being given the go-ahead.  The comments came as FTA responded to the Department for Transport’s consultation on the Local Transport Bill, which refines existing powers for local authorities to set up local road pricing schemes.  
FTA Regional Policy Manager James Firth said, ‘We have been careful not to dismiss the Bill’s local road pricing proposals simply because they appear to represent an increased cost at the point of use.  FTA says that road pricing could bring benefits for the freight industry if it is not seen as a panacea to solve the overall problems of congestion.  Any scheme, whether national or local, will have to go hand in hand with road infrastructure improvements, an open-minded attitude to social aspects influencing travel, including delivery restrictions, school hours and remote working, and improvements to public transport. 
‘Our members have been very clear that they want to see up-front evidence that charging schemes are going to have the positive effects councils are saying they will.  If in five years’ time commercial vehicles have to pay ?5 or even more to make city centre deliveries, yet still find themselves sitting in traffic jams, road pricing will simply inflate the shelf price of the products they are delivering.  If they pay this money and can make more deliveries in less time, then efficiency savings will be beneficial to the whole local economy.  Commercial vehicle operators are entitled to expect a return on any access charge they might have to pay.’  
FTA’s submission also calls for simplicity and similarity of schemes, zero hardware costs to commercial vehicle operators, and changes to the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system to ensure foreign vehicles do not evade enforcement.   
Firth also had misgivings about plans for Passenger Transport Authorities to have a leading role in devising road pricing schemes.  ‘Road pricing will affect all road users, not just public transport passengers.  To allow the PTAs in their current form – organisations with no obligation to consider the needs of commercial vehicle operators – a privileged role in devising charging schemes is unacceptable.  PTAs, whose members will be judged solely on local passenger transport outcomes, should be considered as stakeholders but should not sit at an ‘inner table’ when devising schemes.’ 
Other parts of the Bill propose measures to reform the Passenger Transport Authorities; FTA believes these should include a statutory duty to improve facilities for commercial deliveries in urban areas, and a new name to reflect this change of responsibility.

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