Satellite-tracking road-use charging gets green light

Gov't to spend another £10m on piloting 'pay-as-you-drive' tech...

Gov't to spend another £10m on piloting 'pay-as-you-drive' tech...

The government is to set up a £10m fund to help IT suppliers develop the technologies for a national road-use charging scheme that could lead to some motorists paying almost £1.50 per mile they travel.

New Transport Secretary of State Douglas Alexander this week reaffirmed the government's plan to introduce a road charging scheme that uses technologies such as satellite tracking to enforce automatically a pay-as-you-drive fee for every mile a motorist travels by 2010.

The government initially announced the national road pricing plans last year as an attempt to tackle growing congestion problems.

Alexander said the Department for Transport will shortly be inviting suppliers to take part in a series of demonstration projects over the next three to four years that will tackle the "really difficult" design issues.

In a speech this week he said: "We need to examine the technologies and services that are already being developed by the motor industry and others. And we need to see how emerging technology could be used for road pricing."

Local authorities will also be encouraged to take advantage of a separate £18m "pump fund" for road pricing pilot schemes. So far only £7m of the money has been claimed by seven local authorities running test projects.

Alexander said piecemeal development of road charging schemes that could be scaled up nationally is better than going for a big bang approach.

He said: "All the work that has been done over the last three years confirms that what we should do is take a measured approach. Through pilots and pathfinders, of varying scale, we will develop our understanding, apply proven approaches where action is needed soon and, importantly, be able to demonstrate what works."