Street Talks January 2018: Should cars be priced off London's roads?

Robert Wright (FT), Gergely Raccuja (Amey), Natalie Chapman (FTA), Joe Irvin (Living Streets), Caroline Pidgeon AM at #StreetTalks January 2018

Natalie Chapman, FTA and Joe Irvin, Living Streets at #StreetTalks January 2018

London's Congestion Charge is 15 years old this year. In the face of a growing population, changes in traffic demand and a focus on creating a more liveable, healthy city what should happen next?

The first Street Talk of 2018 discussed the future of road pricing, building on the 2017 Wolfson Prize for Economics winning  ‘Miles Better’ proposal.

Event highlights 

The panel debate took place at The Gallery, 75 Cowcross Street, Clerkenwell, London on 23 January 2018.

The discussion was chaired by Robert Wright, Public Policy Correspondent at the Financial Times and opened by Gergely Raccuja, Strategic Consultant at Amey and winner of the 2017 Wolfson Prize for his proposal to replace Fuel Duty and Vehicle Excise Duty with a national distance-based charging scheme that takes account of a vehicle's weight, greenhouse gas and air pollutant (NOx and PM) emissions.

They were joined by an expert panel (pictured), including: 

  • Caroline Pidgeon AM MBE, Deputy Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee
  • Joe Irvin, CEO of Living Streets, the UK charity for everyday walking, and
  • Natalie Chapman, Head of South of England and Urban Policy, Freight Transport Association

Five key takeaways from the talks

  • London's growing population is placing ever greater demands on its streets and roads. Road pricing is a potential tool to encourage and support a shift away from car use towards public transport, walking and cycling;
  • A charge aimed at deterring vehicle use would not work without viable alternatives in place, both for moving people and freight;
  • The Wolfson Prize winning ‘Miles Better’ proposal does not attempt this, but proposes to replace Fuel Duty and Vehicle Excise Duty with a nationally standardised charge based on distance, weight, carbon and air-pollutant emissions. Miles Better could provide the technology and an institutional platform on which more dynamic local road pricing schemes could run, for example, increasing the price in congestion or polluted locations or during peak travel times;
  • 60% of Londoners agreed that road pricing by distance would be fairer than the current congestion charge
  • Road pricing needs to be based on fairness to win public trust. The London Assembly Transport Committee have called for "a new citywide road pricing scheme, which charges vehicles according to the extent, location and timing of their road usage."


Video: Gergely Raccuja

Read the follow-up blog to this event: "Five key decisions facing the next generation of road pricing"

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