charging must be introduced across Britain to prevent the country's
busiest routes coming to a standstill, experts have warned.
Traffic levels could rise 25% by
They say traffic levels could rise by a quarter by 2010, unless
the government charges drivers during peak hours.
The study, carried out for the Independent Transport Commission
(ITC), says such a policy could cut road use by a fifth - with knock
on benefits for the environment.
It adds to the debate started last week, when Transport Secretary
Alistair Darling said school run drivers could be made to pay
congestion charges under plans being considered to cut rush-hour
The report, Transport Pricing and Investment in England, says
many roads will regularly suffer severe delays by 2010 if charging
It says the government must follow the example of London, which
introduced congestion charging four months ago and has seen a 16%
fall in traffic.
In return drivers should be offered a reduction in motoring
taxes, the report says.
HAVE YOUR SAY
It is very unreasonable to introduce
congestion charges when our public transport is the laughing
stock of Europe
And the billions of pounds raised each year should be used to
improve other transport.
ITC head Sir Patrick Brown said drivers would not be "penalised"
under a congestion charge, and he said less traffic would mean
better public transport.
"In 10 years time there will be real gridlock on the roads if
nothing else is done.
"You can have massive improvements in the public transport system
in the sense of buses if you make the roads uncongested.
"At the moment
people don't get on buses in the cities like Birmingham and
Manchester because they are slow unreliable and they don't provide a
As we have noticed in London in the
congestion charging zone, the buses run beautifully
Sir Patrick Brown
Independent Transport Commission
"But as we have noticed in London in the congestion charging
zone, the buses run beautifully."
The report warns that "growing traffic is outstripping road
The authors say they do not know how much the congestion charges
One option is for all drivers to pay to use the roads in
proportion to the contributions of their vehicles to congestion.
Those travelling at peak times and in notoriously busy areas
would pay the most.
The report says traffic speeds would rise in the cities and their
suburbs as a result, although there would be little change in the
It says car use
in cities would fall, while delays and environmental damage would
ease and pressure to build new roads would wane.
There are a lot of other things that
need to be done, but some element of this is inevitable
because we can't carry on as we are
Stephen Joseph, director of campaign group Transport 2000,
welcomed the report's findings.
He said: "Something like a congestion charge is inevitable.
"There are a lot of other things that need to be done, but some
element of this is inevitable because we can't carry on as we are."
Last week the transport secretary said school run drivers could
be targeted in an attempt to ease congestion.
Mr Darling said he wants to introduce pay-as-you-drive charges,
using satellite tracking devices fixed to cars.