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Survey reveals public opinion on ‘pay-as-you-go’

A survey has revealed that 47% of motorists support the Government’s plans to introduce its new pay-as-you-go scheme - as long as all the revenue raised was returned to motorists through lower road tax.

The results, from a MORI survey for Detica, also shows that only 8% of people thought UK’s roads were too congested.

16% of people strongly oppose the proposal.

The results will be encouraging for the Government as Transport Secretary Alistair Darling plans to announce the details behind the new congesting cutting scheme today.

The RAC Foundation believes the key challenge for the Government’s road pricing plan lies with gaining public trust.

Under the new scheme, all vehicles would be fitted with a black box, which will track their progress using satellite technology. Charges would vary according to the time, type of road and location.

The busiest roads would be the most expensive to drive on and motorists could be charged up to £1.34 a mile for journeys through city centres and motorways at peak times. For those people who drive largely on remote rural roads they could find their journeys are free or possibly charged at 2p a mile.

Fuel duty would either be significantly reduced or scrapped altogether, meaning that motorists in rural areas may find themselves paying much less for motoring than they do currently.

The RAC Foundation says it would not support the new road pricing idea if it were ‘simply the Government’s way of introducing yet another tax on the motorist’.

“Motorists already pay some £42bn in motoring taxes a year, and yet only £6bn is spent on roads. Reducing or scrapping fuel duty would go some way to reducing public unease about a road pricing scheme, however this alone would not be sufficient.

“Any scheme would have to be introduced as part of a package of measures to combat congestion, to include significant investment in the road network, and much improved public transport. The public will demand this,” says the RAC.

The RAC Foundation also believes that in order to gain public trust on the policy, the Government should announce that an independent regulator will oversee and monitor the scheme and put a proper appeals system in place. This would ensure that any charges set are fair and transparent, and are not motivated by raising revenue but by cutting congestion.

  • Mori conducted the survey by interviewing 1,075 British adults between 19 and 23 May - before Darling announced the latest details of his proposals.
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