What Type of Road Pricing Scheme might appeal to Politicians? Viewpoints on the Challenge in gaining the citizen and public servant vote by staging reform

06 July 2016

The greatest hurdle facing road pricing reform is political commitment. With rare exception, efforts to introduce significant reform in road pricing, aimed at raising sufficient revenue to ensure that road investment and ongoing maintenance is secured, without an additional impost to users above current outlays, while at the same time reducing traffic congestion, has fallen largely on politically non-supportive ears. The big challenge is to convince politicians (and their advisers) that it is possible to reform road pricing so that users are made better off (at least the great majority) in terms of time spent travelling and monies outlaid, and that government secures growing levels of revenue, but with at least some funds being used to improve public transport and the existing road network. This paper identifies the major issues that make much of the academic research into road pricing somewhat limited in terms of achieving real change. Staging reform is an appealing way forward, but ensuring the order and timing of events to secure progress is the big challenge. We offer some suggestions, including some ideas on new language designed to increase the level of buy in, and recognise that progress through action will require compromises in respect of an ‘ideal’ economically efficient pricing reform agenda.