what is road pricing
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Road pricing is becoming more prevalent in certain areas of the UK, where it can be a tool used to ease congestion and encourage drives to use public transport. However, this is not always possible and drivers may find themselves paying more and more to use UK roads.
In this article, we’ll look at road pricing as a whole and how things will be changing in 2021 and beyond.
How do electronic road prices work?
The UK was inspired by Singapore when creating the London Congestion Charge Zone. Singapore's ERP (electronic road pricing) was a huge success and thereby influenced our very own traffic-calming technique.
ERP works by using sensors and cameras that use automatic number plate recognition to curate a list of cars that pass through the CCZ. The standard fee is £15 per day when paid in advance (i.e., before midnight on the day of travel), or you can have the money automatically debited from your account using CC Autopay or Fleet Auto Pay. There are some exceptions to the rule, including zero emissions vehicles and exemption for NHS workers.
What is a charging area on a road?
A charging area refers to the section of road on which drivers are charged a fee for use. This can refer to a single road that has consistently high levels of congestion, with the charge thereby encouraging drivers to take alternative routes. This lessens the pressure on that particular stretch of road and helps reduce traffic. Charging areas are usually found on motorways, bridges, and tunnels, where congestion is frequent and causes excess pollution.
Transport for London has several schemes that sit under the umbrella of Road User Charging, including the Congestion Charge, the Low Emission Zone (LEZ), the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), van and minibus scrappage scheme, and the ULEZ car and motorcycle scrappage schemes.
How much is the ULEZ charge in London?
The Ultra Low Emission Zone charge is £12.50 per day for cars, motorcycles and vans up to 3.5 tonnes. For heavier vehicles, like trucks or buses, it costs £100.
The ULEZ charge is applicable for all vehicles driving within the Congestion Charge zone any time of the day or night except Christmas Day.
Is the congestion zone expanding?
Whilst the Congestion Charge Zone is staying the same, the ULEZ area is going to be expanding. From the 25th October 2021, the ULEZ boundary will grow to cover areas up to but not including the North and South Circular roads. Due to the ever-present issues of air pollution in the city, Transport for London aims to reduce such pollution levels by encouraging people to pay a daily fee or invest in a car that has fewer emissions.
TfL has published statistics to suggest that this type of scheme will work, as the number of cars that meet the tough emission standards rise from 39% in 2018 to 80% today. TfL invests the money charged to drivers back into public transport to make it a more attractive and cheaper option for city dwellers.
What cities have congestion pricing?
Congestion pricing has been tried and tested all over the world. As mentioned, the first place to implement it was Singapore, and it has been a marked success. Other countries have followed suit, with congestion areas now present in Stockholm, Milan, and Gothenburg.
The concept is not without controversy, however, with academic and practical reviews questioning how effective it really is at reducing traffic and pollution. Some say that the idea of road pricing is unfair and will have a negative effect on local communities and businesses that operate within that area.
However, with the ULEZ zone expanding and the potential of adding more of these areas to roads up and down the country have left many drivers considering their options when it comes to urban travel.