Opinion: Can road pricing really replace fuel tax?

Opinion: Can road pricing really replace fuel tax?

If, by 2030, new cars sales are dominated by EVs and plug-ins, fuel tax will enter a sudden decline that accelerates year on year.

Although the recommendations in the report start by suggesting that any new tax system “must be revenue-neutral, with motorists paying the same over less than today”, it inevitably then drops into complicating political considerations. 

This new road-pricing technique must also not prevent progress towards active travel (buses and bicycles) and any “data captured should be subject to rigorous oversight to protect privacy”.

Cynical motorists might ask just how future governments will both keep hold of £35bn in tax and encourage people to drive less, as well as ponder the likelihood of drivers being happy to have their journeys tracked and recorded.

Even so, committee chair Hugh Merriman spells out that “schools and hospital will be impacted if motorists don’t continue to pay”. 

But the desire to management driver behaviour that began with the Smeed Report remains at the heart of the latest attempt to bring in road pricing. “by using price as a lever, we can offer better prices at less congested times and have technology compare these directly to public transport alternatives”.