IT drives plan for low-carbon transport

IT drives plan for low-carbon transport

Urban road pricing is a priority, but there is no decision yet on a UK national scheme

Technology is at the heart of UK government plans to ease traffic problems and meet carbon reduction targets.

Plans for an environmentally-friendly transport network include the rollout of road pricing systems and active traffic management (ATM) schemes to help cut CO2 emissions by at least 60 per cent by 2050, according to a Department for Transport (DfT) report published last week.

Urban road pricing is a priority, but a decision on any possible national scheme has yet to be made. “It will be informed by the development of local schemes, including London, and clear answers to the technological and systems challenges,” says the report.

Local authorities in Greater Manchester and Cambridge have already submitted proposals for congestion charging schemes, and the government aims to have two or three projects fully operational by 2014.

The decision on a national plan is being put off for political reasons, according to Tony Lock, programme director at analyst group Freeform Dynamics.

“The government will never work out how to do national road pricing by looking at local schemes because each one has different parameters,” said Lock.

“If it wants a nationwide scheme, then it must design one specifically to cope with 30 million vehicles.”

Plans to ease congestion also include extension of ATM initiatives that monitor vehicle flow on major roads and permit the use of the hard shoulder at peak times.

A pilot scheme on the M42 is to be extended onto the M6 to the north. And the DfT has commissioned research into potential benefits of investing in advanced signalling and traffic management across the strategic road network.