Road User Charging and Social Exclusion: the Impact on At-risk Groups

Road User Charging and Social Exclusion: the Impact on At-risk Groups


P Bonsall, C Kelly, ITS, University of Leeds, UK



This paper has three main sections. The first discusses the concept of social exclusion in the context of road user charging, the second introduces a methodology, Popgen-T, which indicates the characteristics of populations affected by specified transport policy measures, and the third describes the application of this methodology to potential road user charging schemes in the city of Leeds. The paper concludes with a discussion of the implications of the Leeds results and of potential further developments of the methodology.

Social exclusion, defined as an inability to participate fully in the normal activities of society, is likely to increase if the introduction of road user charges reduces some people?s ability to travel. Low-income drivers who have no alternative means of making their journeys are likely to be particularly seriously affected. Other characteristics which may indicate vulnerability include disability, age, gender, membership of a social minority and having an inflexible schedule. The effects on vulnerable groups may be offset by provision of exemptions or use of revenues to provide alternative facilities.

Popgen-T draws on published data from the household census, the travel to work census and other sources to reconstruct the characteristics of the travelling public. A synthetic population is generated using iterative proportional fitting and monte carlo simulation. Assumptions about modes and routes used (as represented in a network assignment model) enable prediction of which members of the reconstructed population are likely to use which links in the network at what times of the day. This allows identification of the individuals who would be affected by charges imposed on those links.

Application of the Popgen-T to the Leeds case study has highlighted that the impact on at-risk groups differs depending on the location and extent of the charge area and the basis of the charge. The various at-risk groups are affected to different extents by each of the policies tested and the financial implications of providing exemptions are markedly different ? as is the efficiency with which exemptions can be targeted on the most vulnerable groups. It appears that a policy under which charges are proportional to distance driven within the charge area would have less serious consequences for at-risk groups and that, although the number of affected drivers is higher when the charge area covers a large area of the city, the number of low income drivers having to pay significant daily charges is less than when the charge area is restricted to the city center.

If the charge is to be based on drivers crossing a cordon then the situation is reversed ? a tight cordon affects more people but to a lesser extent.


Association for European Transport