Attitudes to Road Pricing in the Bristol Area

Attitudes to Road Pricing in the Bristol Area


COLLIS H. Ove Amp and Partners and INWOOD H, Accent Marketing and Research, UK


Ove Amp & Partners in association with Accent Marketing and Research were appointed to undertake The Avon Traffic Restraint Study in January 1996, the work programme covered two years with a review &er one year. Tasks completed in the fist year, and the s


Ove Amp & Partners in association with Accent Marketing and Research were appointed to undertake The Avon Traffic Restraint Study in January 1996, the work programme covered two years with a review &er one year. Tasks completed in the fist year, and the subject of this paper are:-

* Review of London Congestion Charging Research and its relevance to the Bristol area

* In depth interviews with 200 businesses

* In depth stated preference interviews with over 400 motorists

* Specification work for the development of the analysis model Proposals for public consultation

The MVA Consultancy have been commissioned by the DOT to undertake a study into Parking and Traffic Demand, TRAM (Traffic Restraint Analysis Model) is being used for both studies.

The reviews of the London Congestion Charging research together with previous studies at the commencment of this study resulted in some important decisions being taken about the nature of any possible road pricing scheme for Bristol which have guided the work in the course of this study. The main features which are deemed to be a necessary part of any road pricing scheme are:

* Charges should be incurred by passing through tolling points, rather than by distance travelled or time spent in a charging zone. Distance travelled cannot be measured with adequate accuracy and might lead to ratrunning. A time charge could give rise to dangerous driving behaviour.

* Methods of charging must allow the option of anonymity and both prepayment (like a telephone card) and post payment (like a credit card) must be available as most people have a strong preference for one option or the other. Maintenance of absolute privacy and anonymity does, of course, require prepayment.

* The charging system should not add to congestion by requiring vehicles to stop or slow below normal driving speeds.

* The fixed infrastructure must be environmentally acceptable in an urban area.

* Revenues should be reinvested locally in environmental or transport improvements and not form part of general taxation, and the scheme should, overall, benefit the local economy.

* Restraint options should be matched by the improvement of alternatives such as public transport systems and park-and-ride.

Whilst all these criteria are regarded as necessary for a successful road pricing scheme, they are not sufficient as the environmental, social and economic benefits must be seen to outweigh the costs before a scheme is seen as acceptable.

The research with businesses showed that whilst, as expected, there was an adverse reaction to increases in costs, there was a clear understanding of the environmental and congestion issues and an acknowledgement of the need for something to be done. Public transport improvements and park-and-ride were strongly supported but, of course, they provide benefit to businesses without any directly attributable cost. When questioned about the effect of road pricing on business location, few businesses would consider relocating and most of those had already considered relocation for other reasons. Most of those considering relocation would remain in the Avon area. In general employers would not reimburse employees road pricing costs for commuting.

The research with motorists was primarily designed to analyse choices and trade offs to prove the necessary mathematical formulations for the modelling process. However, the opportunity was taken to explore attitudes to road pricing. As with the business respondents the necessary conditions for a successhi scheme described above were confirmed. One aspect that was of interest which caused difficulties with the pilot for these surveys was that they were originally structured to test road pricing charges at similar levels to charges in public off street car parks in Central Bristol (£5-£6 per day). Such charges were outside the range that motorists could acceptably contemplate and analysis of other data showed that, although a high proportion of workers in Central Bristol travel to work by car, hardly any pay the commercial rate for daily parhng. The full surveys were therefore conducted on the basis of a lower range of daily charges. At the presentation made by the consultants at tender stage, members showed considerable interest in the possibility of evaluation of environmental benefits. Although the technique is not yet widely accepted, a test was included in the survey to assess the value that respondents would place on achieving reductions or avoiding increases in air pollution. These tests showed an apparent willingness to pay surprisingly large sums.


Association for European Transport