Manchester Congestion Charge Coming

The SMMT’s Policy Departments says it expects that Government ministers will confirm Manchester’s congestion charging scheme any day now.

This is part of the Transport Innovation Fund process and will be a two-ring arrangement, starting in 2013.

Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council says less than 20% of motorists in the area will pay and those who must travel during charging hours will find their journeys 20% faster.

There will be public consultation process across Greater Manchester if the government gives the scheme the go-ahead. So far it seems aimed at cars only and there are plans to spend cash on other types of transport at the same time.

Responding to the announcement by Secretary of State Ruth Kelly that Manchester’s Transport Innovation Fund bid has been approved by the Department for Transport, the Royal Automobile Club Foundation argues that if Manchester’s motorists are to accept road pricing as a means of tackling congestion in the city, the scheme must pass the following tests:

It must be part of a properly worked out package involving increased capacity, both roads and public transport.

There must be complete transparency about what will happen to road pricing revenues

The system must be simple enough for people to understand what they will be paying

The Foundation believes that Manchester’s proposals meet these criteria and can be welcomed as a carefully worked-out, integrated strategy for the whole of the Greater Manchester Region.

The Foundation particularly welcomed the commitment to ensure that real improvements in public transport would be in place before motorists would be asked to pay any charges.

Professor Stephen Glaister, Director of the Royal Automobile Club Foundation, said: “This package offers a better future for local people and the Manchester economy than the do-nothing alternative. Government now needs to work out a coherent long-term roads strategy, involving progress towards a combination of good-value investment in extra road capacity and national road pricing to replace fuel duty.”