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Thursday, 31 January, 2002, 10:34 GMT
Call for tolls to ease congestion
Congested motorway
Paying the price - motorway charging in the pipeline?
Motorists should be charged for every mile they drive on Britain's most congested motorways, according to a leading road safety expert advising the government.

Denvil Coombe says pay-as-you-go is the best way of dealing with the country's ever-increasing traffic congestion.

He is the head of one of a number of regional teams commissioned by ministers to unlock jams throughout the UK - and all are expected to report that many areas experience intolerable congestion at busy times.

Some are thought to favour widening the motorways - one team is said to be considering a 10-lane motorway past Nottingham - but others believe a toll is the only sensible option.

We are in a position now to make a case for charging

Denvil Coombe, roads expert

Mr Coombe's advice will help frame government roads policy for the coming decade and he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme ministers should "no longer shy away" from charging.

His team will be calling for greater rail investment when it reports later this year but, he said more investment in public transport alone would not solve the issue.

"The first thing we have got to do is think of ways of discouraging this trend of increasing dispersal of cars commuting," he said.


"We have looked at a whole range of ways of managing demand, and the one we have found that has been reasonably effective is a comprehensive charging system.

"We are in a position now of having to make the case for this kind of policy and we shouldn't shy away from that."

Motorway congestion
Will road tolls unlock jams?

He warned that if roads were simply widened or extended it would "exacerbate" the trend of the past 20 years of people commuting longer distances, in greater numbers and in "increasingly dispersed patterns".

"That is something that is an unsustainable way forward. It is not going to end," he said.

Mr Coombe is the consultant to the Yorkshire group, as well as advising similar teams looking at problems in the south of Scotland and around the M25.

The main roads under the spotlight are the M1, the M25 and routes across south Scotland.

See also:

25 Oct 01 | England
Road tolls option for city
04 Sep 01 | Scotland
Council considers road toll charges
12 Sep 00 | UK
Road toll ruling expected
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