ITS (UK) responds to government report

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ITS United Kingdom says that it welcomes the House of Commons Transport Committee’s report on Strategic River Crossings, which was published on March 17.

ITS (UK), the Intelligent Transport Society for the United Kingdom, provided written evidence to the Transport Committee’s inquiry into strategic river crossings, and the organization’s chairman, Eur Ing Sharon Kindleysides, attended the Committee hearings to give oral evidence.

The organization supports the comprehensive and well argued report, particularly the following recommendation: “As free-flow technology is implemented on more river crossings we believe that the Department must aim for total interoperability. Now is the ideal time to act before a mix of different systems become ingrained on the road network…The Department should commission research into how best to introduce the technology needed for toll operators to create an interoperable system of payments. That would be an ideal project for the Government’s Digital Service during the next Parliament.”

While the report is supportive of the use of free-flow tolling in the UK, as recently implemented at Dartford, it is a shame that there has been a misunderstanding about the rate of toll collection during the first month of that free flow system. The slightly low (85%) collection rate during the first month was due to the policy decision to only do “soft enforcement” – advisory letters – to non-payers during that period, as part of the overall strategy for the new system.

There is now a full enforcement regime in place and payment rates are exceeding 90%. Similarly, the criticism made by some witnesses that the change at Dartford was not well publicized, seems unwarranted in light of the extensive poster, media, and Twitter campaign that preceeded the launch of free flow at Dartford and continued for the first few months.

ITS (UK) welcomes the political interest in looking at different ways of financing our roads network, including exploring the use of road user charging technology, evidenced by this enquiry.

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