Two pioneer lane rental schemes have been successfully implemented and appear to have reduced disruption although causality remains difficult to prove, new research has found.
The Department for Transport (DfT) has published an independent evaluation of pilot schemes operated by Kent County Council and Transport for London (TfL).
The research concluded that ‘although there is currently no proof of causality’, data from both Kent CC and TfL ‘appears to show that the schemes have been successful in reducing disruption in the scheme areas, and the associated costs of congestion’.
It also suggests that lane rental generally appeared to be working ‘in the sense that it is providing incentives for promoters to think more carefully about how to plan street works to reduce impact on road users’.
A London street scene
It added that promoters – organisations that undertake street works or road works – reported a move towards more out-of-hours working as their main mitigation measure, where this was deemed the most cost-effective solution and was not inhibited by other restrictions.
But promoters told the study that most of the observed changes in behaviour ‘would have happened anyway’.
The research found that some promoters were incentivised to delay non-urgent planned maintenance work, which ‘may have the perverse effect of creating a higher number of emergency works’.
It also identified the blanket daily charge as providing ‘insufficient incentives for promoters to reduce their impact by reducing durations within the day or scheduling works to avoid the most traffic-sensitive times within a charging period’.
While the councils in the pilots said that lane rental complements permit schemes and that permitting is a necessary precondition of administering lane rental, most promoters argued that permit schemes alone are sufficient to change behaviours.