The three main political parties have agreed that traffic congestion can be tackled by using traffic and freight management technology, without resorting to controversial systems of road user charging.
Conservative transport secretary, Patrick McLoughlin MP, Liberal Democrat transport minister, Baroness Susan Kramer and former shadow transport minister, Labour MP Lilian Greenwood made the comments as part of a ‘Great Transport Debate’ debate hosted by global business consultants KPMG.
Responding to a challenge from transport guru Professor David Begg, as chair, Mr McLoughlin said: ‘Intelligent traffic control will happen and the smart motorway programme is the way forward’.
In addition to supporting smart motorways, she put the case for relieving roads through more effective freight distribution, including encouraging night-time deliveries and transferring more freight off the road and onto the railways.
Baroness Kramer saw a role for congestion charging as in London, for example in improving air quality, but ‘where I’m much less convinced is on the open road, I think this debate will be overtaken by new technology’.
She instanced vehicle platooning as a way of increasing road capacity, with convoys of cars or lorries travelling in electronic road trains behind a lead vehicle.
'There is an awful lot of new technology coming and, in five years, we will see road pricing as an argument of the past’, she concluded.