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MPs will vote on pilot schemes for local authorities to launch pay-as-you drive schemes....
MPs will vote on pilot schemes for local authorities to launch pay-as-you drive schemes.

Measures to empower councils to implement it were introduced in a draft local transport bill published yesterday.

At least ten local authorities have expressed interest in the scheme, widely held to be the precursor to any possible national road pricing system.

The trials will be used to test the feasibility of road pricing, measuring the impact on congestion and more importantly the resistance among drivers - the majority who have so far opposed any nationwide road pricing scheme.

Drivers in Greater Manchester, West Midlands, Wolverhampton and Coventry, East Midlands, Derby and Nottingham, Tyne & Wear, Durham, Bristol, Reading, Cambridge, Shrewsbury and Norwich could be the first to experience the new system of road pricing, but not before 2012 at the earliest.

Transport secretary Douglas Alexander said a local scheme would give the government a better idea of how national road pricing could work in the future.

'It's only on the evidence of these established schemes that any decision on national road pricing would be made,' he said.

The Liberal Democrats called on the government to be 'open and honest' about any plans to push forward with road pricing.

Lib Dem transport spokesman Alistair Carmichael said motorists must not pay more overall.

'If the public feel that road user pricing is just another cash cow for the Treasury, then it will meet stiff resistance and a real opportunity to reduce congestion will be missed,' he said.

The draft road pricing bill also contains measures to give local authorities more power to regulate bus services, including the power to set fares, bus frequencies and timetables.

The Lib Dems said such powers were long overdue, reversing the 'bad Tory idea' of deregulation.

Regeneration & transport

Policy & politics

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