To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much the Government (a) has spent and (b) is planning to spend on the pilot projects for a national road pricing scheme announced in the 2008 Budget; what the anticipated start date is for the pilot projects; how many projects will take place; and in what locations.
The Government are not running any pilots for a national road pricing scheme, but, as announced to Parliament, they are exploring how charging by the time and place of distance driven could work accurately, reliably and affordably, while safeguarding privacy. Designing an effective mechanism to achieve these aims within any charging scheme presents a significant challenge: We believe that this project will help local authorities in the longer-term development of their plans for combining a local congestion charging scheme with major investment in public transport.
We signed framework agreements in September 2008 with two groups of contractors for this demonstrations project on time, distance and place road pricing technology. We are now procuring individual contracts under those frameworks, and we expect the demonstrations to enter the operational stage early in the new year.
We are working within an overall project budget of £4 million for the financial year 2008-09, but the value of the individual contracts will not be known until December. Total spend over the next two years will depend on how the project's requirements evolve in the light of first and subsequent service contracts.
The trials will be run by four separate contractors acting as 'road user service providers', and the location of the trials is a matter for them.