Roger Bootle in the Telegraph this morning outlines a number of measures to improve the UK's productivity - the last of which is road pricing. Personally, I like the idea - replacing VED with an ad valorem tax would help, say, older rural motorists who only drive maybe once or twice a week to the shops and will penalise the single occupant sales rep doing thousands of unnecessary miles and choking the road system. I also like using public transport and park and ride - I was made to be driven, not to do the menial work.
However, I can hear the creaking of rising hackles. This is not an idea for Boris to introduce before 2024. For a start, we need our own GPS satellite system in place - and a better use of a few billions I cannot imagine - and road pricing introduction will be accutely sensitive to both fuel prices and advances in electric and autonomous vehicles. We also need to take drivers out of the cabs of all vehicles running on steel rails within the M25 and automate to double or triple track capacity. Automated trains can have much closer running distances than manned units.
And we need a few years to allow people to get used to the idea that having roads clogged with single-occupant ICE vehicles is simply daft.