A national survey conducted by the British Chambers of Commerce reveals that business is at breaking point in the UK with the state of the road network. 82 per cent describe it as essential to their business operations yet a staggering 84 per cent say that there is a problem with road congestion that affects their business locally.
The main reason businesses cite for the congestion on local roads, A roads and the motorway network is the sheer volume of traffic (73 per cent), with roadwork’s (53 per cent) and poor road design and planning (50 per cent) also being prominent.
Support for road pricing, however, comes with the caveat that amendments are made to other forms of taxation such as fuel duty (46 per cent) and road tax (42 per cent) or that revenue raised is hypothecated to transport improvements (34 per cent)
The BCC is now calling upon the Government to guarantee that additional revenue raised by road pricing be kept separate from general transport expenditure and be used to improve the road network and public transport provision.
The BCC is also reissuing its call for a 30-year transport plan to provide strategic prioritisation of key projects and for regional transport boards to be set up jointly between the public and private sectors.
Other findings of note from the transport survey are:
85 per cent of businesses experienced increased operating costs as a direct result of the UK’s transport
79 per cent say they experienced a loss of man hours.
The average added cost a year to a UK business due to UK transport infrastructure is £18,000.
27 per cent of businesses claim that their use of rail transport has increased, rising to 44 per cent of
those based in London.
Of those who are now using the rail network more, 74 per cent say it is because the road network is too
Business does not consider high speed rail a priority. The biggest improvement that business wants is
reliability and punctuality.
David Frost, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said:
“Congestion has reached such a level in the UK that business is willing to consider road pricing, something unthinkable just a short while ago.
“The road network is still the most important for business yet the overwhelming majority say that road congestion is stifling their business.
“These results should not be seen however as an excuse to charge with one hand and still keep taking with the other. If road pricing is to be introduced there must be reductions for business in road tax and fuel duty. There must also be a guarantee that the additional money raised be not just put into the general transport pot be spent on improving the road network and public transport.”
“It is also interesting to note that businesses are not keen on high speed rail. Reliability and punctuality are far more important and should be dealt with first before committing to spending a small fortune on faster rail travel.”
Tim Hutchings, Chief Executive of the Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce & Industry whose members contributed to the survey said,” the findings will not be a great surprise to businesses in this part of the world, successive governments have made a great deal of noise about integrated transport plans but have singularly failed to deliver. The recommendations of this report make a great deal of sense but only if the government is willing to hypothecate the funds raised”.