Problems with pricing - why Shrewsbury needs a different solution

Problems with pricing - why Shrewsbury needs a different solution Eyebrows were raised when, in 2006, Shropshire County Council accepted the Department of Transport's offer to part-fund a study of road pricing in Shrewsbury. It was a courageous step, as nobody knew if it would work in a small historic town.

The DfT hoped for a 'quick win', paving the way for charging schemes in larger cities. Shropshire wanted to build on the successful Historic Core Zones project, by further reducing traffic in the town centre.

Working with consultants Mouchel, plans were developed including road pricing, a new relief road and an improved public transport system.

The study forecast big traffic reductions - more than with just a relief road - with more people using public transport. The package showed a good economic return. Whilst public support was hardly enthusiastic, there was an opportunity to 'sell' the scheme on its merits.

The fly in the ointment was cash flow. Due to diseconomies of scale, projected operating costs were higher than expected, and there was a risk that the income from pricing might not cover the cost of public transport improvements.

In December 2008 the Council reluctantly concluded that road pricing was not deliverable in Shrewsbury.

Rob Surl, Head of Special Projects, Shropshire County Council