Road-charging black box could cost £600

19 February 2007

A feasibility study by the Department for Transport (DfT) into road charging has shown that sophisticated car tracking devices could cost up to £600 per car.

In all, the study shows how the road-charging scheme could cost £62bn to set up and £8.6bn annually to run - and each motorist could pay almost £300 just to cover the cost of collecting the charge.

The study looked at a number of options, of which these are the most expensive. Tracking vehicles using satellite black-box technology was one option, but other ideas include making drivers pay to use the outside lane on motorways, which would be separated from the rest of the carriageway.

Congestion charge schemes, similar to the one in London, were also examined. One idea was a scheme similar to one used in Singapore, which charges cars if they cross a certain boundary.

Track or treat
The DfT studied vehicle tracking in some detail, including the cost and kind of equipment any such scheme would need to install in a car.

The cheapest option is a transmitter capable of being read by an overhead gantry, which would cost about £15. A more sophisticated device could track a car to within a 500-metre block, and would cost £175.

The most sophisticated equipment would give a far more accurate picture of a car's journey, and it could cost between £100 and £525, with a further fitting fee of £100.

Information gathered from transmitters would be sent to an 'on-road service provider', according to the DfT, which would then calculate the bills. It's likely motorists would pay via a call centre.

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