Can charging for roadworks reduce congestion?

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Two pioneer Lane Rental schemes were implemented by Kent and Transport for London and were due to end in March 2019. However, the schemes have proven to be highly successful in reducing congestion and improving journeys so both cities will continue to employ them. The schemes were implemented by Kent and Transport for London, and involve charging utilities companies up to 2,500 a day to carry out roadworks on roads at peak times.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling has reflected on the success of the schemes, noting that: “Roadworks cause no-end of problems for drivers when they’re done on busy roads and at peak times. We’ve seen disruption to road users severely drop when works are carried out on quieter stretches away from heavy traffic. Allowing Kent and London to continue with their Lane Rental schemes will mean millions of drivers will have better journeys.”

Every year, in the UK 2.5 million roadworks are carried out and consequently, employees and deliveries are delayed which costs the economy £4 billion in business expenses. The Lane Rental schemes remedy this by encouraging firms to switch to quieter roads and to avoid peak times. Businesses are also incentivised to collaborate on works, so that the same stretch of road isn’t dug up twice.

Glynn Barton, director of network management at TfL has says that the “Lane Rental scheme helps us improve how London’s roads operate for everyone. By encouraging roadworks to take place away from the busiest roads at busiest times the scheme has been a resounding success in reducing the amount of congestion in London caused by roadworks – helping to improve journey times for bus passengers, cyclists and drivers, while tackling emissions.”

Likewise, the scheme “has incentivised a change in how work is carried out on the busiest parts of Kent’s road network so that disruption is minimised by: working differently with new technology; thinking differently about how work is carried out; working at different times of day; and better planning of work,” adds Matthew Balfour, Kent County Council’s cabinet member for highways.

The Department for Transport is considering introducing the Lane Rental scheme to other areas in England.