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Support For Road Pricing If Revenues Used For Public Transport

Published:22 October 2007
Fieldwork:Aug 2007
Source:Ipsos MORI Report
Keywords:Taxation, Transport
(Click on keywords to find related Research)

Main Survey Findings

New data published today by Ipsos MORI shows that public opinion swings in support of road pricing when people are informed about how the revenues could be used to bring benefits:

  • More people currently oppose than support the idea of road charging in principle. Nearly half, 48%, are opposed, with 29% strongly opposed. A third, 33%, say they support road charging.
  • But support rises to six in ten (61%) if revenues are invested in improving public transport.
  • Under half (49%) say they would support road charging if the revenues raised were returned to the road user through cheaper petrol.
  • Over half (53%) say the same if they were returned to the road user through lower road tax.

Road Pricing At The Crossroads

Our newly published paper reviews public attitudes towards road pricing using the above survey findings alongside Ipsos MORI polling in London and Edinburgh (where residents voted against a scheme in a 2005 referendum) plus our regular surveys of transport journalists. It identifies eight key success factors necessary for building public acceptance of such schemes:

  • Introducing schemes in a fiscally neutral way, returning the proceeds to road and transport users and explaining this clearly and persuasively.
  • Linking schemes to an acknowledged problem.
  • Varying charges so that they are linked to actual levels of congestion and the types of vehicle driven.
  • Providing adequate reassurances about tracking vehicles, data collection and privacy.
  • Underpinning schemes with viable, attractive public transport alternatives.
  • Strong and effective political leadership building trust.
  • Involving an independent, non-political body in 'policing' and evaluation.
  • Monitoring public opinion and being responsive to it.


Rebecca Klahr, Head of Transport Research (Public) at Ipsos MORI comments: "Our survey reveals a softer underbelly of opposition than is often portrayed. The recent petition signed by 1.8 million people may be daunting to those favouring road pricing schemes, but we have found that attitudes are far from being fixed or immovable. Our research also underlines the importance of going beyond simply posing yes / no questions to the public and, instead, using a more sophisticated approach to researching attitudes."

Ben Marshall, Research Director adds: "Our new paper — Road pricing at the crossroads — provides some valuable pointers for the seven Transport Innovation Fund areas currently advancing road pricing schemes with Government backing. It uses new survey data to underline the extent of the challenges involved but also some routes towards winning public backing. We know from our polling in London that public opinion can swing in favour provided the right conditions and strategies are in place."

Technical details

Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,994 British adults aged 16+, face-to-face, in-home at 199 sampling points across Britain between 23-29 August 2007. Data are weighted to the profile of the population.

Topline Results

  • Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative quota sample of 1,994 adults aged 16+ at 199 sampling points across Great Britain.
  • Fieldwork was conducted face-to-face in-home between 23 and 29 August 2007.
  • Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.
  • Where results do not sum to 100, this may be due to multiple responses, computer rounding or the exclusion of don't knows / not stated.
  • Results are based on all respondents unless otherwise stated.
  • An asterisk (*) represents a value of less than one half or one percent, but not zero.

Q1 As you may know, several schemes exist across the world, including in central London, that charge road users fees to drive in and around certain towns and city centres. The schemes are designed to reduce traffic congestion and improve the local environment e.g. by reducing emissions. How strongly do you support or oppose the principle of road charging?

Strongly support 8
Tend to support 25
Neither support nor oppose 14
Tend to oppose 19
Strongly oppose 29
Don't know 5

Q2 I now want you to tell me how strongly you would support or oppose road charging if …

  Strongly support Tend to support Neither support nor oppose Tend to oppose Strongly oppose Don't know
  % % % % % %
All revenues raised would be returned to the road user through cheaper petrol 18 31 17 15 14 6
All revenues raised would be returned to the road user through lower road tax 18 35 17 13 12 5
All revenues raised would be used to improve public transport 24 36 13 11 10 5

Q3 If there were a road charging scheme for using some British roads, which of the criteria on this card do you think should be used to work out how much road users are charged?

Size of their vehicle's engine 39
Exhaust emissions their vehicle produces 42
Type of vehicle they used 31
Mileage, the distance they travel 25
Time of day travelled 24
Number of people in the car 17
Location and use of public transport i.e. those living near mainline railway stations or with good local bus services, pay more to use the roads 16
Driving history, such as speeding fines or insurance claim records 10
Don't know 16

Q4 How often do you personally drive a car or light van?

Every day or nearly every day 42
4-5 days a week 10
2-3 days a week 10
Once a week 3
Less often than once a week but at least once a month 1
Less often than once a month 2
Never — don't drive / don't have a car 31
Don't know 1
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