Adapting the Dutch 'mobility explorer' program to investigate possible car taxation futures in the UK

Potter, Stephen; Ubbels, Barry; Peeters, Paul and Parkhurst, Graham (2004). Adapting the Dutch 'mobility explorer' program to investigate possible car taxation futures in the UK. In: Universities Transport Studies Group Annual Conference, 5-7 Jan 2004, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.



This paper reports work being conducted as part of the only transport project in the current ESRC programme on the Environment and Human Behaviour. The concept of generalised road user changes eventually replacing existing Fuel Duties and Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) is in the ascendant, with several studies concentrating upon the eventual adoption of a GPS-based congestion charging system.
The Dutch and Swiss have also been exploring such schemes. In particular the Dutch have looked at a more quickly and easily implemented option of distance charging rather than congestion charging that is favoured in the UK. This project seeks to explore a wider range of new taxation options, particularly seeking more pragmatic paths towards early implementation rather than the 10 – 20 year timescale currently envisaged. Indeed, the Dutch studies have suggested that distance charging might yield most of the traffic management and emission reduction benefits of congestion charging, with a modelled reduction in car kilometres travelled of between 18 and 35 per cent compared with a ‘business as usual’ base case.
In this project, the Dutch Mobility Explorer program that was used to estimate the effects of a national distance charge, is being adapted using UK data to investigate a series of possible car taxation futures. These range from a low-key introduction of a distance charge to replace VED, through to a distance charging system replacing fuel tax and VED and a GPS congestion charging system. This will permit a comparison of the traffic, congestion and emission reductions between such options and also a cross-country comparison on a comparable basis with the existing Dutch work.
The adaptation of the Dutch model to the UK has not been straightforward, and possibly the greatest lessons have been in helping to understand the differences in context in which a seemingly similar transport policy measure is being proposed.
The paper concludes with a reflection upon the rapid rise in favour by the UK government for of generalised road user changes to replace Fuel Duties and VED. It is suggested that this is not a way to avoid hard decisions in transport policy that it may at first seem.

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