Urban Road User Charging Online Knowledge Base
This chapter addresses the theme of economic impacts for cities considering the implementation of an urban road user charging scheme.
Economy, for the purposes of this chapter, will focus on the local economy and its primary function i.e. the commercial operation of businesses in towns and cities. Much of this relies, in transport-related terms, on good access to services for employers, employees and customers alike. The effects of URUC on the physical environment will also be important, particularly for the retail and service sectors.
For most businesses, concerns over a scheme’s ability to maintain and improve their business operation would appear to be the major barrier to endorsing urban road user charging. This, combined with a ‘fear of the unknown’, often creates a lack of confidence, particularly at a political level when a city comes to consider whether or not to introduce road user charging.
There are also external economic impacts that should be considered, including competition between neighbouring cities, which can be affected if one introduces a charging scheme and the other does not. Road user charging, if viewed in isolation, will be seen by some as a disadvantage to a city which is competing with others for the same customer base, particularly in the retail sector.
The fears of the business sector can in turn affect the confidence of key stakeholders, including politicians, when deciding whether or not to risk the introduction of road user charging. Uncertainty and fear of the unknown dominates this argument.
This chapter will consider what is known about the impact of urban road user charging on the local economy. This is undoubtedly a complex area that requires further research, in particular more empirical evidence from real life schemes.