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Latest on Cardiff’s journey towards road user payment

Castle Street in June 2021, Cardiff (pic: Alex Seabrook)

WORK is still ongoing investigating a potential congestion charge for Cardiff but early consultation work has taken place, according to the council.

This time last year Cardiff Council had just announced that they were launching the process of looking at how drivers in the city could be made to pay for using some of the capital’s roads.

As well as cutting congestion and carbon emissions it is hoped a road user payment would help fund public transport improvements.

When cabinet agreed to launch an investigation into a road user charge for Cardiff a draft timeline was produced which stated that research, planning, and public consultation was due to take place across 2023 and 2024.

We asked Cardiff Council for an update on where they are with the project.

A council spokesman said: “Work is still ongoing investigating the multiple potential benefits a road user payment could bring to the city including: improvements to air quality which would benefit health; a reduction in congestion; and how any money raised could pay for much-needed improvements to public transport including bus, rail, walking, and safe segregated cycling routes – all of which would help make Cardiff a cleaner, greener, and healthier city.

“Early consultation work has taken place with key stakeholder groups including business and other interested parties and feedback from this is currently being assessed.

“The council is also speaking with Welsh Government about funding for the next stage of the proposal which would be to complete a full business case on possible options before moving to full public consultation on those options.”

In its most recent update the council said it was aiming at taking a final decision on implementing a scheme in 2026.

It would take two to three years, if a decision to progress with a scheme was made, to bring in a charge dependent on the type of scheme and subject to funding and approvals.

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The council’s draft timeline from 2023 stated it aimed to complete a detailed design for a scheme, which would include all associated planning, legal and financial requirements, by the end of 2025.

It said the submission of any draft orders requiring ministerial approval could take place in 2026.

In Cardiff Council’s transport white paper, published in 2020, the local authority used the example of a £2 per day charge when raising the possibility of a future road user payment scheme to reduce air pollution and congestion.

However a report published by think tank Centre for Cities in November 2023 said a £3 charge may be needed to disincentive residents from driving.

The report stated that instead of looking at a scheme that charges drivers for entering the local authority area an alternative could be charging drivers a slightly higher amount for entering a smaller, more congested part of the city.

This is similar to the scheme that operates in London.

Cardiff Council’s transport white paper also stated that a potential future charging scheme would be aimed at vehicles entering the city.

However during the launch of the road user charge investigation work council leader Huw Thomas suggested that residents may also have to pay.

Speaking after a press conference on April 17, 2023, Cllr Thomas said: “Our priority is about having the smallest possible impact on Cardiff residents.

“At the same time there is a question of equity.

“It has also been indicated to us by the Welsh Government that they would not countenance to charge a payment where Cardiff residents do not contribute but there are certainly models out there, in London for example, where residents experience a very heavy discount on any payment.

“Our intention throughout and remains that any charge for anybody coming into the city would be on a low-cost basis in any case.”

As part of early consultation work on various payment options stakeholders have participated in workshops in a number of fields and organisations.

Workshops were also held with elected members of Cardiff Council and business stakeholders.