Transport charging scheme study to begin
A study is to be carried out to look at ways in which an ambitious package of transport measures for Oxford could be funded.
Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet has approved a report which gives the go ahead for work to begin on an outline business case for a workplace parking levy scheme and investigate the opportunities for a congestion charging scheme – the first step in a process that will be kept under review and consulted widely on before any final decisions are taken.
Local transport improvements
Workplace Parking Levies (WPL) and congestion charging can help raise money to fund major local transport improvements. Workplace Parking Levies (WPL) raise funding through charging for parking spaces designated by employers for employees.
Councils are able to introduce WPLs and decide how the scheme would operate, subject to consultation with employers and employees and then approval from the Secretary of State for Transport.
Revenue from a workplace parking scheme in Oxford could only be used to fund transport measures included in the Local Transport Plan – it won’t be used to ‘top up’ budgets for other things.
Further investigation will take place this year, to understand whether a congestion charging scheme is appropriate and how this could work in conjunction with, or independently of, a WPL.
It is estimated that if nothing is done car journey times from the surrounding Oxfordshire towns are anticipated to increase by 15% by 2031, at an annual cost of £150m to the economy of the city.
Trams, railway and buses
In the UK, only Nottingham City Council has so far implemented a WPL, which came into effect in April 2012.
Nottingham’s WPL has raised money for public transport improvements, including extending their existing tram network, the redevelopment of Nottingham’s railway station and providing sixty 100% electric buses.
Ambitious transport package proposed for Oxford
A visionary package of transport improvements is proposed for Oxford in the Local Transport Plan, including:
- Rapid transit lines connecting all major employment areas in the city to P&R sites and the county towns
- Five new outer park and ride sites, and extensions to two existing sites, doubling the city’s park and ride capacity
- A comprehensive redevelopment of Oxford railway station including additional platforms, track, new building and interchange facilities
- Reintroduction of passenger services on the Cowley branch line
- A zero emission zone to dramatically reduce pollutant emissions in the city
- Super cycle routes, premium cycle routes, and public realm improvements in the city centre and district centres
- Smart City transport initiatives, including fully integrated ticketing systems.
A thriving and dynamic city
County Councillor Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “Oxford is a thriving and dynamic city where people and businesses from around the world want to live and locate. It is also a city where congestion and accessibility are significant barriers to a more competitive economy.
“Future growth depends on better connected, reliable and more efficient transport networks to ensure Oxford and Oxfordshire’s economy, communities and environment continue to prosper and thrive.
“Oxfordshire County Council’s Local Transport Plan is an ambitious strategy to support the local economy and environment. And while we have been hugely successful in drawing in Central Government and other external funding, the reality is Oxfordshire needs to be more self-reliant and innovative in finding ways to fund and resource its transport infrastructure needs.
“Opportunities to generate revenue to develop Oxford’s transport system Oxford is being considered because a substantial, predictable and locally controlled source of transport funding is needed. We also need to be able to manage peak-time congestion if we are to develop and deliver the transport system the city needs to thrive.
“I would like to stress that we are at an early stage and no final decisions are being made now. Before anything can happen we will need to better understand how it could impact on employers and employees.”