Plans to charge for lane rental to regulate roadworks on the capital’s streets may have consequences for Londoners – including higher utility bills - that must be addressed before any schemes are introduced.
In its response to both the Government’s and Transport for London’s (TfL) lane rental consultation, the London Assembly Transport Committee calls for a more detailed assessment of the benefits and costs of lane rental to ensure it is suitable for tackling road congestion long-term.
One of the Committee’s key concerns is whether utility companies will simply pass on the cost of lane rental to their customers through higher bills. The Committee calls on the Government to make sure regulators have sufficient powers to control this and, if bills do go up, the benefits of the scheme justify the increase.
The response also highlights the impact lane rental schemes could have on local residents. TfL’s consultation document suggests that if utility companies carry out roadworks outside ‘chargeable’ times to avoid paying for lane rental, half a million Londoners could be affected by noise late at night and on weekends.
Pedestrians may also be affected if companies carrying out roadworks park vehicles and store materials on pavements.
The response calls on the Government to include more safeguards in its requirements for lane rental schemes to protect residents and other road users, and for TfL to set out in more detail how it will keep adverse effects like noise or obstructed pavements to a minimum.
Caroline Pidgeon AM, Chair of the Transport Committee, said:
“Roadworks that drag on unnecessarily are a big factor in traffic congestion and a real source of frustration to all road users. A lane rental scheme that makes utility companies pay by the day could provide the motivation they need to carry out works more efficiently, but this needs to be balanced against other potential impacts on Londoners.
“Both the Government and Transport for London need to make sure that it is not Londoners who come off worse in the trade-off between reducing traffic disruption and potentially increasing utility bills and noise.”
Before submitting a proposal for its lane rental scheme to government, the Committee urges TfL to identify and publish measures for assessing the wider impact on: Londoners’ utility bills; nearby residents; and all road users including pedestrians and cyclists. TfL should also commit to publishing findings on the wider impact in its first evaluation report on the scheme.
Notes to editors:
- Due for publication in January 2014.
- See also the Transport Committee’s report: The future of road congestion (June 2011).
- More on TfL’s lane rental consultation.
- More on the Government’s lane rental consultation.
- Caroline Pidgeon AM, Chair of the Transport Committee, is available for interview. See contact details below.
- As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.
For more details, please contact Dana Rothenberg in the Assembly Media Office on 020 7983 4603/4283. For out of hours media enquiries please call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the Assembly duty press officer. Non-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit, Greater London Authority, on 020 7983 4100.