Public acceptability of road pricing

Project details

Full project title: Social research on the public acceptability of road pricing

Sponsor: Department for Transport

Centre for Transport and Society (CTS) project director: Professor Glenn Lyons

CTS project team: Dr Charles Musselwhite (principal researcher/CTS project manager) and Professor Phil Goodwin

Project partners: British Market Research Bureau

Start date: April 2006

Finish date: November 2007

Project summary

This has been a research study for the Department for Transport conducted by a team comprised of the British Market Research Bureau (BMRB) and the Centre for Transport and Society.

The research was intended to inform and advance the national debate on road pricing, whilst also developing understanding of how and in what circumstances public concerns regarding road pricing might be addressed. The research findings were also expected to assist local authorities who may be considering the potential of road pricing schemes in their areas. In addition, there has been a focus on communication and the media and its effects on perceptions and acceptability of road pricing.

The research has involved reconvened focus groups involving the same people in order to understand how and why attitudes change over time and was divided into two phases.

The first phase of fieldwork took place in eight areas (with a total of 446 participants) meeting twice during July and August 2006. The group discussions explored public awareness and understanding of road pricing, and the extent to which it is seen as part of the solution to congestion. Participants drew upon their own experiences of congestion to inform their views.

The second phase of research, which began in November 2006, involved the same participants from five (and latterly three) of the areas from phase one meeting for an additional three group discussions. More specific details of hypothetical road pricing designs were gradually introduced during phase two and the effect on increasing specificity of information was also addressed. In addition, the effects of communication and media were explored in-depth through workshops in these areas. Findings from these group discussions were then complemented by depth-interviews with a selection of participants.