Three out of five people would rather pay a road pricing charge every time they use their car than buy an annual tax disc, according to a survey.
The Institution of Civil Engineers found that 60 per cent of motorists believe forms of congestion charging and demand management are fairer than the current system of fixed vehicle excise duty, where costs are loaded to clobber gas-guzzling cars.
Half of those questioned said a road pricing regime would make them use their cars less.
But an overwhelming number of respondents – 86 per cent – believe public transport costs are either high or very high, the poll of 3,000 people indicated.
In addition, 83 per cent would be happy to reduce car usage if public transport was improved.
A similar number consider reducing car use as important or very important in combating climate change.
The report called for:
• Political consensus on transport strategy and a 30-year national transport strategy.
• Integrated transport authorities for urban areas, integrated information on journey times, cost and CO2 emissions and faster infrastructure delivery.
• Integrated travel services and ticketing, public transport capacity and rail freight and shipping capacity growth.
• Changing public behaviour and a link between spending and funding.
Steve Feeley, Regional Director of ICE, said the findings were particularly important for the West Midlands.
Council leaders across the region have rejected a Government invitation to bid for the right to run congestion charging experiments, partly on the grounds that there is inadequate public transport provision to support a system of road pricing.
Mr Feeley said: “What is clear is that the two biggest challenges facing our transport system are reducing congestion, which costs our regional economy more than £2 billion every rear, and cutting CO2 emissions, which of course has environmental implications.
“Both of these clearly point towards reducing car dependency and at the same time increasing public transport use.
“However, whilst recent developments such as the New Street Gateway and the implementation of active traffic management schemes are very encouraging, we believe there is more to tackling congestion than improved public transport and advanced technology.
“ We need to change people’s behaviour. That is why the results from our survey are encouraging – they demonstrate the public’s willingness to consider new options to combat congestion and climate change.”
More than 2.5 million people commute into the West Midlands each day, according to ICE.
Mr Feeley added: “A fully integrated modern public transport system is central to maintaining its status as a place that attracts investment from employers and where people want to live and work.
“Here in the West Midlands we have a great example of integrated transport. Our international airport is one of the most accessible airports in Europe with links to the motorway network and with a train station that connects it to the West Coast Main Line.
“We need to replicate the success of the airport across the transport network. Accessibility, fragmentation and lack of information are barriers to public transport and our report highlights how these challenges can be addressed.”