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Workplace parking levy and tax on businesses to pay for Birmingham’s public transport revolution

Workplace parking levy and tax on businesses to pay for Birmingham’s public transport revolution

🕔07.Nov 2013

Traffic congestion in Birmingham will become worse with a danger of the city simply grinding to a halt if more people are not persuaded to leave their cars at home and travel by public transport instead, the city council has warned.

But the switch from car to bus, tram and rail will not happen in large enough numbers unless an efficient, cheap and integrated public transport system is developed.

A document setting out priorities up to 2031 – the Birmingham Mobility Action Plan – has been launched for consultation with a warning that families are becoming more dependent on travelling by car, even for short distances of under a mile.

The action plan raises the prospect of imposing a levy on firms that supply staff with free parking. A charge of £344 a year could be imposed on 40,000 workplace parking spaces in Birmingham, raising millions of pounds a year.

It also suggests asking the Government for permission to impose a French-style transport tax on firms with more than nine employees, using the money raised to improve infrastructure. In Paris, the tax is charged at 1.8 per cent of the company’s gross salary bill.

Charges at council car parks in the city centre for long-stay could rise significantly in an attempt to deter commuters from driving to work.

The overall aim of the mobility plan is to reach a position where residents are able to access anywhere in the city by public transport within 45 minutes.

The document highlights improvements already completed or planned – New Street Station refurbishment, the Midland Metro tram extension, HS2 and an extensive network of cycle routes – but argues that far more must be done to improve connectivity.

Proposals include fast ‘sprint’ bus services making it easier to travel across Birmingham, overhauling the taxi industry, developing pedestrian walkways to make journeys across the city centre easier as well as the more radical option of banning cars from the city centre.

Employers will be persuaded to permit staff to work from home wherever possible in an attempt to cut down on commuter journeys.

The action plan claims that families in Birmingham will own 80,000 more cars by 2031on top of the 380,000 vehicles already owned in the city. Half of all daily trips are made by car and households with access to cars are making four trips a day, according to the report.

The report states: “If we can persuade these householders to change their travel behaviour to an alternative mode for just 4 of these weekly trips then we will on average have shifted around 210,000 car trips from the city’s roads every week-day.”

It raises the possibility of persuading people to adopt a “lifestyle change” by doing without a car: “Car ownership used to be a measure of deprivation, using the idea that without a car people are limited in their ability to access jobs and services. However, not owning a car is now a lifestyle choice aimed at reducing household costs and an individual’s impact on the environment.”

The report continues: “About a quarter of all car trips made by Birmingham residents are less than one mile. Whilst recognising that there will always be some residual reasons for doing so, such as impaired physical mobility or linking a short trip with a much longer one, BMAP is targeting these trips to try and engender positive behaviour change towards walking and cycling.”

City council leader Sir Albert Bore said: “Having an efficient transport system is a vital part of meeting our plans to move the city forward. Whilst we have had successes, in general Birmingham is lagging behind many UK and European cities in its thinking and importantly delivery of a truly integrated, sustainable transport system.

“The Birmingham Mobility Plan is the first step to changing that. BMAP provides a long term strategy and direction which will guide the development of a transport system we can all be proud of.”

Cover Image: AV Interactive

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