Throughout the developed world, road user charging and congestion pricing have taken a front seat in recent transport policy discourse, as cities are faced with continuing problems of congestion. However, there has been widespread anxiety amongst decision makers on the public acceptability of such measures and the electoral consequences. In this unique research, the acceptability of a variety of forms of road pricing is examined using techniques of discourse analysis. The resulting analysis demonstrates how professional discourses diverge from publicly acceptable arguments and suggests ways in which consensus can be reached.
The methodology and theoretical ideas developed in this study go beyond transport policy and have relevance for other policy debates in which there are competing discourses struggling to reach a publicly acceptable consensus. The volume concludes with a postscript on recent developments in London, where the Mayor has pushed through the first major road user charging experiment in Britain.