Questions and answers on the Transport White Paper


1)     Question: Why is Cardiff Council looking at the concept of bringing in a road user charge?


Answer: Our city's roads is designed for a population of 200,000, but in reality the population swells daily to nearly 500,000. There is an urgent need to deliver transport infrastructure improvements in Cardiff, and a road user charging scheme is one of the mechanisms which we will consider to unlock the funding needed.

There are four clear objectives that could ALL be realised if we get any scheme right: 

  1. Decrease Congestion (one of the main issues holding us back economically and a daily frustration) 
  2. Investment into public transport
  3. Tackling Climate change (Transport is the biggest thing we can do as a city to combat climate change).
  4. Further improving Air Quality 

2)     Question: If a road user charging scheme is implemented, how much will it cost to drive on Cardiff's roads?

Answer: At this stage, road user charging is being considered as a concept and a detailed business case will be produced to find the best solution, which may or may not be a form of congestion charge. 

As part of a robust decision making process, we will consider all options. The Council's preferred solution would be a week-day low-charging fee of approximately £2 - £3, so it will not be like the scheme which is operating in London. We cannot commit at this stage to how much such a charge may cost, as consultation and assessment procedures require us to consider a number of options.

3)     Question: If a road-user charge is approved by Council, what is the idea behind Cardiff residents not having to pay?

Answer: If a road user charge is approved by Cabinet, the initial ideas behind this are:

  1. Cardiff residents suffer the most from the impacts of external commuter traffic. This causes, heavy congestion in their neighbourhoods, dangerous levels of air quality, and road maintenance requirements which are currently borne by Cardiff residents/tax payers.
  2. They are being impacted by changes in other ways - routes being closed, increases in parking charges, loss of parking spaces to make way for bus and cycle lanes. 

4)     Question - what is the difference between a clean air zone and a congestion charge?

Answer: Congestion and air pollution are related but are not the same. The main purpose of a charging Clean Air Zone is only to improve air quality to meet legal requirements by charging the most polluting vehicles for entering an area.

A congestion charge does not distinguish between vehicles based on pollution, but aims to reduce the total number of vehicles on the road or within an area. This would still have a positive impact on air quality. A Clean Air Zone may impact on congestion, but this is likely to only be in the short-term whilst vehicles are upgraded to cleaner models or people travel in different ways, whether this is using public transport, walking or cycling.

5)     Question - What improvements will be made to public transport infrastructure and services before a congestion charge is introduced?

The following improvements would be made before such a charge would be introduced:


Transport for Wales to introduce extra train capacity on key Valley lines


New/Improved Park and Ride at J32/A470, J33 and Cardiff East
New bus stations at Waungron and University Hospital of Wales


Completion of Metro Plus Phase 1 projects e.g. Porth Interchange
and Pontypool and New Inn/Pyle Park and Rides
Segregated cycle network first phase (six routes) completed
Cardiff Central Bus Station to be completed


Transport for Wales to introduce further train capacity on key Valley line
Metro station opened at Crwys Road
Cardiff Parkway station opened at St Mellons
Regional express bus scheme implemented


Cardiff Bay tram-train line and Loudon Square metro station to be
opened and linked city line to Radyr (Crossrail phase 1)

6)     Question: Why aren't you considering just charging the most polluting vehicles (like some Clean Air Zones from other cities?)

Answer: A Clean Air Zone was considered by the Council recently, as legal direction was given by the Welsh Government to improve Nitrogen Dioxide levels in the city centre in the ‘shortest time possible.' Information on this assessment can be read here:

The Council isn't just concerned about pollution though and whilst electric cars are seen to be a solution to emission based pollution, they will still contribute to the growing congestion problem in the city. Whilst diesel emissions are the most dangerous for our health, petrol cars produce more carbon dioxide which is a major contributor to climate change.

Also, if the Council only charged older vehicles using the road network this could disproportionately impact poorer people who may struggle to upgrade their vehicles.

Additionally, even electric vehicles produce particulate pollution from both brakes and tyres, and also carbon if the energy generation to power the electric vehicles are from fossil fuels. If people decided to drive petrol vehicles instead, this could increase our carbon emissions as well.  

7)     Question: It seems that the scheme is raising money from people who live outside Cardiff to spend on Cardiff schemes?

Answer: No. The scheme may raise money so it could be used directly to support public transport improvements for people from surrounding authorities. For example, to invest in a regional express bus service and Park and Ride schemes. We will work with our regional partners on these schemes.

8)     Question: How much income does the Council think they can raise from a congestion charge each year, and what would it be spent on?

Answer: All the proceeds from any charge would be spent on transport projects as outlined within the Transport Plan. The business case development process would establish the precise expected income. It is currently estimated thata weekday £2 charge for cars could raise a surplus in the region of £15M to £20M per year, which could be used to support up front borrowing for investment, and ongoing revenue support.

9)     Question: Has the Transport White Paper been fully costed?

Answer: High level indicative costs for the projects included in the White Paper have been estimated the costs to be between £1bn and £2bn. However, further work will be required to ensure that the cost estimates provided are robust and accurately reflect the programme as it develops which will be over a 10 year period.

10)Question: Do you think charging people £2 or £3 a day will actually incentivise people to consider other options, or will they just pay and the congestion will remain at the same levels?

Answer: At this stage we don't have the answer to this. The charging level will be developed as part of the business case, and in doing so this will involve undertaking survey work with commuters to assess the most suitable charging rate to incentivise people to move away from private cars as their primary mode of transport into Cardiff.

Contemporary evidence from other cities suggests even a low charge can have a 'nudge' effect on behaviour, especially if improved public transport alternatives are provided, delivering a drop in traffic levels of around 10 to 20%,of cars coming into the city.

11)Question: What are the next steps forwards? If a congestion charge is agreed, when will it start?

Answer: The Council will be looking at a number of options in order to develop the funding solution that works best for Cardiff and the surrounding region. We will develop detailed assessments and supporting business cases to identify our preferred option. At this stage we are not able to give any ‘switch on' date, but we anticipate that any such scheme could take up to four years to fully develop and test prior to any implementation.

12)Question: This scheme would just penalising drivers to raise revenue, when those who will be charged do not have a viable alternative to travel. How can you justify this?

Answer: As detailed in the White Paper, the intention is that there will be a significant number of transport improvement measures implemented before any charging scheme is introduced, to ensure that there are suitable transport alternatives to enable people to decide the best means of travelling to Cardiff and within the city.

What is clear is that the current traffic issues the city faces are unsustainable - economically and ecologically - so it is incumbent on us to act.

13)Question: You mention that Cardiff residents may be exempt, what other groups will be exempt, for example blue badge holders, taxis, emergency services and buses? 

Answer: At this stage it is not possible to fully finalise any exemptions, and the exemptions will be developed as part of the assessments and consultations, but clearly our expectation is that emergency services, public transport (ie. buses), blue badge holders would be exempt from charges. 

14)Question: What about people who need their car for work or business and driving is a requirement of their contract for work?

Answer: This will be explored as part of the business case and the distributional and equality impact assessments.

15)Question: What impact would a congestion charge have on the local economy? Has an economic impact assessment been carried out?

Answer: This will be fully assessed as we develop the proposals and we will consult closely with the business community as proposals are developed. 

It is also worth noting that congestion is considered one of the main issues holding back economic growth in Cardiff and other core cities. Cities such as Stockholm, London, Milan, Nottingham and Singapore have continued to grow ecumenically despite charging regimes. 

16)Question: The people who drive from the valleys would be penalised by this scheme, and communities in the valleys live in some of the most deprived areas in Wales. How do you justify this?

Answer: The poorest members of our society both in Cardiff and the wider region are the least likely to own a car as things stand, and are totally reliant on a sub-optimal public transport system.

We will be working with our regional partners and Welsh Government to enhance and improve public transport connections to Cardiff from the Valleys and other neighbouring authorities, to ensure that commuters in these areas will be provided with a viable, affordable alternatives to using car prior to any charging mechanism being implemented. 

People living in the most deprived communities in the valleys are likely to benefit the most from investments any such scheme could fund. The current bus service often does not serve some of these communities well. We would plan to invest in regional express bus services so people in the communities can better access the growing number of employment opportunities in Cardiff.   

17)Question: Any charging scheme is controversial, do you think you will win over the public with your plans?

The media agenda and focus has changed and climate change and air quality are now widely discussed issues on almost a daily basis. Evidence suggests that after initial scepticism of these schemes, popularity does increase when the benefits are realised.

What would be more controversial is that we do nothing, given the evidence we have around air pollution, with 220 to 425 deaths per year recorded in Cardiff & Vale Health Board and

the world's leading climate scientists have warned there is only a dozen years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.