Coventry motorists could be paid £3,000 a year to go car-free

If motorists in Coventry give up their car they could be paid up to £3,000 a year to spend on public transport as part of an innovative trial to get polluting vehicles off the road.

The trial is being developed by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) and the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) which would see £1m worth of ‘Mobility Credits’ offered to drivers from next year and could also be used on taxis, bike shares or a car club.

The credits would be provided on a smartphone app through which participants will also be able to plan and book their journeys.

Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said: ‘Instead of asking people to trade in their old car for a new one, we are offering them credits to try something new – such as join a car share scheme or take the bus or train.

‘Not only will people be saving money on the cost of running and maintaining their cars, but they will also help the region ease traffic congestion and improve air quality in the fight against climate change. This will make a considerable difference to Coventry as the city welcomes thousands of visitors next year for City of Culture.”

Cllr Jim O’Boyle, Coventry City Council cabinet member for jobs and regeneration, said: ‘This is a great idea which provides incentives to motorists. The key now is to work up the scheme in a way that benefits people who may be dependent on using a vehicle as part of their daily responsibilities. It’s about encouraging change without imposing it.’

Last week it was announced that Coventry’s planned Clean Air Zone (CAZ) will now not go ahead after the government accepted other measures proposed by Coventry City Council to tackle air pollution.

Coventry has several air pollution hotspots and according to ClientEarth analysis, the area has an annual mean level of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) of 50μg/m3, 1.3 times over the legal limit.

To reduce levels of NO2, Coventry was ordered by government to implement a Class D charging Clean Air Zone (CAZ) and were told it must be implemented as soon as possible with a view to meeting legal air quality compliance by 2023. 

It was the same type of CAZ that is being planned for Birmingham and would have seen drivers of private cars charged to enter as well as trucks, vans and buses.

However, there was resistance from the local authority who instead proposed a series of alternatives including re-routing roads, improving pedestrian access and investing in electric buses.

In a letter to the council, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Rebecca Pow confirmed that these plans have been accepted and the government will give Coventry £24.5m to implement them.

Cllr Jim O’Boyle said that the news reflected the ‘overwhelming views of local people and businesses.’

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Steve Brown

So refusing to play the government’s game is OK as long as you come up with a few spurious alternative measures. Who is going to ascertain that the measures have the desired effect? Will Coventry be self-reporting?

Tom O'Donovan
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Tom O'Donovan

It’s part of the Future Mobility Zones programme, so it is very much the government’s game. TfWM is likely to be carrying out the reporting on the effectiveness of the measures as they are part of a wider programme of measures. Annoyingly the West Midlands was given £20m funding on a plate whereas everyone else has had to bid and the government are now six months lare announcing the results as plenty of other areas are looking at similar schemes.