Demand management for cars policy area

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About this policy


Shift travel to more sustainable modes: public transport, walking, and cycling, and away from car use.


Measures to decrease the use of cars for some journeys, working with partners to develop fair approaches to even up the balance between different transport options and reduce the priority currently given to car travel over sustainable modes.

Policy statement

Travel by private car is inefficient in terms of use of road space and results in higher carbon emissions, pollution and other environmental and social impacts per passenger kilometre travelled, than by any other transport modes. However, travelling by car is often lower cost per trip than public transport for car owners, and more convenient. Whilst the other policies in the LTP4 are intended to make travel by alternatives to private car more attractive, it is likely to be necessary to also increase the costs of car travel for some types of journeys to reflect their wider impacts, if we are to meet our objectives.

No decisions have yet been made on how or when this will be achieved, or which types of journeys will be affected. Ideally, our approach would follow a regional or national scheme. Options include introducing an eco levy for using the road network based on a pay-as-you-go model, increases in parking charges and reductions in the amount of parking available, and traffic calming. Any approach would be focussed on, and money raised would be reinvested in, Surrey's transport network, potentially providing an important source of revenue to fund the other Policy Areas set out in the LTP4, strengthening the alternatives to car use.

The need for demand management

Transport planning and urban design have generated car dependency by making car use more convenient and attractive over other considerations for several decades, at the expense of other transport modes. This has resulted in cars and goods vehicles dominating all roads, making them less attractive for other uses such as walking, cycling, playing and socialising. It has also led to a significant proportion of central space in settlements of all sizes being allocated to parked cars, preventing and disrupting use of central public space for other purposes such as green or play spaces.

Prioritising the convenience of car use has had several negative impacts for Surrey in terms of carbon emissions, local air quality, quality of public spaces, physical fitness and health, and equality of access to opportunities and amenities for those without a car.

An important part of this Local Transport Plan is to change the balance between car use and other modes of travel. We will move to a situation where sustainable transport modes are treated more equally in line with the sustainable travel hierarchy, and the wider negative implications of car use on our communities and environment are recognised and reflected in the costs and convenience of using them.


Measures will allow a fairer comparison between car and sustainable travel options (such as active travel and personal mobility and public and shared transport, in accordance with the sustainable travel hierarchy). This will involve reducing the priority that is currently given to car use in preference to other modes of travel, despite the negative environmental and health impacts of car use.

We will ensure that the needs of blue badge holders and residents with limited mobility are accounted for when we review, plan and implement all measures.

Altering Parking supply and charges

The differences in the way that we pay for car and public transport travel are key factors that favour car use over public transport. Public transport is usually paid for on a per trip basis. However, the main costs of car travel are paid in larger sums upfront (purchase cost, annual costs like insurance, and then fuelling). Having paid these upfront costs, the additional cost of each car journey is relatively low, and certainly too low to cover the cost that it imposes on wider society and the environment. Measures like parking charges, or an eco levy, help to even this balance by increasing the costs per car journey to capture its wider impact on society and make the approach to payment more similar to public transport.

We will work with districts and boroughs to review parking measures, including:

  • Reducing the amount of parking available and relocating it to less central locations, building on some of the principles of our successful Park and Ride policy in Guildford.
  • Increasing parking charges with tariffs reflecting emissions impacts based on fuel type, vehicle size and whether vehicles are privately owned or car club vehicles
  • Introducing parking charges in new areas, such as workplace parking levies, local shopping centre charges and residential parking charges for second spaces.

These measures are intended to change the relative attractiveness of using different modes of travel, putting car travel on a more even footing with other modes in terms of payment per trip. However, we will ensure that parking spaces for blue badge holders and residents with limited mobility continue to be provided close to shops and services.

Traffic calming

Measures introduced under other Policy Areas will have a demand management effect. The Healthy Streets, Liveable Neighbourhoods and 20-mph zones identified in the Planning for Place and Active travel and personal mobility policy areas will further manage demand for car travel and increase the attractiveness and accessibility of other transport modes.

The closure of some neighbourhoods or streets to through traffic, such as school streets, and the reduced priority and speed for traffic on others will increase travel time and reduce the relative advantage of using cars rather than active travel, personal mobility or public transport options for local trips.

Engaging with eco levy (pay as you drive) developments

An eco levy would offset the bias towards the car as drivers would need to pay a charge reflecting the environmental damage caused by each kilometre of their journey, rather than these costs being absorbed by wider society as they currently are.

Charging would be most effective if applied across all roads and most successful if applied as a national system. National charging has recently been raised, particularly in relation to the need to replace fuel duty. Transport for the South East (TfSE) also raised the need for its consideration in their recent Transport Strategy. We will engage with other local authorities, TfSE and government to understand and inform developments on this issue.

Using charging revenue to support sustainable modes

Any revenue from parking charges or eco levies would provide an important source of revenue to fund the other Policy Areas set out in the LTP4, strengthening the alternatives to car use and increasing the benefits of reduced car use for the environment, economy and public health.

Contribution to LTP4 objectives

Net zero carbon emissions: Reducing the priority given to car use and making the costs of different modes of travel more comparable will play a key role in reducing carbon from car travel. The potential impacts of demand management measures will include changes that will Avoid, Shift and Improve travel:

  • Avoid: Demand management can reduce travel by encouraging people to combine trips, share trips with others or make more local trips, resulting in less carbon emissions produced by individual trips.
  • Shift: The levelling up of costs will encourage people to use more sustainable modes, reducing carbon emissions per passenger kilometre travelled.
  • Improve: Charging will vary by emissions level and will therefore encourage use of smaller, low emissions vehicles either through choice of owned vehicles or encouraging the use of car club vehicles.

Sustainable growth: Many businesses and people will benefit from the reduced congestion and improved reliability due to reduced traffic levels, and from the release of central urban space from parking. However, some businesses and people who rely on car trips will be affected by the reduced convenience and increased cost of car use, leading to a negative impact in the short-term whilst other accessibility options and the wider benefits of the LTP4 develop. The measures will be implemented as part of all the wider LTP4 Policy Areas, which will have a positive impact on both sustainable growth and community and social mobility. The revenue from demand management will also fund some of the beneficial measures discussed under other Policy Areas, such as provision for active travel modes and public transport.

Whilst concerns are often raised that reducing parking provision and increasing its cost will have negative economic impacts for urban centres, evidence suggests that this does not occur in practice. Research by organisations such as Transport for London and Living Streets indicates that traffic-free, accessible pedestrianised environments are more attractive to visitors and that those visiting a town centre by travel modes other than car, tend to spend more money across an average month as they will visit the centre more often and make more unplanned stops in shops, cafés and restaurants whilst passing.

Introducing measures in conjunction with widespread availability of car clubs will ensure measures do not adversely impact upon low-income households who may have older, more polluting vehicles or be unable to access private off-street parking.

Well-connected communities: If emissions-based parking charges or a local or national eco levy (or pay-as-you-drive charge) are introduced, they will be carefully managed to ensure that they don't limit social mobility by disproportionately affecting certain groups, such as low-income households, blue badge holders or others with limited mobility. Measures will benefit households who currently don't have access to a car by making local environments safer for walking and cycling, decreasing the current priority given to car users, and funding provision of other modes such as better bus services.

Clean air and excellent quality of life: Reducing the amount of parking available and relocating it to less central locations will free up significant areas in our urban centres for more varied and attractive uses that are accessible to all, such as parks and leisure facilities, that can help to improve physical and mental wellbeing. Reducing car use will also reduce its negative impacts on people and communities by improving noise pollution, air pollution and road safety.


Past experience has clearly shown that measures to achieve demand management, and those to increase sustainable travel use, have greater effect when implemented together. For example, Oxford and other towns and cities have achieved substantial increases in sustainable travel in conjunction with parking restrictions.

Measures will be tailored to specific locations and be applied in conjunction with other Policy Areas (including Planning for Place, Digital Connectivity, Active Travel and Personal Mobility, Public and Shared Transport, and Promoting Zero Emissions Vehicles ), to ensure that sustainable travel options provide alternatives to car trips. For example, changing parking charges would need to be combined with widespread access to car clubs including small electric vehicles (EVs), to ensure low cost access to low emissions vehicles for those households on limited incomes (who are more likely to have older, less efficient cars).

All measures will be carefully managed to ensure that they don't limit social mobility by disproportionately affecting certain groups such as low-income households, blue badge holders or others with limited mobility.

How our policies will affect the way you travel

Find out how this policy and our other transport plan policies will affect how you choose to travel:

Policy context


  • Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP): The Surrey BSIP sets out our vision for bus services in Surrey, and how they can be improved to support a shift away from car use.
  • Rail Strategy for Surrey: The Rail Strategy for Surrey sets out our vision for rail services in Surrey, and how they can be improved to support a shift away from car use.
  • Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans (LCWIPs): LCWIPs are ten-year investment plans for walking and cycling infrastructure within Surrey. LCWIPs will identify where we want to prioritise investment, and some initial options to explore further what could be undertaken in each location. They will support a shift away from car use and towards walking and cycling for every day, local journeys.
  • Community Vision for 2030: Aims to ensure that 'residents live in clean, safe and green communities, where people and organisations embrace their environmental responsibilities.'
  • Surrey Climate Change Strategy: Focuses on 'Shifting' away from private car use to enable Surrey to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
  • Transport for the South East (TfSE) Transport Strategy: this raises the need to consider a regional eco levy (pay as you go charge) for car use.
  • Vehicular, electric vehicle and cycle parking guidance for new developments: This guidance sets out our standards for electric vehicle, cycle and car parking on new developments in Surrey.


  • Traffic Management Act, 2004: Guidance outlining the Council's network management duty and relevant powers and responsibilities. The guidance sets out high-level principles to help local authorities to manage their roads and what actions they should take.
  • Net Zero Review: Interim Report (GOV.UK): HM Treasury report into the costs of achieving net zero carbon emissions. Reports that the Treasury will lose £30 billion revenue annually from fuel tax as a result of switch to EVs and advises that road user charging may be required to recoup some of this lost revenue.
  • Traffic Management Act, 2004: Guidance outlining our network management duty and relevant powers and responsibilities. The guidance sets out high-level principles to help local authorities to manage their roads and what actions they should take.

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