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Congestion charge proposed for Melbourne streets

US planning expert Professor Robert Cervero has proposed the introduction of a congestion charge for Melbourne's roads.

An inner-city congestion charge for cars that varies according to traffic conditions has been proposed to solve Melbourne's road problems.

The RACV supports the idea in principle, provided that petrol prices and some other charges fall under a major review of motoring taxes.

US planning expert Professor Robert Cervero said that political will was needed to put a price on the true costs of using cars.

"If we under-price any resource, people consume more than they otherwise would, which in the case of cars and roads leads to congestion," he said at the Creating Healthy Cities Summit in Melbourne.

Prof Cervero, who heads city and regional planning at the University of California, said places such as Melbourne could introduce Singapore-style dynamic congestion pricing for the inner city. Under the system, motorists are charged variably for road use in real time, according to time, location and speed factors.

"We have the technology, we just need the political will and the capacity to move forward," Prof Cervero said.

"It all comes down to providing more choices and variety, getting the price points right, and then I think we will begin to get much more socially responsible behaviours."

RACV public policy manager Brian Negus said the idea had merit. "If you come into the middle of the city you would pay a charge for that,'' he said. "If you're driving in country Victoria you don't pay a charge (because) you're not in a congested area."

But Mr Negus said dynamic congestion pricing should only be introduced after a major review of current "excessive and dysfunctional" motoring taxes, such as petrol excise.

Do you support the idea of having a congestion charge for city CBDs? Tell us what you think in the comments below.