However, the Constable of St Helier, Simon Crowcroft, has warned that the proposal – which would have to be approved by the States – could put people off visiting the town centre.
Deputy Young said: ‘We need to start the process of looking at alternative ways for people to commute, both in response to environmental issues and our growing population. As we are now one government, we have the opportunity to integrate urban planning with that of transport.
‘I have spoken to LibertyBus and the Department of Infrastructure, who both shared their concerns on how to implement it fairly. Ideally I would like to present a finalised research proposal to the Council of Ministers in time for the 2020 Budget.
‘In addition, I believe that radical incentives such as reduced price or even free bus services could be introduced to incentivise Islanders to use alternative modes of transport.
‘The States could front-load any initial costs, which they could then recover later. Either way, whether this is a short- or long-term project we have no choice but to start to look at other options.’
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Deputy Young confirmed that he did not yet know what the cost of any future levy might be and where the boundaries of a congestion charge zone might be set.
Constable Crowcroft said: ‘I don’t know whether a congestion charge would work and I would certainly not want any steps to be taken that discouraged visitors and shoppers coming to St Helier, or which affected the freedom of movement of residents.’
However, Nigel Jones, from environmental group Jersey in Transition, said he shared the Environment Minister’s view that Islanders must be offered incentives to use public transport services, to counterbalance any future levies.
‘If the States want to get thousands of people out of their cars there has to be dozens of extra buses and much wider cycle paths made available, as well as more cycle parking facilities,’ said Mr Jones.
‘It is all very well introducing a charge to discourage people from using their car, but then there has to be other things put into place to encourage people to use the bus or get on a bicycle.’
The question of whether the States’ motivation for introducing a charge was to accrue revenue or reduce carbon emissions was raised by Peter Tabb from the Motor Trades Federation. ‘Speaking as a member of the public, my own view is that if this is introduced it won’t be welcomed,’ he said. ‘I suspect that it would be viewed as just another means of getting more revenue from motorists, as any time a new measure comes along it is often perceived by a section of the population as yet another way of bashing motorists.’
He added: ‘The idea comes across as the States looking for a way to get more money as opposed to having any altruistic motivations, such as protecting the environment.’