A Sydney smart transport start-up, Clearways Mobility, has been named as one of five finalists for one of the world’s largest economics prizes.

The 2017 Wolfson Economics Prize attracted entries from around the world vying for over AU$400,000 in prize money for the best concept for making roads better, safer and more reliable in a way that is fair for users and good for the economy and the environment.

The start-up was founded by Jayme Harrison, former Deloitte partner and chair of the Transport Taskforce of the Committee for Sydney, and Russell King, former policy director for the NSW Minister for Transport and Infrastructure.

Their proposal is for an opt-in pay-as-you-drive scheme enabled by digital technologies that would reward users through instant rebates of fuel levy at point of purchase and other incentives.

Plans would be tailored to customer driving habits, and also include rewards for demand management measures such as choosing public transport over private vehicle use and driving during off-peak times so as not to contribute to congestion.

The scheme also addresses the reduced contribution electric vehicles make to road funding as they do not pay fuel levies, by suggesting PAYD be mandated for EVs.

Other elements of the scheme include using known brands to promote the scheme, and tie-ins with other related products such as PAYD vehicle insurance, PAYD roadside assistance and infotainment.

The submission points out that while pay as you drive systems have been proposed before, the mechanism suggested has always been that government needs to make them happen.

The difference with the Clearways scheme – which is currently being patented – is it would be driven by private enterprise with support from government.

The other finalists for the prize, which will be announced in July, include former lawyer Catriona Brown; economist Deirdre King and her husband Edmund King, the president of the UK Automobile Association; Volterra Partners in association with Jacobs; graduate transport planner Gergely Raccuja.

“Road congestion is a source of daily misery for millions of people: undermining our quality of life, environment and economy,” prize founder Lord Simon Wolfson of Aspley Guise said.

“As the political parties put together their programs for government, they would do well to turn their attention to the plight facing users of Britain’s road network.

“The creativity and enthusiasm demonstrated by the entrants to the 2017 Prize has been inspiring. I would like to thank everyone who took the time to enter and our team of expert judges.”

  • Read the Clearways Mobility proposal here

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  1. The finalists only came up with a mega bureaucratic regulatory procedure aimed at lowering petrol taxation and establishing another regulatory system, when it’s clear that petrol taxation/registration charges are the single most efficient way of managing traffic congestion. The taxes should be kept rising until the desired effect is achieved, that is reducing congestion which can only be achieved if vehicles are taken off the road.
    1) Build no more new roads.
    2) All new developments to be provided with efficient mass transit, neighbourhoods to be walkable and car free.
    3) Raise excises across the board on all oil products.
    4) Raise registration charges for all vehicles and by weight.

    Fumbling around in the dark for a “politically correct” solution simply won’t fly.