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Comments

HF

Agreed

Road pricing is going to cost billions to install and operate.

That is an extra burden.

Instead invest more on roads and other transport improvements and that will be re-couped in a better economy and happier people. GWB.

Account Deleted

2 Objections:

Practically:

"The principle remains that the status quo is infinitely better than RPVT"

What would our response to the fact that our road system is going to be under severe strain in the next couple of decades?

Daily traffic on our roads grew by 16% from 1995-2005. http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=1096
A survey for the Treasury (OK, I know it was done for Gord), estimated that by 2025 £22 billion a year would be lost to congestion and 13% of all traffic would effectively be stuck in traffic jams, (and even more would be forced to travel at a very slow pace.)

This suggests growth of another third or so by 2025. Can our road system really cope with that sort of pressure, especially concentrated on peak hours/roads? I would suggest that road pricing is the only way to help ease some of that pressure and persuade people to stagger their journeys.

The introduction of road pricing should spead up the spread of working from home and telecommuting. Which would help drive congestion down further.

Ideological

Since roads are a good and service, what is the objection to creating a 'market' - albeit an imperfect one for them?

Queues, as typified in the Soviet Union and our NHS are the natural result of government underpricing a good or service - people end up queueing on our roads rather than paying for a service (e.g. a road you can drive on rather than a road you have to edge down on at 10mph).

Queueing is a hidden economic cost, (which could cost £22 billion by 2025), which road pricing would be bringing out into the open and would hopefully eliminate.

It seems to me this is special pleading for the motorist.

A much better suggestion would be to promise any Road Pricing would be guaranteed to be cancelled out by a change in income tax (basic thresholds or rates).

I remain optimistic we will not oppose road charging.

Account Deleted

"This suggests growth of another third or so by 2025"

I should clarify the growth I refer to in para is in traffic levels.

Paul

Rather than looking at preventing people from travelling we should be looking at why people travel.

To get to the shops (large out of town shopping centers), to get to work.

Consider for the moment Work. As an IT consultant I spend a large proportion of my day sitting at a computer.

At home I have a Video phone via Skype and most if not all the technical tools I need to do my job. 80% of my job can therefore be done at home. The infrastructure is there. So if 80% of my job can be done at my own office in home why do I spend 2 hours a day travelling?

The same is true of the vast majority of Telephone call centers. The people on them do not need to be in a large office. It can be done at home. This would also open up opportunities to those with Children to look after. In addition the savings of not having a big office are often greater than offshoring the same operation abroad.

Because in this country we do not encourage this. Indeed the Chancellor withdrew the tax benefit of companies buying computer equipment for employees. With this country being a service orientated economy the need for us to work in a factory or centralised environment is somewhat less.

The introduction of broadband makes working remote a practical alternative to the daily trip in a metal box.

Anoneumouse

All the above and not even a mention of the European Commission’s Directorate-General Energy and Transport.

Directive 99/62/EC as modified by Directive 2006/38/EC

Mark Wadsworth

I agree.

While there are good economic arguments in favour of road pricing, nobody knows how it will work in practice and even it did "work" in the sense of reducing congestion it would forever be massively unpopular.

As far as I am concerned, the people have spoken. They prefer sitting in traffic jams for free to paying to get from A to B much quicker for a small extra fee, so who are politicians to argue the opposite?

BTW, building more roads won't help. If there are more roads and in the short term less traffic jams, people respond to this by driving more and so we get back to sqaure one, it is a vicious circle, and I am happy to admit that I don't know what the answer is.

comstock

If you don't adopt this policy, with a few million votes up for grabs, you'll be practically certifiable.

Oh hang on,you're all in the Tory party so you proberbly already are.....

Seriously though when will ALL the parties realise that however strongly they might feel about the 'costs' of congestion the mass of people in the UK don't want this, and, in a democracy, they should accept that fact.

And another thing. Businesses are forever going on about the 'costs' of congestion (most ordinary people just accept the odd traffic jam as a fact of life), yet *they* are the ones ultimately who effectively force people to own cars by locating in out of town business parks. *they* are the ones who put up the job adverts saying 'own transport essential due to location' *they* are the ones who claim they will benefit.....

And yet you and I are the ones going to be paying this tax.....summat wrong there surely??

Denis Cooper

Once again, any problem which has built up over decades may require a similar timescale for its solution. In this case we've spent over half a century creating an economic and social structure which depends upon individuals and businesses driving ridiculous mileages every year. I oppose vehicle surveillance and road pricing on behalf of the EU because fuel duty already offers a simple broad-brush mechanism for discouraging the excessive use of road transport, and I believe that drivers have enough sense not to sit in traffic jams if there's an alternative uncongested route available. They don't need to be charged for using a congested road in order to realise that it's congested! The first step should be to abolish road tax, which is a tax on car ownership, not use, and which by increasing the fixed annual cost for a driver actually creates a financial pressure for him to use his car rather than alternative forms of transport, and increase the variable or marginal cost of driving by recouping the same revenue through fuel duty. But that would be just the first of a whole series of measures required to reduce the need to use cars or any other form of motorised transport for everyday purposes. Every new government proposal should be tested to see how it would affect the need for people or goods to be transported greater distances, and costed accordingly.

clive elliot

The theoretical reasons for road pricing are absolutely right.

But in the real world it won't work, because:

a) the technology ain't up to it

b) people won't trust the bills they get - what about cars driven by several different people?

c) with up to 2m cars estimated as already driving around the roads untaxed (and probably uninsured!), it's just an incentive for even more spivs and shysters to turn the meter off, leave it at home when they go out for a spin, put it in someone else's car boot etc.

It's a poll tax on wheels. Unworkable.

But a brilliant concept, intellectually.

Peter Hatchet

I agree with you David. Road-pricing is fraught with difficulties and not the way forward. My only concern is your statement below:

"This is, of course, a policy of opposition and does not expressly set out to propose an alternative. The principle remains that the status quo is infinitely better than RPVT"

Trouble is, this isn't *really* a policy proposal, is it? It's a statement of opposition to a Labour policy. Not a constructive solution.

We MUST come up with a counterproposal. Opposition has far greatly credibility when coupled with a counterproposal as it cannot be criticised as pure opportunism. Just look at how we have started to turn the debate on ID cards with our counterproposal on a border police force - excellently handled.

In any event, we cannot just maintain the status quo. We desperately need new LRT systems in our cities, better motorways and trunk roads.

Capacity is the issue. Compared to most European countries, our net motorway/trunk road mileage and inner city transit systems are way below the average.

NigelC

The Government's history on major IT projects makes me shudder as does the civil liberties implications.

Don't forget this policy is being implemented right now. There is a policy T3 in the draft East of England Plan which will be adopted this summer. Consultation closes on March 9th.
http://www.gos.gov.uk/goeast/planning/regional_planning/

I wonder if they will be able to track every car that leaves a pub (or political meeting?)and "randomly" stop those cars at they pass fixed check-points. I am dead against drink driving but I think you get my point

David Cooper

Thanks for the responses so far. Just for clarity, I put this together before (1) the Downing Street petition closed (2) the recent opinion poll showing 75% opposition to RPVT if I recall correctly (3) UKIP’s latest woes – stealing a policy is probably the least of their worries at the moment.

[email protected]: I feel that a manifesto pledge of opposition to actual or planned legislation can be described as a policy. As to counterproposals, just for starters, we could pledge the construction and improvement of roads to promote free flowing traffic rather than impede it, and tackle the Red Ken effect on traffic light sequences. There should also be lessons to learn from how US road contractors such as those who cleared up the mess after the last LA earthquake often finish the job early and rake in huge rewards, in marked contrast to the jobsworth with a clipboard mentality that frequently blights our road works.

[email protected]: it’s hard to argue with electors who object, as they see it, to paying again to use what they feel they’ve already paid for. Politicians do not always know what’s best. We all know, to our dismay, how the principle of the poll tax – grateful electors voting out high spending Labour councils for ever – was not borne out in practice.

[email protected]: I agree entirely about homeworking and broadband. It should be our role to bring about any shift of this kind by encouragement and reward, not browbeating and taxation.

Anoneumou[email protected]: I deliberately kept the EU elephant out of this particular room in the first place. I’m an avid follower of Christopher Booker’s articles and was amused to note the recent comment about Galileo not being likely to work on time if at all. In the present context, if we adopted this policy and finally drew a response from NuLab along the lines of “don’t blame us, the EU is imposing it”, there might be greater rewards to reap by making it clear that the UK would have none of it, assuming our government in waiting was courageous enough (a major assumption, I concede).

Mark Wadsworth

Ah... traffic lights.

How about just turning them all off for a couple of weeks as an experiment?

RichardS

Completely support the proposal to oppose per-mile road pricing.

Putting taxation and technological issues to one side for the moment, the implications for personal civil liberties are wide ranging and grave.

Much of the focus has been upon the state's ability to monitor individual journeys with ease, and to piggy-back other things such as traffic infringements onto it.

This isn't the only way in which we can lose liberty, however, and this would give details of movements rather closer to home.

If I am to be charged on a per-mile basis, I will need some way of reconciling the mileage against what I think is correct - ie some kind of itemised list of jouneys and times, whether in paper or accessible via the Internet (the latter would really be discriminatory against the non-computer-literate though).

Now if, for instance, my wife tells me that she's spending the afternoon shopping in Reading then I take that at face value - it's a matter of trust. When the itemised road bill comes through I'm not going to be scrutinising it to reconcile against
what she's told me (and likewise she's not going to be checking what I've told her). I have no reason to disbelieve her, nor her me.

However, others are not always in such trusting relationships. Over the years I have had at least four friends who have found themselves to be in controlling, obsessive relationships.

These people's partners would have been scrutinising the journey list and whatever personal liberty and freedom to travel they might have had would have been severely curtailed.

This is just one objection. As I say, there are a myriad other concerns about privacy from the State, the reliability and practicability of the technology (are we really expecting 100% up-time, with no equipment failure - what happens then?), details of charging (retrospective daily, weekly, monthly, yearly?), etc.

It seems to me that we should exhaust all other possibilities before embarking along this path. Clamping down on tailgating, middle/outside lane hoggers, etc, would be a start.

this seems to me to be a big leap towards technological hell.

Richard Cooke

I agree.

Road Pricing would be nothing more than a regressive tax on the "hard" working classes. Those strivers in our society who win us general elections and who we should protect. Of course, it won't bother the very rich, the idle or the criminal.
I do not believe in building endless new roads though. Individuals must decide how much delay on the roads they are willing to take before they decide that the opportunity cost of a journey is too great, and they demand other forms of travel, or otherwise adjust their choices in response.
We must though develop genuinely economically viable and self funding alternatives to the car so that individuals may have a proper choice which does not limit economic growth. This may entail massive concentrated public spending on the public transport infrastructure in the short term eg. to create many new rail links or underground systems in provincial towns.
The answers are complex, and road pricing is an inefficient answer, simply another tax on the ecomically active. A dis-incentive to enterprise and wealth creation. Conservatives everywhere should oppose it.

John Allen

David asked “what practical measures not involving further high tax and erosion of freedom would it be better to take against the perceived problem?” .

My suggestion is that we encourage a new form of travel. Bristol University have had government funding to develop an Ulra Light Vehicle scheme, which is now so developed and approved that it is going into Heathrow. It is being payed for by BAA.
See http://www.atsltd.co.uk/

The Conservative Policy should be to facilitate 21st century new travel initiatives. No government money is required after the Heathrow scheme proves the technology. I would like to have the franchise for Leicestershire, but I would want to be assured that the local council planning rules helped rather than hindered it's delivery.

Conseratives encourage initatives by individuals and private companies rather than labour's "tax what you dont like" dead hand.

Conservatives see a problem as opportunities - labour just see another stealth tax.


Jerry

You are all deluding yourselves as usual. Neither the labour, lib Dem or Conservative parties will admit that road charging is EU POLICY and they therefore have no alternative but to implement it. The ONLY way to do without road charging is to vote UKIP and get us out of the EU.

Peter Hatchet

John Allen 06:44 pm

I completely agree.

ULV systems are remarkably innovative as they combine the fuel/road space efficiency of public transport with the privacy of a private car. I hope these are taken up around the country in future.

But we also need LRT systems in places like Bristol, Birmingham, Southampton & Brighton. New tram networks, more freight yards on the railways (take those irritating container lorries off the roads) and the dualling of many key trunk roads - Oxford/Cambridge, Bath/Bournemouth etc. We could also use a full length motorway up the East side of the country - extending the M1 North of Leeds to Newcastle.

The issue is capacity - we just don't have enough.

Alex Sacttergood

Rather than make it more difficult for people to go about their lawful business, why don't you examine why more people are travelling?

Personally I'd prefer a short efficient trip to work, however the ineptitude of my local council has made the 6 mile trip take approximately 40 minutes in rush hour. I say ineptitude because it has placed more and more constraints on drivers passing through and attempted to lower speeds or increase obstacles as much as possible.

Unfortunately the bus takes 55 minutes, I have to walk a mile of it, costs more and I can't use it with any certainty so I use my car. I do use the bus if I'm going for a pint after work or the wife's car is at the mechanics. I know I should cycle but my resolve wavers when its cold and dark, the cycle lane is quite bumpy, also the absence of a shower at work ensures my perfume is not entirely professional.

If I could work from home more I would be out of commuting completely. But my company likes me to turn up at the office.

So to convince me not to commute the obvious solutions are :

1/ Pay me enough not to work :-) - I like that one best.
2/ Encourage my company to let me to work from home.
3/ Encourage me to work for a company that lets me work from home.
4/ Encourage me to use my Bike / walk. Think of all the health benefits!
5/ create a bus lane that goes through the town without congestion allowing the 6 mile journey to be completed in 15 minutes, make it cost less than taking the car.
6/ Encourage me another way to use public transport. Say PRT.
7/ Encourage me to car share with the attendant personal safety risks.
8/ Move the congestion causing road furniture, traffic lights and supermarkets etc off my route.
9/ Move large numbers of other travellers to alternative modes of transport, how about re-instating school buses?

....
9999999999/ fit an invasive tracker into my car at my cost and increase the tax take without doing anything to reduce congestion.

Guess which one the government is proposing?

Considering Ken's congestion charge is a beacon of a well run IT system by new labour standards and that makes little money any projected 'earnings' should be taken with a lorry load of salt.

If its truly an EU policy it needs modification.

Other solutions abound, making city centres pedestrian only, trams, cheaper safer multiple occupant taxis etc.

The comments to this entry are closed.

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