Tag Archive | "New Toll"

Taking A Toll On Drivers


The pressure of traffic on our crowded roads is increasing year on year. The present Government is talking up new road charges and drivers face tolls under audacious plans to put Britain’s roads network in the hands of private companies. David Cameron has said that he wants to kick-start the economy by allowing firms to compete to build, operate and maintain motorways and trunk roads. Motorists would not pay tolls to use existing roads – but firms could widen them and introduce pay-as-you-go lanes that drivers could use to beat congestion. Meanwhile, if there’s any room left, any brand new road will be built by private investors and charged along the lines of the French toll-road system.

Road pricing, whether we like it or not, is on its way. Effectively, it could be any system that would, at point of use, charge drivers to use any particular road or system of roads. Usually it means tolls on single routes and crossings like bridges or tunnels. More recently, it has included zone pricing of urban areas as is seen with the London congestion charge the idea of which, no doubt, will soon expand to include other cities. On 3rd May 2012 London voters will go to the polls as Boris Johnson, the present incumbent, fights Ken Livingstone (yes, he’s back) for the title of Mayor. Wouldn’t it be great if they actually fought, in the Mexican Lucha Libre style with masks? The Blonde Bombshell vs. the Newt Fancier. Now I’d pay a toll to see that! In the boring meanwhile neither of them plan any immediate increase in charges on the basis that cash-strapped London drivers won’t be voting for anyone who even thinks about it. But afterwards?

Road pricing isn’t new and the French have been at it for years, as is their way, but it is spreading and is already rife in countries as disparate as Norway and Australia. Even the Yanks, who are righteously against any form of extra taxation, are beginning to take it seriously. In 2008, the New York Mayor tried and failed to get approval for a scheme but was thwarted by the State Assembly. This year a new plan has been mooted that is, typically, a complicated mishmash that aims to try and convince drivers that tolls are good for them.

Back in the UK motoring groups have warned that drivers are getting sick and tired of struggling with high fuel prices and other car expenses and believe, despite the Prime Minister’s words to the contrary, the current plan will lead to road pricing nationally on a pay to drive basis. It is interesting that, when in opposition, the Government were defending drivers on the basis that the then administration was treating motorists as ‘cash cows’. As it turns out drivers are suffering more than ever. Funny that.

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