Where do you stand on road pricing?

by Stephen Tall on June 7, 2008

The Lib Dems’ new transport policies – and in particular the party’s support for road pricing compensated by cuts in VED and fuel duties – have certainly attracted a lot of comment on LDV.

And, as it stands, our poll to find out whether readers (who of course may or may not be Lib Dems) agree with the policy shows an exactly even divide: 50% are for, 50% against. So, if you’ve not yet had the chance to vote, don’t forget to look in the right-hand column, and make your choice.

In all the excitement of reading Fast Track Britain: Building a Transport System for the 21st Century I forgot to update the final results of our last poll, which asked:

Do you believe elected politicians should be subject to term-limits?

Here’s how LDV readers voted:

Yes, they should: 121 (37%) of all votes
No, they shouldn’t: 201 (61%)
Don’t know: 9 (3%)
Total Votes: 331. Poll ran: 20th May-3rd June 2008

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It is an expensive to administer & totalitarian method of raising tax because the easier way has been seen through.

Tax on petrol has very much the same effects – it costs more the more you drive, costs go way up when adding to congestion because you are in a traffic jam & gas guzzlers use more of it. Increasing petrol tax to achieve the same amount of revenue would cost very much less to administer & would not involve a vast number of recorders being installed everywhere to watch where people are driving.

On the other hand an ID card system on wheels may be the point.

by Neil Craig on June 7, 2008 at 3:22 pm. Reply #

Living in a country where you have to really worry which roads you are driving on doesn’t seem like a liberal one. Has to be a more palatable way of achieving the same result.

by Mund on June 7, 2008 at 4:46 pm. Reply #

I may be being suspicious, but the balance of comments on the discussion thread on this subject were overwhelmingly hostile to the idea on sound liberal principles, so it seems quite possible that our opponents are voting ‘Yes’ in order to re-assure the leadership that the policy has support, in the knowledge that it is a colossal vote-loser for us.

by tony hill on June 7, 2008 at 6:30 pm. Reply #

I don’t think it will be popular and I dont think its necessarily right until public transport is much improved…where I live the bus service is a joke and i am only 15 mins from the town centre.

The impact on ever community has to be assessed and thought through and until the alternative is credible you cant simply try to bludgeon people out of cars. Also, has the impact of this in possible increased fares for buses and taxis been thought through…i voted no because it seems a bit half-baked to me.

by Darrell on June 7, 2008 at 8:57 pm. Reply #

There is a vast proportion of the car-owning public who are never going to use public transport no matter how cheap/convenient it is until petrol is in such short supply/expensive that they have no choice. Sure, we need to be developing policies for transport which look ahead to that time, which will inevitably come (and perhaps todays oil prices are a foretaste of that, though I first believed that in 1973), but to be proposing policies which seem to put even more pressure onto the motorist/haulier at the current time is political suicide.

Incidentally, I write as a car-hating non-driver.

by tony hill on June 7, 2008 at 9:18 pm. Reply #

Granted Tony (incidentally I dont hate cars but I also dont drive)…but why is that…because they feel only a car gives them the personal freedom they want and I have to be honest and say their are times im tempted….we need to be looking at policies which can enable people to have that freedom through other means…

by Darrell on June 7, 2008 at 9:27 pm. Reply #

We have to be realistic about this: there is nothing, and there can be nothing, that gives people the same freedom of mobility as having their own car sitting outside their house. There is a complex equation involving the cost of petrol, the cost and ease of parking, and journey time (degree of congestion), but the psychological freedom that having your own vehicle affords greatly outweighs rationally objective considerations.

by tony hill on June 7, 2008 at 9:57 pm. Reply #

If the poll had been entitled “Do you support the introduction of satellite surveillance of motor vehicles”, which is what road pricing is really all about, then I wonder if the figures would be so close?

Like Tony Hill, I am mightily suspicious of the people voting “YES” to satellite surveillance. Who actually wants this system introduced? Who is behind it? Who manipulated the Lib Dem policy-makers into recommending it? Well, they tend to live in country mansions in Virginia and penthouses on the Upper East Side.

Nick Clegg has to stop this madness and he needs to do it fast. Nothing short of an unequivocal repudiation of satellite surveillance and a reassertion of his libertarian credentials will stop this doing the Party massive damage.

To anti-car hair-shirters I ask the following question: how do I get to Worth Matravers by public transport?

by Sesenco on June 8, 2008 at 12:15 am. Reply #

Predictably, I agree with everyone else who has commented here. I think the numbers are being skewed by some non-Liberals who are laughing up their sleeves at us. There can’t be THAT many well-meaning blinkered idiots in the party, surely…?

Please tell me there aren’t that many well-meaning blinkered idiots in the party?

* tumbleweed rolls past *

* bell tolls in distance *

by Jennie on June 8, 2008 at 12:47 pm. Reply #

Well, not just to be contrary, I’m happy to argue for road-pricing on dual-carriageways and voted DK because I think it depends entirely on the practical solution.

I don’t think this is a matter of principle so I have no truck with the insults being slung across the divide. Therefore I also fully expect the split to be relatively even.

by Oranjepan on June 8, 2008 at 10:01 pm. Reply #

But surely the best argument for road pricing is in areas where physical constraints prevent road capacity being increased & therefore gridlock is a problem – ie inner cities, whereas dual carriageways/motorways not only can be expanded but carry more traffic faster than any other roads & usually at fewer mpg.

by Neil Craig on June 9, 2008 at 10:55 am. Reply #

Neil, if road pricing is designed as a universal congestion charge that’s fair enough, but the case is made to remove distortions in the transport costs of different modes of travel with the secondary impact this will have on the environment, pinch-points and the wider availability of choices.

by Oranjepan on June 9, 2008 at 12:12 pm. Reply #

Yes but I was saying the only possibly unfixable pinch point is in heavily urbanised areas where roads cannot be expanded.

by Neil Craig on June 9, 2008 at 12:48 pm. Reply #

Leaving aside the civil liberties arguments, how feasible and cost-effective is this going to be? Especially since a future Lib Dem government will most likely inherit a country without much cash to spare.

The government has a terrible track record on massive IT projects, and this is a massive IT project, requiring car modifications, satellites, transmitters and databases. Fuel duty is a triumph of simplicity in comparison.

by Anax on June 9, 2008 at 8:20 pm. Reply #

I agree with the comments about satellite surveillance but I don’t think our policy actually mentions what technology is used to achieve road pricing. I would suggest standard electronic tolls would be much simpler – that is a cash/credit/phone prepaid card/reader in the corner of the windscreen that is radio ‘debited’ by roadside gantry signs along the congested routes. As congested routes eg motorways are equipped with gantry signs already, and the technology is already in existence it would be a much more practical cheaper system.
Anonymity would be possible by buying passes / top ups for cash at the many shops doing cards for gas/electric/mobile phones.

Anyway – the whole idea is moot – by the time any system is introduced fuel prices will have motivated a lot of people to change their habits.
Better to put the money into Light rail, trams or taking govt. fleet vehicles to hybrids/electrics.

by simon croft on June 10, 2008 at 10:20 am. Reply #

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