The government's "Managed Motorway" re-badged road-pricing scheme seems to be taking on more shape, with reports indicating that technical elements of it will commence testing from 2010. The Telegraph says this morning that contracts are close to being signed for trials of "Spy in the Sky" car-tracking equipment and associated …
What the hell *is* it with this damn government?
If they spent their time doing something useful (like resigning, perhaps?) instead of assuming everyone's business it theirs, I might consider rethinking my retirement plans...
Ooh, radical thought: get rid of that estimated 10% of untaxed uninsured unlicensed cars and make space that way? Doesn't need continuous monitoring, just needs some MK1 eyeballs, an ANPRS, and some nous when it becomes apparent that the ne'er do well driving 'my' plates isn't me...
1) Dear government: *you* work for *me*.
2) what I spend, where I spend it, when I go there, who I go with, what I drive... it's none of your concern
3) Mind your own bloody business
Trains, trams and buses
The alternative to a car might be an integrated public transport system ? Maybe, you know, like I'm just throwing ideas about here.
Has anybody thought this through?
I didn't think so.
I don't see how toll lanes can work without building costly walls to separate them from the pleb's lanes: GPS systems simply aren't accurate enough to tell which lane a car is driving in, or is that the hidden excuse for even more CCTV on the roads? Adding a hard separator would require all motorways to be widened to 4 lanes as well as building the walls, so even more cost, because any design that has a single lane in either category will be violently unpopular and will come to a total halt at the first breakdown or crash.
Toll booths along the lines the French use have to be cheaper to install and run. They also have the advantage of not being able to track vehicles using the autoroute.
Road-building wouldn't help
Despite the recent rise in fuel prices, driving is still fantastically cheap compared with the main alternatives, which are getting a bus or train (where they exist) or moving house (and paying massive stamp duty). Congestion is basically the only thing that discourages people from driving. Therefore, you can't solve congestion by building more roads. The new roads would fill up almost immediately (and yet more CO2 would be produced). I'm sorry if this is blindingly obvious, but there are still people around who don't understood this.
Personally, I'd be happy if they just increased the tax on petrol. These high-tech "solutions" are just a way of enriching certain shareholders and New Labour cronies as the cost of running the system is bound to be as great as the money raised by it. At least the money raised through taxing fuel can be used to pay for schools and hospitals, or to allow other taxation to be reduced. I much prefer semi-voluntary taxes like fuel duty to compulsory and unavoidable taxes like VAT.
The least worst option...
... is to remove VED and put it on fuel. Then if you choose to drive a gas guzzler and/or at congested times, you use more fuel and pay more. The infrastructure is there already - filling stations, cost to collect no more than today for getting fuel duty from filling stations.
No big brother infrastructure required.
But that's too easy isn't it - and no opportunity for ex-ministers to get on the board - which is why they won't do it.
No need to worry - this is a British Government I.T. project, so they'll probably never complete it on time, within the budget or have anything remotely capable of doing whatever it was they were originally thinking of.
The Govt would do well to see the fiasco that happened in Germany with satellite-based HGV tolls. The system couldn't tell the difference between a lorry on the motorway and a lorry on a parallel "Bundes-strasse" (A-road). Meanwhile, the Austrians implemented a microwave (non-satellite) system that "just worked". We wait and see if .gov.uk will re-invent the wheel.
Is this the icon for peril-sensitive sunglasses?
"Unaffordable road building"
As one of the people who signed the No.10 petition against Road Pricing, I read Tony Blair's email (at the close of the petition) with interest.
IIRC, taking into account the price Mr Blair put on building a mile of new motorway (to illustrate how 'unaffordable' it would be), and the estimates in the press of how much full road pricing would cost to implement, Road Pricing would cost the same as DOUBLING the current motorway network.
Please don't tell me that RP would be the cheap option.
And anyway, I never quite understood how RP could be 'revenue neutral', AND cover the cost of its implementation, AND be suffeciently more expensive to deter road use; and how these mythical clear motorways will be any use to me if the reason they're clear is that I can't afford to drive on the bloody things.
/cue lots of "ZOMG evil cars, you should all ride a bicycle like me" comments
Its all about money....
This is driven by the two overriding objectives of this Government: Control and Money.
When almost 1/3 of the population derives ALL their money from the Government than the desire for more cash is inexhaustible.
Re: Road-building wouldn't help
Erm...yeah right, of course those people that don't currently have cars will automatically get them if there were more roads. That makes about as much sense as Labour. Plus are you seriously suggesting that moving house is an option if you want to go and see the parents ?!?!?!
Now I know we have to have balance here, but please, suggestions from the peanut gallery are thrown out at top rate by the government, but I thought we were above that here, alas.
Least worst, but impossible
Least Worst Option:- Toll Booths
This would only work if a) there are no exits to allow avoidnce, and b) that you have the acreage to build the approach and exit lanes. Neither of these can be met on most of the UK's roads. We just don't have the space to build the system.
I'm with AC above. Scrap Road Fund Tax and stick it on fuel. Double whammy of hitting the high-mileage, poor consumption drivers/cars at the same time. Prior to the last round of tinkering, it would have been trivial to have worked out a price/litre that wouldn't have penalised "Mr Average Driver" but would have saved the Gov a huge chunk of £££ by scrapping the department in Swansea that oversees the collection and enforcement of this tax.
Planning for an obselete future
Why are they assuming that oil is going to start to get cheap again some time soon? What evidence do they have that as many people are going to be able to afford to drive in the future as can afford to drive now? Who is writing these projections?
WHY THE HELL ARE THEY PRICING US OFF THE ROADS AND NOT OFFERING US ANY ALTERNATIVE?
Trains are ridiculously expensive, busses are whimsical in the extreme and expensive, the only people building any kind of cycle routes between different towns are a charity- they're doing a great job but they shouldn't have to. The government is doing nothing but taxing us through the nose for attending the only show in town. That really gets on my tits.
And the next step is...
"Papers Please, Citizen!"
So what happens when I take my bike on a track day? Do we really think the system will be clever enough to say "hang on that persons not on a road"? I doubt it. Instead such an event would be incurring more PAYG road tax (even though I'm not on a public road), and probably a significant amount of automatic fixed penalty points for all those moments that I'd be doing over 70mph.
I think should such a system be fitted to my vehicle, I may change career to a neodymium magnet delivery boy, with my cargo suspiciously close to the magic black box.
Anyway, fingers crossed the whole thing will fail, but sadly not before spending millions of tax payers money lining Crapita's pockets. I can't criticize govt. IT projects too much though, as they pay my bills.
It's a cop-out to avoid a ramped up public transport solution
What this government proposal will eventually end up doing, is to make driving as expensive as public transport, the complete opposite of what needs to be done.
What they need to do is to make public transport far cheaper than driving and that will require tax money, as it will have to be subsidised.
Unfortunately, a great deal of our tax money is being spent on a build-up to the future war with Iran as we continue to plow military funds into Afghanistan, a very good strategic position. (Considering Iraq is on the other side of Iran)
So lets hold mass demonstrations up and down the country demanding all our troops pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan and all the current military spend is used to make our lives at home better.
... alas, it'll never happen.
Re: Its all about money....
I seem to recall that the correct number is over 50% now as that point was reached a couple of years ago.
@Martin Gregorie : Adding a hard separator
There's a type of plastic bollard that clips into the cats-eyes, they use them for contra-flow systems.
It might just be a frightener of course, but cops have talked about the ability to spot the same numberplate turning up in two unfeasibly distant places at around about the same time. So when you go looking for a car similar to yours, make sure it's one that doesn't get used much....
@Justin: There's also ANPR gantries on the autobahns for the HGV (LKW) tolls, to check GPS accuracy and spot non-payers.
...get rid of road tax and increase fuel duty?
It's pay-as-you-go and encourages people to use more efficient cars, and also encourages people to use their cars less. And it's a lot cheaper and easier-to-manage than either this or an emissions tax.
But then we all know that what the government really wants is to track us wherever we go.
More New Labour Bollocks!
More Tax. Mare Surveillance. More Intrusion. More Control. More Labour Bollocks!
For those claiming that GPS isn't accurate enough to be able to determine which lane a vehicle is using.
Wasn't the recent deployment of our own European GPS system supposed to address this. It was heralded as being n-times more accurate thant he existing US owned system.
I thought it already presumed that UK gov was so supportive of the euro systems because it would support their road pricing proposals.
Pay As You Drive (PAYD)
I was involved in the commercial disaster know as PAYD. The technology can be made to work, the economics for one company trying to roll it out are insane. Still, it was interesting.
However, the government were and are still are interested. IBM retain much of the IP on this.
If the government legislate that new cars from, say, 2015 must contain the GPS and transmission equipment (was GPRS) then it will happen.
Otherwise, it won't. Toll booths (like in France, some of the US) aren't sustainable in the long term - what will happen will be Toll-Tag lanes which will be quick (but require online/direct debit agreement) and long queues for the rest of the public... who will therefore be pressured into getting a Toll-Tag.
The PAYD technology will allow the government to monitor traffic usage and patterns. Of course, they;ll also know the speed of the cars... one small step to automatic fines.
The databse will be with the client?
Who the hell is designing this POS
30 seconds after the first one is installed, and that system will be hacked.
That car will "officially" not be driven that year
Never use the client to hold the information for ANYTHING.
With apologies to The Eagles...
And we'll provide the grand design
What is yours and what is mine
'Cuz there is no more new frontier
We have got to make it here
We satisfied our endlees needs
And justified our bloody deeds
In the name of destiny
And in the name of Gord
By stopping the poor people from moving about there'll be no need to build separate lanes for government officials.
@ AC - The least worst option...
"[The least worst option] is to remove VED and put it on fuel. Then if you choose to drive a gas guzzler and/or at congested times, you use more fuel and pay more. The infrastructure is there already - filling stations, cost to collect no more than today for getting fuel duty from filling stations."
I strongly disagree with this, ultimately a lot of people agree, it's a reasonable theory (at first).
However I have no intention on pay road tax on my lawnmover, hedgetrimer, chainsaw, generator or even use of my car off road (private land). Why should my generator cost more to run just to fund the roads.
Not a good idea!
I don't agree with the war in Iraq, but the idea of pulling out now is even worse...
As for Afghanistan, that is a war that dose need fighting.
Why lump them together? Is it because you don't agree with war, or because you don't like "monye bein spent on dem derty foreners" ? :-)
Surely improving public transport is the fastest way to clearing congestion?
What I can't understand is how this will ease congestion. By spending millions on a system that is bound to have lots of problems, as well as the bureaucrats required to maintain the system and the large private sector companies charging extortionate fees for consultancy due to the cash being public money, we will end up in the same position, just with less money all round?!
How come countries with efficient and well-priced public transport systems don't have all the problems we seem to have with car congestion? People will still drive obviously, but at present there is no alternative - I can fly to Bordeaux and back and get a cab home for the same price as an always-delayed peak time return from Bristol to London. Ludicrous.
Bangs head on desk....
Ok here is the problem....
Road pricing, raised fuel taxes DON'T target the problem.
It is the school holidays, how many people are drivign well into work? Most of us?
Now when the schools come back, will it continue? No! Why not? becuase fat arsed, bone idle parent will drive the 500m to school, park on the double yellow lines and zig zags, stop for a natter and then carry on.
Dedicated school buses, enforced parking outside schools (£100 instant fine will do, £200 if they fat shites gob off) , well lit safe cycle routes, safe cycle parking. Then watch the traffic drop.
Re: Has anybody thought this through?
Also, if there's a fooking big wall between the routes, how do they deal with closing down for further widening? A jump ramp so you can get over to the free lane over the other side???
Re: Planning for an obselete future
The obsolete planning for the future they are doing is the day when we aren't using petrol-powered vehicles.
Where's the petrol tax going to come from now???
Regarding Trams, Bus, Trains
I currently drive to work everyday.
Car = 215£/mth (will only last for 24 months, own the car after that)
Fuel = 40£/wk
Time for journey = 45minutes
Train Pass = 250£/mth
Extra childminder hours = 20£/wk
Time for journey = 2hrs
No transportation on weekend (will cost extra)
Working it out I save money when driving as I can still get around on the weekends and it will take me a lot less time to get to and from work.
If the gov't is actually serious about trying to stop congestion, first put police on the road and give them the power to impound cars where people are driving illegally. If you are caught driving without a license/insurance/road tax then the car is impounded and will be sold at auction. If the car had belonged to a friend or relative they can get it back by filing charges of theft against the driver, as they did take the car under false pretenses. They only get the car back after the trial has completed.
Suspending the license of someone who is driving without a license is a joke.
Bringing in road charges only affects those that obey the law and punishes them as that is the easiest way for the gov't to do anything.
It is about time the gov't starts treating criminals like criminals and not the honest law abiding citizens.
Paris, well at the rate the current UK gov is going she will be cheaper to ride in a couple of years than your car.
I wonder will the taxpayer end-up paying for MP's when/if this system comes into play? Just another piece of straw ontop of their pile of shiny hay.
The government are such hypocrites. Like when big fat Prezza was in charge of transport and wailed at people to share cars and use more pubic transport (not a spelling error), whilst himself being driven around in 2 petrol-slurping cars, both stocked with ample supplies of pies.
And like smiley, smiley Tony Blair, who accepted a £1million employment deal after leaving office due to his 'intimate knowledge' of the Middle East. And his position of peace envoy to the Middle East!! Who dreamed that up, Monty Pthyon? With all the blood on his hands I really don't know how he can sleep at night.
In the future this government will be known as the Borg.... you will be assimilated...
Paris, because I like her tits.
Increase the price of petrol and remove Road Fund Licence (TAX).
As has been said, no need for expensive ANPRsystems on roads to check tax payers and the database already exists to tell if a car is insured/MOT'd - just nip round to the last known address and nick the fucker's.
As for how much to tax to put on a litre, back of fag packet time :
Average UK mileage : 12,000
Assumed average MPG : 35
Assumed average gallons required : 343 (rounded)
Assumed average litres needed : 1,544 (rounded)
Average Road Fund Licence £250
Increase required to cover average price : 16p per litre
Remove VAT (since we get it back anyway) : 13.8p
Thats some basic numbers and for those who know their mileage, you'd know if you were better/worse off instantly. Plus, there would be more savings due to no longer needing the same number of staff at the DVLA and consequently no longer needing the same number of buildings to house the DVLA. Those savings could be used to reduce the actual amount needed even more. Indeed, there would be savings on the lack of need for the secure printing needed for the RFL, the forms needed, the postage reminding people they need to pay etc etc etc.
GPS and DGPS
While a free-running GPS wouldn't have the accuracy to check lanes, they could put DGPS reference points alongside the motorway (which conveniently has has a determined path) - this would probably get you to the accuracy required.
I wonder how many of the "oh noes, spy in the car" commenters switch their mobiles off before driving? I certainly don't, I just rely on O2 not telling inspector knacker how fast my phone goes up the M1.
Andrew Marr's Britain from above program from last night showed a field being harvested by a combine that was entirely GPS run, with error of less than 1 inch (2.5 cm, one small piece of linguine) so the technology is available.
The GPS unit did cost £400,000 though.
@ Paul Hurst:
How much unleaded do you use in your chainsaw etc? I assume not enough that an increase of 1-3p per litre will make any real difference. However, either way we al know that the real reason for VED / congestion charging / fuel duty etc is to raise revenue. And the second reason is to offset those nasty carbons so it matters not how or in what you burn your petrol you still fall foul of the reasons to pay for it.
PUBLIC TRANSPORT !
I would rather use public transport but as you already know it would add hours onto my working day (an amazing 6 in my case).
We should have a better public transport system.
I'll get my coat now, I need to leave early to catch my bus, train, bus, bus, bus, walk.
...sorry Paul, but I don't really see your point.
The amount of petrol used by your lawnmower, chainsaw etc. will be minute compared to your car(s). You can't scupper a good idea for such a minority case.
And your point about offroad car use also. I suspect the vast majority of UK car owners generate more miles on public roads than private or off road. Once again, as Mr.Spock would say "the good of the many...etc.". The last time I drove "off road" was parking in a field for a car boot sale.
In all of these cases petrol driven appliances and off-road car use is still causing carbon emissions, which is part of the rationale behind road pricing.
So I have to disagree with you and would say that an increase in fuel taxes is the simplest, and most effective way to encourage less car use.
On the other hand, increasing fuel tax is also an inflationary move, so in the current economic climate I'm not sure the spineless Wimps of Wesminster would go for it.
Much better to chuck billions into a new IT Money Pit. Tossers.
head over to the linky, buy yourselves some mobile privacy now...
they also do other products that will deal with the mind reading/altering signals that those officials are trying to inflict on the masses.
mines the one(on the backseat) in the mobile RF-Dead Zone, that just passed you doing 150mph on the outside lane of the M4....
@ AC - The least worst option...
The problem with that is that the proposal also brings in the idea that going on bigger roads cost more where as you would use the same (or less) fuel for going on them.
@ Stu Reeves
The reason cycling isn't taking off is because you can't tax it, no fuel, no road wear (virtually), the ideal solution would be to have a propper public transport system, while they don't make waves just look at Toronto, works wonderfully well.
(Paul Hurst - that a handful of people use a tiny amount of fuel off-road is not sufficient reason to stop an otherwise simple and elegant scheme. Besides, have you never heard of red diesel?)
Taxing road fuel (and scrapping other forms of vehicle tax) is surely the best way to go. Fuel consumption /is/ pay-as-you-drive, and it's also strongly linked to emissions and congestion - so those who drive efficient cars and avoid wasting fuel sat in congestion by driving at efficient times of day/avoiding city centres etc will effectively be rewarded for doing so.
The money raised should of course be spent on good public transport systems. The only reason the London congestion charge works is because London has (on the whole) a decent public transport system. Both city-level transit systems (especially outside of the capital) and inter-city rail links need some serious investment if you're going to have the slightest hope of getting people out of their cars.
Quick addition: Cycle lanes should be at least as wide as a bike, as opposed to the 2ft-wide excuses for cycle lanes that you occasionally could find if looking closely at certain places around here.
Unless you've got a rather large engined lawnmower the change in price should be pretty negligable. In fact if they dropped the VAT completely and just stuck with VED-on-petrol charging and normal fuel duty (i.e. stuck to only charging us twice for the same thing) then you'd probably see a drop in cost. Alternatively they could drop the VAT on generators/chainsaws/lawnmowers etc to help cover the difference.
Or just go for an electric one- though I accept that's not always practical, it would be pretty suitable for most uses. It does save you from getting pissed off at the pull-start though!
I don't know about you, but I can't think of too many people who think "oh, petrol's up to [cost of a cheap pint] per litre. I'll not drive to work today". People have to get to work. And buying a house closer to work just isn't an option- I've recently managed to get a house about 6 miles away from work. Not too far, but this is a small city (and the bus service sucks). Closer to work it cost anywhere up to 3 times as much for a similar sized property. In places like London it's even worse.
Also, if you doubled the number of roads in the UK you'd not double the number of cars on the road, you'd pretty much halve the traffic density. This would mean that people would be stuck in traffic for far less time and decrease the effect that a lane- or even a whole road- being closed had.
More bloody fuel tax?
Tax won't achieve anything other than give the idiots who think they run the country more to squander on surveilling the population.
Interesting to note that only one comment suggests the obvious , to radically rebuild the Public Transport System. The first thing it needs is to be re-nationalised, something in the good? old days a `Labour´ government would have applauded. Only by nationalising it can enough resources be brought to bear to revamp the system as a whole, doing it piecemeal with dozens of separate contractors looking for the quick buck is unfeasable. We need a unified whole that allows for buses, trains, trams, underground, lightrailways et al to interrelate with each other on a national scale. We also need people who can run it, that is a little more difficult, finding staff who can work for a governmental organisation in an efficient and professional manner may be harder than redesigning the system in the first place. I have some experience of one or two of the bus and train operators and because of the tendering system currently in place, profits are mostly gained by corner cutting on maintence and wages, not the best way to get people interested in giving a good day's work.
Spiraling taxes and more ways of keeping tabs on the population is not going to improve either traffic or attitudes. Come on govuk try DOING something to really benefit everyone instead of always looking for the quick fix or Liberty taking.
@Regarding Trams, Bus, Trains
I am the opposite.
I do not own a car, i take the train to work and i use trains and buses at the weekend. I hire a car if i need one (i.e. weekend away or whatever).
I am happy to do this as for me it works out better... mainly as i commute to central london.
However, I grew up in the country and like many people not in the middle of towns, cars were the only way to get around.
We need cars and we need good public transport. If public transport is good then more of us will use it leaving room on the roads for people who do need or want to use their car.
... and lets not forget that simply wanting to use your car does not automatically make you evil, although soon car drivers will join us smokers that part of society its become acceptable to lynch.
@ Bryan B
Cloning is often used where the vehicles are completely different. One bloke with a vintage tractor that hardly ever goes on the road started getting bills from the congestion charging people. When he forced them to hand over photographic evidence* the vehicle with his registration number was an exec saloon. The idea in this case obviously being to use the plate of a vehicle that isn't used on the road much. Or possibly they just picked a group of letters and numbers they like the look of.
* Great isn't it. You'd think it was up to them to prove that you are guilty of driving in the congestion zone without paying, but it turns out that it's up to you to prove your innocence and in order to do that you have pay them to send you the photographic evidence. They didn't even have the intelegence to check the photograph against the DVLA database before they sent it out. "Is that really a 1947 Fordson tractor? Looks like a BMW 5 series to me!"
Overpopulation is the problem
The route problem of congestion is the same root problem of most environmental issues – overpopulation.
We’re cramming more people onto a tiny island – I’m not targeting immigration here - I’m talking about the human race as a whole and its desire to keep adding to the numbers.
No increase in population = no increase in congestion *
I’ve made the commitment to reduce my carbon footprint by not having kids. Though, I bloody hope the government doesn't think this is a good policy and start assisting us with this ‘decision’!!
* assuming all other factors such as cost of motoring remain the same.
Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and Road Pricing
I go to work. I have to pay tax. I use my car which I have to pay road tax for. I need diesel which I have to pay fuel duty. I go shopping and have to pay tax on my groceries. My phone, internet, cable TV, electricity and gas are all TAXED. I have to pay the council TAX.
And NOW the government is going to TAX me once again for using the roads....WHY?
To fund the war against ALL of the US of As enemies (before long it will be the UK and the US vs the Rest of the World).
As for the road pricing, someone mentioned 4 lanes on the motorways. I think that you meant 5 as you'll need a second hard shoulder for the paying people on their side of the wall.
BTW how will they get onto and off their little motorway?
They like tracking cars...
...with their numberplate recognition speed cameras and now with gps.
Next they will make it illegal not to have one in your car and claim it prevents terrorists, just like ID cards.
We are in the country that watches its citizens the most.
Mine's the one with the cycle helmet, till they stick tracking chips in us all.
Actually, the harvester cost £400k. The GPS guidance computer would have been a few thousand, but paltry compared to the price of the power-plant and control systems for the rest of the harvester.
With the accuracy now available, I'm sure it will not be too many growing seasons before we see the harvesters off on their own with the farmer sitting in his Land Rover keeping an eye via laptop. How's that for remote control toys?!
Road Pricing 2.0 is two years away
David Hicks leaving the country 1.0 is now one point five years away.
I've had enough of all this.