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back to article DfT rounds up Road-Pricing 2.0 contractors

The UK government's rebranded road-pricing scheme took another lurch forward this week, as the Department for Transport announced the companies which will build pilot technology. The Financial Times reports today that the DfT has named T-Systems (part of Deutsche Telekom), Trafficmaster, Sanef Tolling of France and US firm …

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Car tags etc

If people can create their own fake passports, ATM cards etc, they're certainly going to fake their car tag or whatever tracking device has to be fitted.

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Coat

A cynic might say.

It's hardly keeping the traffic moving to price all but those who can afford the tolls off the roads or condemn them to slow-moving "chav lanes" now really, is it?

I guess that this is all to keep the Old Labour stalwarts happy. The old Class war is dead, we bring you Class war 2.0.

Mine's the Bentley doing Warp 10 up the M6 toll with two fingers stuck out the window toward the six-lane Birmingham car park.

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NO!

Just "NO!". There already is an effective "use as you pay" charging system for roads, it's called fuel duty. It does not require vast arrays or Orwellian technology.

These proposals are so wrong on so many levels it is hard to know where to begin.

Nu Labour - a decade of forcing you to obey the machine.

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Something

Something must be done, yes, but it's not making a criminal out of millions of innocents and then keeping their data for 5 years 'just in case'.

How much extra mass transport could be built for the cost of this scheme ?

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Anonymous Coward

Asleep at the wheel

"Such libertarians might also admit, however, that something will have to be done to keep the traffic moving"

Car sharing: you could get people to share car, they could report all their details into a government database, when they travel and where to for what reason, their sexual preferences (to protect against rapists), income, a quick background criminality check, secret spooks report on them (do they have a camera? They're a terrorist!), facial biometrics, fingerprints, medical certificate proving non alcohol drinker, non drug taker, entitlement card, and proof of residency, insurance details, mobile phone numbers (2 prepay numbers = terrorist!) and Government issued punctuality performance report.

Other people could then be matched up in this database and share cars.

Naturally the police would need to know whose travelling in which cars, so a report would go to ACPO.

Oh and the car is only allowed to fill up with 100ml of petrol onboard.

Yours,

J Smith.

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Oh for...

Motorways will cost more, so the first thing you do is bang "avoid next three miles" in your SatNav and start clogging up some poor sod's local village high street and A roads looking for a cheaper route, lots of thundering lorries and white van man, 'cos both of those groups are always looking for way to reduce costs.

Let's not even get started on the dodgy companies who will spring up to "tweak" the little boxes to make the facts a little more pleasing the bill payer. I mean phones are locked when they come out of the factory and we all know what happens to most of them!

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Paris Hilton

typical lieing shitarse gov

So after being voted down on Road Pricing we now get; you guessed it Road Pricing.

Never let democracy get in the way of a good idea eh?

They don't need nomination forms. They need P45's.

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Linux

Road pricing, no problem

I have an issue with road pricing on the basis that the main reason our twats in gov't want it is to watch our every move just in case. If they are really trying to combat congestion start putting actual police on the roads to start nailing illegal drivers and those idiots who seem to think the road laws don't apply to them as they drive Mercs or Beamers.

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Fully thought out?

Often these things have "unexpected consequences" usually a lack of forethought.

So, have they considered that people determined enough to risk arrest for using stolen plates to avoid tickets/insurance/tolls will find a very simple solution to this system.

My bet is, as the motorway no longer offers the fastest high speed route smaller roads with shorter distance become more appealing and speeds on these roads will go up and with them the mortality rate.

Of course this will be countered by a speed camera on every road by 2000 and X and the PM will....

Mine's the one with a work visa and plane tickets to anywhere...

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Essential use vs. recreation.

The problem with a "demand redistribution" type scheme, of which variable road pricing would be an example, is that it implicitly assumes people are there during peak hours for the sheer hell of it. What you'd find if you actually asked people who drove regularly (as opposed to attempting a top-down planning exercise carried out mostly by people who spend most of their lives within London lounging about in the back of chauffeur-piloted Jags) is that the gridlock itself acts as a suitable deterrent... which would be why you tend to find the most problematic congestion at times when people simply have to travel; for example, I'd love to breeze into work at about 10-11 o'clock when all I'll encounter is a brace of vans, a bus or two and maybe an octagenarian bumping their way to the supermarket in a Micra on the way there, but my employer and clients certainly wouldn't be having any of that.

As a practical demonstration, observe what happened when fuel pump prices briefly touched their 122ppl/135ppl peak; bugger all difference to the everyday commuting drag, but the roads were deserted in the evenings - people didn't magically relocate their non-negotiable journeys, they cut out the optional ones so they could still pay for what travel they needed. This of course has an impact on out-of-town businesses, and particularly anything that relies significantly on tourism/passing trade for its income.

Public transport is a nice ideal but for a lot of people it's not feasible; also there's the problem that in the event a route does go somewhere useful, it's already overcrowded before you start thinking about shifting more people onto it from their private transport. Four years of Monopoly money mortgages and fiscal drag on stamp duty hasn't exactly helped, often pricing people out of living within walking or cycling distance of their workplaces.

The solution is reducing the journeys themselves; start seriously pushing home working, video conferencing and other flexible practices where possible, rather than trying to punish people for travel they can't really avoid. It's not feasible in every industry, but there are enough people who travel from a house with a desk, computer and a telephone to an office with a desk, computer and a telephone to make a worthwhile difference. Try getting command-and-control politicians to square that with equally command-and-control management types, though, and you'll find yourself getting about as far and as fast as you usually get trying to make your way past the "temporary" roadworks at 8:30am of a Monday morning...

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The sums don't add up

So how can it be more effective to pay for all those tags and readers, install them in roughly 32 million vehicles, install the readers across tens of thousands of miles of roads and then send out monthly bills, reminders and court summonses for non-payment, when all they have to do currently is send out a bunch of annual reminders and chase up those who don't pay?

Yes, something has to be done about traffic - but tax isn't the answer. First, it will encourage more people to try to cheat it, making it more expensive for the rest of us. Second, it will be hideously expensive to administer. Third, to avoid the usual howls that it's "just another way of raising taxes" they'll have to peg prices pretty close to existing tax costs, making it an utterly pointless exercise, financially as it won't raise any more money, it won't cover its costs and it won't deter people from using the roads as present.

What we need is a way of encouraging more public transport that's more efficient, more frequent and more comfortable so that fewer people want to use cars.

Simply increasing the cost of road use without providing any viable alternative will do absolutely nothing positive whatsoever.

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Anonymous Coward

There is another way

and that's to spread the times people need to travel. We have core hours ie you need to in work between 1000 and 1600 and you need to work 37.5 hours a week. So you can start at 0730 and end at 1600 or start at 1000 and end at 1830 or combinations in between. Employee gets some flexibility, employer gets cover over core period and often extended cover from 0730 to 1830 without needing to pay overtime.

Now extend that to schools and colleges

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Anonymous Coward

and road building is also ineffective

> a huge expensive road-building programme, even if it could gain consent, is looking more and more unaffordable

Not to mention completely ineffective. It's been established long ago that new roads generate traffic, because they release supressed demand. viz Newbury, whose traffic levels are what they were pre-bypass2. The only real solution is proper investment in alternatives and vastly improving planning policies to stop developments where the car is the only realistic option.

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No money for roads?

You're having a laugh?

There's money for war, for games, for police, for a billion and one useless council employees, for more surveillance (and more council employees to run it), but there's no money for roads.

Right.

And yes, to agree with others, there's already a very effective pay as you use road tax - it's called fuel duty, and it even magically takes efficiency and environmental concerns into account by costing bigger users more money.

What the government should be doing, if they have any real intention of being any help to anyone and effecting any change at all, is taking the money they're using for this (and all the other things I mentioned) and investing it in public transport infrastructure.

Fat chance, when we can just watch and tax the citizens a bit more though eh?

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Stop

congestion...

if they wanted to reduce congestion, to save the planet, they would gove companies tax breaks to allow people to work from home, not the plebs cuz if the company gains little they say no.

this is about money, just like everything else. but not money from us to the guv, this is about money from the guv to the companies the guv want to end up on the board of.

pork anyone?

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No money for roads?

Well... we're taxed like crazy for using them so just where exactly is all this money going?

Bring on the revolution.

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Just you wait

They'll introduce some system like trading carbon credits for cars... i.e. more credits per mile in peak period in congestion zones. You get a set number of credits for your £200 road tax. You can buy more, if you don't use them, you can trade them. Make it as complicated as possible so the project fails and no one has any idea how much tax has increased overall...

The real alternative is to fix public transport, to incentivise companies to hire local staff and to make public transport to work tax deductible (standard class only). Alas, this will cost money and unfortunately the UK sold it's reserves of Gold when they were at an all time low (compared to a high a short while ago) - well done Gordon.

Norwich Union have great experience of standard road pricing from their Pay As You Drive fiasco, including tamper prevention of the GPRS devices used in the cars. Surprised not to see IBM on the vendor list...

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Fuel pricing won't work

Whilst the idea of fuel pricing is attractive to control vehicle journeys the reality is the biggest fuel users are essential such as delivery lorries/ buses/taxi's etc. So it will just raise everyday prices for everyone.

Also note what happened when diesil hit 1.30/litre. Theft went through the roof around here.

So to reduce congestion make public transport attractive with joined up thinking. Buses that meet up with trains . Bus/ train routes that are affordable to use. For me to go to Leeds and back from Wolverhampton costs £45 about the same as the diesil in a car. For 4 of us to go to leeds costs 4 times as much by train but the same by car.

Work from home more. That will be the best solution but this means company management accepting differing work practices.

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Paris Hilton

ARGH!

here we go again. yet another attempt by the government to squeeze more money out of us. I'm SO angry and depressed that we let them get away with it. Implement road pricing and we'll still have to pay road tax (wasn't that supposed to be a temporary tax to allow the then government to rebuild damaged roads after the war?) and fuel duty 2.0* will rise inexporably and those that really have to rely on a car will find that they can't afford to run it but they can't stay at home because they'll be in fuel poverty and unable to have gas or electric. If you've got lots of money (from your city bonuses etc) then vote Labour - they're gonna make damned sure you get to keep more of it cos you're more likely to give them a non-exectutive directorship once they've drained as much money from the people as they can get away with and then need a proper job to support the extravagant ex-MP lifestyle. Then I make the big mistake of watching Newsnight and some pompous ass politician (none of them ever give a simple straight answer and insist on trying to shove a mini-party political broadcast in to each one - twats) goes on about how he's behind Gordon and how fabulous everything is - arselicking beyond belief to make sure he keeps his job or gets a ministerialship given that some of them are now realising what the term "shit hits the fan" means. they're in it to line their own pockets and I wouldn't be surprised if someone in the government isn't on the board of at least one of these companies - or there's gonna be a sweetener somewhere. Vive la revolution. Or if not, lets hope and pray that we have something better to vote for at the next General Election - not that I hold out much hope on that, they're all as bad as each other in that place. Huge pay rises to rival the CEOs, expenses that are unbelievable, bribes - no sorry, wrong word, assistance from various companies looking to "lobby" for a positive spin on something they want... oh I'm off to slit my wrists before I cheer myself up.

Paris? Cos even she could do a better job than this bunch of moronic, bloated, egotistical, self obsessed, arselicking, smug bastards.

J.

* 2.0 because it used to be a tax and now it's a green environmental incentive

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Alert

Electronic Tags Won't help.

People who take part in trials are volunteers, real people cheat. Electronic tags will be even easier to steal or clone than number plates. If somebody steals your number plate from your car its glaringly obvious to a Mk.1 eyeball that its missing. If an electronic tag goes its absence might not even be noticed until the police pull you up for not having one or you get a massive fine through the post.

They could also be sabotaged and the damage passed off as accidental - its difficult to get around for very long without someone noticing an 'accidently' damaged or missing number plate.

Police won't be much better off. Money will have to be found for reading technology to be issues to them. They already have eyeballs and can handle normal number plates just fine.

Another commenter mentioned the problem of fitting 32 million plus cars, many of whose owners won't really want the thing. They are quite right except the actual number is more like 50 million, then there are foreign motorists and with channel tunnel etc there are more foreign vehicles on our roads than most realise. On the other hand they all have number plates and the ANPR systems can read all of them - including foreign ones.

Cloning and number plate theft can be controlled. For a start the Police have around 90 years experience of doing so and legislation in place. The only major change needed would to change the registration on any car whose plates were stolen immediately. That way any vehicle showing up on the ANPR network with those plates would have to be a clone and could quickly be rounded up by the Police. At present any enforcement involves having both cars with the plate and the Police having to check any sightings to establish which is the genuine vehicle.

I suggest anyone who loses a number plate or even suspects one has been stolen reports it right away. It could be very helpful when the speeding tickets, congestion charges & parking fines start rolling in...

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