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back to article Who wants a smart meter to track'n'tax your car? Hello, Israel

Israel is drafting a tender for smart meters to be mandated in every vehicle in the country, tracking drivers to allow for differential taxation, but only once the privacy issues have been resolved. The plan is to vary vehicle tax based on usage, so drivers who don't drive during peak times, or stay out of city centres, get …

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half a shekel for an old ex-leper?

All right. Two shekels, just two

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Not such a bad idea

I only ever use my vehicule to drive home on the weekends, during the week I use public transport. I would be more than pleased to learn that I would gain the advantage of not paying for what I don't use.

I definately agree that the more you use the roads, the more you should pay. I don't drive in and around town during rush hours and try to avoid driving at all where possible

( PS : I consider driving a very boring obligation that I would happily avoid completely if the public infrastructure permited it - although there are occasions when the car is the only possible means of transport -

vacation, sport etc.)

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Black Helicopters

Re: Not such a bad idea

weekend? ooooh peak rate that mate. So you'll end up paying the same. Other people who use the car during the week will find that that is peak rate too. with extra weekday congestion charge so they'll pay more.

you dont seriously think a scheme will come out where people end up paying less do you?

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Boffin

Re: Not such a bad idea

Most road taxation is levied via taxes on fuels, so you already have the ideal of paying per mile for usage.

GJC

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Re: Not such a bad idea

The major difference for me is that my fuel is not spent in traffic jams or only doing 3 mile journeys where the fuel combustion is extremely inefficient. For some people their damned engine doesn't even get the chance to heat up before they arrive at the office.

The price of a gallon is only one factor in the equation, think Chelsea Tractors.....

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Happy

Re: Not such a bad idea

It might, in Israel.

In the UK? hahahahahahahaha

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Devil

Re: Not such a bad idea

"The major difference for me is that my fuel is not spent in traffic jams or only doing 3 mile journeys where the fuel combustion is extremely inefficient"

And that's the beauty of fuel taxes. Proportional to consumption. So that shorter journeys that use more fuel pay more. Driving in congested conditions costs more than the open road. Agressive driving uses more fuel and pays more. Bigger vehicles pay more. And the meter's already there, and somebody else has paid for it - its on the fuel pump, with the revenue collection all done by the suppliers.

In urban conditions you'd be lucky to get a third of your open road consumption, so the limiting factor is that you've only got a three times multiplier built in. If that's not sufficient, then car mounted meters can go for much higher multiples, but then the purpose will become just like the London congestion charge, to free the roads of the poor, so that the rich can drive more easily (brought in of course by a certain weasel faced socialist, of course).

Why stick with something simple, robust and fairly egalitarian, when you could have costly, complicated, socially divisive and intrusive?

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Facepalm

Re: Not such a bad idea

While everything you say is right, I fear for what happens when/if electric cars are common enough to significantly hit the fuel tax take.

The nightmare scenario is that we end up with two types of electricity - road electricity, liable to duty, and the normal sort we have now.

I am imagining an indignant junior minister for transport (or the environment), with a much-furrowed brow, having the Permanent Under-secretary explain (yet again) exactly why electrons can't be dyed red.

"If it can be done for diesel in the tank, it can be done for electricity in the battery."

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Re: Not such a bad idea

"I definately agree that the more you use the roads, the more you should pay."

And amazingly we already have this. It's called "fuel duty". No need for a gross invasion of people's privacy, no need for a massive electronics network, no need to fit something-else-that-breaks to a vehicle. It's collected at point of use, and the more you use the more you pay. Simples.

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Re: Not such a bad idea - aren't you lucky

Where I live I am as near to work as I can afford. The city I work in (Cambridge) is a nasty congested hateful little place which has long wanted an excuse to create a charge for those stupid enough to need to drive into it for the purpose of working. Yet, it doesn't have public transport from near where I live to near where I work (near - as in 30 minutes walk). There used to be but it was shut down (the initial cut being by Beeching closing the railway, but more recently by the council stopping the bus route - claiming the alternative which involved 3 changes and 2.5 hours for a 20 mile trip was a practical alternative). The misguided bus goes in totally the wrong direction to be useful.

Any imposition of a pay as you drive type system results in me stopping work - I would have no alternative, none - I couldn't afford the extra on top of the extortionate fuel. I am afraid politicians and civil servants are clearly too stupid to work out the plausible alternatives to the problems they them selves have created....

a) Working from home - as companies are reluctant to allow this then force them to allow it. It is cheaper in terms of office space, more productive, more environmentally friendly and defeats traffic jams at a stroke.

b) Spread companies out - by force as this will be needed. Why is it that Cambridge has ALL the technology companies for a radius of at least 40 miles? ALL of them. NO other town in the area has ANY. Most of them are on the northern outskirts. The dual carriageway that gives access is a car park from 8 am to 10 am and the area exiting from them stops totally at 5 pm and stays stopped until around 6:30. Compared to some places this is relatively trivial, but if those companies were spread out - so some were north, south, east and west of the city, so that some were in the towns 15 and 30 miles away then much of the congestion would dissipate. This is a planning (or rather lack of planning) issue.

c) Provide public transport. People DO work in the next door county to where they live so sort out transport across county boundaries (one problem for Cambridge), put the railways back (rip the hateful misguided bus up - one driver per bus, 40 passengers per bus, 20 minutes between them.... a train could have 1 train every 5 minutes with one driver and 400+ passengers. Put back the railways out to towns like Mildenhall, improve the service to Newmarket and Bury St Eds, put a train station near the work places at the Science Park (so people don't hurtle past it to land at Cambridge station 3 miles away).

Adding more tax and more complex tax systems is NOT the best way to make progress. I know that the civil servants want to make the tax system more complex so they can grow their departments and get a pay rise but frankly if I were the guy in charge one of my first acts would be to shoot 50% of civil servants and sack 75% of the remainder.

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Boffin

Re: Not such a bad idea - aren't you lucky

"Provide public transport. ....Adding more tax and more complex tax systems is NOT the best way to make progress. "

So yes to more public transport, but no to more tax? I don't think that's going to work.

You'll find that the railways were removed because the costs outweighed the revenues, in large part because demand patterns were changing, and cars were becoming a cheaper and better alternative. In peak demand locations (big city commuting from large suburbs, on long-depreciated infrastructure) rail can just about pay its way, elsewhere it is usually subsidy dependent. Looking at rail franchises whose operations might be comparable to a reinstated rail network in your area (say East Midlands Trains) then we're talking about a subsidy of around 11p per passenger mile, although Northern Rail hoover up about 35p per passenger mile. Even on 11p per mile, the subsidy element alone would mean that on a ten mile rail commute you'd require a £440 a year subsidy from taxes over what you'd likely be paying in rail fares. And in the meanwhile, with governments incapable of reducing their spending, any foregone revenues from taxation on your car need to be made up by taxing something or someone else. By coincidence, the UK taxes on fuel equate to about £3.70 a gallon, and at 35 mpg on a similar distance, the exchequer will be a further £440 short. So all in, reinstating the railways to give you an easier drive to work would require somebody somewhere to pony up an extra £880 in respect of each person using this railway.

If you want more public transport then more tax is what you need to vote for. Personally I think that the simple solution is to build more roads, which can be constructed far quicker and at lower cost than railways.

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Meh

Re: Not such a bad idea

In Virginia (where the majority of the people who work in Washington D.C. live) they've already implemented a special $100 registration fine/fee for hybrids & electrics to offset the lack of fuel tax those drivers have to pay.

The road use thing is bullshit anyway. Family sized autos do little to no damage to the roads. It is large trucks that cause the vast majority of road wear/damage & they pay the same fuel tax as everyone else. It is not proportional usage at those weights & the commuter who purchases a fuel efficient car is penalized but the 75' long bottomless pit of diesel consumption pays no extra with regards to the direct damage they cause.

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Trollface

@Ledswinger

That's fine for now. But how will we pay for the roads when we are all driving our 'lectric cars powered by windmills and solar panels?

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Holmes

Re: Not such a bad idea

Bearing in mind that the main reason for schemes like this has to be the long term reduction in traditional fossil based fuels being used (and so the tax revenue collected). Saying "fuel duty already does this" is missing the point.

This is a to replace duty lost when everyone is using battery powered electrical cars "refueled" via domestic electricity, for which they can't currently tax separately. I strongly suspect the push to fit all domestic supplies with smart meters is another possible way seen to solve this - your car will report the electricity used to charge it separately.

Of course a simpler solution would be to switch to using something like Hydrogen-powered cars. That way creation and supply of fuel, including duties could still be applied. That might explain why BBC's Top Gear was promoting hydrogen and deriding battery powered cars a couple of years ago.

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Re: @Ledswinger

"That's fine for now. But how will we pay for the roads when we are all driving our 'lectric cars powered by windmills and solar panels?"

At the moment there's no prospect that we will ever be all driving electric cars. The local distribution network couldn't support the charging demand beyond about one house in five having an electric car, and if you're reliant on renewables for your generation then the power is not produced when it is most convenient to charge EVs, nor even reliably at any given time or day.

However, lets leap forward and say there's a breakthrough and we do reach that scenario. In that case the sensible course of action is to hypothecate road taxes and spending once more (because there's no good reason to treat minimally polluting transport as a revenue source unless your objective is to suppress transport and economic activity). To recover £9bn, the easy way is to do that through the tax disc (although directly combine the road tax with the MOT to simplify collection, administration and enforcement). The flat rate would be proportional to the axle weight of the vehicle because that's what drives most road wear and tear (well, fourth power of axle weight actually, but lets not go there). That could cover all types of road vehicle equally, but in broad brush terms we'd be talking about £100 to tax a family car. That doesn't vary with driving patterns, but so what? Few people drive for fun, congestion is self limiting, and the users are still paying a fee proportional to road use through their fuel and maintenance. Simple to understand and implement, difficult to dodge.

That would avoid wasting around £10bn on tracking boxes, monitoring and billing. But it does mean government need to either trim £20bn of annual public-sector spending (fat chance), or raise a further £20bn through taxes on something else. They've strangled the golden goose of cigarettes, and are starting to do the same on booze. So that's more to be raised through income tax.

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Re: Not such a bad idea - aren't you lucky

I used to live in Cambridge and work in Science Park many eons ago. Unless there has been any big change, I would hazard a guess that the reason for all of the above is that they want everyone to cycle. I certainly recall cyclists there didn't need to obey any rules or regulations and if there ever was an incident between cycle and motor vehicle it was never the cyclists fault even if they ran a red light, without any lights, etc.

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Re: Not such a bad idea

You made my point for me, which makes it a bit narcisstic to upvote you (but I may anyway).

"you already have the ideal" BTW - are you from Brizl or was it a typo?

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Re: Not such a bad idea

"why electrons can't be dyed red."

Because then they'd be positrons.

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Applause for the general approach, but it seems to me that many people would make a point of increasing their driving during the "normal driving evaluation" during the first six months, so as to enhance their rewards later on. Given how obvious this is, I suspect the Israelis have already figured out a counter to it.

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FAIL

We already have a system that you pay more the more you drive...

Its called fuel duty, and takes up 75-ish % of the cost of fuel. Not only that - you also pay tax on that tax in the form of VAT. (Write to your MP's and point it out - its makes them squirm.)

Quite frankly the idea of 'road tax' is one giant 'bend over, here it comes'.

We should not be paying any tax to own a car - there is far too much on fuel as it is - think its bad where you are, try fuelling up in remote areas...

Fail, because we are all being shafted.

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Trollface

Re: We already have a system that you pay more the more you drive...

Motoring taxes haven’t been ring-fenced to pay for roads since 1937 when the Road Fund and ‘road tax’ were abolished. The terms, however, have lingered and many people assume that the ‘road fund licence’ still exists and that ‘road tax’ pays for roads. So you don't pay any road tax, and might struggle to find a current driver who ever has. How many 92 year olds do you know that drive? What you pay is Vehicle Excise Duty, which is based on how polluting your car is.

Neither VED or taxes on fuel cover the cost of either building or maintaining roads. I'd be happy to see the money from both of these ringfenced so that they did only go towards it, as long as that was all that was spent on it, and nothing further from general taxation.

At the moment all drivers are heavily subsidised by those that don't own a car. Me more so than most, as I don't have to pay VED for my car.

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Facepalm

Re: We already have a system that you pay more the more you drive...

@Drem: The last figures I saw, the fuel duty and VED from lorries alone pays for all the road construction and maintenance in the UK. All the taxation on other motor vehicles goes elsewhere.

So no, car drivers are not being subsidised by other taxpayers. Much the opposite.

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Re: We already have a system that you pay more the more you drive...

"drivers are heavily subsidised"

Err, what? On the contrary, drivers subsidise the exchequer to the tune of some £20bn per year. Revenues from fuel duties and vehicle excise duty amount to £31.5bn; yet the government only spends £9.9bn on road maintenance. (2009 figures).

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Re: We already have a system that you pay more the more you drive...

"At the moment all drivers are heavily subsidised by those that don't own a car" I cry bullshit on that one.

Doesn't seem true - politician's always say fuel duty is going up because of the environment or congestion, never because the motorist simply isn't paying their way.

And after 5 seconds with Google I found this, http://cars.aol.co.uk/2011/12/16/angry-response-over-disproportionate-road-tax-spending/ which says in 2010 VED and fuel duty raised £33bn but total road spending was £9.4bn.

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Re: We already have a system that you pay more the more you drive...

Aaargh noooo....another one who has fallen for the PR version of taxation mathematics.

The Tax level on fuel is 300% so it's proportion of the Gross price is 75%

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Re: We already have a system that you pay more the more you drive...

"How many 92 year olds do you know that drive?"

The old lady whose car I crashed into last summer was 92.

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WTF?

Re: We already have a system that you pay more the more you drive...

if only roads were the only cost of motoring.

recent eu study suggested an average subsidy of £815 pa per person in the UK - a little over the EU average of 600.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/dec/25/car-pollution-noise-accidents-eu?INTCMP=SRCH

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Re: We already have a system that you pay more the more you drive...

But, but, but, but

If drivers weren't paying for all that mass transit, there would be even MORE cars on the road, so even though it isn't going to roads, drivers directly benefit from it.

/end sarc

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Stop

Road pricing. No thanks.

They call it 'Road Pricing' here, and every time it comes up people tell the government where they can stick it. The 1,800,000 signatures on the UK Gov petition site against it (the most any petition on there has ever had) says as much.

As said above, we already pay huge amounts of tax proportioned both to road use and fuel economy in the form of fuel duty. A massively expensive per-vehicle tracking system would either raise less money for the government or cost motorists far more and have attendant horrible privacy implications.

Everyone likes to imagine that road pricing would leave their commutes clear and/or save them money, which cannot be the case. It depends on pricing *someone* off the roads, and that someone is you.

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Windows

Brill!

Phone in sick, get an extra fiver! Luvvly Jubly...

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Go

Re: Brill!

Never mind the sickie, I'm working from home today :)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Brill!

"Phone in sick, get an extra fiver! Luvvly Jubly..."

And lose it again straight away paying the gas bill. Home working can be expensive. Employers like it because they don't pay for the heat and light.

For example on a week day your heating might be on for 2 hours in the morning and 5 in the evening, a total of 7 hours. If you work from home you can add another 8 to that. Anyone want a gas bill rise of 100%

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FAIL

Re: Brill!

That's incredibly oversimplified math & completely incorrect reasoning, unless you go to an office that normally has no one in it if you aren't there.

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Re: Brill!

Indeed. I run my company from home, and pay an average £400 in electricity per month alone (went up 200% since they put their new meters in - something they still deny is the cause (except paperwork makes it damn clear!!)).

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Automotive equivalent of Water Meters?

In the UK, when Water Companies wanted to introduce meters they struck a deal with the householder. You had the meter installed, the Water Company got good statistical data about water usage patterns for a family of X in size BUT they guaranteed you wouldn't pay more than your old water rates, but would pay less, if your usage showed that you should...

If the same was true for car metering, to get good data for how people really do drive their cars (no prosecutions for exceeding the speed limits for example?) and when this would inform future road (building) policy at the very least and if it was promised that you wouldn't pay more than your current road duty then people might be persuaded to try it.

Of course just like water meters (once it's in the house, the new owner of the house must be metered) new owners of a metered car once sold on, may be stuck with paying duty based on their meter whether they wanted it or not.

However, as others have said - if you drive lots of miles, inefficiently and/or with an inefficient vehicle - fuel duty is a big percentage of that fuel you're burning up not going anywhere...

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Unhappy

Re: Automotive equivalent of Water Meters?

Water meters are an excellent analogy. And that's because they haven't materially altered consumption, but they've put everybody's cost up.

So consumption has remained broadly static on a per capita basis for twenty years or so. But what meters have done is increased costs, because mechanical water meters are surprisingly expensive for what they are (say £50 a piece), particularly with the installation costs included (eg boundary boxes, sub-pavement meters, etc, which average around £250 a property), and they have a painfully short average service life of around seven years. Then you've got the costs or reading and metered billing (say fifteen quid a year). The newer electronic ones are battery powered and usually easier to install. But with very long life batteries (not mains powered) that will probably make the meter obsolete when the battery fails.

So, on clean water services the typical UK bill would be around £140 a year, the incremental cost of installing and reading a meter is around 25% of the costs, for no benefit. Water meter users will note that the measured water is also used to charge for sewerage services, but the costs of sewage treatment are largely dependant upon the biological oxygen demand, so using a water meter simply isn't justified in that way.

Water metering was a great conn, in which OFWAT (pressured by DEFRA, the Environment Agency and assorted half-wit NGOs) pushed for widespread water metering, at a gross cost to the UK of around £3 billion, for no useful benefit whatsoever. As ever, those responsible for this waste have never been held to account, nor have they learned from the complete lack of beneficial outcomes, so government can be expected to continue to force people to waste their money on daft ideas like road metering. In fact, they're doing it again, with the EU mandating "smart" meters for energy consumption for every household in the land. As these meters aren't at all smart, the precipitate roll out will offer few benefits, yet cost around £14bn.

And another way that road metering would be like water metering would be the change of incidence. Under the old rateable value system, if you had a bigger house you paid more. On a water meter you pay for what you use. So the rich typically saw a huge reduction in water bills, but the poor saw them rise, both because their metered bill (ignoring transitional arrangements) would be higher for even relatively modest families, but also because the "lost" revenue from the rich needed to be made up for, as the operational cost base of the industry remained the same, with extra costs from metering plus EU mandated improvements in water quality.

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I still don't get it

People need a job to live - if you are on the dole you are expected to take any job offer that's reasonable. Reasonable is (in Germany) a 2 hour drive morning and evening. Reasonable is any wage, if it's lesss than the dole, you get the difference from the jobcenter.

However - you still need to pay to get to your job. Even if that leaves you with less than the dole - which has been set up to be the minimum you need when sitting on your keister all day. No money to spare for proper work dress, transport, education, anything.

So wtf make getting to work even more expensive? Trains cost, cars cost, fuel costs - with most jobs, you have no say about where or when you work. That's why there is a rush hour. Not because every Tom, Dick and Harry spontaneously decide to cruise around at the same time, but because Tom, Dick and Harry all have to be at their desks at nine sharp.

So Tom, Dick and Harry must be punished for working? Or for taking a job where they have to travel? They should just up sticks and move next door to work? Where should they live? 8 to a room, spending half their wages on rent alone, paid to the company as the railroad workers in Victorian times did? What about families? Of course, Tom, Dick and Harry should not have families - families are a luxury for the upper crust. not the serfs.

Transport is a necessity these decades - not a luxury, so why should it be taxed as one?

I've just had (another) hefty salary increase and I still don't have as much money to spend as I did when I was a student working part time 10 years ago. My car is 15years old and on the verge of breaking down. It's a stinker so I pay big fat taxes on it. It's extremly fuel efficient - less than 4.5l of Diesel per 100km and every two months some home-working green bicycle driver in a major city politician demands Diesel tax to be raised because: look it is cheaper than regular. - Yes, you twit. Because it is more efficient and to punish me for driving an efficient car (please remember this is a 15 year old car) you have already raised vehice taxes by 200%.

Would I buy a new car? One that produces less emissions? What from? What I have left each month pays for rent and a minimum of food for the two of us. I've looked at cars. They'd all cost me a lot more in fuel each day, than I pay now. Ditch the car and take a bus? Oops - I'd have to take a bus to the station, take a train to the next city, take a train to the city I work in, take a bus to work. 2,5h morning and night instead of 50min. I work 9-10 hours so that'd leave me with a life consting of sleep - work - wolf down dinner (only meal of the day) - sleep.

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Re: I still don't get it@Promotor Fidei

"So Tom, Dick and Harry must be punished for working?"

Not at all. They must be harvested for working. That's what is going on. Government fully recognise that you have to work, and you have to travel. They need your money more than you do. So what better revenue raiser than a tax on such an essential activity as transport? At the margins some dodge their fair share by using subsidy dependant buses or trains, and a few by buying subsidy supported and barely taxed electric cars, but not enough to alter the bigger picture.

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Re: I still don't get it@Promotor Fidei

"They must be harvested for working"

Ooh - you caught them fibbing! Anybody with half a brain can see the lie in the gummint's claim that paying more tax somehow reduces pollution. They have road users by the cojones.

"Fuel price escalator" - tighten that grip at each budget (and we're meant to feel grateful for the times when they don't)

The big tax disc rip-off; my old VAG lump averaged 50mpg over a tankfull but that bit of paper cost £225, cos it's a diesel and therefore I have to be punished more.

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So what about if you drive into a different country

Does it notice you have left the country and not charge you for the distances you drive over there? I would be well pissed off to be taxed for driving in another country. Oh a bit like I am at the moment.......

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Facepalm

Re: So what about if you drive into a different country

So...basically you're worried about what happens when Israel reaches a full and final settlement with Palestine and Lebanon and Syria, and when relations with Egypt and Jordan are normalised, and when international road travel is so intensive that Israeli drivers' biggest concern is that they will get charged for when they pop across the border for a pint of hummus?

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It is Israel. They pay a fair bit more attention to their borders than Schengen Area governments.

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Anonymous Coward

road congestion

This is all just proof politicians have no real imagination concerning finding solutions. We have too many people using the roads, roads are congested, rail is congested, everything is congested. Their solution: taxes and more taxes!

The way of the world today is insane. We have millions of people travelling to work by car/bus/train to sit at a desk to use a computer connected to the rest of the world and then have them all travel back home again at night. Why not provide businesses with incentives to allow people to work from home and use their computers and internet access to do what they do at work?

I know not everyone works in an office or at a desk job, I am not talking about having everyone work from home, but even a 10% reduction might help the situation. But no, its easy to tax us. I can't believe we will still be doing this craziness in 50 years time!!

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Re: road congestion

Alternatively you could spend a squillion pounds on a high speed rail link to allow them to live in Birmingham and travel to London to sit at a computer

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Anonymous Coward

Re: road congestion

"This is all just proof politicians have no real imagination concerning finding solutions."

The difficulty with the only real solutions to these problems is that at the end of the day they all boil down to the following: knock it all down and start again.

If you look at places that have had such an opportunity forced upon them (Germany, Japan) their systems work really well, especially Japan. So be careful when complaining about politicians not having the imagination...

Oh, and large scale home working doesn't work either. All that heating and lighting to pay for... That can be very expensive for a national economy when it has to be imported...

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Devil

Re: Birmingham and travel to London

and exactly why would your typical Israeli citizen be commuting from Birmingham to London for a job?

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UK too

The Tories and Labour would cream their pants for a system like this. Never mind the further gouging of the motorist, they'd be able to award big, fat PFI contracts to their buddies and gain themselves some nice directorships.

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Avoid the rush hour, avoid higher rates.

What a great way to screw over the majority of people that have to work for a living.

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UK wanted this too

The Dept for Transport had plans for this published on their website for a while

"Road Pricing" was the name for it.

They ballparked that a GPS logger with cellular modem would cost on the order of £100 a pop for each vehicle. They also noted that their system should be compatible with a Europe-wide system, which is rather creepy.

They're still thinking about it, you can be sure.

http://www.dft.gov.uk/webtag/documents/expert/unit3.12c.php

Why do you think that Europe sponsored it's own GPS system? With better accuracy for high-density urban areas?

The thing is a total nightmare, both from a practicality and privacy standpoint.

Occam's Razor will now be applied.

- The stated aim of these systems are to "reduce congestion on key roads at peak times".

So you only need a system capable of charging to travel on these key roads, not one that can track every vehicle wherever it goes.

This kind of system already exists - it's called a toll road. We already have toll road systems that don't need a GPS tracker fitted in your car - the London Congestion Charge is such an example. ANPR works just fine.

Even if it didn't, you could make an RFID tag in the number plate a mandatory item to pass your MOT test. RFID tags cost less than a tenner, not more than £100, and only track when you drive on roads with a pickup loop. Pickup loops are cheaper than expanding cellular networks to cope with the log uploads of the 30M vehicles on British roads.

But they wouldn't even achieve the stated aim. Why? Because a traffic jam is already enough incentive not to drive on a certain road at a certain time. Traffic jams form because of inflexibility in working schedules and people living too far from their place of work (for whatever reason).

And why the hell do the government care about traffic jams anyway? Traffic jams cause less damage to roads than equivalent amounts of fast traffic. They don't care about the extra fuel burned because it makes them and their energy company cronies more money. They don't care about the lost productivity because they get their cut of your wages whether you are actually earning them or not.

So ; we have a system proposed to solve a problem, that won't actually solve it, and it's not a problem that they care about. Ergo, the system is designed to do something else, which is provide the ability to track the movements of every vehicle in the country, or to make a lot of money for some consultancy implementing it. Or both.

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Re: UK wanted this too

"Because a traffic jam is already enough incentive not to drive on a certain road at a certain time."

Agreed, where people have the flexibility to stagger their commuting hours.

I do recall Blair's statement justifying more taxation that "Doing nothing is not an option." As you rightly point out, doing nothing _is_ an option; just let drivers avoid the sticky times. It is not necessary to whack on more tax so that only the rich can afford to work.

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