Anorak News | Going The Distance

Going The Distance

by | 6th, June 2005

‘ON the face of it, £1.30 to drive a mile in a city at rush hour sounds like a steep price to pay – until we look at the background and the details of the Government’s shiny new transport policy.

The dead badgers will slow you down

For starters, Londoners would be forgiven for jumping around in delight. “It’s a bargain,” they’ll scream. “Just over a quid to go a whole mile…in rush hour!” Cabbies unable to compete with the new knock-down rate will weep.

The other thing is that, as the Telegraph explains, this new scheme will not be an additional tax-raising measure, but could replace the fuel tax. Vehicle added tax might also be reduced.

And not all journeys will cost the maximum £1.34 – trips along deserted country roads will cost as little as 2p per mile, although rural types will like it pointed out that the road is empty because there are no local buses.

However, the Times says that the proposed legislation will be good for rural drivers, calculating that under the scheme driving along country lanes will cost around half of what it does today.

While road haulage firms lobby Government to have the M1 renamed the B3487, Tom Brake, the Liberal Democrats spokesman, says the move represents a way forward. “We see it as fair, says he. “It taxes car usage, not car ownership.”

And it does not end there. As the Times says on its front page (“New rail lines, runways and roads urged to beat gridlock”), the new tax should form part of an, er, integrated transport policy (ITP).

Apologies if you’ve heard the phrase ‘integrated transport policy’ before, perhaps back in 1997. Back then, we were told that in ten years’ time the roads would move freely and trains would simply move.

But don’t worry, this new ITP, the one championed by Rod Eddington, the outgoing chief executive of British Airways who’s been appointed to advise the Government on transport, won’t interfere with that old ITP, just augment it and bring it up to date.

In any case, as the Times’s leader says, Alistair Darling, the Transport Secretary, tells us his brave new road system will not be realised until after the feasibility studies have been conducted – they will take, er, ten years.

Until then, congestion will get steadily worse, the trains will certainly get no better – can they get any worse? – and drivers of black cabs will seek out traffic jams like a sales rep seeks out a rat run…’

Posted: 6th, June 2005 | In: Uncategorized Comment | TrackBack | Permalink