Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Road Pricing continues with the draft Local Transport Bill

Draft Road Pricing Bill

It has only been a few months since almost two million people signed the Downing Street E-Petition against the introduction of road pricing schemes. Despite this massive outcry, a draft Local Transport Bill which includes road pricing is being published and will be put before Parliament.

The Bill, if accepted, will allow ENGLISH councils to operate trial road pricing schemes, and ten local authorities have already shown an interest. What’s more, the possible introduction of a national toll road scheme is included in the draft Bill.

The government insists that if road pricing and toll roads are not introduced, then congestion could increase by 25% in the next decade. The Conservatives have pointed out, and quite correctly I might add, that this Bill will price the less well off in this country off the roads. Some will say that reducing the number of people on the roads is the whole point, but why should it be the less affluent that have to suffer? It wouldn’t be so bad if public transport was actually cheaper than the car.

Rather than subsidising public transport, or building more roads, or improving the ones we have, the government are once again going to use tax to force the public into submission. Back in the 80’s, in my home town of Barnsley, the Bus service was heavily subsidised. Would you be surprised if I told you that most of the buses were double-deckers, and that they were packed day and night? No I didn’t think you would be.

Peolple wouldn't be so angry if they thought for one moment that all revenue from these schemes would go back into the transport system. Martyn Williams, a transport campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said: "If the money isn't used to improve public transport and to provide alternatives people will just feel they're being taken for a ride.”

Too bloody right Martyn!

Please note that I have put the word ENGLISH in capitals for a good reason, can you guess what it is?
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