Monday, 1 March 2010

Car Lobby Vs Greens Whitchurch Bridge Tolls and beyond

Alok Sharma, the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Reading West, expressed disappointment at the decision by the Whitchurch Bridge Company to increase the Bridge Card Toll price from 13.89 pence to 20 pence from Monday 1st March on top of the 100% increase in the standard cost of a single crossing.

Labour MP Martin Salter has similarly opposed car drivers paying towards the cost, he went there with film crews from ITV and BBC. As has John Howell Tory MP for Henley

The Whitchurch Bridge Company implemented the current Tolls on Monday 26th October 2009, some 4 months later than it had planned for, as they had a public enquiry. They say this delay in implementing the new Tolls cost the Company about £60,000 in lost revenue. In addition, the Public Inquiry itself cost the Company about £40,000, so the Company has a shortfall of about £100,000 in the current year.
The Company has decided it has no option but to raise the Bridge Card Toll to 20p in 2010. This increase will enable the Company to recoup about £60,000 of the £100,000 shortfall by 2013, so they can afford to keep having a bridge here. Its one of the few examples of car users having to pay for their car use, usually its the rest of us paying, even people who don't have a car.

There is a considerable benefit to using a card for the toll, in cash the toll is 40p for a car, if over 3.5 tonnes mgw, up to 7.5 tonnes its £3.

Update; Clearly the rise is above inflation, but then bus fares have risen far above inflation, where is the outcry for that. Public spending should go on transport for those who can't afford cars, such as buses, trains, cycle paths and improved pedestrian facilities.
Spending millions on crash barriers when there are other ways of improving safety is a similar case; Greener safer A329(M), reduce the speed limit

The cost of motoring has fallen while the cost of public transport has risen since Labour came to power. Official figures show that the cost of motoring has fallen by 13 per cent in real terms since 1997, while bus and coach fares have increased by 17 per cent above inflation. Rail fares have risen by 7 per cent extra above inflation. This is despite the Government's pledge of cutting carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2020.

Drivers often feel that they have been unfairly targeted by the Treasury, with the duty on petrol having increased dramatically since 1997. But the rises in the costs of running a car have been more than offset by the falling cost of buying and maintaining a car in real terms. For example, a Ford Fiesta cost £9,165 when Labour came to power. Consumers can buy a similar model 12 years later for £9,995, making it much cheaper once inflation is factored in. The cost of maintenance has also fallen sharply as cars have become more reliable.

So while the car lobby often complain about rising costs of motoring; its those who don't use a car that have been hit hardest, and this includes the poorest people. Meanwhile the public transport services continue to get worse as does car congestion. You would think politicians from the big parties would have put this information together by now, if they cared to they could have.

Two sides to every story on the future of transport

1 RAC FOUNDATION: New road capacity does not simply fill up with traffic. Additional traffic may occur on new routes as less suitable roads are relieved of congestion.

GREEN PARTY: New road capacity has been shown to generate an average of one-fifth more traffic, greatly increasing climate-changing emissions. New roads lead to new journeys being taken on them.

2 RAC: Building roads will not have a significant effect on climate change, so long as wider policy measures are also introduced. Road building on its own can slightly increase carbon dioxide emissions, but it could also reduce emissions by up to 10 per cent if introduced alongside road-pricing.

GREEN: Relying on the car and pricing public transport out of the market is exactly what underlies our current worsening emissions. Of the 19 road-building projects currently planned by the Scottish Government, just one shows any carbon reduction.

3 RAC: Traffic pollution is not getting worse. Vehicle technology has reduced traffic pollution significantly.

GREEN: The most recent figures show that in 2004-5, Scotland's road transport emissions of increased by 70,000 tonnes.

4 RAC: Roads do not occupy large areas of land – they cover less than 2 per cent of the surface of Britain.

GREEN: Land for roads, such as the proposed Aberdeen bypass, is often the most beautiful and ecologically sensitive.

5 RAC: The UK is not unusual in Europe in relying on roads and has the lowest level of motorways and main roads relative to its population.

GREEN: This is spurious and ignores so many other factors, notably the higher costs of public transport in the UK.

6 RAC: Building roads will benefit low-income groups, as all income groups rely on roads for more than 92 per cent of their travel.

GREEN: Most of the poorest in society live in households without access to a car. Britain has historically had the lowest investment in public transport, leading to its excessive cost and limited services.

7 RAC: The construction industry can accommodate a substantial increase in road building.

GREEN: The construction industry would no doubt deliver any level of road-building required.

8 RAC: Roads are efficient users of space in comparison with the railways. Roads carry almost five times more passenger traffic than railways and take up only 50 per cent more land.

GREEN: Roads are more heavily used because the total cost of motoring continues to fall, despite changes to oil prices. Driving generates about three times as much per passenger mile as trains.

9 RAC: Public transport is not a ready alternative to the private car. Railways serve very distinct markets and have little room for additional passengers. Bus services cover less than 23 per cent of the road network.

GREEN: In a compact country like Britain, high-quality public transport is easily deliverable, if there (is] the political will.

10 RAC: Road traffic does pay its way. Even if road users were put in a unique position of needing to pay all of their external costs, such as pollution, congestion and for accidents, current charges are too high.

GREEN: When the effects of pollution are factored in, as they should be, these taxes cover less than half of the overall costs imposed on society.

11 RAC: Building new roads is not too costly. In many cases, the benefits of road development have vastly outweighed its costs.

GREEN: The costs of developing new roads are enormous. The Scottish Government is about to spend £6 billion on unnecessary roads.

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