Monday, January 29, 2007


Congestion Charging

Lot's of people have been talking about congeston charge plans in Manchester in recent days. I always like to be first with the pressing issues, so here are my brief comments, only a week after everyone else made their's...

My view is that there should never be road charging on commuter routes. I think it's a regressive tax that penalises poor people trying to get to work.

Improve public transport, sure. But I think it's illiberal to effectively force people to use it. And what recourse do users have if things go wrong, since it's run by private companies?

If we must have road charging, I'd love to see a link between the DVLA database and the Inland Revenue database to ensure a road-charge based on income, the emissions of the car, and the number of adults in the car. I think that would be fairer.

But that's never gonna happen. And as a result, I quite like what the Manchester Lib Dems have suggested. The Council group on Manchester City Council have suggested five key tests on which to judge the merits of congestion charging. These are:

1) The plans cannot put Manchester jobs at risk or the city at a competitive disadvantage to the rest of the region.
2) The plans need to be effective at reducing congestion where there is currently a problem.
3) The plans cannot start until there are improvements in public transport. That means Metrolink "Big Bang" finished and other transport powers like re-regulation of the buses.
4) Any money raised from the charge needs to be spent locally.
5) The plans need to be simple, transparent and easy to understand.

I would add some more to point 3), namely that Metrolink needs to be cleaner, more reliable, safer and cheaper than it is now.

But other than that, I think that's a very sensible stance to take at the moment on this issue for Manchester.

As ever I welcome the thoughts of anyone who wants to give them.


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