Sparing partner and mythmaker Peter Roberts the heroic author of the 2007 1.81M signature Downing street petition that brought the UK National Road Pricing program to it knees remains the most influential congestion pricing thought-leader in the UK. Far outranking Mayor Livingstone whose legacy congestion pricing zone has lost over half of its efficacy, Mr Roberts still leads a crusade against everything that is not inside an automobile.
In 2003 many predicted that the UK would have National Road Pricing by 2014. Today, I predict that in 2034 the UK and the Congo will be the only two countries on the Earth left with free roads. They’ll be full of stopped cars, but they’ll be free.
Favorite new Robertian road myth: "It is madness to suggest that by building a new road we are causing a problem rather than solving one."
Here is the article just in case someone saves Britain and burns the original. What a mess.
Congestion Charging Makes Crash Gordon Look PopularHow can a country-full of professional transportation people be so wrong in the face of such clear understanding and moral outrage? Road pricing! My word!
Beleagured Prime Minister Gordon Brown has only collected 60,000 signatures on the 10 Downing St. Petition asking him to resign - compared with the 1.8 million who signed against Road Pricing in 2007.
"It may provide a crumb of comfort to Gordon Brown that road pricing is 36 times more unpopular than his premiership", said the ABD's* Nigel Humphries. "But it's a disaster for his team of transport advisers, who appear to be wedded to the concept in the face of unparalleled public hostility."
*Association of British Drivers
Although plans for a national road pricing scheme were put on the back burner following the petition, the government has been twisting the arm of local authorities by offering transport investment in exchange for city based charging schemes.
In Manchester, voters in the 2008 referendum were told there was "no plan B" for transport investment should they reject road pricing plans for the city. Reject them they did, by an overwhelming majority, and within a few months an alternative transport plan has been produced, providing £1.4bn for the tram extension which was supposed to be impossible without road pricing.
In Cambridge, the latest city to pick up the poison chalice, the ABD has slated plans for a congestion charge on the grounds that traffic levels in the city are already in freefall - just as they were in Manchester and in most other British cities.
"When will they get the message that road pricing is not wanted?" said ABD Chairman Brian Gregory. "It's an unfair, regressive tax on necessary car journeys, it harms local businesses and it works against urban renewal programmes by encouraging people to live, work and shop away from city centres."
Road pricing is not necessary, nor is it financially viable - it is part of a political policy designed to penalise drivers and force them off the road, one step at a time. Leader of Birmingham City Council, Mike Whitby, described congestion charging on essential car journeys as 'morally corrupt' at the 2009 Birmingham Transport Summit. Thankfully, the concept is dead and buried in the West Midlands. Surely it is time to abandon it nationally and get back to building a competitive infrastructure for the UK?
One is used to hearing, every time a government increases or adds a tax, cries of gouging and grabbing. But note in the video at the Manchester link above that the politicians came up with part of a new transport package by taxing everyone instead of just motorists. A tax was still raised, albiet smaller and a transport plan was still proposed, though less grand. But this is seen by the congestion-worshippers as a victory, as capitulation, as proof that the politicians "had the money after all". I'm not especially a fan of politicians, but if I was forced to be one, I would not choose to be one in the UK.