• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Pay as you drive: Is this the price of getting our roads moving?

Extracts from this document...


Externalities and Market Failure Pay as you drive: Is this the price of getting our roads moving? An influential proposal to charge drivers according to the amount of time they spend behind the wheel and the number of traffic jams they endure will land on the desk of the Prime Minister this morning. It is the most radical idea proposed for Britain's roads and will present Tony Blair with a political headache every bit as intense as that inflicted by the state of the railways. The report is the work of the Commission for Integrated Transport, chaired by David Begg, a former Edinburgh councillor. It states something that many in politics and transport have known for years, but have been too frightened to admit:roads need "congestion charging" to stop people from using them as though they were an unlimited resource. Making the proposals work would require the fitting of a "transceiver" system to every car, linked to a smartcard with a unique ID that could be tracked by satellites. These would record where a car was and send a bill to the owner according to the type of road and the time. For example, rush hour in London could cost 45 pence per mile; motorways an average of 3.5p per mile; rural roads at peak times 1p per mile, and at quiet times nothing. ...read more.


As [the commission] itself acknowledges, it is an issue for the longer term beyond the Government's 10-year plan for transport." But the Government urgently needs solutions to congestion. On coming to power in 1997, Labour's deputy leader, John Prescott, was eager to be judged on a pledge to reduce the number of road journeys by the time the next election came. He failed. In fact, the only thing that cut the number of road journeys, in the short term, was the 2000 fuel blockades. The pledge was dropped. The first politician to struggle with road pricing will be Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, who plans to introduce a �5 daily charge for vehicles to enter a central zone in the capital. Although the plans were announced in his manifesto, they have been held up by technical issues and the political problem of introducing such unpopular charges. Professor Begg, however, approaches the issue not as a politician but as a pragmatic economist. He knows the ideas will not be popular. "I will not be surprised or upset if ministers distance themselves from this because politically it could give them a headache," he said. Professor Andrew Oswald, an economist at Warwick University, says charging is long overdue and would not hit the poor. ...read more.


The details are forwarded to a computer which sends you a bill. Cars without smartcards will be detected by positioning "auto-enquiry" points along or over the roadside. If no signal is detected from the car, its number plate will be recorded. But there are still dozens of hidden technical difficulties. The first is logistical: how to deal with millions of movements and detect gaps in the system caused by fraud orerrors such as people with old cars or tourists. The Commission for Integrated Transport says the charges will be based on historical traffic patterns, and will aim to smooth the flows that lead to rush-hour snarl-ups, school-run delays and bottlenecks. But what happens if a driver who intended to avoid the rush hour by leaving early finds himself caught in congestion caused by a crash or roadworks? Even if the difference in cost is tiny perhaps a few pence it will cause resentment. Then there are the privacy issues: Will we feel comfortable with the idea that the data about our whereabouts is being collected by the government? In the end, the awesome logistics rather than privacy concerns will probably delay the widespread introduction of such systems, because while governments can and do ride roughshod over political objections, none has managed to repeal Murphy's Law: what can go wrong, will. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Human Geography section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Human Geography essays

  1. It was a selfish idea to build the long groyne at hengistbury head

    A 'Gabion Revetment' has been built at HH as well as the groynes at HH in order to protect its weakest point on its eastern end. Even though it is not too attractive, it is effective in that it protects HH from becoming an island!

  2. The Philippines and the struggle for democracy

    Corruption and political culture plague the advancement of true democracy. The old structure of government, since its independence, still affects the current structure. Authoritarianism, whether represented by the current president or not, still resounds in the minds of the Filipino people and the political culture.

  1. Overstrand report

    Also they are not environmentally friendly, gets litter stuck in it. Gabions have the advantage of ease of use and are relatively cheap but their life span is short as they can rust easily. Where longshore drift is a serious problem and the supply of beach material is poor, it

  2. To what extend has the Congestion Charge in London been successful?

    These are called Negative Externalities. This has resulted in a general loss of amenity for Londoners in terms of quality of life on the streets. (www.statistics.gov.uk) "In many cases it is very difficult to be specific about the extent of these costs but estimates can be made.

  1. Transport problems - Pricing Road use for Greater Responsibility, Efficiency and Sustainability in cities. ...

    The overall possible levels of an integrated urban pricing scheme (i.e. including on street parking strategies and P&R facilities) will be analysed, integrating the capabilities of both the key actors in mobility (the Municipality Mobility Agency STA and the public transport ATAC/COTRAL): possible service alternatives (in terms of frequency, vehicle type, number of stops, ticket costs, etc.)

  2. Urban Transport in Wigan

    To see how Wigan manages its traffic Wigan can cope with the amount of traffic using it's centre (true/false) 3. To see what people think about Wigan's traffic problems Most people in Wigan think that Wigan has a traffic problem (true/false)

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work