back to article Road Pricing 2.0 is two years away

The government's "Managed Motorway" re-badged road-pricing scheme seems to be taking on more shape, with reports indicating that technical elements of it will commence testing from 2010. The Telegraph says this morning that contracts are close to being signed for trials of "Spy in the Sky" car-tracking equipment and associated …


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  1. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    What the hell *is* it with this damn government?

    If they spent their time doing something useful (like resigning, perhaps?) instead of assuming everyone's business it theirs, I might consider rethinking my retirement plans...

    Ooh, radical thought: get rid of that estimated 10% of untaxed uninsured unlicensed cars and make space that way? Doesn't need continuous monitoring, just needs some MK1 eyeballs, an ANPRS, and some nous when it becomes apparent that the ne'er do well driving 'my' plates isn't me...

    1) Dear government: *you* work for *me*.

    2) what I spend, where I spend it, when I go there, who I go with, what I drive... it's none of your concern

    3) Mind your own bloody business

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Trains, trams and buses

    The alternative to a car might be an integrated public transport system ? Maybe, you know, like I'm just throwing ideas about here.

  3. Martin Gregorie

    Has anybody thought this through?

    I didn't think so.

    I don't see how toll lanes can work without building costly walls to separate them from the pleb's lanes: GPS systems simply aren't accurate enough to tell which lane a car is driving in, or is that the hidden excuse for even more CCTV on the roads? Adding a hard separator would require all motorways to be widened to 4 lanes as well as building the walls, so even more cost, because any design that has a single lane in either category will be violently unpopular and will come to a total halt at the first breakdown or crash.

    Toll booths along the lines the French use have to be cheaper to install and run. They also have the advantage of not being able to track vehicles using the autoroute.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Road-building wouldn't help

    Despite the recent rise in fuel prices, driving is still fantastically cheap compared with the main alternatives, which are getting a bus or train (where they exist) or moving house (and paying massive stamp duty). Congestion is basically the only thing that discourages people from driving. Therefore, you can't solve congestion by building more roads. The new roads would fill up almost immediately (and yet more CO2 would be produced). I'm sorry if this is blindingly obvious, but there are still people around who don't understood this.

    Personally, I'd be happy if they just increased the tax on petrol. These high-tech "solutions" are just a way of enriching certain shareholders and New Labour cronies as the cost of running the system is bound to be as great as the money raised by it. At least the money raised through taxing fuel can be used to pay for schools and hospitals, or to allow other taxation to be reduced. I much prefer semi-voluntary taxes like fuel duty to compulsory and unavoidable taxes like VAT.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The least worst option...

    ... is to remove VED and put it on fuel. Then if you choose to drive a gas guzzler and/or at congested times, you use more fuel and pay more. The infrastructure is there already - filling stations, cost to collect no more than today for getting fuel duty from filling stations.

    No big brother infrastructure required.

    But that's too easy isn't it - and no opportunity for ex-ministers to get on the board - which is why they won't do it.

  6. andy


    No need to worry - this is a British Government I.T. project, so they'll probably never complete it on time, within the budget or have anything remotely capable of doing whatever it was they were originally thinking of.

  7. Justin

    Does't work.

    The Govt would do well to see the fiasco that happened in Germany with satellite-based HGV tolls. The system couldn't tell the difference between a lorry on the motorway and a lorry on a parallel "Bundes-strasse" (A-road). Meanwhile, the Austrians implemented a microwave (non-satellite) system that "just worked". We wait and see if will re-invent the wheel.

    Is this the icon for peril-sensitive sunglasses?

  8. Martin

    "Unaffordable road building"

    As one of the people who signed the No.10 petition against Road Pricing, I read Tony Blair's email (at the close of the petition) with interest.

    IIRC, taking into account the price Mr Blair put on building a mile of new motorway (to illustrate how 'unaffordable' it would be), and the estimates in the press of how much full road pricing would cost to implement, Road Pricing would cost the same as DOUBLING the current motorway network.

    Please don't tell me that RP would be the cheap option.

    And anyway, I never quite understood how RP could be 'revenue neutral', AND cover the cost of its implementation, AND be suffeciently more expensive to deter road use; and how these mythical clear motorways will be any use to me if the reason they're clear is that I can't afford to drive on the bloody things.

    /cue lots of "ZOMG evil cars, you should all ride a bicycle like me" comments

  9. Jonathan Schofield

    Its all about money....

    This is driven by the two overriding objectives of this Government: Control and Money.

    When almost 1/3 of the population derives ALL their money from the Government than the desire for more cash is inexhaustible.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Re: Road-building wouldn't help

    Erm...yeah right, of course those people that don't currently have cars will automatically get them if there were more roads. That makes about as much sense as Labour. Plus are you seriously suggesting that moving house is an option if you want to go and see the parents ?!?!?!

    Now I know we have to have balance here, but please, suggestions from the peanut gallery are thrown out at top rate by the government, but I thought we were above that here, alas.

  11. Andrew Chesters

    Least worst, but impossible

    Least Worst Option:- Toll Booths

    This would only work if a) there are no exits to allow avoidnce, and b) that you have the acreage to build the approach and exit lanes. Neither of these can be met on most of the UK's roads. We just don't have the space to build the system.

    I'm with AC above. Scrap Road Fund Tax and stick it on fuel. Double whammy of hitting the high-mileage, poor consumption drivers/cars at the same time. Prior to the last round of tinkering, it would have been trivial to have worked out a price/litre that wouldn't have penalised "Mr Average Driver" but would have saved the Gov a huge chunk of £££ by scrapping the department in Swansea that oversees the collection and enforcement of this tax.

  12. breakfast Silver badge

    Planning for an obselete future

    Why are they assuming that oil is going to start to get cheap again some time soon? What evidence do they have that as many people are going to be able to afford to drive in the future as can afford to drive now? Who is writing these projections?


    Trains are ridiculously expensive, busses are whimsical in the extreme and expensive, the only people building any kind of cycle routes between different towns are a charity- they're doing a great job but they shouldn't have to. The government is doing nothing but taxing us through the nose for attending the only show in town. That really gets on my tits.

  13. dervheid

    And the next step is...

    Travel Permits!

    "Papers Please, Citizen!"

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Track Days?

    So what happens when I take my bike on a track day? Do we really think the system will be clever enough to say "hang on that persons not on a road"? I doubt it. Instead such an event would be incurring more PAYG road tax (even though I'm not on a public road), and probably a significant amount of automatic fixed penalty points for all those moments that I'd be doing over 70mph.

    I think should such a system be fitted to my vehicle, I may change career to a neodymium magnet delivery boy, with my cargo suspiciously close to the magic black box.

    Anyway, fingers crossed the whole thing will fail, but sadly not before spending millions of tax payers money lining Crapita's pockets. I can't criticize govt. IT projects too much though, as they pay my bills.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's a cop-out to avoid a ramped up public transport solution

    What this government proposal will eventually end up doing, is to make driving as expensive as public transport, the complete opposite of what needs to be done.

    What they need to do is to make public transport far cheaper than driving and that will require tax money, as it will have to be subsidised.

    Unfortunately, a great deal of our tax money is being spent on a build-up to the future war with Iran as we continue to plow military funds into Afghanistan, a very good strategic position. (Considering Iraq is on the other side of Iran)

    So lets hold mass demonstrations up and down the country demanding all our troops pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan and all the current military spend is used to make our lives at home better.

    ... alas, it'll never happen.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Re: Its all about money....

    I seem to recall that the correct number is over 50% now as that point was reached a couple of years ago.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Martin Gregorie : Adding a hard separator

    There's a type of plastic bollard that clips into the cats-eyes, they use them for contra-flow systems.

  18. Bryan B


    It might just be a frightener of course, but cops have talked about the ability to spot the same numberplate turning up in two unfeasibly distant places at around about the same time. So when you go looking for a car similar to yours, make sure it's one that doesn't get used much....

    @Justin: There's also ANPR gantries on the autobahns for the HGV (LKW) tolls, to check GPS accuracy and spot non-payers.

  19. Thomas Bottrill

    Why not...

    ...get rid of road tax and increase fuel duty?

    It's pay-as-you-go and encourages people to use more efficient cars, and also encourages people to use their cars less. And it's a lot cheaper and easier-to-manage than either this or an emissions tax.

    But then we all know that what the government really wants is to track us wherever we go.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    More New Labour Bollocks!

    More Tax. Mare Surveillance. More Intrusion. More Control. More Labour Bollocks!

  21. Keir Snelling

    GPS Accuracy...

    For those claiming that GPS isn't accurate enough to be able to determine which lane a vehicle is using.

    Wasn't the recent deployment of our own European GPS system supposed to address this. It was heralded as being n-times more accurate thant he existing US owned system.

    I thought it already presumed that UK gov was so supportive of the euro systems because it would support their road pricing proposals.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Pay As You Drive (PAYD)

    I was involved in the commercial disaster know as PAYD. The technology can be made to work, the economics for one company trying to roll it out are insane. Still, it was interesting.

    However, the government were and are still are interested. IBM retain much of the IP on this.

    If the government legislate that new cars from, say, 2015 must contain the GPS and transmission equipment (was GPRS) then it will happen.

    Otherwise, it won't. Toll booths (like in France, some of the US) aren't sustainable in the long term - what will happen will be Toll-Tag lanes which will be quick (but require online/direct debit agreement) and long queues for the rest of the public... who will therefore be pressured into getting a Toll-Tag.

    The PAYD technology will allow the government to monitor traffic usage and patterns. Of course, they;ll also know the speed of the cars... one small step to automatic fines.

  23. Gordon Pryra

    The databse will be with the client?

    Who the hell is designing this POS

    30 seconds after the first one is installed, and that system will be hacked.

    That car will "officially" not be driven that year


    Never use the client to hold the information for ANYTHING.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    With apologies to The Eagles...

    And we'll provide the grand design

    What is yours and what is mine

    'Cuz there is no more new frontier

    We have got to make it here

    We satisfied our endlees needs

    And justified our bloody deeds

    In the name of destiny

    And in the name of Gord

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Ah but...

    By stopping the poor people from moving about there'll be no need to build separate lanes for government officials.

  26. Paul Hurst

    @ AC - The least worst option...

    "[The least worst option] is to remove VED and put it on fuel. Then if you choose to drive a gas guzzler and/or at congested times, you use more fuel and pay more. The infrastructure is there already - filling stations, cost to collect no more than today for getting fuel duty from filling stations."

    I strongly disagree with this, ultimately a lot of people agree, it's a reasonable theory (at first).

    However I have no intention on pay road tax on my lawnmover, hedgetrimer, chainsaw, generator or even use of my car off road (private land). Why should my generator cost more to run just to fund the roads.

    Not a good idea!

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I don't agree with the war in Iraq, but the idea of pulling out now is even worse...

    As for Afghanistan, that is a war that dose need fighting.

    Why lump them together? Is it because you don't agree with war, or because you don't like "monye bein spent on dem derty foreners" ? :-)

  28. Anonymous Coward

    Surely improving public transport is the fastest way to clearing congestion?

    What I can't understand is how this will ease congestion. By spending millions on a system that is bound to have lots of problems, as well as the bureaucrats required to maintain the system and the large private sector companies charging extortionate fees for consultancy due to the cash being public money, we will end up in the same position, just with less money all round?!

    How come countries with efficient and well-priced public transport systems don't have all the problems we seem to have with car congestion? People will still drive obviously, but at present there is no alternative - I can fly to Bordeaux and back and get a cab home for the same price as an always-delayed peak time return from Bristol to London. Ludicrous.

  29. Anonymous Coward

    Bangs head on desk....

    Ok here is the problem....

    Road pricing, raised fuel taxes DON'T target the problem.

    It is the school holidays, how many people are drivign well into work? Most of us?

    Now when the schools come back, will it continue? No! Why not? becuase fat arsed, bone idle parent will drive the 500m to school, park on the double yellow lines and zig zags, stop for a natter and then carry on.

    Simple answer.

    Dedicated school buses, enforced parking outside schools (£100 instant fine will do, £200 if they fat shites gob off) , well lit safe cycle routes, safe cycle parking. Then watch the traffic drop.

  30. Mark

    Re: Has anybody thought this through?

    Also, if there's a fooking big wall between the routes, how do they deal with closing down for further widening? A jump ramp so you can get over to the free lane over the other side???

  31. Mark

    Re: Planning for an obselete future

    The obsolete planning for the future they are doing is the day when we aren't using petrol-powered vehicles.

    Where's the petrol tax going to come from now???

  32. Jamie
    Paris Hilton

    Regarding Trams, Bus, Trains

    I currently drive to work everyday.

    Current costs

    Car = 215£/mth (will only last for 24 months, own the car after that)

    Fuel = 40£/wk

    Time for journey = 45minutes


    Train Pass = 250£/mth

    Extra childminder hours = 20£/wk

    Time for journey = 2hrs

    No transportation on weekend (will cost extra)

    Working it out I save money when driving as I can still get around on the weekends and it will take me a lot less time to get to and from work.

    If the gov't is actually serious about trying to stop congestion, first put police on the road and give them the power to impound cars where people are driving illegally. If you are caught driving without a license/insurance/road tax then the car is impounded and will be sold at auction. If the car had belonged to a friend or relative they can get it back by filing charges of theft against the driver, as they did take the car under false pretenses. They only get the car back after the trial has completed.

    Suspending the license of someone who is driving without a license is a joke.

    Bringing in road charges only affects those that obey the law and punishes them as that is the easiest way for the gov't to do anything.

    It is about time the gov't starts treating criminals like criminals and not the honest law abiding citizens.

    Paris, well at the rate the current UK gov is going she will be cheaper to ride in a couple of years than your car.

  33. Master Baker
    Paris Hilton


    I wonder will the taxpayer end-up paying for MP's when/if this system comes into play? Just another piece of straw ontop of their pile of shiny hay.

    The government are such hypocrites. Like when big fat Prezza was in charge of transport and wailed at people to share cars and use more pubic transport (not a spelling error), whilst himself being driven around in 2 petrol-slurping cars, both stocked with ample supplies of pies.

    And like smiley, smiley Tony Blair, who accepted a £1million employment deal after leaving office due to his 'intimate knowledge' of the Middle East. And his position of peace envoy to the Middle East!! Who dreamed that up, Monty Pthyon? With all the blood on his hands I really don't know how he can sleep at night.

    In the future this government will be known as the Borg.... you will be assimilated...

    Paris, because I like her tits.

  34. EvilGav

    Easy Solution

    Increase the price of petrol and remove Road Fund Licence (TAX).

    As has been said, no need for expensive ANPRsystems on roads to check tax payers and the database already exists to tell if a car is insured/MOT'd - just nip round to the last known address and nick the fucker's.

    As for how much to tax to put on a litre, back of fag packet time :

    Average UK mileage : 12,000

    Assumed average MPG : 35

    Assumed average gallons required : 343 (rounded)

    Assumed average litres needed : 1,544 (rounded)

    Average Road Fund Licence £250

    Increase required to cover average price : 16p per litre

    Remove VAT (since we get it back anyway) : 13.8p

    Thats some basic numbers and for those who know their mileage, you'd know if you were better/worse off instantly. Plus, there would be more savings due to no longer needing the same number of staff at the DVLA and consequently no longer needing the same number of buildings to house the DVLA. Those savings could be used to reduce the actual amount needed even more. Indeed, there would be savings on the lack of need for the secure printing needed for the RFL, the forms needed, the postage reminding people they need to pay etc etc etc.

  35. Dunstan Vavasour

    GPS and DGPS

    While a free-running GPS wouldn't have the accuracy to check lanes, they could put DGPS reference points alongside the motorway (which conveniently has has a determined path) - this would probably get you to the accuracy required.

    I wonder how many of the "oh noes, spy in the car" commenters switch their mobiles off before driving? I certainly don't, I just rely on O2 not telling inspector knacker how fast my phone goes up the M1.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @GPS Accuracy

    Andrew Marr's Britain from above program from last night showed a field being harvested by a combine that was entirely GPS run, with error of less than 1 inch (2.5 cm, one small piece of linguine) so the technology is available.

    The GPS unit did cost £400,000 though.

    @ Paul Hurst:

    How much unleaded do you use in your chainsaw etc? I assume not enough that an increase of 1-3p per litre will make any real difference. However, either way we al know that the real reason for VED / congestion charging / fuel duty etc is to raise revenue. And the second reason is to offset those nasty carbons so it matters not how or in what you burn your petrol you still fall foul of the reasons to pay for it.

  37. Frostbite


    I would rather use public transport but as you already know it would add hours onto my working day (an amazing 6 in my case).

    We should have a better public transport system.

    I'll get my coat now, I need to leave early to catch my bus, train, bus, bus, bus, walk.

  38. Kevin Pollock

    @Paul Hurst

    ...sorry Paul, but I don't really see your point.

    The amount of petrol used by your lawnmower, chainsaw etc. will be minute compared to your car(s). You can't scupper a good idea for such a minority case.

    And your point about offroad car use also. I suspect the vast majority of UK car owners generate more miles on public roads than private or off road. Once again, as Mr.Spock would say "the good of the many...etc.". The last time I drove "off road" was parking in a field for a car boot sale.

    In all of these cases petrol driven appliances and off-road car use is still causing carbon emissions, which is part of the rationale behind road pricing.

    So I have to disagree with you and would say that an increase in fuel taxes is the simplest, and most effective way to encourage less car use.

    On the other hand, increasing fuel tax is also an inflationary move, so in the current economic climate I'm not sure the spineless Wimps of Wesminster would go for it.

    Much better to chuck billions into a new IT Money Pit. Tossers.



  39. Anonymous Coward


    OK Kids..

    head over to the linky, buy yourselves some mobile privacy now...

    they also do other products that will deal with the mind reading/altering signals that those officials are trying to inflict on the masses.

    mines the one(on the backseat) in the mobile RF-Dead Zone, that just passed you doing 150mph on the outside lane of the M4....

  40. Mark Broadhurst


    @ AC - The least worst option...

    The problem with that is that the proposal also brings in the idea that going on bigger roads cost more where as you would use the same (or less) fuel for going on them.

    @ Stu Reeves

    The reason cycling isn't taking off is because you can't tax it, no fuel, no road wear (virtually), the ideal solution would be to have a propper public transport system, while they don't make waves just look at Toronto, works wonderfully well.

  41. Tom Wood

    Fuel tax

    (Paul Hurst - that a handful of people use a tiny amount of fuel off-road is not sufficient reason to stop an otherwise simple and elegant scheme. Besides, have you never heard of red diesel?)

    Taxing road fuel (and scrapping other forms of vehicle tax) is surely the best way to go. Fuel consumption /is/ pay-as-you-drive, and it's also strongly linked to emissions and congestion - so those who drive efficient cars and avoid wasting fuel sat in congestion by driving at efficient times of day/avoiding city centres etc will effectively be rewarded for doing so.

    The money raised should of course be spent on good public transport systems. The only reason the London congestion charge works is because London has (on the whole) a decent public transport system. Both city-level transit systems (especially outside of the capital) and inter-city rail links need some serious investment if you're going to have the slightest hope of getting people out of their cars.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Stu Reeves

    Quick addition: Cycle lanes should be at least as wide as a bike, as opposed to the 2ft-wide excuses for cycle lanes that you occasionally could find if looking closely at certain places around here.

    @Paul Hurst

    Unless you've got a rather large engined lawnmower the change in price should be pretty negligable. In fact if they dropped the VAT completely and just stuck with VED-on-petrol charging and normal fuel duty (i.e. stuck to only charging us twice for the same thing) then you'd probably see a drop in cost. Alternatively they could drop the VAT on generators/chainsaws/lawnmowers etc to help cover the difference.

    Or just go for an electric one- though I accept that's not always practical, it would be pretty suitable for most uses. It does save you from getting pissed off at the pull-start though!

    @Road-building AC

    I don't know about you, but I can't think of too many people who think "oh, petrol's up to [cost of a cheap pint] per litre. I'll not drive to work today". People have to get to work. And buying a house closer to work just isn't an option- I've recently managed to get a house about 6 miles away from work. Not too far, but this is a small city (and the bus service sucks). Closer to work it cost anywhere up to 3 times as much for a similar sized property. In places like London it's even worse.

    Also, if you doubled the number of roads in the UK you'd not double the number of cars on the road, you'd pretty much halve the traffic density. This would mean that people would be stuck in traffic for far less time and decrease the effect that a lane- or even a whole road- being closed had.

  43. Chris G

    More bloody fuel tax?

    Tax won't achieve anything other than give the idiots who think they run the country more to squander on surveilling the population.

    Interesting to note that only one comment suggests the obvious , to radically rebuild the Public Transport System. The first thing it needs is to be re-nationalised, something in the good? old days a `Labour´ government would have applauded. Only by nationalising it can enough resources be brought to bear to revamp the system as a whole, doing it piecemeal with dozens of separate contractors looking for the quick buck is unfeasable. We need a unified whole that allows for buses, trains, trams, underground, lightrailways et al to interrelate with each other on a national scale. We also need people who can run it, that is a little more difficult, finding staff who can work for a governmental organisation in an efficient and professional manner may be harder than redesigning the system in the first place. I have some experience of one or two of the bus and train operators and because of the tendering system currently in place, profits are mostly gained by corner cutting on maintence and wages, not the best way to get people interested in giving a good day's work.

    Spiraling taxes and more ways of keeping tabs on the population is not going to improve either traffic or attitudes. Come on govuk try DOING something to really benefit everyone instead of always looking for the quick fix or Liberty taking.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Regarding Trams, Bus, Trains

    I am the opposite.

    I do not own a car, i take the train to work and i use trains and buses at the weekend. I hire a car if i need one (i.e. weekend away or whatever).

    I am happy to do this as for me it works out better... mainly as i commute to central london.

    However, I grew up in the country and like many people not in the middle of towns, cars were the only way to get around.

    We need cars and we need good public transport. If public transport is good then more of us will use it leaving room on the roads for people who do need or want to use their car.

    ... and lets not forget that simply wanting to use your car does not automatically make you evil, although soon car drivers will join us smokers that part of society its become acceptable to lynch.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Bryan B

    Cloning is often used where the vehicles are completely different. One bloke with a vintage tractor that hardly ever goes on the road started getting bills from the congestion charging people. When he forced them to hand over photographic evidence* the vehicle with his registration number was an exec saloon. The idea in this case obviously being to use the plate of a vehicle that isn't used on the road much. Or possibly they just picked a group of letters and numbers they like the look of.

    * Great isn't it. You'd think it was up to them to prove that you are guilty of driving in the congestion zone without paying, but it turns out that it's up to you to prove your innocence and in order to do that you have pay them to send you the photographic evidence. They didn't even have the intelegence to check the photograph against the DVLA database before they sent it out. "Is that really a 1947 Fordson tractor? Looks like a BMW 5 series to me!"

  46. Steve Morgan

    Overpopulation is the problem

    The route problem of congestion is the same root problem of most environmental issues – overpopulation.

    We’re cramming more people onto a tiny island – I’m not targeting immigration here - I’m talking about the human race as a whole and its desire to keep adding to the numbers.

    No increase in population = no increase in congestion *

    I’ve made the commitment to reduce my carbon footprint by not having kids. Though, I bloody hope the government doesn't think this is a good policy and start assisting us with this ‘decision’!!

    * assuming all other factors such as cost of motoring remain the same.

  47. Anonymous Coward

    Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and Road Pricing

    I go to work. I have to pay tax. I use my car which I have to pay road tax for. I need diesel which I have to pay fuel duty. I go shopping and have to pay tax on my groceries. My phone, internet, cable TV, electricity and gas are all TAXED. I have to pay the council TAX.

    And NOW the government is going to TAX me once again for using the roads....WHY?

    To fund the war against ALL of the US of As enemies (before long it will be the UK and the US vs the Rest of the World).

    As for the road pricing, someone mentioned 4 lanes on the motorways. I think that you meant 5 as you'll need a second hard shoulder for the paying people on their side of the wall.

    BTW how will they get onto and off their little motorway?

  48. Wize

    They like tracking cars...

    ...with their numberplate recognition speed cameras and now with gps.

    Next they will make it illegal not to have one in your car and claim it prevents terrorists, just like ID cards.

    We are in the country that watches its citizens the most.

    Mine's the one with the cycle helmet, till they stick tracking chips in us all.

  49. Gary Myers


    Actually, the harvester cost £400k. The GPS guidance computer would have been a few thousand, but paltry compared to the price of the power-plant and control systems for the rest of the harvester.

    With the accuracy now available, I'm sure it will not be too many growing seasons before we see the harvesters off on their own with the farmer sitting in his Land Rover keeping an eye via laptop. How's that for remote control toys?!

  50. David Hicks
    Thumb Down

    Road Pricing 2.0 is two years away

    David Hicks leaving the country 1.0 is now one point five years away.

    I've had enough of all this.

  51. Chris Cheale

    @Stu Reeves

    You sir, are my new hero - amen brother! ;)

  52. Matthew Gardner

    Road Toll :-(

    I thought we paid road tax to pay for roads so if we get tolls for motorways do we get reduced/rid off road tax to compensate for not paying for the new tolled roads we already pay for.

    The problem is not how much road tax we pay but the fact less than a third goes on roads, rest is hospitals and schools, so if more people ditched cars for public transport the Government would need a new tax to raise these funds. I guess they would have to tax fuel and insurance more.

    As people have said fuel is the easy way of taxing those that have bad fuel economy from little old grannies who use it once a week to get her shopping.

  53. bobbles31

    Regarding Trams, Bus, Trains

    Regarding Trams, Bus, Trains

    By Jamie

    Your calculations are slightly flawed. You say £215per month for the car, I assume that this is just the payments for the car itself?

    Add to that insurance between (£25 and £85 per month)

    Road Duty : £10 (I am assuming from the montly payment its not a gas guzzler)

    Maintenance : £30 (£360 per year sounds like a lot but two new tires and an MOT will soon cut through this, not to mention servicing)

    Parking? (Maybe its free for you but its not for a lot of people)

    The problem is that the costs of car vs public transport are always weighed up in terms of purchase and fuel when there are so many other costs associated with a running a vehicle.

    In this instance another £65 per month needs adding to your car in order to compare it with public transport which means that the car actually costs you £330 per month. Thats an additional £720 per year, assuming you drive an efficient, low insurance group car and nothing goes wrong with it in the year. One accident? £150-£250 insurance excess, new clutch (£200-£300), brake pads? £100, there just is so much that can go wrong with a car.

    I use a car myself everyday and the only reason I don't switch from the car to the train is the difference in commute time, (1 hour in the car, 2 hours on the train) however, the train is considerably cheaper for a loan commuter than a car in almost all cases.

    If cost is a driving factor (no pun intended) then you should try as soon as you have a passenger public transport becomes extremely expensive and this is the biggest problem. That and overcrowded, slow, dirty trains that seem to stop for absolutely no reason for an amount of time that is directly proportional to how important it is for you that the train is not late.

    Maybe there needs to be more focus on geting people to commute off hours so to speak, making better use of the capacity we already have at our disposal. Perhaps companies could be given a tax break for train tickets that have a 8am to 9:30/4:30 to 6pm exclusion on them. I dunno, as the guy above said. I am just chucking ideas about here.

  54. Paul Hurst


    "How much unleaded do you use in your chainsaw etc? I assume not enough that an increase of 1-3p per litre will make any real difference"

    Even a small sized genny fully loaded can easily consume a two car tanks worth of fuel in a day.

    A small genny (eg 12kw) can easily drink 4 litres of fuel an hour. Large generators (eg 1600kw) can consume 400+litres of fuel PER HOUR.

    Obviously the bigger the genny/load the more you consume.

    I know that the large genny is a little OTT, but would mean (at 3p p/l) £300 of road tax PER DAY. £109,500 per year.

    Even the little genny at £3 a day is still £1100 over a year.

    This means that that genny would cost 5 times more than my car tax, despite not being able to use the roads.

    If petrol/diesel is used in your company, whether for gardening, or quadbiking, outdoor events, anything. Why should that use be funding the roads.

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Scrap Road Fund Tax and stick it on fuel ...

    and whilst we are at it add some extra to cover 3rd party insurance. Now everyone is correctly insured and tax'd - more mileage you do the more insurance and tax you pay and the benefit of not lying to your insurer about how many miles you do per year - 10,000/year yeah right.

    Paris - cuz she's had some mileage.

  56. Alexis Vallance
    Thumb Down

    Why are they doing this to themselves?

    Are the government trying to turf themselves out of office?

    It's unpopular decision after unpopular decision.

    They'll be out in 2010, no question. I can't stand the tories and the lib dems have gone all green and have no idea what they're doing anymore.

    There is nobody to vote for anymore. I'll just sit back and wait for Cameron to get in.

    We're all doomed.

  57. Steve Pettifer

    How many cars?

    Hang on a inute - this argument abuot any new road 'immediately filling up with cars' isn't quite true...we have a fied number of driving licenses in this country and we can only drive one vehicle at a time so there are a finite number of vehicles that can be on the raod at a given time. So, what si the diparity between this number and the number of vehicles on our roads no, say, and average wednesday morning rush hour?

    Congestion is not something that affects every inch of the road network, it affects key areas at certain times of the day and then eases back down. surely instea dof penalising the entire network, it is these areas that need to be worked on? And not with a congestion charge, but with sensible public transport initiatives. And that defintiely doesn't include sticking a bus lane on the M32 into Bristol which is the dumbest plan since the M4 lane and will amke the traffic worse, not better.

    and how about maximising the freight capacity of the rail networks? The lines are under-used at night and by placing longer distance freight ont he rail network then using smaller local distribution vehicles at freight hubs (of which me might need to build more - yes, investment please) we reduce the amount of large vehicels on the motorways at a stroke. Might not reduce that much congestion but it will sure as heel be more fuel efficient.

    The sooner we get Labour our of power the better - they lostt he plot eyars ago and now they are gettign worse and worse. I can't say I like the Tories or Lib Dems much eaither but frankly, I would rather the Tories were in right now. I ams ick of the attitude of government that believes that they can tax a solution into being. No you can't you fucking idiots!

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Some lessons from Lorry Charging..

    Some years ago I worked on the proposals for Lorry Road User Charging, and the team brought up every single objection raised in these comments, and a few others.

    Here the stated aim was to equalise the competitive factors between continental and non-EU haulage contractors on UK roads. Ultimately we all realised that the solution would eventually be rolled out to all vehicles, starting with 38t and working down to 3t. After that you could see that sub-3t vehicles would also need to be included, because 2.5t and a trailer would become more prevalent as they exceed 3t, but weren't included in the scheme, and so on. We also realised that all motor vehicles would be included eventually, but that you would need a massive data centre to process it all.

    LRUC was based on GPS locations being recorded in a black box and then relayed back to the central systems either on demand or periodically. Enforcement was by ANPR and Black Box ping. So that if the black box didn't match the VRN, you would be pulled. The system would also detect VRNs passing enforcement points, some fixed, some mobile, and flag anomalies like AB08DEF passing a point in Truro ten minutes before it went past one in Wick.

    The parallel road problem was solved by the fact the black box also knew its direction of travel, and where it had been, so could usually work out which road it had been on, and the turns made, there was still doubt, the lower toll was always assumed.

    There's actually quite a lot of research on how you implement this kind of tracking on the internet.

    LRUC would have made a good test be, as it was a national scheme, with a controlled roll out to 600,000 vehicles, we didn't really fancy the full 20,000,000 as on the whole we didn't thing the technology was quite up to it.

    Oh, and track days wouldn't have been a problem because you wouldn't be on a public road with a speed limit, the system also knew you were driving round a field, and charged accordingly, as the system was also about fuel usage. Urban Motorways at peak were the most expensive. We also took into account the social aspects of vehicle use in the country, as well as taking the kids to school in the city, although not direct requirements, for lorries, it was considered as a future requirement. Security, Data protection and Civil Liberties were also considered in detail.

    Most of the team started sceptically, but by the end we all thought it possible, and probably desirable.

    Mind you I'll lay odds that no-one who worked on LRUC will have anything to do with any new proposals, that would make it much too easy.

  59. Mick Sheppard

    RP doesn't solve the problem

    HMG like RP because it will raise revenue. For all the noise that they make about it being revenue neutral and it being the only solution to crowded roads it doesn't even begin to address the problem.

    If HMG wants to really do something about congestion then they need to do something to address the causes in the first place. A simple start would be to remove the fallacy that is choice in the schools system and just get kids to go to the local schools, then provide free school buses to get the kids there.

    Once they've sorted that out look at smarter working. Lots of companies find it possible to outsource work to other countries. How about getting them to outsource some of the work to other parts of this country. Working from home days, using flexible third party offices. Not all business is capable of this but there is a huge chunk of the knowledge economy that could, with sufficient investments, have a high degree of home working. They could encourage this with tax breaks and the investment it would bring in networking infrastructure would benefit everyone in the long run.

    RP isn't about solving the problem though. Its about taxing the motorist, again.

  60. Matthew
    Black Helicopters

    'New roads will fill up straight away'?

    How exactly?

    Unless someone finds a way to drive two cars at once, or there is a huge poulation explosion, it *can*t get worse.

    If a new road is built and it 'fills up', then other roads don't have those cars on them any more: they have *less* traffic. Look at the roads used before a motorway was built to see this: I nominate the A40 from Beaconsfield to Oxford as proof of this effect.

    I genuinely can't see how people can assume this ever-increasing congestion when the number of *drivers* is virtually static.

    Funnily enough I can't find figures on the exact numbers of illegal immigrants and those who drive without a licence but I'd bet they don't make that much difference.

    The only reason for road charging is Governmental paranoia. Congestion is just today's excuse for liberty-removal.

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Re: And the next step is...

    dervheid wrote: Travel Permits! "Papers Please, Citizen!"

    I am led to believe that in the USofA, one is now required to present some form of identity paper when buying train tickets. And one commenter on El Reg indicated that in Australia, one needs a permit to go into the Outback now.

    Once one gets away with it, all the "nations" will want a "me too"!

    Is there anyone here who lived under the regimes in the Soviet Union or Communist conquered East Europe? Can they tell us how they survived the Secret Police? Opposition to the principle is now wasted effort, devote the energy to surviving.

  62. AC

    @AC - Least worst option

    "you choose to drive a gas guzzler and/or at congested times, you use more fuel and pay more"

    yes how dare I want to get to work on time, how dare I have a normal 9-5 job and how dare I even dream of owning a car to get me to work.


    The solution is to get rid of buses and taxis who all drive like they own the road and take up too much space. Uninsured, untaxed cars, driving without a licence, etc are also well worth a lot of attention. Trains can also chuff off, convert the lines to roads, much better.

  63. Benny

    Whos paying?

    So whos paying for the cost of fitting this magic box to my car? I know Im not. And whos going to poilce the installation of said box? It's just not going to work.

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @Stu Reeves

    > Now when the schools come back, will it continue? No! Why not? becuase fat arsed,

    > bone idle parent will drive the 500m to school, park on the double yellow lines and zig

    > zags, stop for a natter and then carry on.

    Yeah thats it, nothing to do with a sizeable percentage of the working population taking holiday over the period known as 'summer'

    (unless you think that '500m' school runs involve a trip on a motorway, because even they become less congested during the summer)

    maybe a tiny bit of original thought rather than lapping up propaganda on whose the latest group to blame, other than the government, for the countries problems

    anyhow the good thing is Gordon Brown has managed the economy so well more and more people will be taking longer 'holidays' all year round

  65. Anonymous Coward

    What's the least-worst option?

    A civil fuckin' war, that's what's starting to look like the least-worst option.

    Mine's the one with the flask of whisky, pearl-handled revolver and copy of Luttwak's manual in the pocket...

  66. Moogal

    The old argument

    The "you can't build your way out of congestion" argument always comes up with this sort of story. Of course you can. There are a finite people with driving licenses in the country, which isn't that far off the current traffic levels. So unless we all suddenly develop the ability to drive several cars at once, where is this extra traffic supposed to come from?

    Much of the congestion is due to the fact that our road network hasn't been significantly enhanced since the 1970s, other than the odd white elephant (M6 Toll anyone?). Add to that the already bursting at the seams train services, and the fact that buses anywhere outside of large municipalities are next to useless, and the whole "oh, we could let people drive on the hard shoulder" idea is like icing a burnt cake. The idea of charging for the privilege of sitting in a traffic jam is just insulting - as if anyone does that for the fun of it?

  67. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    yes, but WHY?

    "I strongly disagree with this, ultimately a lot of people agree, it's a reasonable theory (at first)."

    If you disagree, we'd be really interested in knowing why?

    "However I have no intention on pay road tax on my lawnmover, hedgetrimer, chainsaw, generator or even use of my car off road (private land). Why should my generator cost more to run just to fund the roads."

    Paul Hurst

    Umm... you already DO pay this tax on private, non-road using, petrol machinery. As do, for instance, boat owners. And the income hasn't been used to fund roads for ages, it's just a straight tax.

    Given that a lawnmower uses about quarter of a gallon per year, and chainsaws even less, I would think that the total extra cost would not be huge. And, if you believe in the CO2 scare, it would encourage people to use less fuel all round. Seems like a winner to me - what do you think is wrong with it?

    Tux, because I haven't used him in ages....

  68. Anonymous Coward

    Well spotted mark,

    At least somebody appears switched on as to why the push for non consumption based taxation, its pretty hard to tax household electricty at 300%

    as to 'road building increases traffic', christ do people still think that? maybe they should stop building schools and hospitals as well its only encouraging uses. In fact if they did quadruple the lanes on the M25 i'd give up working and drive in circles for 8 hours a day not 100% sure how i could afford the fuel yet but i'm sure theres a way.

    and people saying that Paul Hurst shouldn't mind paying a little bit more tax are wrong. Yes adding the cost of VED (and maybe third party insurance) to fuel is a good idea, so why not also think of a way that people can get untaxed fuel, maybe you could dye the fuel? i'm surprised nobody has ever thought of that, oh they have. So maybe instead of thinking of ways of separating people from their money you should just sit down on your hands and try to keep up

    As to keeping peoples 'carbon footprint' down, do you really think thats what fuel tax is for? really? never heard anybody say they're going to stop driving because the price has gone up 2p a litre. The recent increase in the nominal has done the trick but that hardly was planned by any government and i very much doubt any electable party would be able to survive increasing the tax by 20+p twice a year. The roads aren't suddenly clearer after the budget everybody sucks it up and gives more money to be wasted by the current administration.

    And that is the sole reason why we have fuel tax, to be frittered away on ill-conceived ideas. And any system where a significant amount of the funds raised has to be spent on administration they should be scrapped and cheaper ways should be found of raising the money even if it means raising income tax, at least thats a move away from stealth, stealthy and secondary taxation

  69. Anonymous Coward

    Clearly they've forgotten how we got to where we are today...

    ... which is - during the post-war boom years, the *Government* planned and built a number of new towns in the outlying areas of cities such as London to take advantage of the new mobility that people now had with the increasingly common motor car.

    Note - this radical change to the UKs infrastructure was made possible by the fact that quite a few people owned cars. That makes the car largely a necessity for anyone living in a commuting town who doesn't have the luxury of a local job.

    Therefore, the government now needs to actively develop alternatives to the car, rather than simple-mindedly making car use more difficult and expensive than it already is.

  70. Jellied Eel Silver badge

    Equality, liberty, try some other country

    We have road charging via fuel duty. Do more miles, pay more.

    We have congestion, because of stupid 9-5 mentality & lousy urban planning.

    We have the worst public transport system in the world.

    Lots needs fixing, one way to start and perhaps improve public transport would be forcing all MP's & senior civil servants to use it.

    If it's good enough for us, it's good enough for them. If it's impractical for them, it's impractical for us.

    Course fixing it would probably mean renationalising it, and bang go those directorships. Maybe a small start would be looking at transport companies fuel deals, and then why they're gouging travellers with 'fuel price' rises.

  71. anarchic-teapot

    @ Martin Gregorie

    "Toll booths along the lines the French use have to be cheaper to install and run. They also have the advantage of not being able to track vehicles using the autoroute."

    Yup, and if you want you can subscribe to an automatic payment system that lets you fast-track through the toll payment queue. That's the only in-car gadgetry that's needed.

    Look, what are the people that dream up these daft schemes on anyway? Control freaks on controlled substances...

  72. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More CO2, more fuel, more tax

    So they turn motorways into toll roads, and cars start using A roads and B roads instead increasing fuel consumption and CO2 output on the now conjested A roads.

    So they have to have the trackers everywhere, A roads, B roads, rat runs etc. otherwise people will avoid short hops across the motorways and use the backroads instead where possible. Shifting the problem not fixing it.

    So unless you plan on tracking all roads, at great cost what is the point? Why not just shift the Tax disc to fuel tax, and since that is directly related to how much driving is done and how efficient the vehicle is let people try to reduce their costs by driving less whenever they can?

    Why spend so much tax money on road infrastructure if you ultimately want to get people off the roads and onto public transport? What a waste that would be.

  73. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Public Transport"

    No such thing. It's all privately owned business out to make profits.

    *begins rambling*

    And profits run contrary to public service.

    The public may need buses every 10 minutes between 7am and 10am, then only one every hour from 10am till 4pm, when a bus every ten minutes is again needed from 4pm till 8pm, after that a bus every 30 minutes till 11 then a bus every hour from 11pm till 7am.

    However that doesn't make money, becouse at the peak time you'll be running transport at half load or less, as opposed to having them stuffed like battery farm chicken coops. At the late hours you'll be running near empty or empty buses.

    Also Public transport should link up, how many of us who have the unfortunate task of using "public transport" have been left stood on a freezing platform for an hour waiting for the "connecting" train/bus. Used to take me 3 hours to get from St Albans (well a smallish place outside St Albans - next to Hatfield) to the office in Milton Keynes, this was bus to watford (1 hour) 30 minute wait for train train to MK (40 mins) wait for bus to office (20 minutes), also a 20 minute walk in the morning to the bus stop, and that was the time on a good day.

    Public transport is tripe and costly, so people have cars.

    Now when buses and railways were public they were carp, but there was reason, whenever you needed money for something you took it away from the public transport, and after a half century of under investment the networks (bus and train) were stuffed. I mean why bother investing it? Everyone was getting cars anyway!

    And now? The railways are pretty awful and the buses are a joke, and too boot they're expensive too.

    But hey, the government needs to be seen to be "doing something" so, they're doing something (just like with ecrbs, banned book lists, cctv, anti terrorism persecution of people using cameras.)

    O well.

    *ends rambling*

  74. RainForestGuppy

    I've said it before

    Special lanes for party members (M4 Bus Lane as used by Blair/Brown etc)

    Restricting the general public's ability to move about freely


    This isn't New Labour, it's Old Communism.

    Comrade Ken used to swan around in taxi's paid for by the public, but tried to tax everybody else off the roads, there is one rule for the party members and another for the people.

    @Stu Reeves, partly agree but the little darlings should walk to school then they wouldn't get so obese.

  75. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    <no title>

    Least worse option would be to redesign the towns so folk don't feel the need to use their vehicle; because often most can walk to wherever it is they need to go. And to accept that for a given adult population one need a certain amount of road so citizens are free to move as they wish. So discourage population growth and increase roads as necessary.

    Most worse option, anything to do with grabbing more revenue and State spying on individual citizens. And failing to string up as a warning those who suggest it.

  76. Sooty


    "Cycle lanes should be at least as wide as a bike, as opposed to the 2ft-wide excuses for cycle lanes that you occasionally could find if looking closely at certain places around here."

    Not sure what sort of bike you ride, but i've never seen a 2ft wide one before :)

    personally, as a motorcyclist who spends about £30 per month on petrol and £20 per year on "road tax" I'd quite like it to stay as it is. Also, as all the ANPR cameras seem to be setup to read a number plate from the from the front. I'm all for charging through the nose for using roads by this method :)

  77. Anonymous Coward


    Has everbloy forgotten we DO pay as we drive due to the horrendous fuel duty, This government DO actually think we are stupid and will pay three times for the pleasure of driving, once on road tax once on fuel duty and again on road pricing. Now if they remove the fuel duty and the road tax and charge per mile then that would be acceptable but it will make your 4x4 as costly as a Prius NOT what they intended......

    CUT the Fuel duty and provide cheap public transport oh yeah far to simple

  78. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Carbon my arse!

    You are all missing a fundimental pont here, there are definately a number of greens here claiming it is all for the good "of the planet" and "cars are bad for the environment" and it is patently obvious that none of you have actually looked into EXACTLY what the problem is, it is very veyr apparent that you have read the crap the government spouts and see the car as the bad man here.

    Are you aware that GLOBALLY the car produces only about 3% of carbon monoxide?

    Are you aware the biggest producer of carbon is actually caused by cows? (Last time I checked it was around 85%)

    Should we therefore reduce the number of cows we have? oh wait, we have. In the last 200 years at least halved the cow population worldwide.

    Oh and another "point" are you also aware that the AVERAGE temperature of the planet AT THE MOMENT is colder than 100 years ago? hmmm odd that. We are colder because.. of... global... warming.

    Anybody else see the disparity between the actual measured data and what we are told??

    Oh and another point 10% or the carbon is produced by "environmentalists" in spouting all this green bull and driving round in 2CV's known to be the most environmentally unfreindly car on the planet.

    and finally.... SOYLENT GREEN IS PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!

  79. Paul Hurst

    @Dodgy Geezer

    VAT, CO2 Tax, etc I can understand. My moaning was at the suggestion of rolling VED (Road Tax) into pump prices.

    Lawnmower, Chainsaws etc all use little petrol/fuel for occasional use. My later posts was talking about the commerial/large scale use of these items.

    My main moan is the genny where (even on small one) you talking gallons per day (please see previous post).

  80. Anonymous Coward


    One thing that seems to always get glossed over with road charging is the simple fact that the system will know if you break the speed limit - at any time - and could be set to notify the police / automatically fine you VERY easily.

    Of course the gov absolutely *promises* that the system will NEVER EVER EVER be used for such purposes, but lets be honest it's simply a matter of time.

    Besides that if this government told me the sky was blue I'd go outside to check.

  81. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    @Stu Reeves

    "Ok here is the problem...."

    ...except that it isn't.

    "It is the school holidays, how many people are driving well into work? Most of us? Now when the schools come back, will it continue? No! Why not? ..."

    ...because those of us with both children AND jobs, have to shift both carcasses to their appointed places in the morning. (I imagine this requirement wears off after the child reaches a certain age, but you'd be a bloody idiot to let a child in single figures wander unattended through the rush hour traffic five days a week.)

    Think about it now. Where are *you* going to be at 8:45am. That's right. At your child's school. But you *need* to be at work as soon as bleedin' well possible and for the vast majority of people that means jumping in the car and driving, so the roads are packed between 8:30 and 9:00.

    Schools force everyone to travel at the same time.

    I'll repeat that, for the benefit of dozy gits who have never had to *do* a school run *and* hold down a day job.

    Schools force everyone to travel at the same time.

    During the holidays, the same drivers use all the flexibility they get to deliver the children earlier or later to whatever arrangements they've made. Result? The same amount of traffic is spread over at least twice as much time and the roads don't reach that critical mass of congestion.

  82. Andrew McLachlan

    But I already paid for the fecking Roads with my Taxes!!!

    This government needs to be ousted - and I'm talking by any means we the people feel is required.

    They work for us - not the other way around - when the hell did we all forget this.

    I will never have one of these in my car, arrest me if you want.

    Time has come people for us all to start "doing" as well as complaining. Just like the fine people last week that blocked their dustbin men in and refused to let them out until they collected the rubbish from the strikes 2 weeks previous.

  83. glenn

    @By Paul Hurst

    Get a grip man! How many gallons a year do your hedge trimmer, lawn mower etc actually use? For domestic use i'd guess that it's not enough that you would notice the difference in price over a year. For commercial petrol powered equipment how about red petrol which just like red diesel could be taxed less or not at all.

  84. Frank Bough

    The Least Worst Option the one routinely employed in other nations. IMPROVE THE FUCKING ROAD NETWORK USING A SIGNIFICANT FRACTION OF THE MONEY TAKEN IN MOTORING TAXATION. They might improve the rail network too, if it isn't entirely obvious to the govt that faster trains = higher passenger bandwidth. Obviously raising the speed limits on the motorways ought to help in that direction too, but many of them are so poorly built and maintained that I wonder if that's not a bad idea. Raise capacity by 15% and let ever higher energy prices do the rest.

  85. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @Andrew McLachlan

    You ask "They work for us - not the other way around - when the hell did we all forget this."?

    ever since we had a media so entwined with the leading political party (look how much labour spend on advertising for starters) and they're quite happy to encourage people to think that only a minority of people like to have free / untracked movement or not protest within earshot of our 'leaders' or that only terrorists / terrorist sympathisers would not want an id card.....

  86. Steve Wehrle

    School Run Solution ?

    I always wondered why there isn't a system of school buses in this country, where parents drop off their kids at a bus stop and the kids are ferried to the school gates en mass. If you put the bus stops in shopping centres' car parks it makes it easier for the parents to park their cars while waiting, without clogging up the roads outside the schools.

    And you don't need a wonderful magnet to block PAYD signals ; thick tin foil will do the trick just as well.

  87. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cows don't produce CO2

    "Are you aware the biggest producer of carbon is actually caused by cows? (Last time I checked it was around 85%)"

    Nah, they don't produce any more CO2 than the grass took out of the atmosphere in the first place. It's just a loop that, the CO2 for the grass comes from the air, the same CO2 from the cow is returned to the air.

    Only source of CO2 is us moving trapped CO2 into the atmosphere by burning petroleum products, and some effects from the warming (i.e. by lessening the amount absorbed in the sea, burning trapped carbon in peat or coal etc.).

    However, that's all a side track. Conjestion causes waste and pricing a few roads to drive all the traffic to smaller roads just makes it worse. Huge spending on roads also is such a waste.

    They'd be better on improving public transport and cycle paths and incentive to use smaller vehicles and car share etc.

    This road pricing is a crap idea, crap from the green angle, crap from the tax angle, crap from the 'want to stay electable' angle. I don't see why they keep pushing it.

  88. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Thieving Bastards


    1. I'm an avowed petrol-head who does a LOT of driving across the continent.

    2. I'm a keen cyclist - ride to work in London and MTB on weekends.

    3. I'm also forced to use the stinking London Transport system, from time to time.

    The Busses, Trains and Tubes are all crap, congested and don't work together - and the trains work hard at persecuting cyclists that want to take their bikes onboard. Can't wait for the London Olympics! The System (I use the term loosely) will grind to a halt.

    Cycling in town, to and from work, is one of the few practical ways to get around in London - barring the Taxi drivers and Busses that are all trying to kill you. Stop whining about cyclists skipping traffic lights etc - A cycle is just a hybrid predestrian that is powering a vehicle without the help of an engine - hence, stopping and starting every few minutes is a right pain in the arse.

    Trying to do the weekly shopping on a bike, or taking the kids out, or if you live in more rural areas, the bike's use becomes seriously limited... so...

    The Car.

    Personal transport is a right; not a privilege of the Rich/Famous or "Party Members". Just over 100 years ago, horses were all the rage (which were generally only owned by the well healed lot); today it is the car. Much to the dismay of the ruling classes, cars are now owned by the not so rich and are taking up space on the roads (how dare they!) - hence the prols need to be controlled so they don't get carried away with their freedom.

    Freedom of movement - another right

    Freedom to drive from John-O-groats to Land's End without being tracked, monitored and without seeking permission - another right.

    If I own a gas guzzler, I automatically pay more tax due to the fuel duty - no need to pay more.

    If more roads are built, or existing roads widened; people's bank accounts aren't suddenly flush with thousands of extra pounds. They go out and spend this sudden imaginary windfall on a new car! Since there is no windfall, they are unlikely to suddenly go and buy a new car and clog up the new roads - there is no corellation of the two points.

    More and wider roads will reduce congestion.

    Removal of speed bumps will reduce congestion.

    Removing all blocks on side roads (i.e. shortcuts) will reduce congestion.

    Teaching people how to drive will reduce congestion.

    Raising speed limits on the motorways and teaching lane discipline will reduce congestion (and road rage).


    Spending billions on a new fangled road pricing scheme that will never work; that will be subject to scope creep (like so many other government spying schemes); that will force motorists to give up more rights to freedom of movement; that will be abused by the police state... Will NEVER solve congestion - but it will make our Stasi, Stalinist Police State evern worse.

  89. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pay As You Drive (PAYD)

    I can see Toll-Tags right now, the equivalent to an oyster card for cars.

    I can also see some sneaky danish guys sat by the side of the road with a laptop, pissing themselves with laughter every time a car passes by and they get another couple of quid

  90. Anonymous Coward

    @AC, "I don't see why they keep pushing it."

    Maybe because some of them realise they'll be out on their ear in two years time so if they get in here on some cushy roll they can claim a couple more years on the public, help their pensions etc before the next lot get round to scrapping it completely

  91. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Cows produce methane which is 10 times worse

    Methane is 10 times worse than CO2. In fact this is why the melting of ice is a really bad thing as there are areas where methane is trapped within ice and when the ice thaws it is released.

    Cows produce a lot of methane due to them being fed pre-processed feed instead of letting them chew on grass.

  92. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    are you serious

    >> Increase the price of petrol and remove Road Fund Licence (TAX).

    So that all the people in the cities, with their subsidised public transport, and very short journeys, are given a free ride whilst those that live in the country, no bloody busses there, are made to pay.

    And as for those going on about the school run, not all of us live next to the school, and those mummies that have been encouraged to go back to work, to provide cheap labour, have to get to work on time, so taking the kids to school by car is the only option.

    There is no doubt about it we have a very expensive and crappy public transport system, when I can't take the kids to school, it's nearly as cheap to send them in a taxi as to get them to take the unreliable and slow bus. ( yes they could walk, but the amount of books, sports gear, musical instruments etc. you have to carry when the school is too cheap to provide lockers is just too much)

    It's not a simple solution, but then having a car that can rat you out and automatically fine you is probably not the solution either.

    Paris Hilton 'cos even she is not a big a C**T as some of those that see only the simple solution

  93. Paul Hurst

    @glenn @RED DIESEL

    "How many gallons a year do your hedge trimmer, lawn mower etc actually use?"

    If people would actually read all my posts!

    For domestic use chainsaws, little difference.

    For commercial/large use much bigger.

    As i have said already, generators are the biggie;


    "A small genny (eg 12kw) can easily drink 4 litres of fuel an hour. Large generators (eg 1600kw) can consume 400+litres of fuel PER HOUR."

    "I know that the large genny is a little OTT, but would mean (at 3p p/l) £300 of road tax PER DAY. £109,500 per year.

    Even the little genny at £3 a day is still £1100 over a year."

    "This means that that genny would cost 5 times more than my car tax, despite not being able to use the roads."

    "If petrol/diesel is used in your company, whether for gardening, or quadbiking, outdoor events, anything. Why should that use be funding the roads."


    Could someone show me that any commercial petrol/diesel powered equipment can be eligible for red fuel.

    I think people have misunderstood who can use red diesel, it's mainly agricultural.

    Private boats used to be able use Red Fuel, the EU has changed that, and in a couple of months it will be illegal.

    Come november, boats should pay road tax (if glenn, Dodgy Geezer, AC, Tom Wood, Kevin Pollock & Lee got there way).

    Even if commercials could use red fuel, private boats, private jet skis, private go karts, private generators would still fund VED (Road Tax)




    Apologies for the caps, but people aren't reading! I pay my road tax, i drive my car.

    If i owned a canal boat, i would pay my waterways tax, i would use my boat.

    Why put road charges on a liquid/fuel with so many uses outside roads/driving!!!

  94. Jon Kale

    @the "No, road usage won't increase" fucktards

    The statement that "road usage won't increase if more roads are built because there's only a finite number of drivers" is trivially falsifiable because it assumes axiomatically that all drivers currently spend all their time driving, abandoning all other work and leisure activities to do so.

    This, I suspect, is not true.

    Instead, what tends to happen when you make getting from A to B easier (quicker, smoother, cheaper, whatever) is that lots of people in A, who previously would have mowed the lawn, gone for a walk, played football, whatever, decide that with the new roads making getting to B easy they might as well go to see Auntie Aggie (who lives just outside B), or go shopping in B (because B's got Monsoon but A's only got Dorothy Perkins) or nip out to the multiplex in B because the choice of films is better or...

    Meanwhile, people in B decide that they really should get round to going to A to see the new exhibition, or they use their Choose&Book to get an appointment in the hospital at A rather than waiting to move up the list in B... or they take a job in A because they know that the journey's only 20 minutes now rather than an hour before they built the nice new motorway.

    An excellent example of this is what happens in places like Reading: traffic on the M4 is far heavier between Reading West and Reading East junctions than on the sections either side, because people use the M4 to get from one side of Reading to the other (why they're not escaping from Reading completely is an unanswered question - maybe they're trying to avoid the risk of ending up in Slough...).

    Me, I'm all for ditching VED (flat taxes tend to be regressive) and upping petrol duty in its place - and I speak as someone who drives a big-ass executive saloon.

  95. Anonymous Coward

    ANPR fuel stations

    I know it wouldn't be perfect due to the issue of vehicle cloning but how about:

    Scrap VED, put the tax on fuel then equip every filling station with ANPR (many already have this to spot previous non-payers.) You don't have valid registration, MOT and Insurance? Well you ain't buying any fuel for it then. Go do one. Maybe let someone in a non-MOTed car buy 1 gallon to get them to the testing station once. Yes I know I can fill up cans in my other car but this will be enough of a pain in the arse I couldn't be bothered.

    The system would be much cheaper (could be subsidised by selling drive-off data to the garage) and doesn't need thousands of ANPR cameras. It is far less intrusive to me (it doesn't tell them anything they can't already work out from looking at my mobile phone or credit card)

    I drive commercial mileage in some vehicles I use and in some cases I use the roads disproportionately. If I do twenty times the mileage and emit 10 times the carbon than granny does in her Fiesta then I've put more wear on the roads and more out the exhaust pipe. What right do I have to say I shouldn't pay more.

  96. Jason Clery

    Getting rid of road tax

    When you pay your road tax you need a valid MOT and insurance.

    Without these your vehicle is not road legal. If you get rid of road tax and Swansea DVLA, then how do you make sure vehicles are safe and licenced?

  97. William Old

    The future of Roads Policing

    In "Roads – Delivering Choice and Reliability", Ruth Kelly (Secretary of State for Transport) states:

    "We will therefore work with the Home Office and the Association of Chief Police Officers to identify the most appropriate way to enable additional police resource to be provided for motorway traffic enforcement purposes where that proves necessary, possibly through developing a new standard ‘framework’ agreement."

    She's been badly briefed on this - almost all forces are removing police officers from motorways and arterial roads, commensurate with the development and deployment (by her own Department!) of the new roads police, also known as "Highways Agency Traffic Officers" (HATOs). They don't have enforement powers (yet... see the debate in Parliament by the late Gwyneth Dunwoody, who spotted this wheeze from her own party even before the concept got rolling - see

    But you will see it soon, given the crisis in police leadership (that phrase is being used openly in Home Office) and the huge numbers of officers retiring from the service over the next few years (over half of the entire service). HATOs will be enforcing speed and other traffic offences within 5 years. With PCSOs replacing police officers across England & Wales (Scotland is far too sensible to take this nonsense on board) - in some forces, with unsocial hours payments, PCSOs are paid MORE than probationary police officers! - there just simply won't be any police officers available for roads policing. Soon, "policing" will simply be a uniformed response to spontaneous public disorder, nothing more.

    Society gets the policing that it deserves...

  98. A J Stiles

    Better idea innit

    Scrap the Vehicle Excise Duty (tax disc) but DON'T increase the price of fuel. Just call it a gift.

    The real problem is the 09:00 to 17:00 working day, a throwback to the days before universal electric lighting. If every business had different starting and finishing times, then the times of high traffic density would be staggered, resulting in less congestion.

  99. Mark

    re: Cows produce methane which is 10 times worse

    How many cow farts do we have compared to the number of car/kilometers?

    YOU produce farts that are 10 times worse. Bunging air-tight underpants is not a solution.

  100. Mark

    re: 'New roads will fill up straight away'?


    Rely on the "genius" (in the BS Johnson way) of the government.

    Case in point: near me a small road wide enough for two cars to pass easily is only one-way because it was a council estate (where people couldn't afford two cars per person) and had no parking spaces at the house. So hard to drive and if you lived there, you had no place to park your car.

    Complaints. So the council puts a pay & display system in with permits to remove the cars.

    But the area is a "permit only" parking area 10-5 Mon-Fri.

    I'm left wondering how people who live there are served by having a parking space clear outside their house while at work, but before they get back, someone can just park their car there anyway.

  101. Tim

    Time for change.

    Yes, the roads are over congested and it's time for some serious changes. Lets ditch Labour and get a government that can see how much the Public Transport network can improve. I mean seriously, who can afford to travel by train? It cost more than the car, takes longer and is often late. Buses are more affordable but slower. There is no suitable alternative to the car for the majority of the population, and now they want to tax us more for working?

    Who gains? The only people I can think of who don't drive are the elderly or people on benefits. Great so the only people stupid enough to still vote for Labour after such a terrible move are covered. And there's plenty of budget left to spread plenty of MRSA through the hospitals and to replace Laptops when they get left on trains.

    Oh and given the raises in fuel duty they've been implementing (and occasionally delaying) you'd think there'd be plenty of budget for nice smooth roads...but no they're sub-par because the the money is poorly assigned already, who says this extra money would be spent well.

  102. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Can some of you moderate your tone a bit?

    Other people aren't "fucktards" just because they have a different viewpoint.

    Why must people be so rawly abusive?

    @Paul Hurst : RED FUEL

    You really need to read the HM R&C web site.

    "A vehicle that is not used on the public road and has no licence under the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994 is an excepted vehicle. If a vehicle has become untaxed since 31 January 1998 it requires a Statutory Off-Road Notification (SORN). Such vehicles will be eligible to use red diesel if a SORN declaration has been made. Unlicensed vehicles that do not require a SORN will continue to be able to use red diesel without a SORN declaration if kept off-road."

    If a SORN car can use red fuel, then your chainsaw and generator can too.

    You lawnmower, assuming you need to drive it on the public road, is also exempt:-

    "The mowing machine must be a complete vehicle, whether pedestrian-operated or ‘ride-on’. The machinery must be built into the vehicle for it to qualify under this category towed equipment, or removable mowing attachments do not qualify. "

    Even if exemptions didn't already exist, they could obviously be added. Haulage firms would probably be deserving of some kind of rebate as well.

  103. Jamie


    I have to agree with your point. If I lived in London or worked there I would not bother with a car as I could hire one when the need arises. I could move closer to my work but then my wife would have further to drive and she has to drive as she is a socialworker.

  104. Matthew

    @Jon Kale

    There was no need to be abusive, but hey, thanks for the well-thought out response and, oh look, it contains a swear word. We all think you're very clever.

    I am astonished you really believe everyone is going to change their weekend plans and go for a drive just because a new road has been built. Maybe in 1965: just how old are you? And are you seriously suggesting that people mow the lawn at weekends only because it avoids sitting in a traffic jam?!

    Please get a sense of proportion!

    And as to your 'people will move and commute' argument - well if they have moved house then their journey has *also moved* to the new road. The road that they would previously have occupied has one car less on it!

    Then you give the example of Reading (which has no easy east-west alternative to the M4) and you are surprised that people choose the M-way... How about the problem that I sometimes drive all the way to Reading rather than drive the (shorter) distance into Oxford (to avoid the least car-friendly place in the UK)? As I said, all it does is moves the problem elsewhere.

    I stand by my point: new roads ease congestion by offering an alternative route - and unless more drivers miraculously appear it works.

  105. Michael

    @Getting rid of road tax - Tax discs

    Simple enough, the Government scraps both Road Tax and DVLA Swansea, then issues a new standard for a two-part insurance certificate and a two part MOT certificate.

    The second part of each would be a small windscreen mounted piece of paper with the insurance / MOT expiry date on it. (No reason for it to be disc shaped). This would have the added advantage of preventing the the time lag between your insurance / MOT running out and your Tax Disc still being valid. (That's potentially up to a year of illegal motoring). Any losses the insurance industry incurs through producing the new paperwork should easily berecouped as the number of uninsured cars falls dramatically (they being so easily recognised). This would also mean that police "producers" should fall, as they would only need to see a driving licence (they could probably validate the insurance/mot windscreen tickets at the side of the road through the usual channels).

    Everybody wins. (Unless you work for DVLA or drive a chainsaw).

  106. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Jason Clery

    >How do you make sure vehicles are safe and licenced?

    The same way we make sure they are insured. Besides, the insurers should be able to check that a car they are about to cover has a current MOT.

    There's been a trick for a while where people get a cover note, tax the car

    then cancel the insurance.

  107. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Problem with buses

    Is that they're generally not going where I need them to go when I'm going there... Even when they did, it was mightly inconvenient. Whilst in university, I commuted by bus and had to transfer from the main line to a cross-town for each trip and back...normally a hour trip from home and another hour back. Miss either bus and it was another half-hour wait; miss both and a full hour wasted. I finally bought a car when the cross-town got a couple of us to the transfer point and the main line driver (who saw us and our driver signalling him), just left without us and we had to wait for the next bus. Been driving a car ever since and never looked back. Funny thing is; now that gas / petrol is so expensive, more riders than ever are looking at riding buses and more bus lines than ever are looking at dropping routes and times...WTF?

    you know why

  108. Anonymous Coward

    Re: 'New roads will fill up straight away'?

    "Unless someone finds a way to drive two cars at once, or there is a huge poulation explosion, it *can*t get worse."

    Crikey what short memories some people have.

    Remember when they opened the M25 - see that iconic picture of one Morris Minor (well some old car) pootling along it? Look at it now. Heaving it is.

    Now I accept that car ownership is quite a bit more saturated now that it was then, but on the M6 and the M62 I can tell you that a reduction in traffic would have to be very substantial to make a difference to the status quo, but if you build extra/wider roads along the commuter corridors they *will* get crowded. The population *is growing* and some people do use the train because driving in is just not a viable option.

    As others have said, the biggest issue is not capacity - it is the fact that every bugger wants to drive between 8:00 and 9:00 in the morning along the same roads. Fix that and most of the problems will go away. Extra taxation will not make a ha'penny worth of difference to the traffic.

  109. Dave

    Why reinvent the wheel

    "Automatic Numberplate Recognition (ANPR), used in most current traffic-control systems - for instance the London Congestion Charge zone - is easily beaten by the use of false plates carrying someone else's number*."


    So if its so terrible why is it used by everyone else with automated toll roads?

    AFAIK the Irish system is a badge displayed in the window that you "top up" on a website or in shops like a phone card, read at the toll booth as you exit the toll road. So even if you cloned it you'd have to rely on the cloned person keeping paying and not noticing you using up their credits.

    Does anyone have a reference for "routine" use of congestion zone data by the police? I wasn't aware that was the case.

  110. Herby

    And I thought only Californians were serious about their cars

    Taxes, on driving? It was an increase in the vehicle registration tax that caused our former beloved (yeah, right!) president to be removed from office when he was governor of Arkansas.

    Politicians have never met a tax they didn't like (especially liberal ones!).

    As for the cost of implementation, this reminds me of the Paris Metro ticket takers. I was told (so it may not be true) that the fares they collected (manually) totaled less than the salaries they were paid. It would have been cheaper to let the riders go for free. With the costs involved with implementation of this mess, the same might be said.

    At least here in California, the price of gas (petrol) is going below $4.00 soon (I filled up Saturday at $4.03/gal [32 oz/3.78 liters]. It includes about $.50 in taxes.

  111. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Congestion problem?

    A blip, occasioned by cheap oil.

  112. Anonymous Coward

    Hasn't anyone got it yet

    Next year, 2009, VED is being replaced with a CO2 emissions charge based on the emissions your car produces, the year after toll roads are introduced, the Govt then states that it has to introduce toll because it abolished VED in 2009 and the money for maintaining roads has to come from somewhere.

    Yet another con trick from the Macfia and I can't be the only one that has spotted it

  113. Kevin Kitts

    It's doomed to failure...

    what this is, is a two-step tax on drivers. You track users, then you tax them on how far they drive, congestion, etc. Simple. So, when most of the people stop driving because they're getting double-taxed on driving (gas tax, then road tax), a lot of people will start taking mass transit where it's available.

    Never mind that this will cause the government to take in even less revenue than before they taxed the road usage. So, in trying to save the roads, they're destroying them (taxing them so much people won't use them anymore). Brilliant.

    Or maybe that was their plan all along.

  114. Ben

    and when the petrol isn't popular?

    so.. what happens when all these hybrid electric car beasts come along and dont actually consume petrol then?

    I presume road pricing is how they want to go, as in 5-10 years it may be the only way that they can claim any tax at all....

  115. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    No-one will get rid of Road-fund licence

    The Car Tax might cost a whole load of extra money to administer, and a move to taxing the fuel makes a lot of sense (albeit with 1 caveat I'll discuss below). Unfortunately, the database they use for collecting car tax is far too useful to the Government and law enforcement/brown shirts for them to get rid of it. The fact that you have to update your car's license docs every year, otherwise you don't get the reminder, and become liable for fines etc. means they can track the home of every car in the country.

    Now, from my perspective, I would like to see a tax that applies to everyone on the roads. The Road-fund license is obviously not required by visitors. Tax on petrol at least hits people who visit the UK and need to fill up whilst they are here, but most lorries that come to the UK from the continent fill up with as much fuel as they can overseas before they come to the UK to avoid paying the extra tax. A tracking system will also be flawed since visitors won't have the box in the car. Toll-booths are pretty much the only thing that works from that perspective. Personally, I think the best compromise would be to move all tax onto fuel, but require all visitors to the country bringing a car to declare the amount of fuel they bring in, and pay tax on any difference to the amount taken out.

  116. Dan Silver badge

    Didn't Gordon let it be known that he was against road pricing?

    Does this mean:

    1) He can't control his own departments.


    2) He's a compulsive liar who just says something to shut people up for the moment yet carry on regardless.

  117. Gianni Straniero

    A Party Political Broadcast for the Labour Party

    If we want to stop you doing something, we charge you for it. This is our default position, because the cost of implementing the solution is less than the revenue generated by it.

    We don't like you smoking, drinking, driving into town, or parking in it once you get there. So we charge you.

    It has come to our attention that too many people are using their cars to get about. This cannot possibly be because there is no viable alternative. You must all be selfish libertarian nutters who watch too much Top Gear and want Jeremy Clarkson for Prime Minister. How do we stop you? Charge you!

    We can't introduce toll booths on the motorways. The longest unbroken stretch of motorway in the UK is the M11 Southbound, between Junctions 10 and 8. It's only 17 miles. You wily motorists would just give the tollboths the slip(road) and end up driving through villages. Isn't this why we built horrible things like the Newbury Bypass and gave Swampy all that airtime?

    We can't raise fuel duty, because we'd get go-slows of lawnmowers, chainsaws, generators and strimmers clogging up the North Circular. Will no-one think of the school run?

    Instead, we've selected a hopelessly-underspecified technical solution from three worst-of-breed overseas tenders, that nobody except a bunch of consultants even pretends to understand because it involves teh intarwebs or something. Then we can hand over the data to the Pigs, because they're interested in your movements, and the innocent have nothing to fear, etc. After that, I'm sure RCapital would love to buy the data from us, so they know where to build more Little Chefs. Welcome Break too, come to think of it.

    Our sincerest hope is that driving becomes so hideously expensive that you'll be forced like cattle onto inadequate public transport. When all that goes to shit, we'll blame the other lot for privatising it in the first place. After all, there's nothing we can do to make it better, is there?

  118. Michael

    @Getting rid of road tax - Tax discs

    Simple enough, the Government scraps both Road Tax and DVLA Swansea, and issues a new standard for a two-part insurance certificate and a two part MOT certificate.

    The second part would be a small windscreen mounted piece of paper with the insurance / MOT expiry date on it. This would have the added advantage of preventing the the time lag between your insurance / MOT running out and your Tax Disc still being valid. (That's potentially up to a year of illegal motoring). Any losses the insurance industry incurs through producing the new paperwork should be easily recouped as the number of uninsured cars falls dramatically (they being so easily recognised). This would also mean that police "producers" should fall, as they would only need to see a driving license (they could probably validate the insurance/mot windscreen tickets at the side of the road through the usual channels).

  119. iamzippy

    @Paul Hurst Dammit!

    Dude you keep rapping on about those gennies. So much detail, you must be using gennies for some purpose to know all that.

    And for extra tax on fuel to piss you off so much, you have to be using commercial quantities.

    So what are your gennies doing? I notice you've avoided going there.

    What is it? Heat, light and irrigate a skunk farm? Has to be something similar, where you keep your business exes to y'self.

  120. JimC


    If people don't adjust their choice of job/living place etc to match the practicality of motor car commute how come the average journey to work has increased so much over the last thirty years...

    If commuting journey time as a resultof congestion or cost as a result of fuel prices increased or decreased then

    1) When you are considering changing jobs would the radius of travel you consider increase or decrease?

    2) When you consider moving house does the radius of travel from your workplace you are prepared to consider increase or decrease?

    There are enough people doing those all the time to make a significant difference over a period of time without anyone needing to move house/job just because of cost/commute time.

  121. Lorenz Kahl

    Re:Re: And the next step is...

    My Father is German and was in WW2. He was captured and became a POW, never returning to his homeland, apart from visits. He tells me that the UK is now far worse than Hitler's Germany was during the run-up to the war....

    I now live in NZ and fortunately things have not yet gone down the UK route.

  122. Ben Bonsall


    Dear god, there's a lot of selfish opinionated bullsh*t in these comments.

    Everyone wants more and better but refuses to make any sacrafice to get it.

    Some things to consider-

    Driving your car causes congestion.

    The bigger the car, the more congestion.

    If this was Johannesburg, there might be a reason to drive 500m to take your kids to school.

    Not using public transport causes it to decline in quality and increase in price.

    There is a huge amount of rail infrastructure that is being upgraded at the moment. (Both speed and capacity.)

    It is easy to show that adding CO2 to a volume of gas increases it's heat storage capacity. (We might not know how such a complex system as the earth will respond to such an increase in stored heat, but human activity is definetly increasing it.)

    Tax causes growth in an economy.

    Growth of an ecomony causes an increase in the standard of living. (there's more money around to buy stuff with.)

    You Don't Get Something For Nothing.

  123. Pierre

    "Least worst alternative"

    Would be affordable trains. I'm sorry for all the toll booth advocates, but they are not the reason why French highways are usable. The reason is that train is reasonnably cheap, the railroad network coverage is (was) very good. Unfortunately, France is heading the same way as the UK (trains operated by private companies only interested in rewarding shareholders), so it's soon going to be the same mess on both sides of the Manche/English Channel. That's the way politics works: useless w*nkers taking ideas from abroad, but always in the worst way possible. I'm not in France anymore, but I spent 25+ years there, I do drive, I do like to drive, but sometimes putting my lazy butt on a comfy train seat and sleeping (or working, reading, whatever) during the travel is -surprisingly- more appealing than driving for hours through congestions and villages. If the railroad network is well designed and operated so as to be cost-neutral instead of generating huge profits for shareholders, it's also faster and not more expensive than driving. And much safer, too. Of course, sometimes you just NEED to drive, or it can be cheaper (if you're 3-4 people in the same car), but an affordable and well-thought train network would still solve the problem, methink. Not to mention that for the kind of cash that the Brit gov is ready to waste on PR (with an expected result of approx. nil) you could get a nice improvement of the railroad network... and it's more energy-efficient, too... I overheard that you guys are worried about energy shortage, maybe recycling cabbage leftovers from your garbage bins would not be necessary if your gov did something to enhance railroad transportation...

    But Blighty is only half as bad as some other countries to this regard [yes, US and Canada, I'm looking at you: a 900 km x2 round trip in northern America costs 700 bucks at least (lower flight prices, including the taxi to and from the airports) and takes at least 2 times 4 hours (1h15 for the flight, the remaining time for check-in, security controls, taxi and so on -and that's if you avoid extensive searches and your luggage don't get lost). In France I used to do the same kind of travel routinely by train: it costs ~300 bucks, all included (less than half the price), and takes 2 times 5 hours (all inclusive). Not to mention that it is significantly more difficult to crash a train on the White House ;).]

  124. Jason Clery


    "The same way we make sure they are insured. Besides, the insurers should be able to check that a car they are about to cover has a current MOT."

    and how do we ensure a car is insured?

  125. Anonymous Coward

    @Ben Bonsall

    > Driving your car causes congestion.

    uh huh, not having adequate infrastructure also causes congestion

    > The bigger the car, the more congestion.

    not really theres not really that much difference between a small car and a large car, just over a metre between a mini and an x5, and in the nose to tail car parks londoners call roads theres usually about 3 times this separating the cars (as i sail past on foot or bike)

    > If this was Johannesburg, there might be a reason to drive 500m to take your

    > kids to school.

    and that 500 metres was pulled out of his rear when he pointed out that he didn't actually realise that the majority of the population take their holidays in the period of time referred to as 'summer' when the weather is supposed to be better. Its probably best not to keep referring back to his idiocy to save him some face

    > Not using public transport causes it to decline in quality and increase in price.

    I've been using, roughly, the same trains at, roughly, the same time for over 10 years and more and more people are using them and guess what, the price has shot up and the quality has shot down, so something is wrong with your hypothesis their

    > Tax causes growth in an economy.

    lol, is that from the tiny leaflet of socialist and marxist jokes?

  126. Anonymous Coward

    @Can they tell us how they survived the Secret Police?

    Yes, my wife grew up in KSSR (Қазақ Советтік Социалистік Республикасы) wow! Kazakh fonts work on 'elRegweb!

    You briefed your kids all the time that what mummy & daddy did and said at home was NOT to be repeated to your friends or the nice schoolteacher who always asked a lot of questions. e.g. The family listened to BBC/VOA russian service - but this was rather illegal. You made sure that the kids didn't know that grandma was born in Poland and was vaguely jewish. You explain that mum & dad could disappear overnight with just one wrong comment. After that it was darwinian survival. family actually *liked* living the socialist dream, food was variable, economy rumbled along - not too many friends were arrested, but some. The ice cream & kvass was nice. Politicians were the same then and there as they are here and now!

    As for road pricing, I chatted to one of the chief designers of the UK ANPR which was invented for antiterrorism purposes in N.I., and he wasn't exactly in favour of road charging. New roads always generate extra traffic. Look at the 'new empty' roads after the London CC, isn't it true that they are now back to the old peaks? just most ppl are paying. There was an article in New York Times about the near-future car integrated Navigation systems which deny the option to start the car unless a valid signal is achieved.

  127. Anonymous Coward

    A lot of missed point of road fund licence

    NO, it was never really for the roads, it's a licence to use your car on public roads.

    Also it gives plod a good idea that your out of date one means you have no MOT, Insurance etc....having your car totalled by a knob end without a licence is an eye opener, believe me....and they get 3 months suspended and a holiday abroad from the local magistrate while I got SFA and 16 months of court costs trying to get the cost of my car from someone who adminted he'll never get a job cos he'd have to pay rent and stuff.

    keep road fund licences, least you know your car is safe

  128. Mark


    "If people don't adjust their choice of job/living place etc to match the practicality of motor car commute how come the average journey to work has increased so much over the last thirty years...

    If commuting journey time as a resultof congestion or cost as a result of fuel prices increased or decreased then

    1) When you are considering changing jobs would the radius of travel you consider increase or decrease?

    2) When you consider moving house does the radius of travel from your workplace you are prepared to consider increase or decrease?"

    Jim, that would be because you forgot

    3) You don't have a choice of changing jobs when they outsource you

    4) You don't have a choice when they move to the business park out of town

    5) You don't have a choice when they close up shop

  129. Anonymous Coward

    cycle lanes

    "Cycle lanes should be at least as wide as a bike, as opposed to the 2ft-wide excuses for cycle lanes that you occasionally could find if looking closely at certain places around here."

    "Not sure what sort of bike you ride, but i've never seen a 2ft wide one before :)"

    Unfortunately the sort of people who design these things don't ride bikes, and therefore they end up designing cycle lanes unsuitable for the purpose.

    People tend to forget that sat atop the narrow frame of the pushbike are a variety of wide human beings - most of whom are around 2ft or wider shoulder to shoulder.

    Another thing that annoys me immensely about cycle lanes, is that its assumed that cycles all travel at the same speed and are happy to blissfully potter about in single file in their nice safe cycle lane.

    Um, NO!! cyclists need room to pass other cyclists - a lot of people do muck about a 2mph in rush hour, while others may either be late for work or simply putting some effort into their bike ride for fitness reasons. I tend to fall into the latter category, and to be able to move along at a reasonable pace (20mph is no problem) I find myself obliged to avoid cycle lanes and take my chances with the busses, u-turning taxis and articulated lorries on the main road.

    The special high kerbing proposed by Mr Brian Paddick supposedly to keep cyclists safe from cars are in fact a barrier to cycling because they bottleneck the cycle traffic into these stupid narrow lanes.

  130. Matt

    @Stu Reeves

    Totally agree with you there mate, you've hit one of the nails on the head.

    I used to work in a school as support staff (IT) - unlike the poor "underpaid" teachers I was there pretty much year round - during the school holidays my commute was just shy of 15 minutes by car, during term time it went up to 40 minutes (and the number of bad drivers increased exponentially).

    At 8:50am and 3:30pm the road outside the school was reduced to practically a single lane for 200m in each direction, never mind the double yellow lines and the no stopping signs. If you were lucky you could drive past the school without meeting someone coming the other way and having to reverse until you found a space to let them pass.

    This was a upper school with roughly 1100 students in an inner city area - served by good public transport - and yet the majority of students were brought by car everyday. You can't use the argument of "5yr olds can't be put on buses" when the youngest students are 12.

    If you need to be at work at 9, then put your kid on the bus at 8:30, it's win-win for parents and kids, kids get some independence, and parents get to work less stressed and without having fist fights with other parents outside the school because they've been parked in (yep, I've seen it happen).

    Easiest solution is dedicated school buses and catchment areas for schools. Don't like the school your kid has to go to, tough shit, it'd help even out the standard of teaching too.

  131. druck Silver badge


    If GPS is used for road pricing, it wont be the motorways that are jammed, but the GPS. The signals from the satellites are extremely weak, and a very low powered transmitter can block the signal over a large area. Its enviable this will be done to defeat the system, but will also have the side effect of denying other GPS uses, such as for road and air navigation.

    The governments tax and surveillance nightmare could send us all back to the navigation stoneage in to the bargain, it needs to be resisted at all costs.

  132. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Jason Clery

    >and how do we ensure a car is insured?

    That was actually my point, there's no marker for it now.

    It was in response to :-

    >How do you make sure vehicles are safe and licenced?

    Licenced is only a requirement for paying the tax, so it can't be a reason for it. You can;'t require a licence because otherwise you wouldn't know if there was a licence. That's just daft.

    So it's the MOT, and how do you know a car has an MOT? By the tax disc? But the tax disc only shows that the car had an MOT when it was taxed, it could have expired the following day. It's a job better done by the insurance companies who have a vested interest in knowing that cars are safe to drive.

    The insurance database can provide the details of where everyone lives as well. As someone who moves a lot, my car is often taxed at a place I haven't lived for a while because there's no need to update it. The insurance co know where I am though.

    If the police checked plates more thoroughly then the uninsured, unlicensed and unMOT'd cars would get picked up.

  133. andreas koch

    @Ben Bonsall

    >The bigger the car, the more congestion.

    simplyfied, that.

    A Peugeot 807 carrying 8 causes 4.8m of solid congestion with a fuel consumption of around 30 mpg. A fleet of Smarts carrying 8 causes (4*3m +safety distance of 3*2m =)18m of solid congestion at ~(70/4=)17.5 mpg. Or do I get the calcs wrong here?

    Of course it's not true, but not anymore untrue than your's, Ben.

  134. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Wow, I can't believe the Government of England can...

    get away with surviellence like this and Phorm.

    I suppose once it's implemented there it will only be a matter of time before it comes here, Canada.

    Beware obvious statement ahead: There is something fundamentally wrong with our political systems and those who are elected to "run" them. I have become so cynical that I believe most politicians are in the pockets of big business and/or are so stupid/guilible that anything "technical" can be foisted on them as a great plan. Or at least that can be used as an excuse when they are pushed for explanations as to how the system is used in a way they never intended. Lack of foresight and consequences are OK if you're a politician.

    I don't know how citizenry of England will stop this from proceeding. Where does the Phorm debate stand at present? asking as I have lost track, last I read that appeared to be going ahead

    Dead Vulture as that is the present direction of our freedoms

  135. Dr Dan Holdsworth

    And easily hacked system?

    Assuming this system is built, the cars fitted with it are certain to have some means of reporting units which fail to get a GPS (or rather Galileo, since this is the system that will be used) lock for a set period of time. People owning these units will then get a visit from Plod for tax evasion.

    So, this therefore give a very easy attack vector for a small terrorist cell to try. All they have to do is disrupt the Galileo signal over an area or length of motorway at rush hour (lots of small, synchronised jammers are better than one big one here) and then all those cars GPS units will lose lock on the satellites, and report this back to Big Brother control.

    Hundreds of completely innocent motorists will then get victimised and oppressed by the Government without the terrorists ever really needing to do anything, and given the ability of petty bureaucrats to bully, oppress and generally make people miserable they are going to be way more effective than any terrorist cell could be.

    This trick could then be repeated several times around the country, especially if the terrorist cell is careful not to do it twice in rapid succession in the same police area. After a while the trick would get found out, but in the mean time the Government could be made to look extremely evil indeed.

  136. Rich

    How about we Toll the Trains and Busses as well

    I think that people who use trains and/or the tubes should have to pay a tax at every station they stop at.

    And bus passengers should have to pay a tax every time they use a bus lane.

    The Government does not know how to run public transport (umungst other things like the NHS etc...) and therefore cannot grumble when we all revert to using cars. All of this is just a ploy to look good at the 2012 games. It has nothing to do with the benefit of the UK peasants.

    It costs me 50p of Diesel to get into london. And £20 to go standing in a Train, why o why should I have to put up with a crap public service!

  137. dervheid

    @ Andreas Koch

    Nicely put.

    This would appear to be the same argument Boris must have used recently against the 'Bendy-Bus' and in favour of the good ol' Routemaster.

    IE Routemaster = more passengers/foot than 'Bendy-Bus', therefore Routemaster generates less congestion. Not to mention greater manoeuvrability in London's streets.

    The really scary thing is that BJ seems to have a grip on reality!

  138. pctechxp

    cycle lanes

    you gotta be nuts to use them, what with the knife wielding yobbo scumbags they let walk about.

    Time for a national strike for two days, lets show 'em who is in charge

  139. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @AC "Speeding"

    Speeding is breaking the law, if you break the law you are taking the risk of being caught. What does it matter what means they use to catch you? If you get caught by an accurate means then you are bang to rights. If you don't want to get caught speeding, don't break the speed limit. Simple.

  140. Mark

    @andreas koch

    "A Peugeot 807 carrying 8 causes 4.8m of solid congestion with a fuel consumption of around 30 mpg. A fleet of Smarts carrying 8 causes (4*3m +safety distance of 3*2m =)18m of solid congestion at ~(70/4=)17.5 mpg. Or do I get the calcs wrong here?"

    And a Peugeot 807 carrying one person causes 4.8m of congestion and 30mpg pollution.

    A single smart car carrying one person causes 3m of solid congestion at 70mpg.

    Your calculations were based on the fallacious decision that the cars would be full to capacity, in contravention of the evidence that cars are mostly single-occupancy.

  141. dervheid

    Time for a national strike for two days, lets show 'em who is in charge

    And just what percentage of the populace do you really think will do that.

    This is why Thatcher was so intent on getting as many people as possible onto the 'property ladder'. Once the vast majority of the prols have succumbed to the message that you're nothing unless you own your own home (and are mortgaged to the hilt) then the fear of loosing *their* home will help to keep the prols in line.

  142. Mark

    re: cycle lanes

    ""Not sure what sort of bike you ride, but i've never seen a 2ft wide one before :)"

    Unfortunately the sort of people who design these things don't ride bikes, and therefore they end up designing cycle lanes unsuitable for the purpose.

    People tend to forget that sat atop the narrow frame of the pushbike are a variety of wide human beings - most of whom are around 2ft or wider shoulder to shoulder."

    They also forget that cycling is basically falling off sideways at alternate sides.

    Cycle through a puddle. Watch the tire tracks. That wobble is you falling from one side to the other, this falling causing the cycle to describe a circle because of the partial gravitational force towards the inside of that circle. But cycling in a circle causes a centripetal acceleration that puts you up right (because it is an acceleration away from the centre of the circle). This puts you back upright.

    Then, because you've moved slightly off to one side of your intended course, you tend toward the other side.

    And so you continue forward.

    This requires that there be sufficient room for this falling to occur else you hit an obstruction and fall off permanently.

    Note also: cars are about 5 ft wide, But for roads, there's about 8ft per side for traffic. 6ft would be enough, but you'd have to be a much better driver to cope at normal speeds with that much gap either side and NOT have an accident.

  143. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: cycle lanes

    The problem with bike lanes is that, well, it's not exactly the driest of countries is it?

    So when it's pissing it down and the bus still doesn't go anywhere near where you

    need to go, how do you get to work?

    There's the turning up for work dripping with sweat thing which isn't exactly pleasant.

    >Cycle through a puddle. Watch the tire tracks. That wobble is you falling... It's very hard to balance whilst watching your own tracks.

  144. Matthew


    >If people don't adjust their choice of job/living place etc to match the practicality >of motor car commute how come the average journey to work has increased so >much over the last thirty years...

    So are you saying that everyone moves house solely because a new road is built? I think you'll find that other factors are involved in where people choose to live and how they commute...

    And to answer your questions: In my case, when I changed jobs the radius of travel decreased because I wanted a shorter commute and to be home in time to see my kids before they went to bed. When I moved house it was to find a larger home at an affordable price: the travel radius barely altered.

    Nobody wants to sit in a queue and, over time, people will (if they have the option and all other factors are equal) move to places with an easier, quieter journey. People only choose a congested route if there is no better viable alternative (such as through redundancy or overpriced property). That would contribute to the effect you describe but not the act of road-building itself.

    The same social manipulation that is being attempted to introduce road pricing is similar to the idea of putting speed humps on alternative routes or, as in London, re-phasing traffic lights, making bus lanes operate 24/7 and removing the cut-in bus stops. Funnily enough this has made the congestion as bad as it was before the charging was introduced.

    I have no objection to encouraging people out of their cars by making the alternatives *better* - but all we ever see is Government and councils trying to make driving as bad as the alternatives.

  145. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Road pricing is long overdue and the only clear solution

    Road pricing is long overdue and has been advocated by transport experts for decades. The problem is that the government won't accept their advice because it's politically difficult. When combined with hypothecation of revenues (as is the case in London), and replacement of fuel tax, it ought to be politically acceptable - alternatives to the car will become better funded, leading to more use, more revenue and thus a beneficial cycle. The current fuel tax 'solution' leads to the ridiculous situation that someone driving through an uncluttered country road pays the same tax as someone driving through the centre of a congested city - with all the externalities that causes.

    People need to face the fact that only radical solutions will get us out of our cars, and that means both carrots *and* sticks.

  146. EvilGav

    @ Road pricing is long overdue and the only clear solution

    "Road pricing is long overdue and has been advocated by transport experts for decades. The problem is that the government won't accept their advice because it's politically difficult. When combined with hypothecation of revenues (as is the case in London), and replacement of fuel tax, it ought to be politically acceptable - alternatives to the car will become better funded, leading to more use, more revenue and thus a beneficial cycle. The current fuel tax 'solution' leads to the ridiculous situation that someone driving through an uncluttered country road pays the same tax as someone driving through the centre of a congested city - with all the externalities that causes."

    No, it doesn't.

    If the country road is clear, then the driver will be doing around 60mph, the almost perfectly fuel efficient speed (IIRC, that is 56mph). However the person in the congested town will be driving slower, sometimes be stopped, be involved in stop/start driving and lots of gear changes, all of which will use more fuel and so they will be comesurately taxed.

    Similarly, if the drive into town is done earlier/later, when the roads are less congested, you'd use less fuel and be taxed less.

    As for the school run, as many have said, have dedicated buses (a la the USA), which negates that need. Personally, I walked to school for my entire primary school years, with my older brother from the age of 6/7, which was in Surrey and involved crossing a major A road - however, we used the pedestrian crossing, which made it safe to do so.

    The reason the roads around school are so dangerous is because of the number of parents who cant trust their children to get to school on their own - you yourselves cause the problem you are seeking to avoid by driving. Here in central Edinburgh, the most prevalent school kids on the buses are from the private schools, the ones going to the state schools get driven by parents; makes you think.

    Yes, roads are dangerous, so why don't we teach children not to walk on them ?? I seem to remember that that was the thrust of advertising when I was a kid (Darth Vader as the green cross code man, Tufty club etc etc).

  147. Gareth

    GPS Tracking

    I knew investing in all those car gps jammers would come in handy

    See you in the fast lane :)

  148. Mark


    ">Cycle through a puddle. Watch the tire tracks. That wobble is you falling... It's very hard to balance whilst watching your own tracks."

    No need, JonB. A more intelligent person would get off the bike and look at the WET TRACKS made.

    This is why I said "cycle through a puddle". A source of water that your cycle tires will pick up and distribute on the dry (and lighter coloured because of it) road/path and leave a damp (and therefore darker coloured because of it) track.

    Inspection of said track will show you where your tires went.

  149. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Consider your use of the verb "watch".

    One watches dynamic things, like a television, a bike making tracks or a donkey one "looks" at static things.

    When you go to a gallery, you wouldn't say that you "watch" the paintings would you?

    Besides, the tracks only wobble if you're pedalling, any sensible person lifts their feet from the pedals whilst travelling through a puddle or they get their feet wet.

  150. Mark


    Consider the wordS "watch the tracks".

    Not "watch the wheel".

    But most of your "intelligence" is used up picking words out of context, isn't it JonB. Anything to make sure that YOU ARE NEVER WRONG.

    'cos "little JonB" will wither and die if you ever consider saying "oops. my mistake".

  151. Mark
    Paris Hilton

    Watch the painting

    well people DO say "watch the radio".

    "Watch it" When holding you up by your collar and waving a fist in your face doesn't mean "watch my fist as I punch you".

    English is a very messy language.

    From an internet top10 list style thing:

    "Things a woman should know about men

    If we say something that could be taken two ways and one upsets you, we meant the other one."

    Is that because lil' jon gone?

  152. Wayland Sothcott

    So it's admitted they want to spy on us

    If it was about road tax you would stick it all on fuel. That would encourage people to use less fuel by whatever means.

    If you want to charge people for using cirtain roads differently to other roads then you don't need to track them. You just have three milometers, one for each price bracket. Transponders in the roads click you onto the right price bracket as you clock up miles.

    But then that would not help with spying and would be limited to pricing based on the initial simple system. When you know everything about someones journey you can tax them according to how far away from home they are and how long they spend away. You can then provide them with an itemized bill of each journey. You can let the authorities have access to this also. You had better watch what you do and where you go, anyone could find out what you have been up to. Having an affair? Well it could be on your itemized travel bill. Gone to a job interview on a sick day?

    It probably will not work very well but the bad thing is that they want to spy on us.

  153. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just a thought

    When Ken Livingstone wanted us to accept the congestion charge he changed the timing of the traffic lights to increase congestion and bolster his argument.

    When those in power wanted us to have Oyster cards, paper train tickets were priced artificially high.

    Now we have very high car tax, and road pricing will be the cheaper option, but the cost once again will be more government control.

    As for the increasing congestion on the roads, is it any wonder when everyday something is introduced to slow the traffic down under the guise of safety.

  154. archie lukas

    easy peasy solution

    Just paint the car reg on the roof and employ Red Kens congestion charge cameras and voila!

    Works for cop cars...........

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