Road pricing: the wrong debate
Today’s news: 1.8 million signatures on a petition against a road pricing proposal. A new, online e-petition.
OK, it’s easy to see how it reaches that number of signatures. It’s had massive publicity from the mainstream meeja (like the newspapers and BBC). It’s online, so it’s no effort to sign it. And not least, it’s wide open to being stuffed by automated bots posting bogus signatures.
And it’s a proposal with a lot to oppose in it:
- The purpose is to provide incentives to avoid the busiest roads and times, to reduce congestion. That will inevitably leave far more of our nicer country lanes crawling with cars, and unpleasant for everyone.
- It relies on a big government computer system, which inevitably implies a fiasco.
- It relies on tracking technology fitted in vehicles. When the proposal comes from the present government, who can blame people for being suspicious about that? And we can surely expect the devices to be tampered with, probably on a large scale.
- It’s presented as a new charge: pay more, get [???] back for it. Yeah, just what everyone wants.
Besides that, some of the propagandists have been concocting altogether more outrageous scare stories.
The second part of this story is a BBC survey, which suggests that people would be much happier to pay if the money were given back to them in some other form, or ringfenced for better transport.
Right. So, just reintroduce John Major’s fuel price escalator, but this time tie it to a systematic equal reduction in tax elsewhere. Cost linked directly to pollution. No disastrous technology project. No unwelcome surveillence. And we can start right now!
When I went on my first peace march, I had to overcome feelings of revulsion at being associated with a bunch of lefties, and a cause seen by some as one of theirs. I have yet to overcome my revulsion at the road lobby – which lacks even the left’s redeeming feature of a Good (if misguided) Cause. Otherwise I might’ve been tempted to sign this one myself.