Azara Blog: Douglas Alexander can't wait for road pricing

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Date published: 2006/12/03

The BBC says:

National road tolls could be brought in within a decade, Transport Secretary Douglas Alexander has said.

He admitted a "still sceptical" public had yet to be won over to the benefits of road pricing - but said something had to be done to prevent gridlock.

Drivers needed first-hand experience of road pricing through pilot schemes in Manchester, Birmingham and elsewhere within the next five years, he said.

Last week a transport study suggested road charges could halve congestion.

The Treasury-commissioned study led by former BA chief Rod Eddington said road pricing could benefit the economy by £28bn a year.

Asked whether road pricing was inevitable, Mr Alexander told BBC One's AM programme that it was a "debate that we need to have" and said Sir Rod's report was a major contribution to that debate.

He said the number of vehicles on British roads had gone up from 26 million in 1997 to 33 million. Ministers fear that congestion could rise by up to 25% by 2015 in big towns and cities, if nothing is done.
But he ruled out more road-building programmes as a solution, saying: "I think most informed commentators realise we can't simply build our way out of the challenge of congestion."

Alexander is taking the piss. There is no "debate". There will be no "debate". The ruling elite have spoken and road pricing is inevitable. In particular, all the main parties support it. And, contrary to the cynical comment by Alexander, nobody has suggested that building roads is all of the solution to the problem of congestion. But to say there should be no more road-building programmes is willful negligence by the government. Unfortunately most of the "informed commentators" have a philosophical hatred of cars and/or a financial interest in road pricing going ahead, so Alexander is receiving a biased analysis in his briefing papers.

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