Azara Blog: Another vacuous report from the Commons Transport Committee

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Date published: 2009/07/25

The BBC says:

Motoring taxes have been handled so badly that drivers no longer trust what ministers say the charges pay for, an MPs' report says.

Inconsistency over justification for green taxes "tarnished their image", according to the transport committee.

Ministers should also abandon the link between unpopular congestion charge schemes and transport funding, it adds.
...
Voluntary road pricing schemes - such as allowing drivers to pay charges related to distance, time or congestion instead of car tax or fuel duty - could be an option, the committee suggested.
...
It also says car parking charges must be "proportional" and local authorities should not be charging excessive prices to pay for non-related services.

Although it said it had no evidence this was happening, the public was concerned about the issue.

So-called "green" taxes are just a scam, and everybody knows it. For one thing, only car drivers and airplane passengers are deemed worthy of paying a carbon tax. All other producers and consumers of carbon are given a free pass. So it is pretty clear that the real point of the scam is just to raise more tax off certain sectors of the public. Unfortunately all the main political parties support this scam, as do most of the academic middle class people who run the country (including the BBC).

And the MPs must have not looked very hard if they could find "no evidence" that local authorities were not "charging excessive prices" for car parking charges. They obviously did not bother to look at Cambridge, where the city council practically brags about how much it extorts motorists to park in the city car parking garages, which the city gets away with because it has a monopoly. (It's funny how government thinks monopolies are bad until government itself has one.)

The BBC also completely failed to mention in this article one of the other main conclusions of the report. Fortunately, this did get mentioned in a side article, the so-called Harrabin's Notes:

Contrary to popular opinion, driving is getting cheaper compared with other forms of transport, according to a report from the Commons Transport Committee.

The MPs say if the government is to hit its targets for reducing emissions, it has to prevent car use becoming even cheaper than using the bus or train.
...
Transport minister Paul Clark, responding to a parliamentary question from Lib Dem MP Norman Baker, said government figures showed that the real cost of motoring had declined by 17% between 1979 and 2008.

Yet, during the same period, bus and coach fares had risen by 55%, while rail fares had gone up by 49%.

The growing disparity creates a vicious spiral in which travellers reject buses because they're expensive; that reduces passenger numbers which forces bus firms to put up prices and reduce services, resulting in even more people using their cars.

It is unbelievable how feeble reports from Commons committees are. So they looked at the timeline 1979 to 2008. What if they had looked at another period, e.g. 1998 to 2008? The numbers would look very different. Anyone can play games like this. Choose your favourite time period to make your pre-conceived ideas look correct. They also seem to have ignored costs like car insurance.

But suppose that in some sense the "real cost of motoring" has gone down relative to bus and rail fares. What does this mean? Well, most of the "real cost of motoring" is down to the price of oil and how efficient cars are. However the Transport Committee includes government taxation in their definition of "real cost of motoring". But this is not part of the "real cost", this is just the largest (and totally artificial) contribution to the actual cost. On the other hand, the "real cost" of bus and rail is largely the actual expense of providing the service. However the Transport Committee includes the whacking great government subsidy as part of the "real cost". But this is not part of the "real cost", this is just a large (and totally artificial) negative contribution to the actual cost. So what the Transport Committee is really complaining about is that motoring is allegedly not taxed enough and buses and rails are allegedly not subsidised enough. What a surprise, that the academic middle class MPs think this.

And the MPs of course failed to wonder that if buses and trains are allegedly so efficient, then why do they need a whacking great subsidy (i.e. in effect a negative carbon tax) in the first place.

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