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2 in 3 motorists could face higher costs under pay-as-you-go charges


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2 in 3 motorists could face higher costs under pay-as-you-go charges


by RAY MASSEY Last updated at 10:01am on 2nd December 2006

gordonbrownGETTY090606_228x297.jpgGordon Brown: commissioned pay-as-you-go report




Two thirds of drivers will be worse off under controversial proposals for pay-as-you-drive road tolls, a major report commissioned by Gordon Brown has revealed.

Former BA chief executive Sir Rod Eddington also admitted that motorists who are already paying some of the world's highest road taxes could be forced to pay over £1.50 a mile.

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In a further blow, it emerged that people who use public transport will also be hit with extra charges for travelling on trains and buses at busy times.

Sir Rod's report has called for £28billion - the equivalent of 9p on the basic rate of income tax - to be ploughed into Britain's creaking road and rail network.

The controversial plans are likely to form the blueprint of the Chancellor's transport policy if he becomes Prime Minister.

Under the road pricing scheme, which will be introduced within ten years, cars will be fitted with Big Brother-style black boxes and have their every movement tracked by satellite or roadside beacon.

Motorists will then be charged by the mile, with prices rising at times of peak congestion. Each month, drivers will receive an itemised bill setting out where they drove and how much it cost.

In a blunt assessment, Sir Rod insisted there was 'no alternative' to road pricing.

He said: "Ask yourself this question: Do you, in 20 years time, want to waste up to four more working days of your life every year sitting in congested peak traffic in one of the UK's largest cities?

"Or are you prepared to change your travel patterns and pay a full, but reasonable price, to reflect environmental impacts and benefits in terms of improved speed and reliability of your car journey?

"In my view, the right way forward is to accelerate progress towards a widespread road-pricing scheme."

But the former BA chief also warned that drivers who switch to public transport will also be charged more to travel on overcrowded trains and buses at peak times.

He also admitted that there were 'significant risks and uncertainties' involved a pay-as-you-drive scheme as the technology has never been used at a national level.

The high pay-as-you go charges are designed as a 'stick' to persuade people to travel at off-peak times.

But critics yesterday warned the plans will create 'roads for the rich' and will hit millions of employees, commuters and school-run mums who have no alternative but to travel at peak time.

There are also fears that the scheme will become another way for the Treasury to raise revenue, rather than reducing gridlock.

Edmund King, of the RAC Foundation, said that 9 out of 10 motorists did not trust the Government to run a pay-as-you-drive road toll scheme.

He said: "People do not trust the Government given their track record. The underlying worry that comes through from the public is that its is just another stealth tax."

Stephen Joseph, from Environmental group Transport 2000, also expressed concern. He said: "There is a danger that people who are priced out of their cars will then be priced off the trains because of spiralling ticket prices."

Anthony Smith, chief executive of the train-users' watchdog Passenger Focus, added: "We are already seeing passengers priced off the busiest trains. We don't want this to spread."

But Sir Rod insisted the pain was a price worth paying because it will leave the UK economy up to £28billion a year better off and halve congestion by 2025.

The report called for greater spending on road projects and railways - but with funds concentrated on easing bottlenecks rather than on 'grand projects' that are over-hyped, over budget and late.

On the railways, he said lengthening trains and platforms would be a more practical way to cope with congestion - particularly on busy commuter services in the South East of England.

But he effectively ruled out in plans for a high speed North-South rail link, arguing it would cost too much and be too risky an investment. Sir Rod also backed controversial plans for expansion at major airports such as Heathrow, but he called for 'green taxes' for air passengers.

Transport Secretary Douglas Alexander welcomed the study as a "major contribution" transport policy adding: "We will set out our initial response in the Pre-Budget Report next week and will publish a fuller response alongside the Comprehensive Spending Review."

Tory Shadow Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: "Road pricing has to be used as a means of managing congestion or for financing transport projects. it must not become a stealth tax."

Astonishingly, the recommendations for "pay as you drive" road charging may apply only to England - because of the vexed devolution issue, Tories pointed out last night.

The small print of the Eddington report says: "It should be noted that in Scotland and Wales (and Northern Ireland when devolution is restored) it is for the devolved administrations to decide policies in devolved areas. Therefore the recommendations in this report do not apply to devolved areas of responsibility."

Tory Shadow Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: "I am astonished that Sir Rod seems to be suggesting that a national road pricing scheme should apply only to England.

"This is more evidence that the report hasn't always been fully thought through and that the Government's plan for a national road pricing scheme is unrealistic."

But although transport is almost totally devolved to the Scottish Parliament, it is thought any move towards pay-as-you-go charging on trunk roads could only be implemented on a UK-wide basis.

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Why should people that don't use their car much pay the same tax as people thart use their car loads?


The point is there are many people who have to use a car for work, or to get to work.

This is especially a problem in areas where public transport is severely lacking.

These people will be unfairly penalised.;)

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