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EDITIONS
Friday, 24 May, 2002, 10:34 GMT 11:34 UK
Would toll-paying "super-motorways" ease gridlock?
Motorway
A new network of toll-paying "super-motorways" between Britain's major cities is being considered by the government, according to reports.

The new roads would be built close to existing motorways and be part of a scheme designed to prevent gridlock descending on the nation's roads.

The proposals were made by Lord Birt, Prime Minister Tony Blair's transport special advisor and former BBC director-general, who suggests the "premium roads" would have few exits and serve as high-speed links.

But Tony Juniper, policy director of enironmental campaign group Friends of the Earth said: "Building a network of new supermotorways across the British countryside would be an environmental disaster.''

Would toll-paying "super-motorways"ease traffic congestion?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


Your reaction

Here in Italy they have tolls on the motorways and everyone accepts this as a fact of life. However the bus and train services are 100 times better than they are in Britain. They are fast, efficient and cheap. Incidentally they're also state-owned and run. In my time here in Italy I have only known there to be one train derailment and that was due to a landslide. In the same time in the UK there have been at least four train crashes resulting in a large number of deaths. Sort out the railways first and make them affordable. Then add tolls to the existing motorways. We don't need to build more. We just need to encourage less people to use them for journeys where a train or bus would be more economical and safer.
John, Italy


I think the Government needs to think very long and hard about making such drastic action

Abigail, UK
I think the Government needs to think very long and hard about making such drastic action. It doesn't take a genius to understand that the reason why so many people travel to and from work in their cars is because of a complete lack of adequate public transport. I have no option but to drive as the local bus route was stopped because of a "lack of demand" - tell that to the 30 people who used to travel on it every day to work but who now have to use their cars. Get the public transport right and see what a difference it makes, at least then we would create employment, reduce pollution and save the green bits of England all at the same time! It's only money - after all they wasted more on the dome! What are we paying taxes for?!
Abigail, UK

Why can this (or any other) government not invest seriously in the railway network? Improve public transport and get trucks off the roads (for safety reasons as much as anything else). Other countries take effective anti-congestion measures such as only allowing those vehicles with passengers in the outside lane or forbidding trucks overtaking during the rush hour period.
Clive, UK

At least we all seem to be agreed. The pro motorist lobby says no to tolls because they say that they are taxed enough already and people will only drive on the free roads anyway. The environmentalist is happy, 'cos if the motorist lobby doesn't want the tolls then the extra roads will not be built! Hurrah! Nothing like the status quo. I think we should leave it as it is until all the motorways become car parks and we all decide to cut down on our excessive motoring habits. And that means the unnecessary journeys not those made by the disabled, or those in rural areas, only fools would suggest otherwise. Sit back, wait for oil to run out, (the sooner the better) and herald new cleaner energy sources (and cross your fingers it is not nuclear).
Jayne, UK

Once again we have the same people saying that w should all be using public transport. Ok, I will, when there is any outside the major cities. It seems to me that the majority of people contributing to this talking point have absolutely no comprehension of the difficulties of living in the countryside without a car. Its hopeless - limited public transport to get you into towns from outside, and practically no public transport links between villages. If I lived in, for example, London, I wouldn't have a car because the public transport infrastructure would be sufficient, but out here in Cambridgeshire, without a car I would be completely isolated. Please please please would the people who make policies or complain about car use, venture out from your cities and see what the system is like for the rest of the country.
James Hughes, UK

The comparison between our transport infrastructure and that in other European countries is spurious. In Most European countries, the majority of people live in towns or cities in apartments. As they get richer, they move to a bigger apartment, still in a town or city. In the UK, we're obsessed with living in a house with a garden, in the suburbs, or better yet in a rural location. Our city centres have fewer and fewer people living in them, hence our heavy reliance on cars compared to other European countries. Personally, I'm all in favour of road tolls, but I would like to see a more "sensible" approach to taxing road users in general. Abolish road tax, transfer the costs to petrol so that those who drive most (myself, at 40,000 miles per year, included) pay most.
John, England

Toll roads are fine by me. It seems to have worked well in France and I expect with the added government income of the tolls the result will be that road tax will be reduced, or we will get a far better transport system. All the argument about more roads means more cars is unrealistic and not properly thought out. Surely a toll will discourage people from using the motorways. The only way forwards is change.
Chris Sykes, UK

Unfortunately, this issue interweaves with many others. For instance, if house-owners didn't try to sell their houses for as much as they could possibly get, then house-prices would be lower and fewer people would have to commute from less-expensive towns. Companies could provide free rail travel for their employees instead of company cars (often the biggest danger on the roads). A little motorway training for car and lorry drivers could also go a long way to easing congestion. So often, the left-hand lane is empty while the other two are full. Bring back Public Information Films! As for inner-city congestion, I agree that anyone living within 2 miles from their work should be encouraged to walk - at least 2 days a week.
Iain, UK

I don't know if it will make any difference. Congestion tends to be limited to large towns and cities, and a lot of the motorways I've been on aren't that congested for the majority of the time. The problem isn't getting from one city to another (if the motorway's congested there are plenty of other country roads that I know from experience tend to be free of traffic completely, and lets face it, if you're stuck in a traffic jam on a motorway then it pretty much negates any time benefit over smaller roads where you barely have to stop!) The problem is getting in and out of cities and driving in them. Will a toll bar on a motorway really ease congestion where it's most needed: in a crowded city centre?
Shaun, UK

Most of the correspondents on here seem obsessed with the fairness or otherwise of charging strategies. It seems to me that who pays for what is ultimately irrelevant. The bottom line is that this is a small country, and that there is no room for more highways. Either we tarmac the entire nation, or get used to being a little less selfish and spoilt about our ability to move around by road. We need a national public transport infrastructure that is cheap, reliable and safe. That means we will have to grow up and accept that when we travel, we will have to do it more often in the company of others, and not cocooned in our air-conditioned, internally sound-proofed, stereo-equipped wombs on wheels. More roads, toll free or taxed, are NOT the answer.
Mark Studden, England


It is a growing environmental problem that needs a serious solution

Munzar Sharif, UK
Traffic congestion certainly needs looking into. It is a growing environmental problem that needs a serious solution, rather than the window-dressing legislature brought in by recent governments. Perhaps charging less, or having separate lanes for people sharing cars would also help the problem.
Munzar Sharif, UK

Tolls are socially divisive and are another tax on the poor. The wealthy will just shrug their shoulders.
Kenny, Scotland

Why not build more railways instead? They are cheaper to construct, more efficient, create less pollution and our existing network is in desperate need of development.
Victor, UK

Toll roads, unsafe trains as well as poor bus and coach services in this country can mean only one thing. This Government wants to keep us all housebound! Home-based business anyone?
Rich, England

It's basically a form of taxation to get motorists out of their cars and make money for the Government. If the Government wants to have toll roads, they should get rid of road tax and reduce fuel duty first, NOT have this regardless!
Anthony, Accrington, Lancashire,UK

The money needed to build such highways would be better spent on a more reliable and efficient public transport system. Hong Kong has a very reliable Bus, train and tram system. Maybe England should take a look back at the country they governed for many years and learn something from them.
Allison, Expat in Hong Kong


Get the system working properly, then think about asking for more

Steven Harbron, UK
I wonder if members of this "working party" have ever lived outside London. When I was station at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, if you didn't have a car, you were virtually stuck on base as there was one bus a day to Lincoln. As a result most people had cars, they were not a status symbol, they were a requirement. I paid tax on the car, on the fuel, on the insurance and on the road tax.

Now thy want to tax me again to use it, when will the Government stop using the car owner as a money pit and start spending some of the 30bn raised annually on the transport system. If it was we might have decent public transport, decent roads, but even then they would find a way to mess it up. Get the system working properly, then think about asking for more.
Steven Harbron, UK

We need to start building compact, car-free cities and begin the process of phasing out the car. Both in terms of fossil fuel and land use, the car is not sustainable. There is only one truly sustainable form of transportation: electrified railways. Building compact cities like Venice, would also put an end to the perceived problem of overcrowding in Britain. This has more to do with our land intensive way of life than the actual population density of the country.
Anthony, UK

Why has your transportation department acting so slowly? Mobility within a city is a necessity. I've lived in Dallas over 20 years and have seen the construction of several freeways, lightrail (which we fund through a 1% sales tax on goods), HOV lanes (high occupancy vehicle lanes) and ongoing modifications to existing freeways such as additional lanes. We currently have several new major freeways under construction. They will be funded by our fuel taxes, vehicle registration fees, federal, state and local available funds and if then if necessary tolls. But they are needed so they will be built.

We currently have a toll road that runs north/south to our downtown that parallels a non-toll road. For some people reducing time on the road is worth paying for. If you would rather not pay by coins you can purchase a tolltag that attaches to your car. A scanning system reads your car as you enter the freeway and debits an account you have set up. Consequently traffic flows rapidly. Tolltag users also pay a reduced fare. If everyone would give up their cars and find a job within 2 miles of their homes life would be ideal. But that's unrealistic for many people in today's society.
Suzanne, US

Road tolls? Haven't we already discussed this? It will only mean that motorists pay more for the same congestion. I have seen the tollways here in the US, they don't do much for congestion. Get a grip. When I lived in Edinburgh I didn't have a car, and walked almost everywhere. Healthier, better for the environment, and so on. Car ownership in Edinburgh is a nightmare for parking, and trying to get from one end of the city to the other. Here, driving is a necessity, and people in the US see it as such. Why do we stand for increases in tax on fuel and the roads? They are no longer about being green, they are about the government getting more money to faff about with.
Steven Hill, USA / UK

This is a totally redundant discussion. As the outcome of a "well-luncheoned" Labour "think tank" they might as well of said we were all going to be issued with our own jet-packs. Just another ploy to give the impression that they know what they are doing, or are even doing anything. Wise up. You "English" are even more gullible than I thought.
Ahmed, UK

How can any of you think that getting motorists to pay more is unfair? I don't have a car. Yet my taxes pay for YOUR roads, I bear the cost of YOUR pollution and I have to put up with the danger of YOUR driving. And still I am happy to pay more to get better trains. Do you really expect me to pay FOR YOU? All you foolish motorists should realise that the scarcer the resource you need (roads) the more you have to pay.
Mario, Oxford, UK

If some of the those moaning about being taxed to the hilt for using their cars paid some attention to the figures, they'll be in for a big shock! The taxpayer is actually subsidising motor vehicles. Motorways cost 25+ million a mile to build, then maintenance costs on top. Then the cost of policing them, lighting them, the NHS for the ever increasing number of accidents and so it goes on. The people I know who whinge the most about petrol prices, are the owners of massive 4WDs. For suburban use, if one includes all the invisible costs, they cost about 4 a mile to run, just to do the shopping, take the kids to school, or drive a couple of miles to work.
Adrian, UK

The proposal under consideration by the Government whether to build so called "super highways" or not is focusing attention away from the real issue that results in heavy traffic and congestion on Britain's roads. The crux of the matter is that more needs to be done in order to get people out of their cars and on to public transport.

These days there is no faith in the rail system, the tube is stretched to its limits and bus services in rural areas are either infrequent or non-existent. Instead of spending billions building those super highways, which Friends of the Earth stated would be an absolute disaster not to mention the additional traffic they will attract, the money would be best spent on new high-speed rail links and other public transport initiatives. Better integration of bus services from rural/suburban areas and the major towns and cities. Wider introduction of tram systems in town centres near enough eradicating traffic which today chokes our cities.

Instead of squandering billions of taxpayers money on pie in the sky schemes such as these "super highways" the Government need to get a firm grip on the real causes to road congestion and the broader picture of what needs to be done to ensure gridlock in Britain is just a pipe dream.
Manish Gajjar, UK

I'm a UK resident living and working in Melbourne Australia. I use a fully automated Toll road to get too and from work, which costs me approximately 2.85 pounds per day. The Toll road allows me to get home from work in 30 minutes, the same journey on the alternative route takes 1 hour. It's a small price to pay to have that extra 30 minutes with the family every evening, besides you always have the option if you do not wish to use the Toll road!
Ian Taylor, Australia

I am a pensioner and can only just afford to run my car. It is necessary to motor frequently to my elderly in-laws and this means travelling over 100miles each way. The tax on petrol and all the other tax add-ons and now the road toll will make it very difficult to visit my relatives in their hour of need. No, super highways are for funded business travellers and those on incomes in excess of the state pension so here we have a subtle discrimination to push the old codgers off the toll roads and not much longer before off the roads all together. Roads need not be congested if working patterns are changed. Keep the country green before we all suffocate.
David, UK


Motorists are voters

Dan, UK
As I already pay 150 a year "road tax", 50 a year tax on my insurance premium, and 80p in every 1 of fuel in tax, forgive me for feeling totally affronted at this suggestion. Motorists are voters, so perhaps we should remind Blair and his cronies of this at the next election.
Dan, UK

I've nothing against paying tolls - I do it every day going to work. But it will not decrease traffic jams, merely make them worse as cars queue for ages to get through the toll booths.
Jeff Aston, USA ex-pat

If you want to see the future under Begg and his ilk look at Edinburgh and be afraid. On one of the main routes into the city 50% of the road goes to 1% of the traffic. We are saddled with more and more restrictions which make the traffic move ever more slowly. These clowns don't have a clue what things are really about.
Keith, UK

Is it fair that someone who travels 5 miles once a week to the supermarket pays the same road tax as someone who travels 20 miles a day to work? Don't make me laugh. I'm totally in favour of toll roads - even if it doesn't reduce congestion. It'd make me smile to know that those who are too selfish to share transport and seem happy to harm the environment are paying to sit in queues all day.
Tom, UK


Yet more regressive taxation from New Labour

Andrew, UK
How will these parallel toll motorways work, exactly? Presumably corporate sales executives, accountants and government advisers (like Lord Birt) will be able to claim back their expenses and will bowl up and down the toll roads in their BMWs. The rest of us will struggle along the existing roads. Yet more regressive taxation from New Labour, then. I increasingly have to pinch myself to ensure this isn't just a horrible dream.
Andrew, UK

If the Government invested that same amount of money into improving the Third World transport system we have today then maybe we would have no need for these superhighways to major cities.
Tes, UK

To Emyr: Get real! Sell your car and buy a centrally located property? What did you sell - a couple of Ferraris? A few Porsches? And what about those who are physically unable to do all the walking/cycling/ hopping on and off trains that you recommend? Don't be so smug!
Linda, UK

I gave up my car 4 years ago and haven't looked back. Sell your cars, use the money you save each year to buy a centrally located property, walk, cycle and use public transport. The only ones who say it can't be done are those too fat, lazy and ignorant to try anything different in their lives. I walked to work this morning faster than motorised traffic.
Emyr, UK

According to Stu, UK, I live in a dream world. In Tokyo, I have access to the most amazing and efficient public transport system that is clean, reliable, safe and incredibly usable. There is also access to a network of toll roads within Tokyo (which I use for commuting). These toll roads ease the pressure on the rather crowded "ordinary" roads. It gets busy on both types of streets, but that's the penalty for not using public transport.
Christopher Laird, Japan

Yes, another stupid tax on motorists. It is economically ridiculous to try and match personal transport with public transport. That is why the Beeching cuts took place. This country has been built around the assumption of personal transport for approx 40 years, it would cost a fortune to try to go back. Anybody who thinks public transport can deliver is living in a dream world.
Stu, UK


The government will never have sufficient funds to build enough roads to meet growing demand

Mary Walker, UK
Clearly, the government will never have sufficient funds to build enough roads to meet growing demand. But why shouldn't motorists pay a premium for "premium" roads? As for "super-motorways" being environmental "disasters", it is a scientific fact that idling vehicle engines - like those sitting in congestion queues - emit far more carbon dioxide than an engine in motion. Given the state of British public transport, we can only expect increases in road traffic. Any proposal that would relieve the environmental and economic effects of traffic congestion should be seriously considered.
Mary Walker, UK

Yet another unfair tax on the poor motorist. The government raises a little over 33 billion a year in motoring related taxes (including such things as VAT which don't really count), whereas the quantifiable costs of road transport in Britain exceed 60 billion a year. Road users are actually very heavily subsidised, and road freight in particular so much so that it should be registered as a charity. Nonetheless, the government is making an absolute pig's ear of transport in this country - it is hard to believe such incompetence.
Terry, UK

No. Increasing the price of petrol until it forces people to use public transport or cleaner ways of travelling is the only way. Or just ban people from driving to work or make them live nearer to their workplace.
Mike, England

To Mike: Force people to live closer to their workplace? Considering I work in Cambridge and live 15 miles out, are you going to tell me how I'd afford a house in Cambridge when the average price is 150,000 for a two-bed semi? Especially when I am on a civil servant's salary of around 13,000! I can't live any closer as I can't afford it. Even with my partner on a reasonable salary it's not possible. The buses from rural Cambridgeshire into the city are unreliable and infrequent, and the local rail station is closed. If I want to work locally I can either work in a newsagents, or there are probably jobs going on the farm but I think employment opportunities in my town/village are somewhat restricted. I know, I'll go on the dole then I'll get everything paid for, and I'll only have to walk to the post office - until they close that as well.
Sarah, UK

Here we go again, another tax based on a bogus poll. Who are we to believe when every other poll I have seen on drivers paying more says the opposite. I suggest it is more government spin to get us used to the idea. Traffic congestion will soon be a thing of the past, it's the school holidays soon and in many areas that accounts for a huge increase in car usage. This should be tackled first. It's about time the government listened to the people that know, the drivers and not overpaid government cronies who are chauffeured around in limos.
Barry, UK


They've been promising for 5 years to sort out public transport

Paul B, Oxfordshire, UK
The government raises over 30 billion from road users. They've been promising for 5 years to sort out public transport. It's about time they got off their backside and started work. Only when an effective, extensive and reliable public transport system is presented to people will they start to use it. Why are we still waiting? This much should be evident even to the dullest mind.
Paul B, Oxfordshire, UK

Here we go again, the British public complaining about services and comparing them to foreign systems. It's quite simple really, if you want to have efficient, safe roads/trains/healthcare, then you're going to have to put your hands in your pockets and pay for them like every other nation does.
D. Walton, UK

I am at present living in Germany, where the public transport system puts ours to shame. I travel everywhere by train, and I can honestly say that I don't feel any need for a car. I regularly rely on the trains to get me to the airport for flights home - something I wouldn't dare do in England!
Sonya, UK


The absolute worst backup of traffic is at the toll booth

Helene, UK in US
Charging a road toll is most definitely not a solution to traffic congestion. I am currently living and working in the San Francisco Bay area in California, one of the heaviest traffic zones in all of the US. Would anyone care to know where the congestion is the worst? The absolute worst backup of traffic is at the toll booth. On a typical weekday at least half an hour is added onto my commute just waiting in line to pay the toll charge.
Helene, UK in US

What is needed is a long term strategy to increase traffic flow, improve public services and integration, so that people find them as convenient as using their own transport. More professional unbiased police officers on the beat who can differentiate between someone acting responsibly and someone acting without due care when driving so that motorists are not made the scapegoat of government spin!
Roy Leyshon, UK

Until the Government supply a decent alternative mode of transport, there is no way you can start charging to use motorways. In August until December they are shutting down the train line between Glasgow and London to do repairs. I use this route regularly, but I don't have a car, so I will be forced to fly.
Paula, UK


What do we get in return?

Simon Tonks, UK
Councils across Britain seem to be actively attempting to close or alter the layout of urban roads to discourage motorists. Let's not forget the increasing trend towards lowering speed limits too. These strategies cause congestion that needn't exist in the first place! How perverse then that we may be charged for a situation the authorities have essentially exacerbated! Why should motorists who travel to work (to pay yet more tax) to fuel our economy be penalised further for using a road network paid for many times over through tax from motor vehicles? What do we get in return? A crumbling, antiquated roads network with new roads conveniently sidelined for "environmental reasons."
Simon Tonks, UK

Road tolls will reduce road congestion in the same way as 'tube tolls' will reduce overcrowding on the Underground.
Peter H, UK

I hope this does not force people on to public transport - the trains I use are crowded enough already!
Craig B, UK


It's just another way of bleeding the taxpayer dry without increasing the rate of income tax

James Steel, UK/Algeria
No, road tolls will not ease congestion. Most people drive their car out of necessity, not for fun, and would just grin and bear this further taxation. With our shambles of a public transport system, there simply is no other choice for millions of people. However, I do think that road tolls in cities are a fairer taxation than the petrol tax. The petrol tax disproportionately hits rural motorists who have to drive further distances and yet pollute less (because there is less congestion in the countryside). Why should motorists in the Scottish Highlands or North Yorkshire pay for air pollution in central London? I don't believe the government's policy on motoring taxes has anything to do with the environment though - it's just another way of bleeding the taxpayer dry without increasing the rate of income tax.
James Steel, UK/Algeria

I am absolutely against tolls-for-roads : as motorists, we already pay through the nose via fuel tax, road fund licence et al, in return for which little (if any) of either is ploughed directly into road upkeep, rather seems to be a 'pot of gold' for the Chancellor to use for other Government schemes. When will Governments (of all complexions) learn that it is fruitless hitting the motorist in the pocket time and again in an attempt to get people out of their cars without FIRST setting in train a serious - and seriously funded - programme of public transport improvement.

We have the worst transport system in Europe, underinvested in for at least the past 30 years and yet, rather than tackle THAT problem head-on, successive governments continue to hit the easiest target - the motorist. No wonder more and more of us (I for one) are joining lobby groups such as the Association of British Drivers. We are SICK of being an easy, revenue-raising target for both local and central government. NO to tolls - enough is enough.
Sally Wardle, England

In southern Spain, between Malaga and Estepona, is a dual carriageway main road which runs through several towns as well as open country. The speed limits vary from 120kph to 50kph with various stages in between, dependant on road conditions and hazards. This road is very busy all day and often congested. Parallel to this road and running through open land without any built up areas or speed restrictions is another dual carriageway. This is a new road of modern design without crossroads or traffic lights. It is invariably almost empty of traffic. What is the difference between these roads that the better one is empty while the worse is crowded? It's simple. The new road is a toll road. The tolls aren't high, but their existence is enough to ensure that an expensive new bypass is unused while a heavily congested out of date road is overused. Of course tolling doesn't work! On this evidence it isn't even any use for raising taxation revenue!!
Alan, England


Can I suggest that if we want to reduce congestion on the roads, we not only create alternative modes of transport but also use other methods of encouraging people to not travel in the first place

Mufit Bolgil, UK
Can I suggest that if we want to reduce congestion on the roads, we not only create alternative modes of transport but also use other methods of encouraging people to not travel in the first place. Encourage companies to NOT keep migrating to the South East, encourage more home-working etc. However, this would require some creativity and some thinking. Obviously not a job for any politician.
Mufit Bolgil, UK

Marvellous, I am disabled and unable to use almost all public transport, so I drive a car. I chose a diesel, as it is more economical so the price of diesel gradually increases faster than petrol which is in itself legalised extortion. Now they want me to pay to use the road. What's next, Breathing Tax?
Ken Powell, England

Did I hear aright, that the motorist does not pay for using the roads? Have you not heard of the iniquitous tax on petrol. Plus the tax on tax when a car is purchased. Plus the yearly road tax. Or has some one conveniently forgotten?
Alan Twyford, England

We have a pathetic motorway network, far inferior to almost every country in Europe. Mainly due to this we have congestion problems, and now rather than actually fixing the problem the government now have the idea of taxing people for using the motorways. The motorways are by far the safest roads in this country. Any transfer of traffic from the motorways onto the A roads will increase the number of road deaths. Petrol prices dropped last year (for once) and there was no increase in traffic levels. Seems that traffic levels and petrol prices are independent, so the tolls will not even reduce congestion.
Keith Walker, UK

Road tolls won't work, it's that simple. And why? Well, we buy a car and this is expensive. We pay VAT on the car. We then tax the car. Insurance comes soon after, again with tax attached to it. We buy petrol. This is again expensive and heavily taxed. After all this expense, do the Government really think we're going to leave our cars at home for a second rate public transport system? Do they think another stealth tax such as tolls will decrease traffic? The Government taxes us enough as it is. They should get a public transport system that is second-to-none before imposing ideas such as tolls.
Tom D, UK

If we hauliers get charged for using motorways, profit margins are already so tight we'll be forced to pass on the cost to the customer, so Joe Public will end up paying not only for their own car but also the truck they're overtaking!
Alex Banks, UK


Here we go again - taxing the motorist because they are an easy target.

Ollie J, England
Here we go again - taxing the motorist because they are an easy target. It won't prevent congestion in the same way that that paying an extortionate amount for petrol doesn't prevent all the cars being out on the road already. It's just another way to make more money. Why doesn't the Government actually improve public transport first and encourage us to use that instead of cynically making money and pretending that it's in the interest of congestion.
Ollie J, England

No, tolls will not improve the situation unless they are raised to such a level that only the very rich can pay. For most people driving, even at cost and on congested roads, provides more benefits than detriments. Also, as an enforced regular long distance car driver (that's what I get paid for), I can assure you that the majority of out of town congestion is caused by (a) comparatively slow traffic (not exclusively lorries) and (b) poor use of the available road space (e.g. middle / outer lane hogging and slow overtaking). Tackling these issues is far more likely to improve congestion than any toll.
Mark, UK

I guess the idea behind this is that the road user pays every time they use the roads. Fine, but we have this already, in the form of the massive tax on petrol. Also petrol is used in proportion to how much and how far you drive, and therefore so is the tax contribution. These tolls would hit the motorist who chose a small efficient car just as hard as John Prescott in his Jags. Surely this is a retrograde step from an environmental point of view?
Jon Cooper, uk

It would just force people onto the A roads. When I last travelled across France I used the Route Nationales instead of the Autoroutes just to avoid the tolls (and had a more pleasant journey as a result). Unfortunately a lot of our A roads aren't anywhere as good as the RNs in France. Congestion will move from the motorways to the A roads as a result of this. Only people doing really long haul will pay for it in my opinion, leaving those who need to get along a half dozen or so junctions to clog up the surrounding roads.
Graham, Edinburgh


As people don't generally drive on motorways for fun, road tolls won't significantly reduce traffic

Chris B., England
As people don't generally drive on motorways for fun, road tolls won't significantly reduce traffic. Tolls will, however, help to pay for the no-doubt extortionate bill which the "consultants" will present to the Transport Department. Moreover, if the hired "consultants" are the experts, then why are we paying government ministers to run our transport system? Just how many people are feeding at this particular trough?
Chris B., England

60% of motorists are prepared to pay tolls - therefore 40% aren't prepared to. Where will these go - oh yes on to the A roads which follow the M1 causing congestion everywhere else. The roads will not get less busy. This is how I see the situation. Imagine commuters move over to public transport to reduce the number of cars on the roads. The commuters see that there are fewer cars on the road and traffic is flowing easier. Commuters go back to their cars to take advantage of the quiet roads!
Dave, UK


We need billions spent on alternatives first

Julian Hayward, UK
The fact that at least 60% are prepared to pay tolls suggests that congestion won't be beaten simply by upping the price of driving. We need billions spent on alternatives first. Unfortunately, the Government has proved itself hopelessly incompetent in this respect. And despite all their promises about spending on the railways, four operators are already paying the Treasury for the privilege of running and more will follow soon - a tax for using the trains and a tax for using the roads, we can't win!
Julian Hayward, UK

Yet another scheme designed to take hard earned cash from the motorist eh? What else will the motorist pay for? Paying local councils for the air that one would use for passing through their counties? Do me a favour....
Simon, UK

Road tolls are just another way for the government to fleece more money out of motorists with zero return. 60% of motorists may be willing to pay if there were drastic improvements. But the money will get charged and as usual the government will squander and waste it, make bold statements and then find someone to blame for their own incompetence. Where is the plan for alternative transport? Unsurprisingly, they are silent on that. Pay, pay, pay again - and receive nothing in return. It's the same with tax on petrol. They put on a "green" tax but produce no environmental alternative with the money taken.
Simon, UK

Fine so long as petrol taxes are reduced correspondingly. What is totally unacceptable is to continue ripping off motorists and wasting the money on public transport. Outside city centres this will always be vastly more polluting, congesting and expensive, per passenger mile, than car travel. The current government policies are about making a few student union activists feel morally superior and providing jobs for the boys in public transport. They have nothing to do with providing an environmentally sound transport system or providing a modern alternative (like dial a ride services) for the 10% of society who don't have access to a car.
Briam M, UK

If they put the fee high enough then it is bound to force drivers off the road. However the whole idea is totally unfair. The ones who will really suffer are those at the lower end of the pay scales, the rich will be laughing all the way along the motorway. Eventually jobs will suffer as people will not be able to afford even to get to work.
Colin Wheeler, England


Surely the money levied from road tax is for the up-keep and general maintenance of our traffic systems and to design better and more efficient ways of controlling traffic thereby benefiting road users

Keith Millar, UK
What is road tax for? Surely the money levied from road tax is for the up-keep and general maintenance of our traffic systems and to design better and more efficient ways of controlling traffic thereby benefiting road users. An extra toll may only serve to increase the already high running costs and even higher stress levels of the increasingly over-criticised and under-assisted British car driver. If the proposed new taxes included with the old taxes were used constructively towards implementing useful and efficient alternatives then I'm all for it but since there has been no sign of this happening so far in the UK I really don't see this as anything other than a voter pleaser to further expand the governments coffers whilst ignoring the issues at hand. Why not take all the trucks off the road and transport more freight at night or lay on more rail freight transport. This would instantly reduce the main source of pollution on our roads, the main reason for most major road accidents and the biggest cause of congestion on UK roads today.
Keith Millar, UK

Motorways are a necessity for traffic control, if the government (of which I have no faith) decide to introduce tolls then the urban countryside will suffer with the massive increase of traffic that motorways were built to decrease in the first place.
Gary Bilsby, England

No way am I going to pay to use a motorway. I hope this completely backfires if they implement this. If they do everyone should avoid motorways like the plague, jam up every road in the country and have nice clear motorways. Then John Prescott can have the entire motorway to himself, not just the bus lane. After all, our "great" leaders will not pay the toll.
S Turner, England

Motorways are a necessity for traffic control, if the government (of which I have no faith) decide to introduce tolls then the urban countryside will suffer with the massive increase of traffic that motorways were built to decrease in the first place.
Gary Bilsby, England

How to decrease car use? Provide clean, reliable, efficient public transport alternatives!
Craig Miller, UK


Unless the tolls are set very high, it will still appear to be much cheaper to travel by car than by train

Alan P, UK
If the consultants are correct then 60% will pay the tolls anyway. Will the other 40% travel by other means? I doubt it. They will probably revert to minor roads and cause the kind of congestion that motorways are designed to relieve. Unless the tolls are set very high, it will still appear to be much cheaper to travel by car than by train, so it will end up being a good wheeze for collecting money, rather than an effective way of tackling overuse of the roads.
Alan P, UK

No. Most congestion on motorways is caused by lorries overtaking each other because one driver wants to travel 2 miles an hour faster than the other, resulting in the manoeuvre which takes 20 minutes to complete and causes huge tail backs.
Dave Allum, UK

Yet another stealth tax from the party for the poor! Acceptance depends on the amount of the charge relative to the alternatives. I am sure the folks who live alongside the old roads abandoned when motorways were opened will be delighted by the extra business opportunities brought by people avoiding these charges.
Barry, UK

This is simply another stealth tax. All that will happen will be the poor old motorist being compelled to pay another fee for having to use the same old congested roads. If the government really want to do something about congestion they should provide decent alternatives in the form of safe and reliable public transport.
Shaun, Teignmouth, UK

I would only pay tolls if absolutely forced to. At the moment I travel very early if I am going a long way to avoid the traffic, at these times, I can easily avoid the motorways and not loose much time. There's an important issue at stake here - we will be charged for something we've already paid for.
Chris Cowdery, UK


Tolls won't help congestion, but they will raise revenue from a captive market

Phil, UK
Tolls won't help congestion, but they will raise revenue from a captive market. The only way to ease congestion is to stop everyone from trying to use the roads all at once. I've tried travelling outside of the rush hour - which works to a point, but the most effective solution is to avoid travelling altogether so I've moved to within pushbike distance of my job.
Phil, UK

They'll be suggesting bed-tolls in hospitals as a way to reduce waiting-lists next. The problem is lack of road capacity in the light of the growth of the economy - and outside cities, public transport is never going to be a solution to this. Yet another "stealth tax" being introduced - I say enough is enough, and an emphatic no to road tolls.
David Moran, Scotland/Australia

Here we go again - 'let's squeeze some more cash out of the motorist'. We drivers already pay over 36 billion per year to the government in car-related taxes, but they spend only a fraction of it on benefits for the driver. However, they gleefully spend bucket loads of it on ridiculous traffic calming and road narrowing schemes which actually cause more congestion! I honestly think it's time for a 'motorists revolt'. We pay for the roads many times over, we will not pay tolls!
Andy, England

Maybe the idea would work if there was a viable alternative form of transport for people to use. Presumably all former motorists will continue to exist as humans in this Country after being taxed off the road.
Peter J Hunt, England


Politicians should realise that vast investments into new modes of transportation are the only way to service congested metropolitan areas

R. Dirven, The Netherlands
Toll roads will not help in ending traffic congestion. Any suggestion like this, or similar means to treat traffic congestion will drown in a legal quagmire; there is simply too much economic pressure in the direction of increasing traffic rather than limiting it. Politicians should realise that vast investments into new modes of transportation are the only way to service congested metropolitan areas. Road use as it exists now will create an urban nightmare all over the world, even worse than currently is the case. However, politics and politicians are slow to learn and cowardly to make drastic changes. Hence it will get worse, much worse in the next decades.
R. Dirven, The Netherlands

I think most of the cost will be shifted elsewhere. Delivery vans, taxis - they all still have to go places. The costs of using those things will just go up. Ironically at the point you'd want them if you're no longer driving a car to fetch things from shops or to go places. Most people I know in central London already don't have cars. Tolling a road like the M6 through the midlands will just raise the cost of living round here. We don't use the M6 because we like it, we use it because if you need to be the other end of the midlands, you don't have much other option. There's no integrated bus system, there's no local rail system to speak of... it's OK if you want to get to London, but not to get to the next town: I looked at catching the train to work instead of driving. It's a 30 minute drive or TWO HOURS on the trains... to do a 19 mile journey. Getting home in the evening... involved a two hour wait at one station as well as the journey time. Public transport only looks like something you should force people to use if you're already in the centre of the London bus/tube network. In the rest of the country driving is the only sensible option. If the government stepped outside the circle line occasionally, they might just realise this.
Katie, UK

If I get a clear run. I'd want a refund if it was congested, and I'd want the money spent on making sure drivers didn't hog lanes, hold up the traffic, cut up other drivers, or tailgate.
Jeremy, England


Raising revenue is all the government cares about

Pete, Wales
Raising revenue is all the government cares about. The money from tolls will probably get spent either elsewhere or to supplement woefully inadequate road maintenance funds. Very little will find its way in to a fully integrated transport syste. Don't be fooled by the usual hype. On the same vein, it's time for Byers to go.
Pete, Wales

There is one way to stop traffic congestion: ban cars completely and create enough public transport to handle the requirements. Otherwise what you end up with is yet another way for the government to make money, no reduction in congestion (caused be road toll booths as well!), no improvement in public transport alternatives, and smaller roads also getting congested by people trying to avoid the toll booths. The one advantage is that foreign drivers will now have to pay on our roads like we have had to pay on their roads for years. Maybe the presence of a decent, regular, fast railway service would reduce the need for tolls on the M1, and a decent integrated public transport system in London would do the same for tolls in London. It is wrong to charge when there are no alternatives - because the lack of alternatives will mean no reduction in congestion anyway!
Graham, UK

Fine, charge tolls but forget road tax and make sure you improve public transport so its affordable, clean, regular and safe. The idea is probably a good one but you cannot hope to implement such an idea with having the infrastructure in place before you begin. Be realistic and stop grabbing at straws.
Nick, UK

 VOTE RESULTS
Should the UK build toll motorways?

Yes
 35.54% 

No
 64.46% 

3534 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion


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See also:

11 Apr 02 | UK Politics
17 Mar 02 | England
26 Feb 02 | England
26 Feb 02 | UK
18 Feb 02 | England
25 Oct 01 | England
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