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Tuesday, 7 May, 2002, 09:01 GMT 10:01 UK
Road tolls: Are they a good idea?
Introducing road tolls is being pinpointed as the only way to cut traffic congestion in towns and cities.

A team of government transport advisers has spent months analysing traffic flows and predictions.

They have privately concluded that a tolling system on major roads, and not improved public transport, is the way forward.

The news comes less than a month after the Transport Department denied it was planning to make motorists pay to drive on motorways.

Environmentalists have long analysed the links between traffic congestion and air pollution.

Are road tolls are good idea? Would they help reduce traffic congestion and environmental pollution?

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

Your reaction

If you live in a city in the UK and your work is less than 5 miles away, you have no excuse for driving to work

James P C, UK
Tolls? Good idea! You want a car, you want to drive, you don't want to use public transport, you're not prepared to pay for better public transport and you whine at great length about the cost of owning a car. Yet you want to live in a quieter, cleaner environment. You also expect not to be prosecuted for speeding; in fact you all seem to believe that speed cameras are also just a revenue cash cow for the police force. Honestly did you really need to drive 100 metres to the shops; if you live in a city in the UK and your work is less than 5 miles away, you have no excuse for driving to work, You choose to drive and expect to pay nothing for the privilege. Yes, privilege, not a right.
James P C, UK

If I saw a toll road up ahead I'd probably do a u-turn. But it probably won't come to that because the government is likely to perform a similar manoeuvre before I need to.
Chris B, England

If I was cynical, I might suspect that this "private group of government advisors" was told to say tolls are better than improving public transport in order to get the government off the hook...
Anthony M, UK

The government and their advisors will say anything to squeeze more money out of road users.
Chrisg, UK

Hang on, I thought we already paid road tax

Nicola Crossley, UK
What a wonderful idea, tax people to use the roads - Hang on, I thought we already paid road tax. Or is that sum of 105 pounds that has just come out of my bank account a figment of my imagination? I've heard of double counting to make government figures look good but now they are talking about double charging as well. We already pay for our roads - why should we have to pay for them twice?
Nicola Crossley, UK

We already pay a road toll - it's called the road fund license! We don't need another excuse to dress up yet another form of stealth taxation.
John, UK

Toll roads won't reduce congestion! I work in Chicago, which has an extensive system of both free and toll roads. Every year the congestion gets worse and worse, tolls rise, roads are widened or extended, and even more cars pour onto those roads. Despite the reputation we Americans have of being in love with our cars, I and tens of thousands of other Chicago workers take public transportation to work - it takes no longer (sometimes it's shorter!) and I don't have to look for or pay for parking.
Carol Boyd, USA

I'm at a loss to understand how tolls will harm London's competitive edge. Everybody I know who works in London goes by train anyway.
Guy Chapman, UK

Outside city centres, public transport is never going to work

Frank, UK
A few of your correspondents need to take off their rose (green?) tinted spectacles and realize that, outside city centres, public transport is never going to work. Once population densities drop below a very high level the number of changes required invariably become excessive. Also in order to provide a 'service' 24 hours a day many trams or busses end up travelling empty at the ends of their routes and very rapidly become more environmentally damaging than cars (which only run when needed).
Frank, UK

Road tolls are another revenue collector that will make no difference to traffic congestion. It will simply penalise poor people, and have a terrible effect on anyone living in a rural community who need their cars for work and shopping. If anyone thinks that the toll money revenue will be 'ring fenced' to aid public transport and ease congestion is living in cloud cuckoo land. I live in Gloucestershire and the toll on the two Severn bridges means that many lorries divert to our local A roads, leading to congestion and increases in accidents, and no one wants to scrap or reduce those tolls.
Dave Casciello, England

To travel around London I use public transport almost exclusively, simply because traffic congestion is bad and parking can be very difficult. Getting out of town is another matter - going to visit family takes me 90 minutes door-to-door by car, or by public transport I take a bus to the station, then a train, then another train, then I need a lift from the station and it all takes nearly double the time. Add the fact that I can't carry all the things I want, and I am restricted to one train every hour (even discounting train delays and overcrowding) and it's not hard to see why I take the car out of town.
Karl Peters, UK

The idea, of course, is that once you have the apparatus for motorway toll charging in place you can privatise them.
Malcolm McMahon, York, UK

Whether or not road tolls are a good idea is irrelevant. We already pay them; road tax, fuel duty, VAT on fuel, a percentage of council tax. If reinvestment in transport systems was anything beyond the very miserly proportion of what is raised from the above then we wouldn't have the transport infrastructure problems that we have today.
Paul B, Oxfordshire, UK

It will take years to change the ingrained habits of the motorist

Barry P, England
Why do so many people voluntarily travel so far to work each day, and at such cost? Presumably they feel that the costs of the journey are justified, on that basis road tolls will appear to fail initially. However over a period of time the financial incentive will be to take a job nearer home or to transfer to live nearer work. It will take years to change the ingrained habits of the motorist.
Barry P, England

We already have a form of road pricing - it's called Petrol Duty . - The more you use the roads the more you pay and it's already way too high - just ask last year's protestors. Adding a road toll on top - essentially yet another tax to use the roads just adds insult to injury.
Stuart McGregor, Surrey

I would love to know what planet these government advisors come from. Do they expecting people to stop travelling to work because it is too expensive to go by car and there is no public transport? Perhaps they want us all stay at home until the teleport is invented!
Hugh, UK

A great way to make money!! But a hopeless incentive to use other forms of transport. Motorists in most cases have no alternative but to use their cars. What else can they do? Take the train to work? Ha-ha-ha!
Andy, UK

Our public transport is disgraceful

Kevin D'Silva, England
Introducing toll is a downright ridiculous idea. Our public transport is disgraceful. Taxes collected from motorists aren't being used for funding the roads so how can the government say that this is the only way to ease congestion? Our pathetic public transport system is the only reason why people are forced to use their cars.
Kevin D'Silva, England

It would be the private car users that would be stung for toll charges. We can ill afford the tax, insurance, petrol and maintenance already to get to work. Company car drivers will always get their companies to pay. Road tolls are an unfair extra burden those trying to get to work.
Matthew Field, England

Go further. Privatize the road network. One condition: 100% of vehicle and fuel taxes are spent on the roads. In return the road industry puts a wedge aside to cover heath claims, from traffic accidents, and commits to moving to sustainable fuels (alcohol and bio-diesel) within 20 years.
B Essada, UK

Tolls on just motorways and major roads will only cause large numbers of motorists to divert back to the routes through towns and villages the major roads were built to avoid. Applying tolls all over the place, in towns and cities too, will just add up to an overall taxation on motoring, which we already have in the form of Europe's highest rates of fuel duty, which extortionately taxes every motorist for every single mile they drive.
Paul Lewis, UK

Motorways where build to get traffic out of the towns - putting tolls on them will force it back through the A roads and lead to more congestion/accidents. Can't see how it will reduce traffic levels!
Bob, UK

But if tolls are installed on early junctions of the M4 or M3 for example, we'll be back to 1950's commuting along suburban streets with 21st century lorries

Kathy, UK
Tolls work well where they cannot be avoided by a short detour, such as on the Severn Bridge. But if tolls are installed on early junctions of the M4 or M3 for example, we'll be back to 1950's commuting along suburban streets with 21st century lorries. I can't wait!
Kathy, UK

It isn't the worst idea I've heard the government churn out this year. Do you think John Prescott will get charged double? Who would pay the politicians' tolls...the chauffeur? The politician? No...probably the tax paying public.
Stephen, N.Ireland

I believe most of us use roads because we have to, not because we particularly want to. So the introduction of tolls will probably have little effect on traffic volume. Tolls will, however, increase the cost of commercial road freightage, and this increase will inevitably be passed down the line to the retail purchaser. The end result is that we'll all end up paying road tolls even if we never take the car out of the garage. Marvellous...
Chris B, England

Road tolls coupled with improved public transport will reduce traffic congestion. But if the public transport system does not become less expensive, punctual and more convenient, we can forget about traffic congestion ever reducing.

Please spend a fair proportion of money already taken from motorists on roads or, at least, a realistic alternative

Dave, London, UK
38 billion taken from motorists, 6 billion actually spent on roads. Public transport that doesn't work, can't cope with even current volumes and is inaccessible for many disabled, elderly, parents with children, shoppers etc. It's not really that difficult to work out why people are forced to use cars and there are traffic jams. Please spend a fair proportion of money already taken from motorists on roads or, at least, a realistic alternative.
Dave, London, UK

Yet another sure-fire money-spinner for the Treasury, add some spin to convince some of the more gullible that it is a fair way of paying for roads, and Hey Presto! A winning formula.

I am generally in favour of road tolls-living in south London, I would appreciate my air smelling less foul-but to introduce it without improving public transport is mindless. The Government must not look at this problem in isolation. As well as public transport investment, a freeze on building out-of-town superstores, the taxing of company carparks,and cheap inner-city housing for workers are essential if we are to prevent gridlock.
John G, London,UK

Can you spot the pattern emerging here? When Labour came to power they made a pledge to reduce unemployment by whatever means necessary. This resulted in many people having to work some distance from their homes in order to "count" towards the initiative. Now the government comes along and says that the honest working public are going to have to pay again for the privilege to earn a living in this "tax forest".
Andy, UK

Road Tolls, increasing fuel taxation, rising road taxes are all flagged as attempts to encourage the use of public transport and ease congestion. The problem is that an effective public transport system does not exist. Train and bus journeys in the UK are the last thing that Joe Public wants. Nothing runs on time. Nothing takes you where you need to go. The trains and busses available are filthy and the government has done nothing to improve standards.
David, Denmark

I use my car about four months of the year, but I still pay road tax and insurance at the full rate. It would be very easy to include third party insurance and road tax to the price of fuel. Large cars, high mileage drivers would then pay a proportional amount towards road maintenance and I would only use my car when I absolutely had to.
David Norris, Scotland

The imposition of road tolls to reduce traffic jams is ludicrous

Mark, USA
The imposition of road tolls to reduce traffic jams is ludicrous. Just come see the traffic jams at the toll plazas where I live. They had to invent and install an expensive electronic system called E-Z Pass to partiallly relive it. Everyone benefits from roadways. Even those who don't own, drive, or ride in cars buy items that were mostly shipped over them. A nation's road network is part of its economic infrastructure and national defense. The construction and maintenance of roads should come out of general tax funds.
Mark, USA

I've read a few of the comments and began feeling angry at the stupid comments that by some saying more tax is required from the bashed motorist. One can only deduce these people need to get a life if we got rid of the think tanks civil servants and red tape perhaps they could spend a little of the ?38 billion on transport and roads and less on super wage rises and fat diners for the useless 600 odd politicians.
Paul Franklin, United Kingdom

To do away with traffic congestion you would have to have enough public transport to satisfy demand at peak times (morning and evening) Then what would happen to those tens of thousands of buses etc for most of the rest of the day? And their drivers? They would either have to be parked up (somewhere) or ride around totally empty. More to the point, who would pay for this colossal waste?
Peter H, UK

I don't think they will work. You only have to look to see that many people can afford to drive round in huge polluting off-roaders and are not deterred by the fuel bills. Others can barely afford to drive small economical cars. I suspect that road tolls will only deter the latter group.
Philip, UK

You should drive around any major American city and see how effective of a deterrent road tolls can be! Seriously, put the money towards better public trains. We should as well...
Andrew, Chicago, USA

I wonder how many whinging Londoners will be queuing up to get into Wales for the FA Cup Final this weekend. Some of the worst congestion will be at the toll booths on the Severn Bridges! Wake up people, the car is here to stay, if you don't like traffic jams get on to two wheels, cycle, scooter, motorbike.
Jenni, Bristol, England

Instead of pussyfooting around ban all cars from the cities. Before this is done it is essential that modern high tech public transport is in place with city parks being built to handle the demand.
peter, uk

The problem with road tolls is that they're so inefficient

Dughall, Scotland
If more taxes are needed to subsidise public transport then fair enough. The problem with road tolls is that they're so inefficient. They require road modifications at collection points. They require either electronic systems or human operators to collect the money. They add to travel time (and fuel inefficiency) by forcing traffic through booths. Whether people like it or not, it's better to just pay the extra tax at the petrol pump.
Dughall, Scotland

Taught in History at school how doing away with Toll Roads was an important economic and social reform! So why go back now? I do not accept that improving Public Transport will not cut traffic congestion. However, the improvements to Public Transport need to be on a vast scale; much vaster than what I suspect are being considered.
Peter Judge, UK

Forget tolls, keep one lane only for single occupancy cars and make the others multiple-occupancy strictly enforced with suitable fines, If this encourages people to car-pool then it will have the additional benefit of them having to actually talk to their neighbours to organise pooling and improve society and community in the bargain.
Leigh, USA (UK originally)

We already do! Its in the form of the highest road tax in Europe. ?38 billion they take from motorists each year, and only hand ?6 billion back into the infrastructure. That is not just obscene, it is theft.
Zachary Stenson, England

More figures to the readers' attention. (Thank you to Quentin Willson for these). 1975 - road taxes collected ?12bn, amount spent on roads ?12bn. 2000 (?) road taxes collected ?38bn, amount spent on roads ?6bn. Amount put into public transport? I don't know, but I doubt it's ?22bn somehow.
Trevor, UK

The government is totally isolated from what happens outside of Central London

Tony Birchall, Crewe, England
The government is totally isolated from what happens outside of Central London. We need cars to get to work, the public transport system is insufficient, impracticable, insecure and unreliable. To add tolls to the motorways would simply bring the country to a halt. There will be no road distribution network and small villages would become clogged, the average salesperson could not do their jobs, motorway service stations would go out of business, parcel carriers will fail... The list is endless!
Tony Birchall, Crewe, England

As with most things to do with transport in the UK tolls are a fantasy and based on the false assumption that the travelling public have viable alternatives. As our current road infrastructure has evolved in the late 20th Century to bypass towns and villages and simply to provide sufficient routes to get from A to B, it is absolutely daft to say now we are going to charge you! The only solution is to have a "low cost" efficient and fully integrated Public System.
Phil W, UK

Anyone that has spent time using the New Jersey Turnpike, Raritan Crossing and the bridges into and out of New York will know the vast expanse of land taken up with toll booths, exit roads, congestion etc. My question is, where is all this land going to come from in and around London?
Tony, Grenada, (dual UK/US )

Funnily enough I hate commuting, unfortunately I don't earn enough to allow me to live close to my place of work. As house prices in the South rise people are forced to commute further each day. The root of the transport problem is too many people having (not wanting) to travel.
Kevin, UK

Enough is enough. We pay road tax and other related taxes worth about 40 Billion pounds a year. What the government is about is forcing us out of our cars without having the infrastructure ready as far a public transport is concerned.
Jackson, Welling

If you want to reduce congestion on the roads then an alternative must be offered

Phil Jones, France
A one day bus and tram strike in Geneva convinced me of the effectiveness of a good public transport system. Geneva is normally crowded with traffic but without the trams, just about everything was at a standstill. If you want to reduce congestion on the roads then an alternative must be offered. It must be reliable and affordable. Charging tolls will serve to aggravate the current situation.
Phil Jones, France

At best, tolls shift the congestion from traditional bottlenecks to the toll booths; at worst, they cause more congestion, especially on homeward commutes. A better idea is to limit the routes and times that trucks (HGVs) can use the public highways ... keeping HGVs out of cities during the rush hours, for instance, will go a long way to reducing congestion.
Mark M. Newdick, US/UK

An excellent way to increase the vaults of the chancellor. As he gets richer the no-tolled roads will get more congested, the tolled roads will see marginal difference and neither will see improvements in quality and yet he the chancellor will have even more opportunity to say what a great big pot of gold he has to spend in his budget speech.

Road tolls like congestion charging are basically pricing lower income people off the roads. This is a regressive tax and should not be implemented.
John Adlington, UK

I have lived in London for 3 years, and in that time I have only ever used public transport - generally buses. I have to admit that it does make me very annoyed when we are stuck in traffic, and the bus can't move, but there is no way that if you got only half those people to stop driving, that the public transport system would cope. Something needs to be sorted, and quickly.
Paula, UK

Well blow me down, what a good idea, let's tax the road user even more than he is already taxed

Andy, Scotland
Well blow me down, what a good idea, let's tax the road user even more than he is already taxed, after all we pay the government ?36 billion a year and they only spend ?12 billion of it on the roads!
Andy, Scotland

I think city congestion is the worst problem. In Melbourne, Australia, they introduced a Citylink, a tolled expressway that goes right through the city and out the other side. You simply drive onto it, and then when you're at your destination, ring a hotline number and the daily fee is debited from your account. You can use it as much as you like for that day, and every car is recorded at each entry point so that fare evading is impossible.
Paul, London, UK

Motorway tolls are not the answer. When I visit family, I use my car and I think the motorways are the least congested roads. To get to work, I use public transport because, although not desirable, I would prefer that than trying to navigate the congested streets of London. Also, the practice of commuting in a congested city using cars, mainly single occupancy, needs to be changed to improve the air quality vastly. Many people using their cars in London must not realise that London's public transport is a viable and better alternative, despite the bad press.

The motorist gets taxed pretty hard already and if this scheme goes ahead I hope the money is really used to improve public transport. I get a little tired of all those single occupant cars claiming they have no viable alternative - get a motorcycle and stop whining - you people are the real problem. It's cheaper as well!
Tony, UK

To Simon Fowkes: I don't disagree with the idea of a ?5 toll for entering the city of London but it is not people's fault that all the jobs are located around London. Public transport is abysmal and expensive. Car has been described at the main element for independence as it allows freedom of movement.

I don't hate living in Euston, I just hate the amount of cars! - Ban all traffic from the centre of London is what I say! -That will make people use public transport, the increased money then could be used on improving it.
Simon Fowkes, UK

If more people rode motorbikes, rather than just seeing them as dangerous machines ridden by hooligans (which is not the case!), then congestion would ease considerably, fewer motorcyclists would be murdered by tunnel-visioned car drivers, and there would be no need to impose road tolls.
Jim, UK

We already pay road tolls in the form of fuel duty which is double that rate in any other country in the developed world

Brian W, UK
We already pay road tolls in the form of fuel duty which is double that rate in any other country in the developed world. The introduction of separate tolls would be duplication. What is lacking in government plans is any attempt at co-ordination as they propose more housing and airport capacity in the south-east whilst supporting a reduction in road capacity and with no plans for a single new mile of railway track.
Brian W, UK

The UK government spends 1/5 of the revenue collected from motorists on road maintenance, so I think that it will be a big political mistake to introduce road tolls.
Scott, UK

Very good idea, maybe it will discourage motorists using the car for school runs, going to the local shop for newspaper instead of walking etc... But it would need a for reduction in the national road tax.
David Morgan, England/Sweden

75% of the cost of petrol in the UK is tax. Add to that the cost of Road Tax at ?185 (average) a year. Where is the money going? Now we are expected to tolerate road tolls? What are the government thinking? Did they learn nothing about the tolerance level of motorists after last years Fuel protests? Doesn't look like it, does it?
Darren, UK

So let's get this right. They want to put tolls on roads but not spend the money on improving public transport. They want to discourage motorists from using their cars but do nothing to provide an alternative! It's just thinly disguised preparation for another grab at our wallets, for which, we will get back precisely nothing.
Simon, UK

Until there are real alternatives to the car, road tolls will just be another method of easy money for the Government

Paul R, UK
We already have the most expensive petrol in the world, and the worst-maintained roads in the western world. But we keep to our cars because, for most people, there is no alternative. Public transport still doesn't offer what people need. Until there are real alternatives to the car, road tolls will just be another method of easy money for the Government.
Paul R, UK

Road tolls would be OK if road tax was abolished. Also, there would be no need for road tolls if the revenue created by fuel taxes and road taxes were spent on improving our roads systems instead of being used on other things like Euro MP's luxurious lifestyles. Tolls would certainly not help reduce traffic congestion and environmental pollution. The only way that they can be improved is by a public transport system that works and is reliable and cheap. A great deal of congestion and pollution could be avoided by re-directing road freight onto the railways.
PhilT, Oman

You cannot introduce road tolls unless there's an alternative. With the current Thames Trains and tube service I cannot get into London with a pram without going in my car. My husband can only get to work by travelling down the M4 every day. The only available public transport takes nearly 2 hours (on a good day). Give us reasonable alternatives before making us pay to use the roads.
Christine, UK

If road tolls were used properly (That is to ensure the stretch of road they are on is one long line of undamaged tarmac with no road works every month) then I would probably pay as long as it wasn't too expensive. In France the toll roads are completely untouched by road works and the congestion they cause and I've heard they are wonderful to drive on.
Richard, UK

This is just another tax. If the Government was serious they would reduce vehicle road tax and let the individual decide if they wished to pay it back by entering cities or by using busy road networks at peak times.
Baz, UK

Well this tax exists in almost every country in the first world and I think it's a good idea. Everybody wants to drive safely and arrive at a destination as short as possible. Why shouldn't we have to pay for all this luxury? You won't get much for nothing, do you?
Maggie, Switzerland

Another short sighted narrow minded attempt at solving congestion problems

Steve West, UK
The idea is another short sighted narrow minded attempt at solving congestion problems - the answer, like with anything, is to treat the root of the problem i.e. improve the roads and improve alternative means of transport, not throw more misery at those people who use their cars to commute with no viable alternative at all. Toll systems will simply generate more cash for the government which seems to be their answer to everything these days, take the NHS as another prime example with the 1p in NI contributions.
Steve West, UK

To Guy Chapman You continue to spread the lie that asthma is somehow related to car usage. There is now overwhelming evidence that this is not the case. Chief amongst this is the higher incidence of asthma in rural areas, compared with towns, and the fact that it has not decrease in the last 10 years despite a something like 75% reductions in toxic / particulate emissions from vehicles. If I had a sickly child I would want to blame it on something. Something has changed in the last 30 years that has caused this epidemic (maybe changes in diet, maybe allergens from the cat population (which has doubled over this period), maybe a virus, we don't know). Continuing to try and link it to car usage will only delay discovery of the real cause and result in more suffering.
Frank, UK

Congestion charging is essential - whatever people say, public transport could be free and abundant and they would still use their cars. Our towns and cities are choked with single-occupant cars and as long as people see car travel as costing only the price of the fuel in the tank this will continue. Diseases like asthma and emphysema are on the rise in urban areas due to pollution, and people are dying from heart disease because they use cars for journeys as short as a few hundred yards. At the moment it's the environment that pays when people drive in town - tolls could change that for the better.
Guy Chapman, UK

Excellent idea, why not remove the revolting town centre multi-storey car parks at the same time?

Tom, UK
Road tolls to reduce congestion in towns and cities? Presumably this means extra charges for drivers who ignore park and ride schemes. Excellent idea, why not remove the revolting town centre multi-storey car parks at the same time? Every day I see people seething in traffic jams, being slowly poisoned in their self-contained gas chambers. Every day I wonder why they do it. No wonder we're a nation of very unhealthy fatties!
Tom, UK

All road tolls will do is keep the poor from using the road and allow the rich to speed about in their big fast cars. Further, it is about time the government operated a fully transparent policy on its allocation of taxes. It is important they convince (through fact, not spin) the tax payer that they really are making optimum use of existing revenue before they ask for any more.
G Valentine, UK

I don't think tolls are a good idea at all. I don't earn that much, yet I am forced to use my car to get to work. The trains from my home town go the wrong way for where I work, and buses take 3 times as long as the car, through every little village on the way, and are subject to the same congestion as the car in the morning. I have noticed, however, that during school holidays my journey time is cut by half. Perhaps some of our already high car-related taxes should be ploughed into not only better, viable, alternative public transport options, but increasing school bus services. It would also help if employers and businesses were more flexible instead of sticking rigidly to a 9-5 structure.
Maria Cooke, UK

Richard Philips, learn the facts before you put something down in writing. At present, we pay ?38 billion in car tax and fuel tax. If we were to assume that 1% of this is from car tax (even though the figure is substantially higher) that would give ?380 million to be spent on our roads. Apparently, ?12 million was spent on our roads last year. Where did the rest go? How has the government (or the London Mayor) got the cheek to charge us twice for the same thing?
Adrian, England

The road tax has not increased sufficiently to cover road building/repair. Therefore another form of tax is required to fill the shortfall. A road toll is an option i.e. collect money off the people who are actually using the roads. I would have thought that the cost of implementing this would be rather excessive, not too mention the administrative effort behind it. Much more simple to achieve the same thing by adding yet more tax to petrol. That way the existing infrastructure/administration won't change, the government will get their funds and its up to Joe Public whether he drives around in his own car or not. This will provoke more efficient cars and shared lifts with the added benefits of more space of the roads and less pollution.
Richard Philips, UK

Encourage the setting up of searchable websites for drivers to find passengers and passengers to find drivers to share the cost. Hopefully if that works, it will help. But please, stimulate co-operation by providing supporting infrastructure to achieve desirable goals.....
Rhys Jaggar, England

Congestion will simply be moved to minor roads

Merlin, Czech (Formerly UK)
If more money is needed for roads then road tax should increased. Tolls will only encourage people to use the minor roads, especially for short journeys. Congestion will simply be moved to minor roads. Along with the ensuing increase in road damage and increased cost of maintaining them. The problem won't be solved, just moved. If public transport was more efficient, and not so ridiculously expensive, fewer people would feel the need to use a car, and the problem avoided altogether.
Merlin, Czech (Formerly UK)

If they actually reduce car usage the amount of money collected through car tax and fuel duty will also drop. So, if by some fluke, this idea does work, not only will the government charge us to use the roads, they will have to tax us more to make up the shortfall.
Peter, UK

Road tolls are everywhere in South Florida - it can cost you $4 to travel 40 miles. But the roads are still congested, at the wrong time that same 40 miles can take you 2 to 3 hours. Tolls will have next to no effect on congestion, it needs something radical and a major philosophy shift. Make public transport free - it can never be clean, reliable and efficient and profitable all at once. So take it out of private hands and divert all the road maintenance/road tax funds to supporting it. Introduce road tolls by all means and use the revenue to fund public transport.
Leigh, USA/UK)

Bad idea! I live near a recently built toll highway that was subsequently sold by the Ontario government to a private consortium. Since then, the already high toll rates have increased dramatically, much to the dismay of drivers. To add insult to injury, the Ontario government also collects taxes that are supposed to go towards constructing and maintaining our roads and highways, so in effect motorists get hit twice. I don't know how the British system works, however I suspect it's similar.
Steve K, Canada

Are road tolls a good idea? No. It is a socially divisive measure forcing the less well-off members of society off the roads. Speaking from my own experience, most of the congestion I experience is caused by the school run and the introduction of tolls is unlikely to make much difference because I would have thought the typical school run is a relatively short journey and you would have to charge prohibitive tolls to force these people off the road.
Martin, UK

As a Londoner without a car (and we are in the majority here) I feel there should be a toll just for entering the city. Why should people be allowed to come in, gas us, treat our neighbourhoods like car parks, then leave. I couldn't care less about the whinging of motorists, they should understand London was not built for the car, we don't have grid pattern roads as they do in America, public transport has to come first. And its not just about in getting from A to B, in between that journey they're passing through neighbourhoods and effecting peoples lives. As far as I'm concerned they should be made to pay whatever amount is set.
Amanda, London

If it puts a halt to the 'school run' I'm all for it. The money should be used for 'public transport'. Also penalise any vehicle with one occupant driving into or out of a city during the rush hour.
John, France

To arrive at work for 8.30am I would need to catch the last bus the previous evening!

Roger, UK
I travel 30 miles each way to work - most of it on the M40. However I go away from London, and so the motorway is never congested on the side I use, unlike the other side which is always congested. Would I be expected to pay congestion charge in such a case? Why don't I go by public transport? Because to arrive at work for 8.30am I would need to catch the last bus the previous evening!
Roger, UK

Here in Nottingham they have the right idea. Roads, buses and trains into the city are extremely crowded with all the commuters, so they are building a comprehensive tram network to offer a better alternative. This will definitely bring me off the roads.
Susie, UK

Roads are there to be driven on, and in the case of commuter journeys there will always be congestion since cities like London are too big for their own good, and the road networks and infrastructure are woefully inadequate. Reliable and affordable public transport would help though.
Matt Sinclair, England

The main reason major roads were built was to take the traffic away from built up areas. If road tolls are introduced, many people will revert to using the minor roads thought the towns. The main effect of this will be only people with money will use the major roads. Perhaps that's what Mr Blair wants, to make it quicker for him and his high-paid friends to be able drive around more easily...
Caron, England

Get a motorbike!

Get a motorbike! OK, not good for shifting a large amount of cargo but excellent for bringing several million people into our large towns and cities around the country to work (and removing all those single person, road clogging cars). Also, they're exempt from the new congestion charge to be introduced in London (and perhaps other main cities in the future). You can fit an awful lot of motorbikes onto our congested roads!! With a bit of luck, Mayor Ken will allow them to use Bus Lanes soon (as those clever officials in Bristol have done!).

The government already taxes motorists an enormous amount via vehicle tax and the highest fuel duty in Europe but only a small fraction of the revenue generated goes into road investment. I cannot see any justification for making motorists pay even more without there being any affordable and convenient alternative forms of transport available. Public transport in many areas of the UK is simply a joke.
Steve Littley, UK

I do not think five pounds is enough, (people will just pay it) should be at least ten pounds per day... perhaps less though for people who actually live in London. I am sick of people commuting into London with there car, polluting this wonderful city, then going back to their leafy suburb. If it was up to me, I would ban all non essentially traffic from the centre of London, people can bike or take the bus/tube and while at it, bring back the trams... I was in Amsterdam recently, what a difference in the quality of life they have, just down to the lack of cars in the centre of the city.
Simon Fowkes, UK

I paid VAT on my car when I bought it. I pay road tax and tax on my insurance premiums and fuel excise duty every time I buy more diesel. I pay more VAT when I have the car repaired or serviced. Often those repairs are to damage caused by debris kicked up from poorly maintained roads. As far as I'm concerned I pay more than enough already and any attempt to penalise motorists with road tolls canot be justified. No doubt at some stage this forum will be crowded out by smug cyclists. If any one of them can explain how I can get from one end of the country to the other on a bike in a few hours I'd be fascinated by their response. If any of them can name one person that enjoys sitting next to a sweaty cyclist at work all day I'd be grateful too.
James, Shropshire

The Government should go and rob someone else

Huge, UK
Motorists pay for the roads in this country about five times over already. The Government should go and rob someone else.
Huge, UK

I thought that was what we paid road tax for. I wonder just how much of the revenue that is collected from road tax is actually spent on our roads?
Jim Hutton, UK, France

I have a very pleasant twenty minute walk to work in the morning. People I work with who live closer than me drive every day and cannot understand why I walk. Introducing road tolls will not solve the basic problem of lazy and selfish people who want to use their car for every journey they make, however small.
David, Wales

I don't think road tolls are a good idea. We need to improve public transport to persuade people out their car to use public transport.
George Nipah, England

If Simon hates living in Euston so much, he should move. After all, that's the same solution offered by the Greens to those who object to using the dire public transport "system" in this country,
Huge, UK

Road tolls will do nothing to discourage drivers from driving until there are acceptable and practical alternatives. As others have pointed out, this is yet another tax in disguise. That being the case, why not introduce a yearly motorway 'vignette' sticker like the one we have in Switzerland?
Christopher Lamb, Switzerland

British business already faces enough costs without a 'green' tax that in reality does little or nothing for the environment

Peter, London, UK
Not in my book. All the evidence suggests that introducing tolls for central London will only serve to hit the competitive edge of London in a global economy. British business already faces enough costs without a 'green' tax that in reality does little or nothing for the environment.
Peter, London, UK

Road tolls are a very good idea, and hopefully the monies gathered will be transferred directly to the government departments involved- transport and the environment, and protected from the Whitehall leech. However, they should correspond to the type of vehicle used. Farmers' tractors and agricultural machinery, which cause immense damage to the roads, and are a terrifying danger and inconvenience to motorcyclists, cyclists and other motorists, should pay the highest rate, hopefully discouraging them from travelling so much. HGVs should be next, followed by PCVs and then cars and motorbikes. Vehicles carrying more than one person should receive a reduction in tolls. HGVs should also be penalised for all urban journeys, including deliveries.
William, UK

Who are these government advisors? More of Tony's cronies? If they are not going to improve public transport where will this money from tolls go exactly? The government get it wrong yet again. Zero out of ten for effort. Do not pass go, yet still collect ?200.
Tony, UK

Perhaps what is needed is a way of making the alternatives to the car more attractive rather then taxing it out of existence

Richard Greaves, UK
The government has too many methods at its disposal of taxing motorists and still it has failed to resolve congestion problems. It needs to learn that money is not the cure for this - adding another level of tax won't do anything other then allow another private firm to cream off profits in running a public service. Three years ago I moved house to be within walking distance of work - I am still a motorist yet the savings to my pocket are vast. Now I find the area where I live is to be included in future 'congestion charging' plans for Leeds. Perhaps what is needed is a way of making the alternatives to the car more attractive rather then taxing it out of existence. Perhaps regulating car ownership would be another way. Ban motorists at 6 points not 10. There are plenty of methods based on responsibility before they even look at tax.
Richard Greaves, UK

Trying to stop congestion by introducing road tolls is like putting out fire with petrol. It will cause increased congestion. I could have advised that to the government for free!
Erwin Saxon, England

I don't agree with road tolls for two reasons. Firstly, the money generated would not be ploughed back into the roads. The AA have brought to our attention that there are millions of pounds generated from road tax but only a small percentage of this actually goes into the roads. When road tax was first introduced, all the money generated was spent on the roads. Secondly, how will they help congestion, the price of petrol goes up and people still drive, they just have less money in their pocket. And let's face it, another charge doesn't mean that much to a nation who are being constantly ripped off. Besides surely the queues at the tolls will cause congestion. The worst case scenarios is that people will take alternative minor road routes increasing the level of traffic on roads that are not fit to cope with it and that run through residential areas.
Joanna, UK

Then let all those who ''pinpoint'' introducing road tolls as the ''only'' way to cut traffic congestion pay for it, too! Why should we pay for a solution which has proved to be ineffective in other European cities?
M. Jones, Bath, England

I think road tolls are a good idea, especially in a country as crowded as ours. But, to persuade motorists of the merits of tolls, and to defend themselves against the charge that they are simply out to get more money out of us, they should make the change revenue-neutral: reduce road and car tax by the same amount. It is more efficient, in an economic sense, to tax the use of roads - especially busy ones - than to tax people simply for owning cars.
Ben Broadbent, England

It makes perfect sense to charge motorists according to use

Paul, UK
From the current state of our roads its clear we can't just do nothing. The potential demand for personal transport way exceeds the capacity of our infrastructure - so something has to give. It makes perfect sense to charge motorists according to use, and the fairest way to do this is through road charging, which charges reflecting demand and congestion levels. But - this must substitute for existing taxes like road tax or fuel duty, and 100% should go towards improving infrastructure and public transport.
Paul, UK

I don't understand why tolls should decrease road usage when public transport isn't improved. People in general still have to make their journeys, whether they pay a toll or not, and if public transport is not improved, they have no choice but to use the roads.
James Hughes, UK

Congestion is good. It lowers average speed and helps prevent accidents. Eventually some commuters get so cheesed off they go to work earlier, move home, change jobs, go by train and take a conscious choice to avoid the roads. Theoretically in our computer and telephonic based society most jobs can be done anywhere in the country. So why are they always stuck in city centres in South East England? If the Government really wishes to prevent road congestion they should provide incentives for firms to move to places such as Cornwall, Northern Ireland, Northumberland etc.
Anthony, England

As I already pay for the roads in fuel tax and road tax and believe it or not council tax (which in my town, Dundee, is highest in Scotland) why should I pay tolls? Maybe if public transport was as good the rest of Europe, I would pay, but I know for sure 'two jags' will buy another jag and he will never pay road tolls, or MPs will get another 26 percent wage rise.
John Messeter, Scotland

You can't price people out of cars if they have no alternative

Dave, England
We have just about the highest rate of tax on petrol, we have expensive cars, tax on compulsory insurance, tax for using the roads, compulsory 'inspection' of our cars, and STILL we grit our teeth and stay in these cars - why? Mainly because there ISN'T a public transport alternative. You can't price people out of cars if they have no alternative, don't try, in the extreme they'll just have to stop work.
Dave, England

Oh what fun! So I'm going to end up having to pay to use the roads because there is NO public transport in the area I live. I would quite happily use buses if they were available but the village I live in has three a day, two going in one direction one going the other, and at times, that means I couldn't get to work. If they plan on introducing this they need to think of areas outside London as the UK doesn't stop outside the M25.
Ceris Evans, UK

I would be delighted to pay a reasonable toll to drive to work on the motorway every morning, if it forced a few people into either talking a different route or driving at a better time (for example getting lorries off the road during rush hour would make a huge amount of difference to traffic). I would also be delighted to use public transport every day, unfortunately at the moment, that would involve three buses and a train and would triple my journey time, however the improvement of the buses at one end of this journey would make this a worthwhile alternative - it wouldn't take much but unfortunately no one seems willing to take that step.
Helen, UK

They should re-nationalise the railways, and use road tax to bring the rail network into the 21st century

Simon, UK/Finland
I suppose the government never actually considered providing a viable alternative to road transport? They should re-nationalise the railways, and use road tax to bring the rail network into the 21st century. The honest truth is that it doesn't matter how much they tax the roads, people will still use them since there is no real alternative. There will be the same number of cars on the road, a lot of angry, worse -off voters, and more money for Gordon Brown's coffers. Hmm - perhaps the government is more intelligent than I thought...
Simon, UK/Finland

I like many other people do not enjoy sitting in traffic jams; Unfortunately there is no alternative for me. Me and many other people I know would gladly use public transport to get to work, but it is not an option in my job. Perhaps the government should try encouraging people to work from home for a couple of days a week. In addition, if the government encouraged the public to start and finish work later in the day then peak traffic flows would not be such a problem.
S Potter, Brighton

If they are set at a sensible level and road tax is eliminated then it could work and still be popular. In the US you can drive 150 miles or more on some toll roads and still get change out of $10. Some bridges have a toll of 50 cents or $1. Charging is simple - you take a ticket when you join the road and pay when you leave. Tolls are low enough that it's barely worth evading them, especially when if you don't mind a lower quality road you can avoid them anyway. I expect our government will set the tolls high, keep road tax just to punish people who don't drive much, not put the money back into transport and then wonder why people try and evade them.
Dave Tankard, UK

See also:

02 May 02 | UK
Road tolls 'inevitable'
11 Apr 02 | UK Politics
Row over motorway tolls report
17 Mar 02 | England
More councils back road tolls
10 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Drivers face 5 London toll
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