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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 July, 2004, 10:47 GMT 11:47 UK
Future transport plans: Your views
Congestion charge zone sign in London
The government's new transport strategy for the future includes a system of road charges in order to cut traffic congestion.

The long-awaited 10bn Crossrail scheme has been given the go-ahead.

Despite the major funding challenge and the fact that it is unlikely to be ready for the proposed 2012 Olympics.

Transport secretary Alistair Darling also responded to an independent report on the feasibility of nationwide road tolls and the suggestion that local authorities cut council tax in return for introducing congestion charging.

What do you think of this plan? Do you think it's a good idea to cut council tax in return for congestion charging? Will it achieve the government's climate change commitments? Will you stop driving?

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

Your comments:

The more you use the road, the more you pay
Brian McCaig, Paisley, Scotland
At last!! Some common sense!! The more you use the road, the more you pay. Now, how about slapping some hefty taxes on those 4x4 that use more road and cause more damage than ordinary vehicles.
Brian McCaig, Paisley, Scotland

I'm quite happy to pay for using a toll road, as long as other forms of taxation are reduced. For those who don't want to pay tolls, then let them pay higher fuel prices/ car tax instead, and then use the congested roads. Mind you, better public transport would be nice too...
Matt, Burnley, England

The government must not overlook that the greater majority of the population, who do not live in conurbations, do not have, nor are they likely to have, in the foreseeable future, any alternative to private road transport. Many places have no public transport. In other places there is the prospect of perhaps one bus a week to a nearby town!
Nick Redding, Somerset

If public transport were to be made more readily accessible and cheaper, there would be no need for the vast majority of car journeys. This is the exact opposite of what has happened over the last 20 years or so. Once the motorist is paying per mile driven, just watch what happens to the price of public transport. It will go up to match the increased cost of motoring. As for the government reducing or removing other motoring taxes, pull the other one.
Edwin Mogg, Alfreton, Derbyshire

Small towns are becoming places to sleep, where most of the working population travel to larger centres. We need to think about setting up shared work places in small towns with strong telecommunications links.
Colin Gamble, Uttoxeter

We need more public transport
Peter, London, UK
I wonder why it is that this government always opts for the deterrent tax, rather than fixing the problem. The problem, here, is that we need more public transport. Fix that!
Peter, London, UK

I use the train to get to work, but have to drive to the station. Why? Because there is not a bus service to get me from where I live to the nearest station. As for the rest of the time, it is cheaper for my wife, my daughter and I to travel by car than it is to pay the high cost of public transport.
Paul, Essex

I suggest a compromise move. Devise a roadside camera that can photograph the inside of a car. If there are at least three adults in the car, it is exempt from any congestion charge. The next rush hour traffic jam you see, just count how many of the cars have more people than just the driver inside them.
Tim Young, Penwortham, Lancashire

No money for the light rail schemes in Leeds or Manchester (after 200 million has already been spent!) but billions more for the South East. This Government is more biased towards London and the Home Counties than the Tories!
Ian, Leeds, UK

Instead of a road tax disc they should combine the road tax with petrol tax, but you shouldn't be able to get petrol without an insurance card, as this is where most of our tax wasted.
Jenna Phillips, Surbiton, Surrey

Another prime example of the North South divide. London once again is handed an extortionate amount of money. 10bn for a Crossrail scheme, no doubt this will treble over the next few years. While on the same day Manchester is told that 200m is to expensive to expanded the Metrolink.
Jay C, the North

I challenge Mr Darling to try the commute that thousands of us do every day - and pay for the privilege too!
Alan, Crawley

I challenge Mr Darling to try the commute that thousands of us do every day - and pay for the privilege too! If public transport were cheaper and more reliable, with cancellations not happening as a result of trains being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or drivers not being available then things would not be so bad. Even better would be trains that are slightly newer than some of the train operating companies use presently. Weigh it up Mr Darling and use common sense - a 45 minute walk at before 0700 to stand on a damp, smelly horrible train for an hour or more - if it even turns up, to then play the let's see how many people we can cram into each carriage on the Victoria line, followed by a further 10 minute walk versus a 10 minute drive (where there is no public transport offering - apart from the same five minute walk, two trains, and a bus once every two hours) - do you wonder why I use my car?
Alan, Crawley

I have a busy life; at work I manage several hundred staff on a number of sites, in the evening I'm a Conservative councillor and at home I have a young family. Yet six months ago I got rid of my car. Instead I use buses, trains and taxis. My mileage hasn't changed but my stress levels are hugely reduced and I'm saving about 300 every month. If road pricing can persuade more people to do this and improve both their lifestyles and the environment then bring it on. Besides, using price to ration a scarce resource is a jolly good Thatcherite thing to do.
FD, Fareham, England

So Big Brother has arrived, by implication satellite tracking knows where you are. I want fair tax, and the government to retreat from my life. These proposals do just the opposite.
Martyn Owen, Cardiff

It takes 40 minutes to drive door to door and spiralling house prices mean that I cannot afford to move closer to my place of work
Trevor, Cambs

My job is 35 miles away from my home in a rural village, I need to get to work by 7 am, the first bus leaves the village at 7.25 and goes in the opposite direction. There is no direct bus service, to get from where I live to where I work by bus would take 105 minutes and involve three changes and I would arrive at work over two hours late. There is no train station. It takes 40 minutes to drive door to door and spiralling house prices mean that I cannot afford to move closer to my place of work. This may explain why I am totally disinterested in a 10bn Crossrail scheme for London which already has a public transport system that we in rural communities can only dream of. Road charging? OK, go ahead, I'm sure that given time my satellite navigation system and I could find a few hitherto unused rat runs through housing estates, past schools and through industrial estates to avoid most of them. It may take longer but what the hell, I get paid by the hour and my costs are passed onto my customers.
Trevor, Cambs

Cut back on driving licences that's what I say. Fewer licences equals fewer cars on the road.
Rick, Tintagel, UK

Public transport? What public transport? Clearly, none of you do-gooders lecturing me about using my car live in a rural or semi-rural community with an abysmal bus service that is no use to commuters.
SF Jones, Oxfordshire, UK

When we get all these selfish people out of their cars, how will we fit them into trains that are already working above capacity? Already some train services have been cut to improve reliability and its standing room only.
P Burns, Fleet, Hants

If they implement something like this I will emigrate and move my business overseas
Martyn Day, Oxford
I hope this loses Labour the next election. If they implement something like this I will emigrate and move my business overseas. The Government collects billions from car tax and fuel levies, yet only spends 20% on roads. i can't see them cutting all the taxes even if we have a pay as you go scheme, they need the money so they can waste it elsewhere.
Martyn Day, Oxford

A mechanism for massive tax increases, no more, no less.
Steve, UK

What an outstandingly stupid plan. Expensive, complicated, prone to errors and technology failures just what we need. We already have a tax system that charges you directly on the number of miles that you travel and on the efficiency of your car and it's simple and cheap to collect, it's called fuel tax.
Mark, Notts

The govt needs to concentrate on improving and promoting public transport, tolls and charges just divert the traffic elsewhere. A City Centre congestion charge may seem a good idea, indeed London's has been a success in my view, but the boundary has to fall on someone somewhere, and they won't be happy!
Jack, London

We are paying the price of a mobile work force and educational choice
Martin Parkes, Hemel Hempstead, Herts
While people live far from the work place and children do not attend the local school the problem of traffic congestion will not be solved. Society has changed and we are paying the price of a mobile work force and educational choice.
Martin Parkes, Hemel Hempstead, Herts

People who say people should leave their cars for public transport are in fantasy land. The transport network is unreliable, uncomfortable, very slow, very expensive and in a lot of areas isn't even an option. The car is the *ONLY* way for a majority of people to get somewhere, there are no alternatives.
Richard, Wales, UK

Does the government seriously believe that electronic tracking can't be compromised? Just like road tax, the honest majority will pay and the arrogant few will evade it.
Ian, Matlock UK

I am a motorist and phone-user. If I use my phone more than someone else, I get charged more. So what is the problem with charging motorists for the amount they use the roads? Use more pay more makes a lot of sense to me.
Andy T, UK

This measure will apply the polluter pays principle. Global Warming is a reality and the government must force motorists onto public transport by any means possible.
Melanie Osborne, Bristol, UK

We need to be more innovative in traffic management
Gareth, Swansea, Wales
How often do you sit at a red light with no traffic going across you? We need to be more innovative in traffic management, with intelligent systems and planning decisions which remove the need to travel, and stop ferrying children to whichever school their parents fancy. The government should concentrate on delivering our 21st century transport infrastructure and stop trying to find further ways to fleece us; we already pay a fortune.
Gareth, Swansea, Wales

As someone who would have benefited from the South Hampshire Tram system, it can only be said that this is so typical of a Labour Govt. On one hand they bleat about congestion which is a nightmare coming to and from the Gosport peninsula and then on the other don't provide the funds to implement a much needed public transport system which South Hampshire desperately needs. But then there aren't too many labour voters in South Hampshire and after this stupid decision, there will be even fewer.
Paul, Fareham

This is by far the best plans I have heard with regards to sorting out the UK's catastrophic congestion problems. Charging road users for usage instead of applying the same charge to all users is superb and should be a wakeup call to those who needlessly use their cars for making journeys. The days of driving to the shop behind your house are numbered!!
Richard Warden, London, UK

How far the British populace can be taxed, herded and hit without biting or bolting is over
Dave Ormston, Dudley, UK
With this, the government concede the next election. Pocket abusing taxes, a needless war and now a punishment on the one remaining personal freedom most people enjoy is an inhibition too far. The "New Labour" experiment in seeing how far the British populace can be taxed, herded and hit without biting or bolting is over.
Dave Ormston, Dudley UK

When will people wake up to the fact that as well as being a way to extract even more money from the motorist, satellite tracking will be yet another way of keeping tabs on us. Taken with ID cards, we will be more watched and tracked in this country than was ever the case in any of those 'Totalitarian' Eastern block countries that the West said were such bad places for personal freedom - progress eh?
Trevor, Worthing, UK

If people make a journey by car when they are able to make it by public transport, then their behaviour can only be described as selfish. They are clogging up the roads for though those who have to go by public transport, in addition to the damage caused to the environment.
Tom, Bath, UK

It takes 1.5 hours by train to get to work, and 20 minutes by car. I do catch the trains most days but recently they are becoming too overcrowded, dirty and often late. I think I am the only person in my area of the village that is prepared to make the 30 mins walk to and from the station each day but if the trains continue to get worse I well be commuting in the car. My point is that you don't need to make the car less attractive to the motorist, the public transport needs to be made more attractive, or at the very least, acceptable.
Dave B, Leeds

Public transport is coming from too far behind, and will never overtake the car in popularity
Paul, UK

We'll get nowhere if we limit the debate to how to undertake journeys. Public transport is coming from too far behind, and will never overtake the car in popularity, short of levels of deterrent taxing that would be inevitably regressive. We need to think outside the box and invest in telecommuting. An enormous number of us don't actually need to travel miles to work and back each day, by whichever means. Taking us out of the transport system all together will make a massive difference, leaving more capacity for those with jobs that do require them to be physically present.
Paul, UK

To all of those moaning about having to pay to drive to work: either move or get another job! We are privileged that we can choose to live miles and miles from work - no other generation had this choice, but we seem to think it's a right.
David, Edinburgh

We spend thousands on our car and pay tax and have the right to drive as long as I like. Government just want to make money for the failing trains.
Navpreet Singh, Watford

My wife and I were unable to find jobs in our professions that were close together. Consequently, we bought a home roughly half way between our respective offices but still do a 100 mile and 70 mile round trip every day. We use cars simply because there is no adequate public transport available. If we are to be taxed per mile one of us will have to completely change career due to the cost of going to work. I think it unlikely we are the only ones in this position and that perhaps the CBI should lobby govt on this matter because it will cost employees who have to commute. I can't see the employers increasing salaries to overcome increased transport cost do you?
Ian, UK

Currently public transport is unsuitable for mothers with young children, until this changes we are forced to use our car. I tried using the underground recently, and discovered that many stations have no lifts. Ever tried using the stairs with a toddler, baby, pushchair and a little shopping?...
Caron, England

To Caron, England: My sympathies, it is even worse here in Glasgow where there are no lifts to the underground platform and the 'jobsworthies' (who incidentally recently shut down four stations so that they could all go to a colleagues wedding) insist that you take your toddler out of the pram, fold it and hold it in one hand whilst trying to hold everything else, toddler included in the other... this is deemed safer than taking the pram on the escalator.
Gerry, Scotland

It seems to me it would be very costly to collect the tolls
Terry, Epsom

I'm all for improving public transport - especially railways but I have reservations over the proposed road tolls. It seems to me it would be very costly to collect the tolls, will we have to have toll booths every 20 miles or so in rural areas? Will road tax be abolished in favour of tolls? Would it not be better to simply add a fixed levy to fuel? say 10p a litre, fixed so change if the cost of crude varies, and do away with road tax and all the administrative costs that go with it?
Terry, Epsom, England

A number of people here would like to see fuel tax cuts in return for congestion charging. I disagree; surely we should be trying to encourage the use of environmentally friendly (i.e. smaller and fuel-sipping rather than larger and fuel-guzzling) vehicles. High fuel prices are a direct encouragement to use the car less and to use a less polluting vehicle. As for those who demand their right to use a fuel-guzzler if they choose: Sure, you have that right, just as a smoker has the right to smoke, but the country also has the right to tax you for making an impractical/damaging choice of lifestyle.
Chris Martin, Kent, UK

Satellite tracking of every single vehicle movement in the UK - unbelievable! I bet MI5 and Special Branch can't wait. Next they'll want to tag and track every single person. I think this proposal has more to do with internal security than relieving traffic jams.
Gareth, Reading, UK

I would love to leave my car at home and cycle to work but: Cycle lanes supposedly exist here in Leeds by virtue of using red tarmac and painting a white line a few inches from the gutter. These restrictions are not enforced and completely ignored by motorists (my son,13, was recently knocked off his bicycle by a motorist parked across a so called cycle lane - Otley Road for locals - and opening the car door in my son's face) They represent a very dangerous and cosmetic lip-service by Leeds City council. Can we have a little less electioneering and a few more genuine solutions please.
Ian, Leeds

500 cars a day go past my place and just four buses. If they really want to reduce congestion and climate change emissions they will support a scheme that gives me a bus every 10mins. Then and only then will I take it rather than be car number 501. What's more so will many of those 500.
Peter Holten, Milton Keynes, UK

The government seem very keen on spending our tax revenue. Their record on delivering IT projects on-time and within budget is not good. A much simpler scheme is to scrap the car tax and increase the price of fuel. This would have a small overall reduction in the level of congestion. Peaks on specific routes can be tackled cheaply by compulsory flexitime for business and differing start/end times for schools in a particular area. Tax relief on houses bought within five miles of your work address would reduce commuting etc etc.
Neil Taberner, Basingstoke, Hampshire

Except for those who can only just afford to run a car under present conditions, no, this will not stop people driving, it will simply make them bitter
Rich, UK

Except for those who can only just afford to run a car under present conditions, no, this will not stop people driving, it will simply make them bitter. Cheap tolls on motorways (as found in France) may not be too bad but charging me for travelling down some potholed B road is stupid. As for using trains as an alternative, according to Clarkson on Top Gear the other week, a fully loaded train is less environmentally friendly per passenger than a car with one passenger. I could go on...
Rich, UK

Outrageous! Four years ago they had a 10 year plan. Now it's still a 10 year plan. I don't drive, but the idea of congestion charges sounds crazy without giving people the option of an alternative! I look forward to the new 10 year plan in 2008!
Paul, Cardiff, UK

Yet again the motorist has to pay. What happens to all the income from fuel and road taxes? Surely if the govt can afford foreign wars they can afford to build better roads. If it gets to the point where I am charged every time I want to use my car I will leave the UK taking my money and skills somewhere where there is sufficient infrastructure to meet demand.
Paul W, Little Hadham, UK

Why is this government obsessed with satellite tracking? My view is that this scheme will be little more than a chance for the government to scratch the back of big business, by giving them a lucrative contract to implement this. Then the price per mile will start to rise at a geometric rate, as the project delivers late. Finally, the satellites will work out that people have been speeding. Congestion will not be cut. The best way to stop congestion is to ban cars.
Phil N, Sheffield, UK

Why should I stand in the freezing cold waiting for a late, dirty train/bus and give up three hours a day of my life while Uncle Sam cruises by in his gas guzzler laughing?
Steve, Fleet

I drive to get to work! I don't get up everyday and exclaim with joy, another day on the M3. My journey takes 45 minutes. By public transport it would take 165 minutes. It would appear that I go to work so I can be taxed and I'm taxed for going and now I'll be taxed for every mile, sounds too good to be true. Can we all remove the blinkers about climate change? It is all about tax. If climate change is so important then get the USA to do something about it. USA is responsible for most of the CO2. Why should I stand in the freezing cold waiting for a late, dirty train/bus and give up three hours a day of my life while Uncle Sam cruises by in his gas guzzler laughing? It is not going to happen and therefore Gordon gets his tax revenue and the CO2 goes up. This government is excellent at misleading the people and we should start from the premise that whatever they are saying is a lie. Its about tax stupid.
Steve, Fleet, UK

I am non-driver who pays a premium on council tax and rent to live within walking distance of a railway station. I welcome any move to redistribute the costs I incur to those who can drive and can therefore live in cheaper areas and pay less council tax.
Liz, Cardiff, Wales

Road pricing is undeniably the fairest means of charging people to use their cars. The further you drive, the more you wear out the road. Hence you should pay more. To sell it to the public they would have to make sure that the total motoring tax take was unchanged. I think that rather than cut council tax, they should phase out fuel tax and fixed-rate road tax and completely replace them with this charge.
Phil, London, UK

Road tolls work in other countries because of the vast network of alternative routes. It's not practical in this country. If Labour hadn't stopped all road building and maintenance for two years when they came into government, perhaps more alternatives would be available now and motorists would be more receptive to these ideas.
Graeme, Bristol, UK

Who, exactly, are we freeing up the roads for? Answer: Those that can afford it. The message is clear - price the poor people off the roads so that the rich people (and business) are not so inconvenienced.
Craig, UK

It took six years to build the Channel Tunnel (1988-1994) and seven years (1862-1869) to build the railway across the USA. How can it possibly take more than eight years to build a railway across London?
John, London, UK

The problem: "Is it cheaper for me to catch the bus/train or to go by car for this journey?" Yes transport problems solved. No today's situation and the transport mess we're in. Not rocket science but simple bus science. Subsidise public transport from the public purse until the equation is solved. Easy.
Huw, Reading

Might be better to cut petrol tax rather than council tax, to discourage indiscriminate car use. I support the philosophy of reducing car use, as many short journeys could be made by walking and cycling. Taxes on car or road use must be ring fenced for public transport improvements.
Paul Hepworth, York, UK

When oh when are government/educationalists/pundits/the BBC/every man and his dog going to stop going on about how everyone else should drive less and use public transport?! I love my car, and will not have that freedom taken away from me by government. What governments of any political persuasion must learn is that motorists will not vote for anti-motorist policies.
AJ, Wakefield, UK


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