Thinking For The Individual

Formerly known as 'Thinking For The People', this site offers some reflections on the state of British society and her people from the perspective of a libertarian Conservative with a passionate belief in the pillars of freedom and responsibility.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Road Tolls & The Need For Transport Commissioners

The government is planning the introduction of a nationwide scheme of 'pay-as-you-go' road charges, aimed at cutting congestion, and which would ultimately replace road tax and petrol duty.

I am strongly in favour of a system of road pricing, which would be much fairer on motorists than the present charade we have with various taxes and duties. What's more, road pricing is based on how far you travel, not merely whether or not you own a car or how much gas it guzzles.

But what is imperative is that road tolls do not merely become another source of revenue for the government but rather that the profits are directly returned to the transport infrastructure.
Statistics from the year 2000 told us that motorists raise over £36 billion for the Treasury but receive back only about £6 billion of investment in the infrastructure. Therefore, to see that costs levied on transport users go back into a better transport network I would also like to see the creation of elected transport commissioners throughout the country. These commissioners - who would not be party political but independent-minded - would set the tolls and take the receipts and then spend them on boosting our roads, railways and ports, with no interference at all from central government.

What's more, this would be true democracy in action. The idea that one day we humble voters might be able to just walk down the road and cast a vote to decide who should run our roads and railways, and then go into the town centre to have a chat with the commissioner about a pot-hole that needs fixing down our street or how difficult it is to get into the flow when we're coming out of the drive - that idea fills me with a sense of optimism about local democracy.

Transport is the traditional kitchen-table issue. It might not win a party any votes, but it certainly gets people talking. But wouldn't it be a refreshing change if transport was no longer a matter for politicians far away, but for we, the masses. It's an inspiring thought!


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