Road Charging

The government wants to introduce road charging on the roads (as opposed to, er, the trees). On the face of it they cite noble goals: to reduce congestion which will reduce pollution and stress and make Mother Nature and your own mother happy at the same time!

Labour hopes that by implementing a charging rather than taxation system (eventually, maybe; initially it’ll be a taxation and charging system) towards the roads then we, the people, will decide to share transport, use public transport, and cut out unnecessary journeys.

Cars!Let’s take a look at those three decisions of ours in some more detail:

Transport Sharing

I don’t know about you but I don’t live near anybody I work with. In order to share transport with them I would need to add to my travel time and distance significantly. For two people alternating the transportation duties this might work out marginally more fuel-efficient (but not convenient) overall than two separate journeys but it’s incredibly unfair on whoever lives nearest the workplace since that person will pay more to travel to work. Sharing a car would punish those who currently do not commute large distances. Thanks Labour!

Use Public Transport

I live 8 miles from my home. Getting to work involves a 15 minute drive in my car. To use public transport I have two options: bus or train.

To travel by bus I would need to walk to the bus stop on the route towards my work; that’s 15 minutes right away. The bus travel time is approximately half an hour and stops about 15 minutes walking distance from my work. At best, an hour. Assuming the bus is on time.

Using the train is worse. The train station is half an hour’s walk from my home. Twenty minutes travel with twenty minutes to walk at the other end. That’s an hour and ten minutes. Unless a twig falls on the line and causes a cancellation.

Setting aside the time and pain-in-the-arse experience added to during inclement weather we still have the joy of the exorbitant costs of public transport to add in. Plus – far worse – they allow pretty much anybody on public transport. Smelly people. Violent people. I’m far more picky over who travels in my car.

Cut Out Unnecessary Journeys

Now we get to the crux of the problem: unnecessary journeys.

Of all the people sitting in their cars in congestion, how many do you think woke up and thought "You know what! I fancy a trip at rush hour! Hoorah!"? A few, perhaps, but I’m not one of them.

I travel at peak times in the morning in order to go to work. I then travel at peak times in the evening in order to leave work. These are necessary trips for the following reasons: they prevent me from losing my job and prevent me from losing my girlfriend and the respect of my cat when I become locked in the office overnight.

Commuters don’t add to congestion because they enjoy one another’s company. At least, the ones I know don’t. Charging to use the roads at peak hours will not affect congestion because the overwhelming majority of people will still have to travel at those times. However, what it will do is drive up costs for employees who will insist their wages are increased to compensate which will affect inflation. Result: same congestion, same pollution, increased stress, angry Mother Nature. Volcano threat! Oh, and the government gets to line its pockets, of course. Yes, there is that.

Congestion Solution

You know, if people didn’t have to all work at the same time then there’d probably be less of them on the roads at the same time. At my work we’re allowed some flexibility with regards to working hours. I work a little earlier and leave a little earlier. I avoid some of the worst traffic as a result. Wow! Now, if only other companies did this.

Of course, not every company can do this but some can. The government, if it was really serious about reducing congestion, could stagger the start and finish times of its various departments around the country. Hey, the entire public sector could move to a nocturnal cycle!

And there’s another easy way to reduce congestion too: massively (massively) charge parents for taking their kids to school but provide free school travel as an alternative. This particular method of cutting congestion has everything Labour stands for: the free travel hints at the socialist roots of the party, while the massive charging system gives them all the power erections they crave.

Author: Mark

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  1. An excellent analysis of the government’s ridiculous anti-congestion measures, but I’d like to make some constructive observations:

    1) Living 8 miles from work you could cycle. Even at my wheezy average speed of 10mph that’s only 48 minutes which is a vast improvement on the bus option. After a few weeks of torturous knee and lower back pain, your fitness would improve and you might even achieve a heady 20mph. This would halve the travel time to a much more impressive 24 minutes, whilst also earning the respect of your peers for your bulging calves. In addition, the sweaty lycra shorts that you would no doubt feel obliged to drape around the office to dry out before the ride home would probably increase humidity. Low humidity is common complaint in air-conditioned offices with lots of electrical equipment and this small contribution to improve the working environment would therefore, I’m sure, be welcomed.

    2) Cycling does of course produce pollution – human carbon dioxide emissions increase exponentially with effort, and per horsepower a human is less efficient at making an effort than a car. Also, humans that exercise need to consume more energy rich foods. After a hard workout on the sofa, I always buy imported food from halfway round the world as I read somewhere the further food is transported the more energy it has. To carbon offset the "exercise effect" cycling could be coupled with car-sharing. Whilst not currently legal, grabbing onto the back of a colleagues car would reduce your carbon dioxide emissions significantly, and also reduce journey time. I am currently lobbying parliament to legalise this practice and have had promising discussions with several large car manufacturers to fit tailgating handles (pat. pending) to the rear corners of vehicles.

    3) For those still averse to the thought of exercise, there is a solution that would double the UK road capacity, and still allow the population to remain dangerously obese. If everybody rode a motorcycle all carriageways could be split in two. In addition, many motorcycles already have grab-rails for pillion passengers to cling to desperately as the pilot hurtles his petrol-powered missile recklessly between queues of traffic – these could easily be adapted as tailgating handles (pat. pending). To implement this scheme I estimate this would cost the country around £250 for the white paint (if purchased in bulk from a DIY retail outlet for example).

    On a final note, I feel obliged to challenge part of your solution to congestion. Charging parents for taking their children to school would be massively unfair. I always insisted my ex-wife took our huge 4×4 for the ten minute journey to school everyday, in order to mitigate the risk that our local council employed a pervert to drive the school bus. I realise it was very unlikely that anything would have happened but as a parent you have to think of the children, and you have to assume the worst of any balding male who wears brown trousers, works with children, and whose eyes never seem to be looking in quite the same direction.

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  2. Grazor: I cannot – alas! – cycle the 8 miles to work. Those 8 miles are only accessible by motorway. The alternative route missing out the motorway expands the distance to nearer 12 miles. The main problem would be headwear, though. I have what is known in doctor circles as "a large head". It’s for my large brain. No normal cycling helmet would protect me and a custom-made option would bankrupt me. The danger of laughing motorists causing multi-car pile-ups is also too much to risk. I care too much for the economy.

    I must challenge your challenge re: charging parents for taking their children to school. I was driven to school on the school bus every day by a perverted, balding male wearing brown trousers and sporting roaming eyeballs. It is a rite of passage denied to too many of today’s youth and – in my opinion – the leading cause of The Rise Of The Chav. I survived, as nature dictated I must. Not only should all bus drivers be required to be perverts, but all playgrounds should revert to their concrete origins complete with 80-feet high slides and roundabouts with arm-shaped gaps underneath them too.

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  3. Ah yes – I believe the medical term is Capito Giganticus. A friend of mine suffered huge ridicule all through childhood whilst suffering from this condition. Of course, I now regret subjecting her to such endless mockery since she grew up to be very intelligent, reasonably attractive, and earns a huge amount of money doing some sort of research into something I can’t pronounce, and so far haven’t been able to spell properly in order to look it up on the internet either.

    I, on the other hand, suffer the opposite condition where I can’t get a cycle helmet small enough to fit my tiny pin-head. However, in a rare flash of ingenuity only a few days ago, I found a small stainless steel egg-cup that fits perfectly and now wear this all the time (even when I’m not cycling) for the feeling of safety it affords my precious noggin.

    I acknowledge your challenge re: my challenge, and shall have to bow to your superior argument as I can’t face the prospect of trying to work out the grammatical correctness of putting three “challenges” in a row to counter it. In addition, the character-building aspects of subjecting my children to the perils of a perverted bus driver hadn’t really occurred to me – I am now quite worried they will turn into Chavs as a result of my over-protective mollycoddling.

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  4. Hurrah – my BBCodes worked (the bit in italics). I was so excited to see I got the first attempt at the anti-spam question wrong. Very sneaky Mark – using negative numbers like that, I feel so stupid…

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  5. I want to see your enlarged head.


    Actually I petitioned against this bill. I’m proactive me. Oh and if i couldn’t use my car then I wouldnt be able to go to college as i miss time at college already due to kid pick up times etc. I couldnt get to and fro in time for my classes or kid pick ups.

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