Cars are often a necessity and, in themselves, represent freedom.
In some areas, a reduction in car usage could lead to social fragmentation. People often need cars to be kept in touch. However, over-motoring, may be a symptom of another problem. The car may be the best work-around there is.
We should not address the symptom without addressing the underlying problems of over-crowding leading to congestion, poor local infrastructure, and poor urban planning.
Flat Rate Taxes which attempt to address these problems can often hit the poor hardest. Therefore, we do not support congestion charging, nor do we support road tolls.
WHAT IS ROAD PRICING?
The aim is to reduce congestion and toxic emissions.
Traffic is currently taxed through vehicle ownership (VAT and vehicle excise duty) and through use (fuel duty, yielding £23bn a year to the Exchequer).
Under a road pricing scheme, road users pay a charge for the use of all roads over an area, with the cost varying according to the road and the time of day. Toll roads and "congestion charges" are all examples of "road pricing".
The increasing use of satellite navigation kits in cars could be utilised to levy the charge electronically onto cards, or by direct debit.
This technology is already used by lorries on German autobahns.
Under recent proposals, each driver would be charged for every mile of his or her journey. Alistair Darling MP has suggested that prices could start from 2p a mile on quiet roads outside rush hours to £1.34 a mile on busy motorways like the M25 at peak times.
Road pricing could replace vehicle excise duty or fuel duty, or it could be an additional charge upon them.
Independent Green Voice considers road pricing to be a regressive charge which penalises the poorest, but which also misses key points and ignores better alternatives.
Instead, we recommend the following:
Our aim is to reduce traffic congestion, ensure less toxic pollution, support national energy independence, and improve quality-of-life levels for all.
- Control the borders: Any effort to reduce congestion by tinkering with taxes while our borders remain open, is simply mopping the floor while the tap's still running. It is treating a symptom rather than the cause.
- Tax heavily the gas-guzzling vehicles.
- Tax lightly the fuel-efficient vehicles.
- Remove existing tolls on roads in order to reduce queues, congestion and emissions, and vehicles diverting on to less suitable routes.
- Compulsory third party insurance, enabling other people to drive your car occasionally instead of having to buy one themselves!
- Promote car sharing, park-and-ride, cycling and walking.
- Create affordable, practical and safe public transport. Public transport should not aim to replace private transport since that would create a dependency. Rather it should be seen as complementary to private transport, offering everybody an affordable and practical transport choice. On principle we want the cost of public transport -- which is to say, buses, trams and trains -- to be less than using a car.
- More investment in rail, light rail and buses.
- Develop tram and underground transport.
- Research and develop fuel-efficient vehicle technology and alternative and cleaner forms of fuel -- eg. biofuels, electricity and hydrogen fuel cells especially for buses in towns and cities.
- Research and develop road architecture to encourage fuel-efficient driving.
- Councils to be encouraged to slash the price of public transport within specific city boundaries.
- All students in full-time education to have half-price public transport on buses and trains.
- All pensioners and disabled people to have half price transport on trains, outside peak hours. Pensioners and disabled in Scotland already have free transport on buses.
- Oppose government plans to link the availability of local authority transport funding with a commitment to road pricing.
- Build safe cities: Sometimes people don't walk because it is dangerous in some parts of town!