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Manchester Rejects Congestion Charging

Voters in Manchester, the city that invented commuter rail travel, has rejected congestion charging, in essence saying no to nearly three billion pounds in government investment for public transport that would have been theirs had they said yes.

The cost they deemed too high, by the way, for earning that three billion quid and turning the city into a capital of first-class public transport, was as follows:

“Drivers will pay £2 for crossing the outer ring in the morning, and a further £1 for crossing the inner ring.

Outward peak-time journeys will cost £1 for passing the inner ring and £1 for passing the outer ring.”

Penny-wise, pound foolish?

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This entry was posted on Friday, December 12th, 2008 at 2:52 pm and is filed under Cities, Congestion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Responses to “Manchester Rejects Congestion Charging”

  1. Brad Templeton Says:

    It’s rather unusual to see a public vote go 80% no, 20% yes. The reason it’s so rare is that people are not so stupid as to spend all the money and effort to put something up for a vote when it’s so lopsided. Normally anybody can read this sort of sentiment without a vote and not waste the voter’s time.

    So why did they go ahead with such a vote anyway? Was it mandated by some committee with their heads in the sand? Was there a better proposal that got substituted out?

    Congestion charging is not a bad idea to limit cars in an area, but it usually requires rather nasty privacy-invasive technologies, including RFIDs or cameras tracking everybody’s movements.

    Why is it preferred over a simpler tax on certain patterns of parking lot use? You want to park during rush hour, you want to leave during rush hour, pay a fat parking tax. For corporate parking lots that don’t charge and can’t count employees, put in a simple car counter. People with personal garages would get a by unless we forced them to put a car sensor in their own garage, but how many of them are there. Of course, on-street parking should not even be available during rush hour, or heavily surcharged.

    Now no need to track where everybody goes.

  2. Karl-On-Sea (Twitter: @karlonsea) Says:

    Yep – it’s penny rich and pound foolish for two reasons:
    1. The result.
    2. Like Brad says – for even bothering with the referendum in the first place. I thought the reason we elected representatives was to avoid having to take decisions, safe in the knowledge that those we elected would do what was ultimately in our interests. They get to stay in power long enough for us to judge the result, rather than us being swayed by our prejudices of the moment as is often the case in referenda.

  3. Julian Beach Says:

    I live in Manchester and the result is depressing. Very few people we know where going to vote yes, even if they were not going to be directly effected by the charge. But then, most of the people we know don’t use public transport anyway and I think they saw the charge as another tax. A lot of people just saw the charge and not the benefits or the limited impact it would have on most people. The charge was to limit peak hour travel and only applied into the direction of peak traffic flow – into the city in the morning, and out in the evening. Avoid those times and there is no charge. There was a mobile telephone interview on the day of the result with a driver who was unable to get into the radio studio or his office because of traffic – he was voting against the charge.

    As Brad notes, there are other ways for the Council to limit car travel into the city (close a couple of car parks, or close some roads in the centre), but none of those will have the investment in public transport.

    As for the Council(s), well they are indeed stupid for wasting a great deal of public money on what must have been a foregone conclusion. They could probably have introduced the legislation without the referendum, but the no vote has killed all chances of trying again. Any conspiracy theorists are welcome to comment at this point!

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