Blog: Road pricing

Oh dear, it’s that old chestnut again.

The issue of road pricing has raised its ugly head again, only this time, I suspect it’ll not be going away. Shame really, because although it is clear to see that the government seems to have the will to get us all on a road charging scheme, it doesn’t really have the way.

In a Utopian world, it makes sense. Make those who use and congest the roads the most pay more than others, who use their cars more infrequently. What could go wrong? Well, lots of things really – and not to make a political point, the first hurdle to get over is designing a robust and useable IT Infrastructure to administer the system.

In a previous life, I used to work on government computer systems, and I’ll let you into a bit of a secret… They were all crap. What I mean, is that a minister would come up with a great idea, and then, a bunch of Civil Servants would have to get the system designed, tested and rolled-out on time. And guess what? It never happened… And if we struggled to get something that affected two million claimants a year, at fixed levels of payment, imagine what is going to happen when the Civil Servants (well, ex-Civil Servants – as most were outsourced to US-owned companies such as EDS during the Nineties) try and design a system that involves the real-time plotting of 25 million cars? Oh, and let’s not forget about the new hardware we’re all going to have to install…

I think we all know the answer to that one…

So, it’ll probably not happen, because of bureaucratic inertia and changes in government. But whatever happens, it will mean more cost to the long-suffering motorist.

Mind you, if by some miracle, the government gets this system up and running within ten years (and that’s assuming the current regime makes it for another term… and I wouldn’t bet my mortgage on that), we can safely assume it’ll be bad news all-round. Why? Because these systems will have cost billions to implement, and someone will have to foot the bill. And that’ll be you and me…

No, what’ll happen is this (assuming New Labour win another two terms…) we’ll get road pricing, and fuel duty and VED will remain. We may get a nominal reduction in fuel duty, but it will mean more expense for all us motorists. Yep, more stick and no carrot, I’m afraid…

And there are, of course, the ‘human rights’ issues… HM Goverment will always know our whereabouts, and probably quite alarmingly, (assuming the system is administered by GPS), they’ll know how fast we’re travelling at any given time.

Which ever way you cut it, this little scheme isn’t looking promising.

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

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