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Congestion charging: FAQs
How do you feel about a plan to introduce congestion charging in Greater Manchester? The controversial scheme could bring in almost £3 billion of improvements to public transport. But critics say it's unfair. What's your view?
Pricing details (weekdays)
The plan to introduce congestion charging is part of a major drive to tackle increasing traffic problems on routes in and out of Manchester.
On 9 June 2008, Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly confirmed that the Government provisionally agreed to invest £1.5bn in improved public transport in return for the introduction of a congestion charge scheme in Manchester.
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Yet many businesses, individuals and three local councils have come out strongly against road pricing.
The campaign group Manchester Against Road Tolls (MART) has condemned the proposal saying it will force low-paid drivers off the road. Critics also argue that, once in place, charges could be increased without consultation.
Why is it happening?
Transport officials argue that if left unchecked, congestion in Greater Manchester will not only result in greater pollution, poor air quality and higher carbon emissions but will also damage the local economy. They argue that by encouraging people to switch to public transport - or adjusting the time that they travel - they will keep the city moving. And those who decide to pay will benefit from fewer traffic jams.
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How would it work?
Unlike the London all-day congestion charging scheme, The Manchester plan is to target motorists on the busiest routes at peak times during weekdays. It would involve setting up TWO rings of charging points around the city centre: the outer ring will be the M60 motorway; the proposed siting of the inner ring is up for public consultation.
You would only be charged if your journey takes you across one of the charging points in the direction of the rush hour in the hours stated. If you cross a charging ring outside the pricing times, you won't be charged. (see Pricing Details)
How much will I have to pay?
Charges would vary on time of day, length of route, where you start and where you finish. Current estimates put the cost to a commuter who travels at peak times from outside the M60 into the city centre and back, at no more than £5 a day.
How would payments be made?
Vehicles will be fitted with a special tag which will be read automatically. Regular users would register to a franchised agent and payment would be debited as the car passes an active charging point. The toll reader would be placed inside the car's windscreen and would have a slot for a smart card (much like London's Oyster card). For occasional users, drivers will be able to pre-pay before passing active charging points.
What happens if you don't register?
Cars that do not pay the charge or have a valid tag will be captured by the cameras and the registered vehicle owner will be responsible for paying the charge, an administration fee plus a fine. The fine has not yet been determined.
What would the revenue be used for?
Part of the funding conditions are that money would be used to re-invest into public transport schemes and to pay for operating costs.
Who will be exempt?
It's proposed that motorcyclists; disabled Blue Badge holders; people attending all-day hospital appointments; licensed hackney carriages and private hire vehicles; buses; and emergency vehicles - will all be 100% exempt. It's also been suggested that a 50% discount should apply for all charged car trips into/out of Trafford Park until the completion of the full Trafford Park public transport package.
Proposals to support low income workers with a potential discount of up to 20% off the congestion charge will also be put forward to public consultation. The public will also be asked about a similar low-income discount for public transport.
A maximum charge for vehicles which cross the charging rings repeatedly each day will be capped at £10 a day.
What about consultation?
Following Government backing, the plans will go out for full public consultation starting 7 July 2008.
Who makes the final decision?
The decision about whether to go ahead rests with the ten local authorities who make up the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA). But with three out of the ten councils (Bury, Stockport and Trafford) already firmly against the proposals, there are increasing calls for the scheme to be put to a referendum.
What's the timescale?
Transport officials are adamant that the congestion charge will not be introduced until significant public transport improvements are in place. However, if the scheme does get the go ahead, the charge could be introduced by 2013.
Your comments: [page 1/21]
Sue in Oldham
I live in Oldham and I am based in a clinic in central Manchester, I work for the NHS in the community and use my car for work purposes. I am already out of pocket every month as our mileage allowance is no where near what I spend on fuel. In fact these days what I get every month doesn't fill one tank. We are not allowed to take medical equipment/drugs/medical records on public transport so what will we do? We will also be charged for moving between clinics as Manchester PCT is now a citywide service, so we can be called to travel across the city at anytime most often during the planned peak congestion charging hours. Public travel is not an option in the job we do! So will this be taken into consideration? We tried to work how much it will cost me to get to work and it will be approx £150 per month. I know that I wont be able to afford the public transport prices as I cant afford them now and also I wont be able to afford to purchase the pre-paid disc in advance because I'm sure like many other city centre workers we wont have any money left after trying to afford to live every month to buy one! its VERY worrying!!
Adrian in Altrincham
I would like to see the evidence that congestion has increased over the last few years as this is not my experience. I travel in Via the M56 and M60 to work in Old Trafford and since the M60 improvements were complete i believe there is less congestion not more. The congestion is worst when schools are open during the school run. This has been made worse by bizarre changes in bus routes. For example there used to be a regular bus service at school times from the Hale Barns area direct to Altrincham but this has been rerouted through Timperley forcing many school children back into cars.
Neil Mortique in Stockport
I am disgusted by this hair brained idea that some jumped up prats in offices who have nothing better to do then work out ways to nail us road users for even more tax than we are already paying. I am a training assesser and my job is to travel around company's in stockport and manchester, I live by the M60 (which i believe is going to be the boundary) this means I will cross it approx 6 to 10 times a day. My wage is much less than the national adv and if this goes ahead i will not be able to afford to work. People who can afford to drive gas guzzling vehicles can afford to pay the congestion charge, but yet again its the lower paid working man / woman who is worst affected. I have lived in Manchester all my life but if this does go ahead then i will give up my job, sell up and move abroad, i see no alternative, as this great county is going to the dogs thanks to all the do good politicians and council workers.
K in Oldham
I currently work in Oldham and live within walking distance. My NHS employer is moving staff and services from Oldham, Bury and Rochdale, outside the zone, to a site inside the zone. Environmentally, logistically and financially crazy! Congestion could be reduced so much by putting serious thought into the effects of public sector decisions. Patients will also have to consider the charges when choosing when and where to go for treatment, thereby reducing choice and causing delayed treatment, and thereby introducing discrimination in health care against those unable to pay. At the weekend my family currently get the train to Manchester, but we will drive when the tram arrives, as the tram is so much more expensive.
Judith in Warrington
The congestion charge is appropriate for London because of the public transport system being so extensive - it's quicker & easier to go by tube/bus/train in London than it is by car. The same does NOT apply in Manchester or in any other UK city for that matter. For many people working within the M60 boundary, public transport is simply NOT a viable option because they wouldn't be able to get to work on time.
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last updated: 25/07/2008 at 10:25