Roads Plc? Why privatisation might look tempting

The day the M6 toll road opened The M6 toll road opened in 2003

10 reasons why roads privatisation might look tempting to the government...

1. Our roads infrastructure is hopelessly out of date

2. The Department for Transport estimates the cost of congestion to business is set to rise by £10-12bn over the period to 2025

3. Investment in roads will always be behind schools, hospitals and a lot more besides in the queue of things the chancellor will spend money on

4. A new RoadsPLC could borrow against a guaranteed steady stream of income - either road tolls or "shadow tolls" - ie a fee paid for each driver using a road by the government

5. It would raise a lot of money for a cash-strapped exchequer - £100bn according to a report by the bankers NM Rothschild

6. All parties have, at one time or another, accepted the need to find new ways to fund roads

7. A nationwide "pay-as-you-drive" system was unveiled by former Transport Secretary Alistair Darling in 2005

8. Vince Cable dubbed the Rothschild plan "an attractive, positive idea which could release considerable resources to the public finances and may have real environmental merits"

9. The RAC Foundation has backed the idea

10. It's hard to imagine a time when the government will have enough money to spend on roads

Road pricing


...and two big reasons why it might not

1. The public hate the idea of road tolls. Labour's examination of road tolls produced an e-petition of 1.7 million names which is why David Cameron is now saying that he won't allow tolls on existing roads. Since then the cost of motoring has gone up

2. The public don't much like anything that smacks of privatising that which they already think they own (although water shows that once it's happened people shrug their shoulders and get on with their lives)

PS: Here are a couple of reports which examine the options

RAC Foundation - Funding Strategic Roads

Social Market Foundation - Roads to Recovery

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  • rate this

    Comment number 154.

    I like this road privatisation thingy. I join the Fly Emirates '62 motorway at Warrington - double air-miles if you travel off-peak - then onto the Amex557 to Widnes. The Priority Gold Card lane is almost empty. I don't use the BetFred562 as the odds on getting there on time are rubbish.

  • rate this

    Comment number 153.

    Heavy vehicles pay more VED than cars.

    That said, a back of the envelope scribble & calculator session makes the roads budget of £3.5bn approx {M. Penning 19/3/12} seem rather low. How much does VED actually raise?

  • rate this

    Comment number 152.

    @90 40Watt

    I don't work in the public sector & don't get a London weighting. In fact I would have a far better quality of life living & working outside of London, even if I were to use the M6 Toll on a daily basis. If you reference your non-work time to your hourly pay rate, you will see that a fiver to avoid an hour of delays is a bargain; less than the minimum wage in fact.

  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    Motorists don't only subsidise pedestrians and cyclists

    Most of the damage done to our roads is done by big vehicles like lorries and buses

    One single lorry causes the same damage as at least 10,000 cars

    Motorists have been subsidising business users for decades

  • rate this

    Comment number 150.

    What about tolling but linked to ability to pay (like income tax is), anybody see merit in that?

    So, for example, the average person pays 22p a mile but high earners pay 50p. Then a personal allowance for everyone of, say, 5,600 miles per annum you can do free gratis.

    For auto collection we'll need a big database mapping number plates to tax returns. Building this will create jobs.



Comments 5 of 154



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