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How would you reduce congestion on Britain's roads?

11:42 UK time, Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Private toll roads are not a cost-effective answer to traffic problems, the government has been told. What is the best way to solve transport problems?

A report by the Campaign for Better Transport said the UK's only private motorway toll, the M6 Toll, had not significantly cut congestion. It added that not only had the toll road failed to improve transport in the West Midlands, but drivers who paid the toll were not receiving value for money.

BBC transport correspondent Richard Scott says that with the public finances under pressure and road building under threat, the government is looking at how to improve the transport network in the most cost-effective way.

How can Britain's transport network be improved? Should toll roads be scrapped? Are there other road schemes which would ease/reduce congestion? Should the government invest more in other modes of transport?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments


Page 1 of 6

  • Comment number 1.

    Remove all the banned drivers, uninsured drivers, never passed a test drivers, I look like my cousin and he passed a test drivers!

    That should free up a bit of space, until we can afford to improve the road network!

  • Comment number 2.

    Ban chelsea tractors unless they are pulling a load of hay.

    Remove all high sided cars with darkened windows (so you can't see past them,over them or through them at junctions) this move alone should leave the roads of Knightsbridge free for Gee Whiz drivers to run amok!

  • Comment number 3.

    Impose an empty seat tax on all those individuals driving their over sized 4x4 with no passengers.

    Or go the route of cities like Tokyo where cars are taxed according to their length and width.

    This should bring the public school soccer mums to the conclusion that little Tarquin and Fiona will actually fit in the back of a Fiat 500 and you don't really need a car the size of a Tiger Tank to drive them the 500 yards to school!

  • Comment number 4.

    Remove all unnecessary parking restrictions. Most of the congestion is caused by people driving around and around looking for somewhere to park.

  • Comment number 5.

    0% sales & road tax for motorcycles.

    If we got every able bodied person who currently uses a car for single occupant journeys to make those journeys on a motorbike it would cut congestion by at least 20% overnight.

    I only ever use my car when I'm carrying something or someone who can't get onto the back of my motorbike; it's faster, cheaper & more convenient than the car and helps reduce congestion for everyone else too.

  • Comment number 6.

    Learn the lesson of History: the turnpike roads failed in the 1870's. The idea of paying for movement is unacceptable to most people. This includes pay per mile and toll roads. The truth is road systems are expensive. Attempting to lower the apparent cost by toll roads or satellite tracking or automatic number plate recognition systems are all engineering solutions to a social problem. They are all likely to fail. Not because they are technically impractical but because they do not address the fundamental problems.

    The real problems of congestion are to do with the use of roads. Haulage firms that insist on driving during rush hour, for example. The London congestion charge might not be popular, but it has discovered one thing: it is perfectly feasible to do a large amount of hauling around the capital during the night hours without the Haulage industry going broke. Perhaps Haulers might want to start using those underused overnight empty slots on the motorway. Although that might - horror of horrors - cost more and involve planning: two things Hauliers hate.

  • Comment number 7.

    What about uninsured drivers, who almost by default have neither road tax nor MOT have their vehicles crushed as a matter of course. The police can readily identify vehicles with no road tax, so why not do something about it?

  • Comment number 8.

    The answer is obvious: invest more in public transport.

    Scrap private train operators as this is clearly not working. Rural bus services are improving, but there is still a long way to go. The proliferation of low-cost coach journeys is indicative of the move off the rails and onto the road.

    When we have a third world rail system, it's no wonder that people choose to go by car.

  • Comment number 9.

    I forgot one from my earlier list - all foreign nationals from the roads until they have passed a UK driving test!

  • Comment number 10.

    Better public transport at more reasonable prices....stagger school and office start and finish times, so not everyone is out at the same time....encourage more working from home, where feasible.....

  • Comment number 11.

    1. More and larger pedistrian areas, ... make it pointless to drive in to a city.
    2. Anybody who commits a driving offense, ANY driving offence, should have their licence revoked until they re-pass a test. If you can't follow the rules of the road then you shouldn't be allowed to drive on them.

  • Comment number 12.

    Would it be an idea to ban heavy vehicles from motorways during the worst periods of congestion e.g.Monday to Friday 7am to 9am and 4pm to 6pm?

  • Comment number 13.

    Ban dangerous drivers for LIFE, crush their cars and give them a motor bike.
    Physically remove all four wheel drive vehicles unless they have mud on them. Vehicles of this type should be restricted to Farmers, Land owners, Police, Armed Services and Construction companies ONLY.

  • Comment number 14.

    Stop giving out driving licences free with every 4 Cadbury Flake wrappers collected.

    Work from home after all we now have good broadband speeds to most places.

  • Comment number 15.

    This subject goes around & around just like it did when I wasted 35 yrs in Transportation Planning & Traffic This years policy is next years history. You can't put together an adequate transport infrastructure in a parliament. Its a long term ongoing job. Sadly its what the whole economy revolves round. If you cant move goods & people economically your at a disadvanage. We really havent given that enough credence(yet!)We might save a whale or two though. Thatcher just virually stopped all major highway investment with the Green Lobby as an excuse.
    Now you have no idea if a 10 mile journey will take 10 minutes or 2 hours. It will cost so much to put right they will take the easy option......privatise the lot and we shall be back where we were 200 years ago with Toll Roads. Then someone will realise why we decided it needs a national overview a central control and round it will go again.
    Partial toll cant work, folk wont pay. Of course you wont expect a reduction in road tax or fuel duty when it happens will you?

  • Comment number 16.

    Encourage working from home, and the use of video/phone conferences. A lot of business journeys are not really necessary. I have often had to drive 2 hours to a meeting that lasted a couple of hours, then drive 2 hours back, in many cases I could have easierly have attended virtually using technology.

  • Comment number 17.

    I personally don't see what is wrong with having a system of toll roads similar to those on the continent - provided the fee for using them is reasonable and isn't used as a political tool to raise even more money.

    One thing I saw as a key point of the M6 Toll report findings was that "Journey times on the M6 are only slightly better than before the toll opened" - There can't be many roads in the country which now have better journey times than 7 years previously! For it to have reduced journey times at a time when most are increasing must indicate a success.

  • Comment number 18.

    How about reducing the amount of lorries that clog up the roads? On the M4 the number of trucks on the inside lane at times makes it unuseable unless you wish to travel 50 miles and an hour and don't even get me started in their overtaking ...

    Could we not transport godds by rail instead?

  • Comment number 19.

    Raise the age at which you can start driving to 21.
    Limit the age at which you can continue driving to 80.
    Three strikes then total ban for anyone caught driving illegally.
    Build more roads....simples

  • Comment number 20.

    Cars could be delineated by manufacturer, model, colour and first character of their registration plate, and only allowed to move on a public or private road on a day when all the delienations coincide thus allowing them to 'use their engine'.

    So any of you with a yellow VW Beetle with an 'A' plate should be okay to drive on 21 January 2063, if that is convenient of course (and it'll be another one hundred years for the next opportunity).

  • Comment number 21.

    Simple, reduce the population. If we stop breeding and stop immigration, in time there will be more room on the roads and more housing for folk. Great idea all round I say!!!!

  • Comment number 22.

    How about forcing companies and public bodies to allow teleworking for all roles where it is practical?

  • Comment number 23.

    3. At 12:06pm on 31 Aug 2010, steve wrote:
    "Impose an empty seat tax on all those individuals driving their over sized 4x4 with no passengers."


    Impose a tax based on the size of the chip carried on the shoulder

  • Comment number 24.

    Don't make the school run coincide with commuters journeys to work.

    Encourage teleworking - tax breaks perhaps?

  • Comment number 25.

    More common sense on road maintenance would help. In my town we have 5 different road works going on at the same time. That’s 5 traffic black spots causing havoc in rush hour. If they put all their resources into 1 area at a time then they would have less congestion and each project would be completed quicker. Same applies to motorways, pool all the resources together to shorten these ridicules 1-2 year projects that bring our major roads to a standstill.

  • Comment number 26.

    It has been said time and time again, but I would encourage the use of public transport by making it an affordable, comfortable and therefore viable alternative.
    I currently use the bus to commute to work as I am too scared to drive. It adds an extra 30 minutes to my journey, there are only 2 busses each way, the bus often breaks down in hot weather, in winter it is freezing cold, the bus seldom leaves on time in the evenings. Until recently the busses were in a poor state of repair and very rickety.
    When confonted with these types of obstacles (and I know my route is not alone!), it is no wonder people will opt to drive every time!
    I can't really speak for busses, but from previous news articles, I understand they are hardly the cost effective travel solution...

  • Comment number 27.

    It's just another sign that our infrastrtucre can't cope with the demands of the population.

    You can't get to see a doctor or a dentist, and if you could it'd take you forever to get there.

    Answer obvious.

  • Comment number 28.

    How would you reduce congestion on Britain's roads?


    Have a free nationalised public transport system paid for out of general taxation. Everyone would want to use it wherever possible.

    It would reduce road traffic making the cost of transport to industry smaller

    It would reduce pollution,

    It would reduce our carbon footprint.

    It would provide employment, reduce unemployment.

    Provide jobs in all associated areas. Manufacturing, tourism, any industry that needs transport

    Boost our tourism industry by attracting people to this country.

    Everyone wins, do I think our short sighted politicians will do it No because no one makes a profit, therefore it cant be a good idea.

  • Comment number 29.

    1. Do not give drink drivers their licence back - they will only do it again!
    2. Increase the minimu age of car drivers to 21 - that should reduce our insurance premiums.
    3. Have a proper regulated medical / retest for drivers when they reach the age of 70. Should get rid of a few more.
    4. Repeat road tax dodgers, non-insured and speeders to have their cars crushed.
    5. Car sales to be more regulated to include private sales with a statement on the V5 that the buyer has suitable insurance etc therefore there will be more accountability.
    6. Have a separate category on the driving licence for 4x4 vehicles thus preventing the Chelsea tracker brigade from clogging up the roads.
    7. Make the buses and trains better.

  • Comment number 30.

    The problem is invariably caused by HGV's. Primarily during overtaking - so called elephant racing. The drivers seem to delight in this because - as overheard at a service station - they know that some mile or two back the traffic will be at a standstill. This was the source of great amusement among them. OK it a very small minority.
    However it justifies the case for banning HGV overtaking at lease at peak times. Say 0700 ‘till 1900 hours. In fact at peak rush hour they should be off the road altogether.
    Secondly ban them from town centres. They can transfer goods to more appropriate vehicles outside the town boundaries.
    Finally ban all foreign left hand drive HGV’s completely. They and their drivers are dangerous. Health and Safety should have acted by now.

  • Comment number 31.

    More and cheaper trains would be a nice start, how can it cost more to go on a train with a 300 person capacity than in a car on your own? It just isn't right. If you want to get people off the roads you need to give them a viable alternative

  • Comment number 32.

    problem of too many drivers and there vehicles can be solved simply by setting up machine-gun posts on different motorways on a day to day basis shoot up every third car,lorry,van or bus.soon get numbers down but seriously there is no political will to decrease vehicle numbers

  • Comment number 33.

    If the Campaign for Better Transport think that the M6 Toll hasn't cut congestion, then they have clearly never driven on it. As a motorist, I am more than happy to pay the extra £5, as it typically cuts about an hour off my journey. I'd call that excellent value for money.

    That said, it's true that simply building more roads is never a good solution, as it just leads to more traffic. The only realistic long-term solution is to invest in public transport and make it so good that people actually want to use it, and also to make it cheaper than going by car.

  • Comment number 34.

    Educate those fit healthy drivers among us that you DON'T use the car for 500 yards journeys

  • Comment number 35.

    Make everyone stay at home. Always. Forever. That should sort it.

  • Comment number 36.

    It is important to consider the motivations of Campaign for Better Transport when assessing this report. They were previously known as Roadblock and one of the groups leaders Rebecca Blum, was put into prison for Climbing trees with Swampy to prevent the building of the Newbury by pass.

    This group are so anti road schemes they do not consider the benifits to the end user. Any new road scheme has to go through a very strict review process and after the road is opened it is once again reviewed by the Highways Agency. CFBT credibility has should always be assessed against there past actions and its unpublished stance that they will do anything to stop road projects. They have improved there image since the newbury by pass but they have not evolved there scientific argument or understanding of the need for new roads.

    The BBC reports ignor the improved journey times for journeys between London and the North West and for a relitivly minor cost of £5 which most of the public would be willing to pay to avoid half an hour traped in the Birmingham box.

  • Comment number 37.

    What about uninsured drivers, who almost by default have neither road tax nor MOT have their vehicles crushed as a matter of course. The police can readily identify vehicles with no road tax, so why not do something about it?

    Yes I have always been puzzled by that it because uninsured drivers don't bother to keep the DVLA in the picture? I accidentally failed to pay my Road tax once and it was only when I contacted them to ask how I could sort it out that they "nicked me" for no tax, so it can't be that. Maybe we need the non payers to give themselves up as it's probably the only way to find out where they live! The alternative of stopping people who are driving and don't show as having tax would put a serious crimp on the police catching speeding motorists and giving out crime numbers to burglary victims.
    The bottom line is that it would mean they had to get involved with criminals rather than people who pay their tax and obey the law. It eon't happen.

  • Comment number 38.

    Whatever the problem is, the answer always seems to be "charge people more to do it".

    How about looking at this one differently. The issue is reducing congestion. Rather than just hitting people in the pocket to keep doing what they are already doing, why not give them an alternative.

    Public transport that is integrated, regular services, clean and cost effective. Tram and light rail in towns. Park and ride. More investment into railways.

    Actively reduce the need for people to travel. Encourage companies to let people work from home more often, even if just 1 day per week. This will require investment in IT and broadband. Why force someone to drive 100 miles to sit at a desk behind a computer when they could do the same from home (or an office closer to home). Give companies financial incentives for this.

    We build more roads because we have too many cars. Then we build more cars. Why not limit the number of cars somehow?

    Just a few ideas; some are practical, some are not. But it shows that there are alternatives to just taking more money from us.

  • Comment number 39.

    Personally I have always enjoyed using the toll road instead of sitting in traffic all the way through Birmingham as I used to whenever I travelled the M6 to or from Scotland.

    If it saves me time and it always has its value for money it’s got a pretty good set of services to.

    If a PFI deal or a full privet road is the only way to get good roads like this then so be it.

    I object more to paying the Dartford toll as its the toll that causes the delays and the crossing has already paid for its self.

  • Comment number 40.

    #8 wrote: The answer is obvious: invest more in public transport.

    Scrap private train operators as this is clearly not working. Rural bus services are improving, but there is still a long way to go. The proliferation of low-cost coach journeys is indicative of the move off the rails and onto the road.

    When we have a third world rail system, it's no wonder that people choose to go by car.


    As passenger levels have increased massively since privitisation I am not sure you can say that private train operators have not worked. The fares are too high, but much of that is down to Lab govt over-egging safety issues

    The sad truth is that we are a small island and most journeys are more convenient and quicker by car - but not every journey. I recently had to go from London to Manchester by train and very pleasant it was. But the price was such that I could have done the same journey for half the price by plane and about a quarter of the price by car.

  • Comment number 41.

    11. At 12:21pm on 31 Aug 2010, mshostak wrote:
    1. More and larger pedistrian areas, ... make it pointless to drive in to a city.

    You are either not a driver or you dont get out much!

    Most of our cities are already no go areas for cars!

  • Comment number 42.

    "11. At 12:21pm on 31 Aug 2010, mshostak wrote:
    2. Anybody who commits a driving offense, ANY driving offence, should have their licence revoked until they re-pass a test. If you can't follow the rules of the road then you shouldn't be allowed to drive on them."

    We are all human and quite capable of making innocent mistakes even if we try to "follow the rules of the road". A LOT of people rely on having a driving licence for their work (taxi drivers, electricians, plumbers etc), so with your suggestion you want them to loose their jobs if they get caught speeding or are involved in a minor traffic offence. Does that sound fair to you??

  • Comment number 43.

    Re open the railways that were shut and how about using the seas around this island? simples.

  • Comment number 44.

    Local Authorities are destroying local high streets, and high street business and those who work in high street businesses, by charging high business rates that go to central government and not the local community.

    If you are a charity - you get full or part rebate on business rates.

    Local Authorities are spending £millions every 3-5 years digging up your town centre causing total chaos, just because they can, on YOUR council tax AND causing enormous traffic jams that sends shoppers out of town, thereby killing the golden goose - madness!!!

  • Comment number 45.

    Raise the age for taking the driving test would be a good start, Provide better integrated public transport in urban areas.

  • Comment number 46.

    Only allow people with cars that are less than three years old on the road should solve it. Stop MOTs and get all others to take public transport.

  • Comment number 47.

    We need to place a 'cap' on the number of vehicles that are allowed on our roads.

    Those people who show disregard for the laws of our roads can then be removed from them.

    Of all the rights we have in this country no one has ever challenged the ludicrous automatic right to access our roads - time to get 3 million bad drivers off our streets.

  • Comment number 48.

    How many people walk past a PC at home on their way to getting into their car for the drive to work and then spend the day sitting in front of a PC at work? Why can no one see through this madness and encourage far more working from home?

    Sure, home working is not applicable to every job and even for those jobs where it is applicable there will be times when people need to travel for meetings, but even if 50% of office workers spent 50% of their time working from home it would remove millions of journeys off our roads - with all the attendant congestion and pollution benefits.

  • Comment number 49.

    In stead of 4½ seater cars driving around with just one person in them, why not get 4 of those people to travel together. Better still, why not make a car with about a hundred seats in it, and get about 60 of those people to travel together (that way they can spread out a bit, put their feet up etc). If more people want to travel you could join two or three of these cars together with a buck-eye or something. Then all you'd have to do is stick it on some nice shiny rails and Bob's yer uncle!

    My other solution for inner-city congestion: ban all cars newer than about 1950, so towns like mine would be graced with old vintage cars in stead: much more stylish!

  • Comment number 50.

    60 years on from the Beeching closures and the chickens have come home to roost. From the 50's up to and even into the 70's the Tory government began the systematic destruction of the country's rail network (to be continued by successuive governments) Whilst Ernest Marples (Transport Minister) built up the UK road network... I suppose it was just a coincidence that he had a construction company (Marples Ridgeway Ltd) which built many of the country's motorways after the main Beeching closures.
    The country's rail network was slashed to a rump stump of its pre war height with rural and suburban stations closed and lines ripped up and btidges taken out (In my view just in case any future government wished to restore the line as it would be too costly) With buses promised in place of trains and whole communities no longer connected to large population centres except by roads dating back to Roman times.

    Fast forward those 60 years with gridloock even on arterial routes and an increasing road death toll as frustrated drivers take more and more chances to "get ahead". So maybe politicians should take responsibility for the gridlock themselves and begin by accepting It was they that got it wrong that the Tory government of the 50's had its head up its proverbial

    1stly with regard to the rail network
    and 2ndly with regard to the quality of the roads which have been built

    There never has been an integrated transport policy in this country (in fact I don't think there has been one integrated policy...ever!), MP's and thereby policy has been swayed by either unions, transport federations or lobbyists and investment has been piecemeal without a care for the overall or long term consequences of decisions.

    Until Government realises that mass transport needs massive investment and in monetary terms may not make a profit then the country's roads are only going to get worse after all their are wider benefits to be measured than just £ signs.
    An integrated Transport network is required with a safe modern mass transport system in my view the present the rail network is as shambolic now as it was pre nationalisation in 1948, only with a smaller network. If the money was there I would look at reopening some of the old lines where possible rather than building roads (especially those lines which should never have been closed in the first place).

    Until then expect further gridlock and remember the inmmortal words in the Ealing Comedy about the closing of a Branch line "The Titfield Thunderbolt"

    "It's better by Road"

  • Comment number 51.

    Toll Roads - to work they have to be free of commercial traffic. No Lorries, No Wagons, No large Vans. Also, lift the speed limit to 80 or 90 mph. You will be amazed at the number of drivers who will start using toll roads if these 2 measures are implemented.

    Large cities should have cheaper, safer and more reliable public transport. My mother currently gets free bus/tram pass and she uses public transport 100% more than she used to. Yes, 100% - she never used to use it, always drove the car wherever she went. Now she will use the bus and trams for a lot of her journeys!

    As for myself, I used to travel to Manchester University everyday and it was not only more convenient for me to drive, but it was also cheaper! and that included parking! why should I get the bus which takes 3 times as long, costs more and only runs every 20 minutes when I can use my car, any time I want, cheaper and quicker?

  • Comment number 52.


    Invest all road related tax (road tax, traffic fines, petrol duty) in the roads and public transport sectors only.

    To all those making passing remarks about the driving test, may I remind you that the test has become considerably more difficult in recent times. Also, I see poor driving from all age and wealth groups. From city types in their flash saloons sitting on everyone's tail, to old folks who drive on a straight bit of national speed limit road at 35mph, to mums in 4x4s who moor their car in roughly the same time zone as the kerb. Basically, a massive shake up of the (and lets face it, compared to most countries we are pretty good) driving standards and the quality of the road network. Stricter penalties for parking on double yellow lines with more police etc, but better provision of parking spaces. Also, raise the motorway speed limit to 80 or even 90mph. Then everyone moves a bit faster.

  • Comment number 53.

    Cut railway ticket costs. Drastically.

  • Comment number 54.

    it's hard to see the value of toll roads, as queues simply build up at busy times, causing congestion at that point. How to deal with the problem? Well, one or two ideas come to mind, most likely impractical for the most part, but possibly worthy of consideration.
    1. Permit to drive on alternate dates only.
    2. Sunday closing except for essential services.
    3. Access to towns by car for residents only.
    4. Lifetime confiscation of vehicle for motoring offences.
    5. Petrol rationing.
    6. Increase in petrol prices, say to £20 per litre.
    7. Vast increase of rail services with a simple and cheap price structure.
    8. Vast increase of cycle paths nationwide, possibly with tax benefits for users.

  • Comment number 55.

    Our road system is part of our national infrastructure, built and paid for over generations of users, taxpayers and road-builders. The problem of congestion arises because it has been so successful; i.e. this structure has brought affordable transport and its benefits to millions of people. Yes, congestion is undesirable and we should work to improve the network where possible, but the use of tolls to reduce usage is simply saying that the answer is to keep the least well-off away from the roads. Hardly a fair and just method!
    This report at least suggests a move away from such a strategy, even if for a different reason.
    Where roads cannot be improved further, congestion is itself the only fair way of distributing the use of busy roads; those that have the greatest need will be the ones prepared to suffer the slow traffic flow. Otherwise, reducing traffic flow by imposing ever higher tolls will simply take us back to an era when only the wealthy can afford to drive. Perhaps that will please the politicians (many of whom are quite well off), but it will lead to considerable unrest.

  • Comment number 56.

    reduce traffic lights. Speed up roads unless there is a great danger to a vulnrable group (e.g. school). Pedestrians become more responsible for their safety on the roads. Bycicles need to be removed off the road.

  • Comment number 57.

    Make roads faster, not slower. The Germans recognise that traffic is the blood supply of their economy: hence they invest in open, rapid roads. We are always trying to give our own circulatory system thrombosis.

  • Comment number 58.

    18. At 12:29pm on 31 Aug 2010, Claire Herbert wrote:
    How about reducing the amount of lorries that clog up the roads? On the M4 the number of trucks on the inside lane at times makes it unuseable unless you wish to travel 50 miles and an hour and don't even get me started in their overtaking ...

    Could we not transport godds by rail instead?

    of course we could and that is a common sense approach BUT!!
    think why haven't we done that. How many thousands of jobs are created driving lorries, training lorry drivers, VOSA jobs by the 1,000, Lorry mechanics 1000's of them, parts suppliers. Truck builders & retailers on and on.
    One goods trains would use a fraction of the fuel, need one driver, remove a large accident casualty risk(I have no up to date figures) and countless other benefits. Politics is nothing to do with common sense so we shall keep the roads clogged up with motorways of truck nose to tail from Birmingham to Manchester for a lot of reasons which have nothing to do with Traffic & Transportation ;-)

  • Comment number 59.

    If journey times have improved (only a little) since 2003 when the Toll Road opened, this is surely a great result.
    We dont know what the congestion would be like now, if the Toll road wasnt opened.
    My guess is that (even with the recession) it would be a lot worse than in 2003.
    So the Toll Road may have achieved quite a lot, without us knowing about it.
    We need more toll roads as these are the best way to provide more capacity, without attracting more traffic.
    The Government should invest in new toll roads themselves and then get the private sector to run them for a fee. Excess revenue (over costs) can then go back to the Treasury, but they are unlikely to cover the original investment cost.

  • Comment number 60.

    There needs to be an incentive for drivers to use toll roads other than less traffic because even more so in a recession, you're likely to risk going on a free road rather than paying £x. What about raising the speed limit to at least what Europe has i.e. 80mph (which should be the norm anyway)

  • Comment number 61.

    15. At 12:27pm on 31 Aug 2010, littletenter wrote:
    "This subject goes around & around just like it did when I wasted 35 yrs in Transportation Planning. . ."
    You make me feel so much better: I've only wasted 25 years in transport plannng!

    The report by Doctor Beeching into the future of Britain's railways in the 1960s proposed closing all non-profit making routes. The same thing should be done for roads then: simple justice. If a road doesn't make a profit then close it, bringing costs down nicely.

    20. At 12:33pm on 31 Aug 2010, Daisy Chained wrote:
    "Cars could be delineated by manufacturer, model, colour and first character of their registration plate, and only allowed to move on a public or private road on a day when all the delienations coincide. . ."
    Genius! They had a system like that in Athens but not quite as thorough: based on even numbered and odd-numbered licence-plates allowing cars to be driven on alternate days. Rich people bought two cars, and poorer people knocked up a fake alternative plate.
    Mind you, they had a system of cards to prevent overcrowding on the dancefloor of the Wigan Casino and that worked pretty well. . .

  • Comment number 62.

    What this report fails to point out is that those drivers who used the M6 Toll had significantly quicker journeys than those who didn't.

    I use it regularly driving from Surrey to Stafford and find the pay off of £5 for not getting caught in traffic a completely reasonable cost.

    Don't pay - sit in traffic. Pay - speed away.

    Seems a success to me.

  • Comment number 63.

    There is no solution; we've created an economic dependency on private transport which is not sustainable. It's obvious that a range of charges will come in to "deter" road use, now that most people on the roads at busy times have no choice but to be there - easy money. I expect the transport problem, along with climate change, will come to a dramatic and catastrophic head after everyone has spent the time, when they should have been addressing the issues, moaning and whining about their personal freedoms and right to enjoy their wasteful lifestyles. Capitalism will never allow us to face up to the social disaster that awaits us all. Enjoy it while you can.

  • Comment number 64.

    As a first measure (that may be cheaper than improving public transport) I would take a long look at roadworks. My local roadworks in sidcup are due to close roads up to november. However, strangely there rarely seems to be anyone working there. Im not around all the time either so I spoke to local businesses, all of whom give me the same story - workers rarely there, and when they are they arrive late, leave early. No wonder sidcup is now so congested. Presumably because so many people complained, a sign at the roadworks made a week or so long appearance stating that work may be out of sight and that workers didnt need to be there all the time. What a load of old pony. If you want work done aquicker, have more workers there. Some things cant be done, eg laying concrete in rain, or operating heavy machinery in front of someones window at midnight. But in Sidcup, and i'll put money on it happening elsewhere, there are many times workers could be there doing something and aren't.
    In fact, I would say that weather and noise pollution permitting, all roadworks are worked on 24/7 until completion.
    I would secondly, as so many others have done, look at public transport. Once that is a viable (in terms of price, comfort, reliability and timetable) alternative, it will be used more.

  • Comment number 65.

    The answer to the traffic snarl ups is to make what roads we have become more efficient at handling the volume of vehicles. Roads in Germany handle far more vehicles than ours and yet the traffic flows, why? because their drivers have discipline. If they don't behave then the traffic police do the job they are paid for.
    Drivers in this country flout the law, particularly on motorways, because they think they know best. Look at all the morons hogging the middle or outer lanes on the motorways, - the police don't do anything about them.
    How many times do you see people still driving without seat belts, - again the police do nothing about them because, they say, they have to be seen not to be favouring one section of society over another, (?). Is there a section of our driving society that is more prone to ignoring the seat belt law? sadly there is but I cannot say here because the moderators won't let me.
    We have to change our attitudes to driving and the law if we want our traffic to flow more efficiently. Try and tell a mum who is dropping off her darlings at school whilst double parked that she is being anti-social - yeah!

  • Comment number 66.

    The answer is very simple... provide value for money, quality, reliable and convenient public transport. We endure endless navel gazing about how we solve the transport problem whilst ignoring the fact that our public transport is significantly more expensive, less convenient and poorer quality than driving, with the possible exception of highly subsidised London transport.

  • Comment number 67.

    Public transport certainly isnt the answer! It all sounds fine in principle but just try getting anywhere you need to go for a set time and it all goes hideously wrong!

    In order for me to get to work in time for my 08:00 start I would need to leave home the night before and sleep overnight in a train station! Even getting the first bus to catch the first train I wouldnt get to work till after 08:45!

    Far too much money is already wasted on Network Rail and the train operators who provide a service that a banana republic would be ashamed of....

    So I will stick to my 1 hour 15 minute drive in my lovely leather lined Audi A5 quattro where there are no tramps or drunks!

  • Comment number 68.

    Investment in public transport.

  • Comment number 69.

    Install 100Mb/s broadband everywhere so enabling more people to work from home more often.

    Much cheaper than building roads/railways/trams etc and will cut fuel use.

  • Comment number 70.

    Sort out the public transport system. I went to london for the weekend this weekend and over the 4 days I was there, there were 2 delays, 2 cancelations, 2 of the tube stations closed early for works without any communications, I was left stranded twice as a result on the same night. and I kid you not, 1/4 of the tube lines were closed at some point or another throughout the weekend. it's not just london either, I've had problems in evesham and reading over the last 2 years and I barely catch the train.

    Sort the system out and people may actually trust it enough to leave the car at home

  • Comment number 71.

    39. At 12:52pm on 31 Aug 2010, rob wrote:
    Personally I have always enjoyed using the toll road instead of sitting in traffic all the way through Birmingham as I used to whenever I travelled the M6 to or from Scotland.
    If it saves me time and it always has its value for money it’s got a pretty good set of services to.
    If a PFI deal or a full privet road is the only way to get good roads like this then so be it.
    I object more to paying the Dartford toll as its the toll that causes the delays and the crossing has already paid for its self.
    Agreed re Dartford toll. I live near it, and it was marketed as being a toll route as long as it took to pay for itself and then I think also a bit longer to provide a fund for repairs etc (dont recall that part as much). Of course that went out the window when it was seen how much could be raked in. i mailed the bridge operatores, asking who owns the bridge and who gets the tolls. This is their reply:
    "We at Connect Plus Services are responsible for the management, operation and maintenance of the M25 strategic road network, the Dartford -Thurrock River Crossing and key arterial routes linking to and from the M25 on behalf of the Highways Agency (HA), who are an executive body of the Department for Transport (DfT). The Dartford Crossing is owned by the Secretary of State for Transport.
    Revenue collected at the Dartford – Thurrock River Crossing is paid to the DfT and is allocated to the transport sector in general and not to any specific projects of schemes. Connect Plus Services do not have the jurisdiction to amend the charges which are set by Government legislation."
    As a driver, and this wont reduce congenstion but would make me feel better, I want a reduction in my road tax. My reasoning is that this tax is to enable me to drive on the road, which I always took to be every piece of publicaly owned tarmac in the Realm. If I am to be charged twice for driving on London (tax + congestion charge) then I will agree not to drive in London in return for less tax. Discuss...

  • Comment number 72.

    By reducing the population you will reduce consumption on roads

    yes a radical step but no other way will seriously work. They are all short term plans

  • Comment number 73.

    Ban trucks from A and B roads during rush hour.

    Ban all 4x4s for school runs. It's a school, not a hillside.

    When commissioning a tram system make sure costs not spiralling is built into the contract and the contractor accepts it. Looking at you, Edinburgh City Council.

  • Comment number 74.

    Educating people how to plan their trip and how to read a road atlas would be a good start. Remove all unnecessary parking restrictions. Ban HGVs from using motorways and A roads between 7am & 7pm, and ban them altogether from using B or unclassified roads. Any vehicles that don't have a valid insurance, MOT or road tax, confiscate them and then sell them off with a new MOT and road tax, and if the vehicle can't be MOTed, crush and destroy it. Introduce a three tier driving licence according to a persons age and the vehicles engine size.

  • Comment number 75.

    lets just wait until the oil runs out...that will sort it!

  • Comment number 76.

    Stop building loads of new houses without improving the infrastructure! Roads haven't got busy cos people have worked out a way to drive 2 cars at the same time - it is simply too many people crammed into too small an area with poor infrastructure developments.

    It's a scandal that councils keep agreeing for estates to be built with no thought to road/rail improvements and capacity.

  • Comment number 77.

    If you're charging drivers 5 times as much in road tax as you spend on the roads, are you surprised they're congested? Only a half-wit would imagine any other outcome. I object to tolls as I'm paying for the roads five-fold as it is.

    Stop admitting more people than the country's infrastructure can support. Stop moving fruit and vegetables 500 miles. Reduce people's NEED to travel - enable tele-working, flexible working hours etc. Fix the carp (anag) schools so no-one wants or needs to transport their kids far afield every day. And finally - please stop pretending public transport is the solution outside major conurbations.

  • Comment number 78.

    The high traffic load has been brought about by the entire fabric of British Society being destroyed. Britain no longer produces anything so people have to travel to work more to sit at a desk with a telephone and a computer which they could do at home! It is totall madness! Factories need adminitration therefore offices, however offices breed offices so everything is administered multiple times. Factories in China must the that Britain is all chiefs and no Indians!

  • Comment number 79.

    Equitable investment in public transport. Make public transport so good that no one would want to drive. Make freight go by rail.

  • Comment number 80.

    1. Financial rewards for those people who can prove they wlive within 5 miles of their workplace. (None of the home/workplace flipping though - we know how that works)
    2. Car Tax - either we make it pay for more roads (like the old days), or the amount you pay is not on the emissions of the car - but the number of miles you travel.
    3. If the railways are of little use to the public - they should be of certain use to freight. Companies should be using this means first - not just loading up huge lorries - that are too big for our roads - and blocking up the motorways with them.
    4. Crush automatically the vehicles of those caught without insurance. If they were driving a borrowed vehicle - then the owner has two choices. They are charged for letting them use the vehicle (and the fines must go up for this) or the vehicle is given for crushing.
    The standard fine for driving without insurance MUST be at least the cost of what the insurance should have been....£60 as in my local paper is a laugh. Insurance companies do not charge proportionate to income - why do the courts
    5. Road/town planners - I now have to travel two miles further than I used to - to get from A to B - how did this help?
    6. Why are lots of perfectly usable two lane roadways - now only one lane and lots of white stripes - no wonder there is a queue
    7. 4 wheel drive cars....have their uses ---has everyone forgotten the snow.
    8. Take away power steering. If you haven't got the ability to turn the wheel without it - you cant drive
    9. Raise the driving age. Limit the type of vehicle you can drive for the first 2 years to small 1000cc engined cars

  • Comment number 81.

    If it's only a money issue, tax all continental vehicles upon arrival in the UK. "There's gold in them there wheel's"

  • Comment number 82.

    Well I lived in Rugeley, I drove to Lichfield for 0600 in Order to catch the 0612 Train to Sutton Coldfield. I left my car at a Friends house. On several instances the train station was locked because staff had failed to come to work. I needed to get into work for 0630 so I led a commando Raid with all the fit and able people climbing a six foot wall at the side. Unfortunately many elderly couldnt do this, and I was told the next day that the station didnt open till 7am.
    One day I was sitting at Lichfield awaiting to go to Sutton coldfield. The train moved 30 feet and reversed. It was announced that the points had failed. So I announced that I had 3 seats in a car nearby to sutton coldfield if anybody was interested. Pity more people couldnt car share ??

  • Comment number 83.

    Go back on Beeching and open up the railway network, have more local DLR and Tram type services that build into a larger connecting network, take cars and buses of the road this way. Offer better incentives to drive non or low pollution vehicles. Make all public transport vehicles hydrogen fuel cell powered.

    It'll cost a fortune but in the end, to reach emmission targets and to reduce negative RTA statistics, it's something that we have to do. It will also create jobs and help to stimulate the economy.

    To ignore will leave this country with a 3rd rate transport service that will eventually lead to the financial companies, that our economy now relies on, pulling out and going elsewhere.

    This myth of cars giving personal choice has long since gone the way of the dodo, it just gives you the choice to be a slave to something else.

    We are a small country geographically, it shouldn't be beyond us.

  • Comment number 84.

    Stop all on-street parking.

  • Comment number 85.

    It would be a good policy objective to gradually make long distance commuting less attractive. It was not common 30 years ago, and has added greatly to road traffic. A shorter journey to work would bring better living conditions and a better work/life balance. I am sure that, for instance, thousands of marketing managers and accountants circulate the M25 in opposite directions each day. I do not believe that each of them is unique and that we cannot organise more local working.

  • Comment number 86.

    1, Keep heavy goods vehicles out of urban areas from 7am until 9pm

    2, Remove and deport any foreign driver convicted of a motoring offence.

    Ultimately though a reduction in the overall population and the renationalization and subsidizing of the rail industry is the only answer to this issue.

  • Comment number 87.

    There seems to be a lot on here who want to restrict HGV, why? They are carrying the goods to the off Motorway shopping areas you frequent by clogging up Motorways! Off motorway shopping is the Bane of any travellers life. They were originally planned to transport GOODS not people, all alone in their four wheeled tins! Using vast amounts of fuel inneficiently especially 4 x 4 Driver with their fuel inneficient eyesores. Don't start defending them they make a far bigger Carbon footprint in manufactue.

  • Comment number 88.

    Nobody seems to have recognised the fact that indicators don't seem to be used any more. It's a small thing, but when you are waiting at a roundabout etc, it would improve the traffic flow in town if you had at least some idea of where the car from your right is going. My crystal ball on the dashboard is permanently cloudy trying to work out where everyone else is going.

    With regards to the motorways, I've followed (or been passed) by people travelling at 40 mph through to the idiots doing 100+ weaving in and out of the traffic. While I think that raising the speed limit slightly on the motorways may be a good idea, actually enforcing the current limits & in some cases dangerous driving would be a big improvement. All this needs is a traffic cop, but over the last 20 years these have been phased out in favour of speed cameras.............

  • Comment number 89.

    steve wrote:

    Impose an empty seat tax on all those individuals driving their over sized 4x4 with no passengers.

    Or go the route of cities like Tokyo where cars are taxed according to their length and width.

    This should bring the public school soccer mums to the conclusion that little Tarquin and Fiona will actually fit in the back of a Fiat 500 and you don't really need a car the size of a Tiger Tank to drive them the 500 yards to school!

    Sorry to introduce facts into your stunningly bigoted and pointless argument, but if you actually bothered to get a tape measure out and check you will find most 4x4's actually have a smaller footprint than large salons and estate cars. Plus. of course, with the seat belt laws a family that has, or needs to move, three or more kids have no choice but to buy a larger vehicle, they would be breaking the law if they used a Fiat 500.

  • Comment number 90.

    So many comments about making public transport 'cheaper' or 'more affordable'.


    By nationalising it? Nationalisation is never cheaper unless it is massively subsidised.
    Where's the money going to come from?

  • Comment number 91.

    Simple - invest in better rail network infrastructure, sensible cheap fare structure and re-open the disused lines. Learn from our european counterparts like germany and france. Encourage freight to be moved cheaply and efficiently by rail.

  • Comment number 92.

    Cheaper fares on public transport?

    If there are peak and off-peak travel times, they should be standard acrtoss the board.

  • Comment number 93.

    With the experience of the M6 Toll no company would be likely to invest in a private motorway. With the low traffic volumes I doubt that the M6 Toll is raising enough revenue to cover its operating costs and the interest on the £900m or so it cost to build. To make the best use of the M6 Toll it would probably make sense to buy it from the owners and remove the toll.

    We do need more motorways, as both by land area and head of population we have a very short motorway network by European standards (fortunately we also have a low level of car ownership). Germany has about 2.5 times the length of motorway per capita and well over double the length of motorway by land area compared to GB. The Netherlands has about 2.3 times the length of motorway per capita and almost 4 times the length by land area compared to GB. We desperately need to improve our motorway network, hopefully in the process moving the bottle necks. For example remove the situation where the only major route for the traffic to the ports of Liverpool and Holyhead to go via Manchester on the M6.

    Some junctions are very badly designed and regularly cause congestion. Junction 10 of the M40 is an obvious one, improved only a few years ago but done very badly resulting in traffic queues most days. These junctions need to be rebuilt properly.

    A reduced need to commute will certainly help, but that can only apply to a small amount of the population.

    Local congestion can be reduced by better planning. Do not allow work sites to be built with insufficient parking (a reversal of current policy) as people driving around slowly trying to find a parking spot are just adding to congestion. Good parking facilities will get people off the road quickly once they have reached their destination. Modern housing developments are built with insufficient parking, leading to occupiers finding any local road to park on causing traffic delays.

    In towns there is little point in segregating sections of the road to be used by the odd bus. Traffic lights can and should be phased to allow traffic to flow, rather than being used to cause congestions.

    Over the last few years many speed limits have been reduced, slowing traffic, while numerous safe over taking spots have been removed (short dual carriageways painted to a single carriageway, etc). This needs to be reversed. Further we now suffer variable speed limits on some motorways which seem to be used to reduce the speed limits and flow of traffic when there are very light levels of traffic (or occasionally reducing the speed limit on the wrong carriageway).

    Cycle facilities can help but can also hinder. Painting a bit of road as a cycle lane helps nobody, but reduces the width of the road available to other traffic. Encouraging cycles to sit at the front of queues at traffic lights just ensures that most traffic is stuck behind a slow accelerating cycle for the few seconds the lights are green.

    Trams seem to be given priority, disrupting traffic flow but seem to have no benefit over buses (lacking the flexibility of buses).

    That we have congested roads is not a surprise. For the last 20 years we seem to have suffered virtually no investment in private transport, while public transport (which nationally only carries a very small amount of passenger traffic) has often been encouraged at the expense of the private road user.

  • Comment number 94.

    Make public transport better and encourage people to walk any journeys less than a couple or three miles. I know some people can't, but most that don't, can. They are just too lazy!

    Would also make us a bit healthier and less fat.

  • Comment number 95.

    There needs to be a big change in how we use our cars. People will not think about changing their habits unless they are forced to and the best way to do this is to make it more and more expensive and difficult to use your car in relation to the mileage you do.

    Why not issue a driver's card to every car owner. This could be issued with the annnual road tax disc. The card would have an electronic chip which would entitle the cardholder to fill up with enough petrol to cover an average car's 5000 miles per year, or whatever figure wa appropriate. After that, all petrol purchases for that car would have to be at an incresing rate, say + 50p/ltr for next 2000 miles and £1 for anything over that. The card could also be adapted for use in car parks, where the cost of parking would automatically increase when the set amount of petrol had been bought.
    Give people enough notice of the scheme and for sytems to be installed and this would give the public time to consider changes they may make to their driving habits. Possibilities include walking kids to and from school, shopping locally or online rather than at out of town supermarkets, cycling to work, car sharing, employers issuing bus/train travel vouchers.
    The goverment could pump money into alternatives rather than new road schemes. For instance, about completely free to use public transport.

  • Comment number 96.

    · 40. At 12:53pm on 31 Aug 2010, Justin150 wrote:
    #8 wrote: The answer is obvious: invest more in public transport.

    Scrap private train operators as this is clearly not working. Rural bus services are improving, but there is still a long way to go. The proliferation of low-cost coach journeys is indicative of the move off the rails and onto the road.

    When we have a third world rail system, it's no wonder that people choose to go by car.


    As passenger levels have increased massively since privitisation I am not sure you can say that private train operators have not worked. The fares are too high, but much of that is down to Lab govt over-egging safety issues


    The fares are to high because it is a privatised industry.

    Its only purpose is to make money, its down to Profit that’s all.

    The railways should be run for the benefit of the country as a national service, not as a means of making money at the expense of the passengers.

    The railways should be owned and run for the benefit of the country, just as the docks at Dover should be owned by the country for the benefit of the country

  • Comment number 97.

    What is the problem with congestion? A journey takes as long as it does and that's the end of it. The roads never have been, and never will be, congestion free.

  • Comment number 98.

    Educate those fit healthy drivers that driving 500 yards down the road is NOT an "inalienable" right?

  • Comment number 99.

    Raise driving age to 21, mandatory re-tests every 5 years from 60 & every year from 80. Permanant ban for anyone found driving without insurance, mot or tax on the understanding that if caught again,(as these people are already technically banned) the offender is given 5 years community service repairing potholes & doing flower displays on roundabouts. In Basingstoke!

  • Comment number 100.

    Do you think for more than two seconds, people could stop bashing young people?
    The phrase 'raise the age to 21' keeps popping up alot.
    Less people are taking there test any ways, it is now £62 a time to take your practical! And that doesn't include hiring your instructors car etc. So your looking at more than a £100 a pop.

    I'm 20 and have been driving since I was 17 just about to turn 18, my insurance at that age was £900 and then £600 and then £500 this year (I'm a girl and this does help, less than I can say for my boyfriend who was quoted at the age of 24 the small fee on £1670 for fully comp on a 1.4 car). I have paid more than enough and I need my little diesel hatchback for uni and work. I drive carefully and fingers crossed will never make a claim but I have seen plenty of 'old' drivers who have made manoveres on motorways I never thought I would see!

    Driving is necessary, public transport is useless and heinously expensive.
    An annual train ticket for worthing to brighton, which is a small distance, and bear in mind the ticket only covers you for this route and does not allow you to travel any where else on the card, will cost you a grand total of: £1596.

    Until public transport becomes an actual alternative, people will always opt for their car because it is more convient, cheaper and quicker.


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