Comments: Jam today means more congestion to come

It was a cathartic release to read your article "More jam today means congestion tomorrow". We all feel passionately about this subject and share a common sense of frustration, that successive governments have not just ignored the growing transport problem, but rather, have actively endeavoured to shift responsibility, perfidiously, from government to reckless, feckless travellers.

They are all at the trough; Local authorities with their predatory
parking schemes, the police with their speed cameras, Ken Livingstone with his congestion charges, and above all, the government with its fuel tax, VAT ( on fuel and the duty) vehicle duty and VAT, flight tax, vehicle road licence, et al.

The problem is that the traveller can scarcely (ought not to be)
squeezed further and plainly there is not surplus general revenue for transport. As you say, it's a jam!

I accept your point that people and business would be prepared to pay for congestion-free journeys, but only if there is a new covenant between Government/local authorities/the police/London Transport and the rest of us for openness, fairness and good purpose, in relation to transport.

Peter Hambly-Smith

Posted by Editor at March 3, 2008 09:36 AM


I read with interest your article.

For anybody with a modicum of intelligence it has been clear for a number of years that we are fast approaching a scenario of gridlocks blighting our roads. Urgent remedial steps such as:

* tax incentives to employers to enable their employees to work from home;
* banning medium and heavy commercial goods from the roads between 07.30 -09.30 and 16.30 - 18.30;
* more effective policing of motorways to ensure lane discipline is
* altering school start times so that they do not coincide with the morning rush hour, i.e. start at 0.9.30 finish at 16.00 and
* plan for intercity bus terminals at motorway entrance/exits together with connecting bus services in and out of cities/towns added to which the hire of electric vehicles for onward local journeys not served by bus routes.

Yes it does need investment from Government, but motorway intercity bus services run by private operators who successfully tender for franchises.

Rod Fox

Posted by Editor at March 3, 2008 12:28 PM

Dear David, In the article on road congestion you do not mention the biggest crime of all, the amount of a precious commodity oil going to waste in traffic jams worldwide. Soon a decision will have to be made to ration oil as the price will force poorer motorists of the road. In either scenerio extra roads building will not be necerssary.Your nirvana ( M.6. Toll) is a form of rationing by cost. John Thornber

Posted by David Smith at March 3, 2008 06:52 PM

David, my name is Craig Slater and I am the founder of the Internets only Social Networking Web 2.0 Car Share Site.
We are seeing many more businessess joining the site to encourage their staff to car pool when attending meetings, this way they can decrease travel expenditure, encourage windshield time for their employees and tick the corporate social responsibility box.

Posted by Editor at March 4, 2008 10:01 AM

As usual, I read this Sunday’s Economic Outlook with avid interest.
Your comments on Traffic Management touched a long held belief that all political parties are not prepared to grasp the nettle and deal with the issue in a commonsense fashion.

All Governments want the taxes and the employment that car manufacture brings, together with the horrendous tax on petrol and diesel, but they have no policy to deal effectively with the relentless increase in traffic.
Surely the pain that daily commuters have to face is totally unacceptable.

One major policy step forward would be for each Metropolitan and County Council to ask local travellers to submit suggestions for small road improvements that would significantly improve their daily journey to work.
The Council would then select annually the top ten most cost effective projects and submit them to the Ministry of Transport, who would release money from a Special Fund to what they considered to be worthwhile schemes.

I put forward two schemes for consideration:
1) Add an additional lane at the traffic lights at the junction of Tamworth Rd and White-house Common Rd in Sutton Coldfield for morning traffic coming from Bassetts Pole to be able to turn left.
The land is clear, and it would have a considerable effect on the daily, mile long tail back.

2) Having built Spaghetti Junction, the traffic heading from Birmingham to Erdington and Sutton Coldfield is badly held up by traffic needing to turn right into Kingsbury Rd.
The front gardens of the houses are huge for houses of their value, and could be used to great effect to resolve the problem.

Planners will say that solving these problems will only push the problem further along the commuter route, but one very grand scheme is never likely to receive funding, but the major problems could be resolved in bite-sized chunks.

It would be interesting to see the response from Birmingham City Council if you submitted these suggestions to them.


Geoff Hanson

Posted by Editor at March 4, 2008 10:04 AM

All very interesting stuff, but isn't the truth that our society is predicated on the assumption that it will be possible for us to travel quite long distances to and from work quickly and in comfort. The airwaves (and blogosphere) are thick with the cries of those who find this assumption challenged by traffic jams and congestion charging.

They don't have my sympathy. In order for travel nirvana to be achieved, ever greater amounts of our national wealth will have to be expended on road-building, ever greater swathes of countryside covered in concrete, ever more CO2 pumped out into the atmosphere and ever more of our oil reserves squandered.

Why bother to do something about it? Why not just let it remain crap? Only if people find commuting unbearable will demographic patterns return to something more sensible and sustainable.

Best wishes,

Bears All

Posted by Editor at March 4, 2008 05:32 PM

Your assertion that people and businesses would be prepared for congestion free journeys assumes that we would not be priced off the roads. I drive both as a private motorist and as a long distance private hire driver and I know that the taxi company I drive for would be forced out of business unless they were able to pass on each and every road priced journey. As the cost is likely to vary according to the time of day travelled and the price also would vary according to the type of road driven any passing on of cost to the passenger would be a complicated task. Drivers who are forced through lack of public transport to travel to London are already facing hugh increases in their motoring costs and this will increase over 3000% in October if Livingstone gets his way for higher emitting vehicles. For people like myself who live in rural areas a car is essential and, on a limited income, the though of road pricing a nightmare. In Perth, Western Australia, all buses are free withing a certain radius of the city and very few people have the need to use their cars to commute and it works very well. The London congestion charge is a tax, does little to ease the flow of traffic and road pricing will be the same. The rich will pay it, all those who can pass the charge on will do so, the cost of goods and services will rocket and all of us who cannot pay or pass on the charge will be priced off the road.

Peter Kirton

Posted by Editor at March 5, 2008 09:52 AM

Dear Mr Smith

I read with interest your article last Sunday “More jam today means congestion tomorrow”.

I would like to add four things:

1. I find traffic congestion in London is caused by the buses. I have to admit I am no longer in London during rush hour but during the day the streets are clogged with buses with just a few passengers on each bus. I think the Mayor of London has only been keen to say he has added “x” number of buses regardless of whether they are needed. Fewer buses, less congestion and the buses would do their route much quicker.

2. I also think bus conductors would help – buses would not have to be stationary at bus stops so long whilst fares are paid – during which time they cause congestion and send out more diesel fumes. Also I believe passengers might feel saver with a conductor. It is not right for the drive to have to concentrate on driving, collecting fares and the behaviour of people on the buses, especially the assaults on drivers.

3. Crossrail – I really do not understand why we need it. It seems to me a bit like, what I consider to have been a waste of money, and that was moving Eurostar from Waterloo. If we have that much money available for infrastructure work surely it would be better spent on improving the underground system which thousands – I believe millions - use every day. It would help many more people over a considerably larger area. Paddington trains go through Ealing – so why not just improve the underground and people can change there to go to Maidenhead.

I would have thought businesses would be pleased as an improved underground would stop so many people being late for work – which costs money.

4. Canals – lets make more use of them

Yours sincerely

West London Resident

Posted by Editor at March 5, 2008 09:55 AM