Cars, Motorists And Transport Strategies
The debate about whether there should be a toll on the M62 between Liverpool and Manchester must not be hijacked by the pro-car lobby. There are plenty of reasons to treat the idea of motorway charging cautiously, but fundamental questions around sustainabilty of both the environment and the local economy are the real issues which must be addressed, and soon.
Sometimes car drivers just don’t get it.
There’s a new proposal from the Northern Way people that the M62 between Liverpool and Manchester become a toll road. This is to control traffic flow because already there’s gridlock every morning and evening, and in a few years’ time the situation will become untenable.
Within two days the usual voices are being raised in opposition to this idea: It’s a tax on motorists! Another government scam to make us all suffer!
Well, actually, it isn’t. It wasn’t the Government’s idea, and in fact quite a few official responses have been along the lines that this should not happen, rather then welcoming the proposal to impose charges. There’s a big debate going on, for instance, about whether traffic calming measures (c.f. the M25) might work, or whether an extra lane could be added at the critical points along the motorway.
And, of course, there’s legitimate concern, articulated by the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce amongst others, about how putting an extra cost onto the only serious road route between Manchester and Liverpool would be damaging for trade and economic development.
The wider picture
All fair enough, and important considerations in their own right. But have we grasped the wider picture?
The suggestions now being put forward are based on the belief that the feared ultimate gridlock will occur in about fifteen years’ time; and the proposals are deliberately intended to reduce road traffic, despite the squeals of one or two car-driving letter writers in the Daily Post etc about how this is simply a tax on motorists which will do nothing to reduce traffic.
The reality is rather different: It seems we have about a decade maximum to get the balance right, and to work diligently on bringing together Liverpool’s and Manchester’s public transport systems, both the direct links and the ‘tributaries’.
Sustainability is the key
The debate should not be based on the usual car-owner cries of ‘unfair tax’, but rather about the significant issues which the Liverpool Chamber and others have raised, and about how these fit into a long-term strategy for sustainability in our economies and our environment.
If the Northern Way manages to get this discussion going, it will have done us all a favour.