Manchester congestion charge driven out of town

I don’t live in Manchester but it was interesting to hear that the residents of Manchester had voted against a charge for using their cars in the city. There were two charging zones proposed. Within the M60 outer ring road and an inner city charging zone. The deal was, as far as I am aware, that a charge would be introduced and in return investment would be made in public transport.

That to me means that all car drivers will be taxed and that some of the money would be used to improve trains and trams etc. In other words, it’s another stealth tax from a government that loves to tax everything that we do and have. Even pensioners hard earned savings are being taxed. Why should pensioners pay tax again when they have already paid tax when they earnt the money in the first place! Anyway that’s another grump of mine.

There is no doubt that our major towns and cities are grinding to a halt because of too many cars, therefore something needs to be done to solve the problem. I live in Leeds and the problem with peak time gridlock has been with us for many years and very little seems to be done to help improve the situation. The roads from the suburbs and surrounding areas of Leeds that lead into Leeds city centre are just a long queue of cars moving at just a few miles an hour.

If you consider the issue there seems to be two types of road user. Firstly, there is the commuter that travels from relatively short distances to the city centre and then there is the person who travels either from one town or city to another or someone who is constantly on the road.

The problem to solve first is the commuter. The majority of commuters would use public transport rather than their cars if good, clean, fast and regular public transport was available. Leeds dumped its Super Tram system because it was too expensive and the government refused to put money in. That is a scandal. London gets billions of pounds and Leeds gets little. The London Cross Rail project is going to cost £15 Billion and Leeds gets a new bus lane! That is just not right. (Bus lanes as they are at the moment don’t work by the way).

Here is my solution and it’s a lot cheaper than building expensive tram systems. Its called the bus!…Busses are great and relatively cheap but they need to have proper bus only lanes built. Most bus lanes in Leeds stretch for a few hundred yards before mixing with all the traffic again. The bus lanes need to be 10 miles long! There also needs to be huge car parks built so that commuters can use park and ride schemes.

That’s the cheap option. If money wasn’t really an option I think every big city in the UK should have an underground system and also we need to build more roads. Wider motorways, better ring roads and better roads into city centres. Personally I would rather have better roads and public transport than two new aircraft carriers and a war in Afghanistan and Iraq. But that’s just my opinion!

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