The advantages and problems associated with introducing road Congestion charges in Manchester
Congestion charging is a way of ensuring that busy roads contribute money to improving public transport. It encourages people to use public transport; therefore there will be less congestion for those who use the roads. Journeys will become quicker as fewer vehicles are entering the congestion charging zone. The London scheme requires drivers to pay eight pound per day if they wish to continue driving in central London during the scheme’s hours of operation. The congestion charge is in effect from 7am to 6:30pm, Monday to Friday, public holidays (metro Thursday, February 13, 2003). This essay will discuss the likely advantages and problems arising from the introduction of a London style congestion charge in Manchester. It will be looking at the problems that London is now suffering from and what have been the major benefits of the charges placed (http://www.cclondon.com/whatis.html).
Congestion charges in London were introduced to reduce the frustration, jams, accidents and delays caused by the sheer weight of traffic in central London. At the same time, this scheme can be used to raise revenue which can then be spent on improving current public transport (http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2) (4th December 2003). A congestion charge would help the environment in many ways, it helps to prevent people from driving their cars and therefore less pollution is produced. If more of these congestion charge schemes were introduced in all the major cities in the UK, then the percentage of pollution made by car emissions would fall dramatically. In London, according to the mayor’s office, between 2002 and 2006, traffic congestion was 22% lower, carbon emissions decreased 16% and nitrogen oxide pollution declined by 13%. In an article entitled, “London blazes anti-pollution trail with the world’s cities by slapping congestion charges a vehicles in “Space Mart” says that Ken Livingstone has survived the storm of unpopularity and won the admiration of ecologists (http://www.spacemart.com/reports/London blazes).
“Greenpeace very much supports the work of Ken Livingstone in the way that he has taken some quite bold steps to tackle climate change," according to Emily Armistead, Greenpeace's climate campaigner
(Nov 22nd 2006)
The congestion problem raised a lot of concerns for the government because they thought that drivers were not faced with the full costs of their action, so an obvious solution was to make them pay these external costs. To reduce the congestion they should have more and improved facilities to encourage people to use public transport. The disadvantage of the congestion charge was that it was affecting a lot of businesses, the charges meant more costs furthermore, employees were arriving late because of the overcrowding and the lack of quality services experienced from public transport (Sloman, J, 2003).
The idea of congestion charges is effective because it encourages people to walk, Use public transport, drive an exempted vehicle, avoid the zone or the times stated and ride a bike
When people are told to pay a large amount for entering the city centre by car, they would think twice in doing so, they would know that if they were to pay approximately £8 every day just to enter the city for their job, they would pay about £40 every week which is a large amount coming out of their salaries at the end of the year. Therefore congestion charges would help people stop using their cars and use public transport more (http://www.cclondon.com/Penalties-Enforcement).
However, some people argue that if more people were to use public transport then more buses and trains would be needed to operate a lot more frequently. Improvements on trains and buses are long term projects therefore this will result in major delays on people’s journeys to work resulting in them being late. If the government wants people to use public transport then they need to make transport more efficient (http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news).
The congestion charge helps to reduce the number of cars on the roads during the hours 7:00 am- 6:30 pm, this is because this is the time where a lot of cars are found which makes it very difficult for bus drivers who try to help people arrive at their destinations on time. The traffic in London is very congested, that is why the mayor of London brought about the introduction of these charges (http://www.tfl.gov.uk/corporate).
According to the latest figures Manchester is one of Europe's slowest-moving cities when it comes to traffic, therefore introducing similar charges in Manchester would help to reduce that problem. In Manchester, traffic moves at an average speed of 17 mph, it was found to be the second-worst city in Britain for traffic flow after London and the fourth-worst in Europe. Manchester is a very big city which means that traffic moving in and out of the city centre is very heavy; therefore the problems that London face are similar to that of Manchester faces. Manchester is a growing city where such projects need to be brought forward.
However congestion charges in Manchester are not the only idea that will reduce traffic, if the city council provides more routes into the city and better maintained roads then people would spend less of their time commuting to and from work. Making newer roads would help to decrease some people’s journey times which means that not so many cars would be on the roads (http://www.guardian.co.uk/congestion/story.html).
One of the directors with Dylan Harvey developers, Michael Talbot, said that congestion charges will come whether people approve of it in principle or not, Reducing parking on the street, closing car parks and charging people to drive in the city further causes problems for people who trying to get to work or who have to move across the city during the day.
The Sales director of Dandara Peter Lackey has a different point of view on this and believes that charging will not have a dramatic effect. He says that the city is now a disaster and that improving city infrastructure jobs, communications and lifestyle will improve traffic flow in the city (http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/property/choked road).
Commenting on the Manchester evening news website Karen Campbell says that congestion charging would lead people to use bikes to go to work. She also said that many people would decide to walk to the city centre. However a much greater percentage of workers will pay the charge and grin and bear it.
One problem of congestion is that it produces a lot of pollution. Air and noise pollution are created which can be damaging to the environment and people’s health. Also there will be more accidents due to congestion. Congestion is a negative externality, the price has to be increased on car journeys to internalise the externality. This means congestion has harmful effects on not only individual but also can affect third parties and also the environment around them. This is also referred to as a negative externality (Sloman, J, 2003).
To prevent the congestion charge in these areas they should widen the roads or build new roads. This idea can be the best long term solution to solving traffic congestion. Introducing bus lanes will encourage people to use public transport; this is because the time saved by using busses will decrease significantly. Another good way to reduce cars on the roads is to tax fuel even more; this will discourage a lot of people and allow them to seek alternatives (http://www.libdems.org.uk/transport/story.html).
The head of pollution Evan Davis said “as many as 24000 premature death occur in the UK each year from pollution and therefore it is important that we work to improve air quality to protect people’s health, it is estimated that 75% of pollution is caused by 25% of vehicles whereas Dr Carlos Dora from the European Centre for Environment and Health said:-
“The growing evidence that air pollution is causing a major health burden adds to effects of road traffic through noise, accidents and barriers to cycling and walking” (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health.stm)
(Tuesday, June 15 on BBC news)
To conclude this congestion charges will help to reduce traffic especially in big cities such as London, Manchester and Birmingham where traffic is often at a standstill can be very poor. Charges will help raise revenue for the government; the money saved can be spent on improving roads and rail networks. Charges on roads can also prevent the increase of carbon emissions therefore, resulting in a cleaner environment. Charges can possibly benefit us as humans as we wouldn’t need to breathe in any of the carbon monoxide that appears out of cars making our lives a lot healthier. Although motorists would not be too happy, the majority of the population would welcome such a good proposal. I think congestion charging is an effective method of preventing car owners driving into the city centre; therefore it will decrease congestion and pollution. Furthermore it will persuade people to leave their cars at home and uses the public transport instead. In the long term this will lead to a decrease in noise pollution and lead to a better environment, there will also be a reduction in the number of road accidents.
Better public transport is the long- term solution to congestion (2007) (online) available at <http://www.libdems.org.uk/transport/story.html> (accessed 12th December 2007)
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Car fumes kill more than crashes (1999) (online) available at <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/369169.stm> (accessed 22nd October 2007)
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