Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Are they trying to sneak this "pay as you go" car tax through?

I have spent the last 5 months in the UK and I am now beginning to understand the dilemma faced by those who are trying to live a more environmentally aware life and yet still carry on living and holding down a job.

When I am in Australia I do not drive a car...I refuse to own one and never drive one at all.. In the UK it seems as if that is impossible unless you
1) live in the middle of town, 2)are very wealthy, 3)you work within walking distance or 4)your children don't do any activities. It seems crazy to me that in this small country where it is vitally important that cars are kept to the minimum (for all sorts of reasons) there is an impossible public transport system which is expens
ive, unreliable and understaffed.

When I first arrived people would make jokes about the train system. The jokes centred on not when trains turned up but if they turned up. Now, as a seasoned commuter I am amazed at the absurdity of "public" transport system. I emphasis "public" because it seems to me that it is designed around the needs of the private companies which run this country's railways.

Wherever I travel in the world trains are my "local" and regional mode of transport. I have crossed the US on trains, travelled around Europe and always use the Australian trains. But here, in the UK? It is so expensive that you only travel by public transport if you absolutely have to. And then, if there is more than one person travelling it becomes far too expensive as many overseas visitors can testify. For those unfamiliar with the UK transport system let me give you an example...for one person to take a 50 minute commute from Brighton to London it costs over 3,500 pounds per year..let me put that into US dollars..that is nearly $7000 and remember that is the reduced rate because you have a season ticket. $7000 for under an hours commute and that does not guarantee you a seat. Standing for hours is not unusual. I am constantly hearing stories of people having to stand even on a trip to Cornwall which is about 4 hours I think.

Lets compare that to what people pay say in California, a comparable commute costs 10 pounds a day..and that does not include reductions for a yearly ticket. What about Australia? For a 2 hour commute (on a fast train) the yearly ticket is under $AU1500 that is equivalent to 600 pounds. The day ticket (the most expensive) is about 9 pounds for a 2hour return trip compared to 20 pounds for a one hour trip. Are you getting the picture? How can this be? With a country, such as Australia, where there are limited numbers of commuters to support a public transport system it is still less than a fifth of the price of the UK and yet the wages are comparable? Perhaps the money that should be going on supporting life in the UK is going somewhere else? For example:..........

......according to the IRAQ analysis website http://www.iraqanalysis.org/local/481_costofwar1.pdf
the UK is spending at least 4.4billion pounds on IRAQ. I cant help but think that 4.4 billion pounds is a lot of public transport in a small country like this!

They can't rob the coffers of the other portfolios...the health service is falling to pieces, the schools are increasingly underfunded and the money has to come from somewhere. Now the government is easing legislation through hidden behind the topical reason that it is addressing global warming...

Don't get me wrong..I am not a supporter of the car or the plane but in the UK without access to this means of transport many people of medium to low income are stuck.

For those in the UK read this is very important whether or not you agree with the petition you need to know this legislation is proposed and to think about where you stand on it. You might want to fill in the petition...I received this email this afternoon and I cant help but feel that there are other ways of addressing global warming..like doing something about industry, perhaps getting heavy lorries off the road ...or heaven forbid...maybe supporting a decent, reliable and affordable public transport system.

"There are only 15 days left to register your objection to the 'Pay as you go' road tax - which closes to petitions on the 20th February 2007.

The petition is on the 10 Downing St website but they didn't tell anybody about it. Therefore at this time only 671,354 people have signed it so far and 750,000 signatures are required to stop them introducing it.

Once you've given your details (you don't have to give your full address, just house number and postcode will do), they will send you an email with a link in it. Once you click on that link, you'll have signed the petition.

Democracy in action?

The government's proposal to introduce road pricing will mean you having to purchase a tracking device for your car and paying a monthly bill to use it. The tracking device will cost about £200 and in a recent study by the BBC, the lowest monthly bill was £28 for a rural florist and £194 for a delivery driver. A non working mother who used the car to take the kids to school paid £86 in one month.

On top of this massive increase in tax, you will be tracked. Somebody will know where you are at all times. They will also know how fast you have been going, so even if you accidentally creep over a speed limit in time you can probably expect a Notice of Intended Prosecution with your monthly bill.

Make your feelings known by signing the petition below which is located on the government website
http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/traveltax/

4 comments:

celerman said...

I've linked to the petition but I haven't signed it. I am cynical. Afterall, 1 million people out of 60 million? In a class of 60 students there would always be one student opposed to everything.

Bottom line for me - the environment is our most pressing concern. I'd love to live without a car, I just need a shove in the right direction.

janzjottings said...

As an ex railworker I can tell you the worse thing they ever did to he railways is privatise them. I'm on a limited income, live in a rural area and can go nowhere without a car. Put yet another hidden tax on to me and I might as well give up. And yes, I did sign the petition.
As for the Health Service - it doesn't really exist any more and all the money poured into it is to pay for the managers not the medical staff or the patients.

COLORADO BOB said...

Great post Kiddo .... I love reading this kind of stuff. I've been posting some more stories if you haven't been by lately ...
C.B.

Robyne said...

Thanks Celerman for the comment. I also, would prefer not to have a car and I agree a shove in the right direction might help. BUT a shove in the right direction might just begin in a more positive way such as providing a transport system that entices people to use it rather than one that forces people into their cars.
I really really dont like travelling in a car for a number of reasons including it exacerbates the whole social crisis in the UK where people are so removed from each other and the community. We travel in little isolation humidicribs called cars, we walk the streets with headphones on, we rarely interact with strangers and we have a culture if fear in THIS country that is getting worse. The most disturbing thing is that many British people think this is normal.
So my argument against cars is not just to protect the environment it is also because I think we all need to get back into the community and not allow ourselves to believe that the "think globally, act locally" slogan means local is just inside your own family.
Oops! that soudns like a tirade.