Following on last last weeks food post I am now writing to you as an in-betweener. That is in-between Wolverhampton and Newcastle.
A travel day of sorts, too far to go home to return to the north again with out enduring eight hours plus on the motorways of Great Britain. I’m sure for many of you this isn’t part of your daily pain but for the touring thesp and muso it’s a necessary evil. I’d love to have gone home and seen my wife for the day but the prospect of travelling from London to Newcastle on a wintery Monday put me off!
Today’s journey from Wolverhampton was greatly helped by the M6 toll road. These are comparatively new in the UK but they’ve had them for years in Europe. Paying to drive has been almost as contentious in this country as the 2nd amendment sections on baring arms in America. The basic problem is in this country is we have too many cars on our outdated road system. Yes we pay road tax but Mrs Smith who only goes to the supermarket once a week and does only 2,000 miles per year pays the same road tax as Mr Smith who does 40K + per year for work.
We only have a finite road system and millions of cars. Something has to give! Any of us who have endured a closed motorway due to an accident can identify with this I’m sure. The M25 anti-clockwise section suffers daily from 6:30am till mid morning everyday. No matter of lane additions can solve this problem. There are just too many cars using this bit of road.
Public transport would be the governments advised option but it’s prohibitively expensive and in may parts of the UK the trains finish early evening. I was working in Istanbul, Turkey, just before Christmas. Now here is a city with a very cheap metro system but the roads around this wildly growing economy are rammed from 4pm – 8pm every day. Our concert didn’t start until 9pm for this very reason. Again too many cars.
So what’s the solution? We love the convenience of driving but hate the queues, Public transport is in-effective in stemming the desire to drive. The roads are in need of constant repair (this may be down to cost cutting by highways agency over the years but that is just a personal opinion) and this leads me onto the other problem that the touring these/muso endures is nightly road closures.
These are generally put in place just about at curtain down and are normally well stocked by the time you get on your way home. There seems to be little or no co-ordination with other agencies and you can quite often get diverted off of every motorway on your route home. One particularly memorable trip from the shires involved the M11 exit to M25 being shut, M25 to M1 being closed (pick up point), M25 to M40 being closed and finally my M4 junction being shut in Berkshire. All on the same night. It added over 90 minutes to an already long journey. Yes I know they have to repair roads but these closures, 50mph zones, poorly signed diversions et cetera go on for months. The M1 improvements went on for years!
We get back to the toll road today. It was clear and lovely and escorted me around Birmingham for the princely sum of £3.40. Did I mind paying £3.40 to avoid a potential accident black spot? No, it made my journey much less stressful. If we were to introduce more toll roads are we in danger of creating roads for the privileged? No I don’t think so.
Let me take you back to Mr & Mrs Smith earlier in this blog and introduce the concept of mileage based road taxation. If Mrs Smith is only doing 2,000 miles a year why should she pay £150 -£200 per year in road tax? What if the levy was only £50 per annum and if she wanted to drive to Leicester to see her sister and she had to pay £10. It may only occur six times per year still making Mrs Smiths contribution less but more appropriate.
Mr. Smith on the other hand making 20+ journeys on motorways per month would then be paying a figure more commensurate with the load that his travelling was placing on the road system. Instead of HS2 let HM Gov plough the funds into making ALL rail fares cheaper giving people a ‘real’ option.
This isn’t a perfect analysis of the problem and is practically a ‘Blant’ (blogged rant?) so apologies to any experts, petrol heads, tax payers that may be offended by the meanderings of a meanderer but we have to start the ball rolling somewhere…
The power of keeping Karma!
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