Norwich congestion charge - Are the alternatives ready ?

The Eastern Daily Press reports today on the £500,000 study on whether to introduce a congestion charge in Norwich. Whilst I have been vocal in my support of environmentally friendly measures, there are question marks over this scheme, particularly for those of us living North of the city.

Firstly, if you are going to introduce a congestion charge in order to keep people out of certain parts of the city, is there an alternative route or alternative mode of transport to take ? It's no use pricing people out of travelling through Norwich if this instead forces us down already congested minor roads which cannot take the existing levels of traffic.

It is also interesting to note from the report that First Bus are keen to be involved because of the potential for a gain in passenger numbers that they may have. However, what about those villages with no bus service ? What about using money from the congestion charge to subsidise buses and make them more attractive (Norfolk County Council under the Tories has cut subsidies drastically for many bus services to rural villages). And wasn't it First Bus who just a fortnight ago said they were scrapping return fares ? First Bus are not exactly a firm to be trusted on this matter.

I would favour a system which rewards those people who drive more environmentally friendly cars with low emissions and that are more easily recycled when they come to the end of their natural life. I think this really gives people a choice. If they want a big gas guzzler, then they've made that choice.

So whilst I welcome anything that will encourage a more environmentally friendly future for Norwich, we must give people a decent alternative to driving in to the City. You can't simply tax them for something that they have to do. People have to earn a living and if they have no public transport in their village or no alternative roads so they cannot avoid driving through the city, particulary North of Norwich where there is no by-pass, then a congestion charge in these circumstances is not fair.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Why do we need a northern bypass?(not that a 3/4 NDR is that anyway!). Even if road user charging is introduced in the city, a bypass is still not required. Just think: how will an orbital route improve access from, say Fakenham, to the city? The most direct way is on the A1067 and the "greenest" way (which also reduces congestion) is on the bus (or tram/rail if we had it). Don't believe the matra that "the NDR is essential" - what a load of tosh. Whats essential is someone to actually think long-term about transport strategy for Norwich and start looking at ALTERNATIVES to road.