Councils vote in favour of controversial scheme to restrict city centre traffic
27 July 2007

Manchester is to get what could well be the world's most confusing congestion charging scheme.The plan, which is likely to go live in 2012, makes London's scheme look easy.There will be two rings of charging, one at the inner ring-road and one on the outer, and two times of operation.From 7am to 9.30am, drivers will be charged £2 to enter the outer ring road, and then a further £1 to enter the inner area.From 4pm to 6.30pm, drivers will be charged £1 to cross each boundary heading outwards.There would be no charge for those starting and ending their journey within the same zone; only for those crossing one of the charging 'rings'. Regular users will be able to get tag-and-beacon devices installed in their cars that will automatically deduct charges; visitors will need to pay the charge by phone or online, as for the London charge.A total of 10 local authorities had to vote on the charge; eight voted in favour.The scheme is being put in place in an effort not just to reduce congestion but also to cut pollution. As well as introducing road charging, the plan is to invest £3 billion in public transport in the area, including an extension of Manchester's tram network, more buses and park-and-ride schemesNow that the charging plan has been approved by the majority of Manchester's local authorities, it will be presented to the Government for approval, and for a £1.2 billion grant.If the Manchester scheme is successful, it's likely that other major cities may press ahead with similar schemes. A nationwide road-charging scheme also looks increasingly likely.The problem remains that there are currently not enough alternatives to driving. This week the Government announced that it was cutting its funding of railways by £1.5 billion a year, a shortfall that will be made up by even more expensive fares.

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