Should we end up with the kind of road tolls they have in France, Italy and America, then we are going to have more congestion. A lot more congestion. I have just sat in crawling, walking pace traffic for 45 minutes to get over the monumental George Washington Bridge that connects New Jersey to New York City because the bridge is tolled; cash or EZ Pass, a pre-paid tag.
Making traffic stop means congestion. And one of the central tenets of road charging, at least the way it’s being sold to us in the UK, is to cut congestion. Look at the Dartford Tunnel and QE2 bridge over the Thames, which is tolled. It could be mildly described as a traffic blackspot.
It’s the same in France – rush hour on the autoroutes and you can end up queuing for a long time to be squeezed through the toll booths.
We probably won’t get toll booths, though – expect something more advanced, likely to be the in-car tag which will be read by roadside beacons that will debit your account. But those tags are still going to have be read and, in the first days of the technology (i.e now), the traffic is going to have to be slowed down so the beacons can read the tag.
Coincidentally, there are traffic lights appearing on what appears to the majority of slip roads around the M25 and the M4. And I saw these lights in action the other day (most of the time they’re off). They were cycling through red to green and back again in about five seconds - just long enough to bring each car to a stop in front of the lights, which inevitably caused – you’ve probably worked this out by now – congestion. Now why would you want to do that? To read the tag in each car, perhaps?