Congestion Charges and Tolls in the UK

It may seem a counter-intuitive opinion to be held by the owner of a same day courier company, but I’m really all for the introduction of these congestion charges, toll roads, low-emission zones and other forms of road charging. I just wish they’d get their act together over the charging though and consolidate all the charging systems into one automated system operating across the UK.

The proposed Manchester Congestion Charge is the perfect example of a system which takes no account whatsoever of the sheer nuisance factor of these charges for people who travel around the country regularly.

Regular visitors to the congestion zone will have the benefit of a pre-pay ‘tag’ system linked to an account which is automatically debited as they enter and leave the zone.

If you’re not a regular visitor, say a courier based in another part of the country, you’ll apparently be able to pay via a call centre or the internet, although this may be subject to a surcharge.

The problem with this is the sheer complexity of the proposed charging system in Manchester. With the London Congestion Charge it’s a simple enough matter for a courier to work out, at the end of the day sometimes, whether they strayed into the Zone and whether they’ve got a Congestion Charge to pay, yet drivers still forget that they’ve been into the Zone and forget to pay.

The Manchester system will consist of 2 rings, based on the M60 and the Inner Ring Road. In the morning there’s a charge of £2 to drive into the outer ring and a charge of £1 to drive into the inner ring. In the evenings there’s a charge of £1 to driver out of the inner ring and £1 to drive out of the outer ring. Unlike the London Congestion Charge this isn’t a simple one off charge for entering the Zone – drive into the inner ring to make a delivery at 0800, drive just outside the ring to make a delivery at 0830 and drive back in to make a delivery at 0900 and you pay the charge twice. Follow your satnav’s directions in and out of the ring a few times and you could be due to pay two or three charges. Being from out of town, not knowing the roads and being already a bit confused by the tramlines etc you could quite easily be totally unaware of how many times you’ve crossed the rings.

Is it really too much to ask that these different organisations that operate all these separate charging and toll schemes get their heads together and establish a single automated tag system covering all the major toll roads, bridges and congestion zones? Should it really be up to drivers to develop an encyclopaedic knowledge of the intricacies of each city’s charging system and risk penalty charges for straying into a congestion zone that they didn’t even know existed, in a town they’ve never been to, 5 seconds before the zone would have ceased to operate for the day.

Posted under Tolls, Charges & Fines

Posted by Alec at 9:22 am, August 1, 2008

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1 Comment so far

  1. The KenBuster automatic congestion charge system provides the easiest way to pay your congestion charge in the UK. Using GPS technology it knows when you enter the zone and pays the charge automatically.

    Visit http://www.kenbuster.co.uk for more info, or contact me direct.

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