2/27/2007UK: Per-Mile Tax More Expensive than Entire Road Network
Overhead to install and operate a per-mile congestion tax would be more expensive than doubling the highway capacity in the UK.
The proposed system to tax UK motorists based on the number of miles driven will cost more to implement than it would to double the entire nation's highway network. The per-mile tax is designed to turn every road into a toll road with "congestion prices" billed to individual GPS units that monitor where and when each driver travels. The London Telegraph cites Department for Transport documents that estimate an initial cost of £62 billion (US $122 billion) for the program and £8.6 billion (US $16.9 billion) annually for maintenance and operation.
Safe Speed founder Paul Smith calculated that for the same amount of money, the UK could double the current road network's 2200 miles. Prime Minister Tony Blair, in his response to the 1.8 million residents who registered their opposition to a per-mile tax said that building new highways would be prohibitively expensive.
"If I tell you that one mile of new motorway costs as much as £30 million (US $59 million), you'll have an idea of the sums this approach would entail," Blair wrote last week.
By the prime minister's own figures, another 2067 miles of highway could be built for the cost of setting up the per-mile satellite tax.
"It is hard to believe that anyone is stupid enough to believe that fantastically expensive roads pricing would be anywhere near as effective at managing traffic as a doubling of our entire motorway network," Smith said. "The 'Toll Tax' is a crazy grand design beloved of no one except politicians and technology suppliers."