6/2/2008UK: Congestion Charge to Profit from Hospital Patients
Cambridge, UK congestion tax specifically targets hospital patients to generate extra revenue.
A congestion tax proposed by Cambridge, UK officials was designed specifically to raise £3 million (US $6 million) from those driving to a local hospital for medical treatment. As part of a Department for Transport (DfT) initiative, the Cambridgeshire County Council last year began laying the groundwork to impose a £5 (US $10) tax on drivers entering the city center area in the same manner as London's congestion charge. The southern edge of the proposed zone was drawn to include Addenbrooke's Hospital (view official map, 180k pdf), even though it is outside the city center. This 1000-bed facility, one of England's largest, is operated by the NHS Foundation Trust.
"Whilst the Trust supports the need to reduce congestion and some form of demand management/charging, it believes the Addenbrooke's campus should be outside of the congestion charging zone," hospital officials said in a written response to the county council last month. "Public transport services are not adequate for staff who work at a 24/7 facility."
As a leading research hospital partnered with Cambridge University, the hospital has thousands of daily visitors seeking regular treatment for aliments such as cancer and diabetes. These patients would see their driving costs jump from £3 (US $6) to £8 (US $16) in fees and taxes for each visit. Motorists who come to comfort sick relatives would pay even more.
To date, the Cambridgeshire council has spent £1.4 million (US $2.8 million) in DfT funds on congestion charge planning. It is unclear whether last month's defeat of congestion pricing pioneer Ken Livingstone will lead to a delay or cancellation of the initiative.