Opinion still appears to be divided on whether London’s congestion charge has been a success.
The lack of a definitive answer on whether it has been worthwhile has not stopped the scheme being extended, however, and the Government has provided funding in ten other parts of the UK to decide whether similar charges could be also introduced.
For once I’m indebted to BBC’s Breakfast info-tainment programme. It has interviewed people in those towns and cities that could see congestion charging introduced to combat the long-standing problem of gridlocked roads.
The overwhelming response of those motorists interviewed was that if a congestion charge was implement, in central Derby or Birmingham for example, then they would simply stop driving into that city and find somewhere else to go instead.
The crucial point here is that they would not give up their car and they would not even consider finding alternative ways to get into the city centre affected by the congestion charge.
In other words, the congestion charge would see the problem of gridlocked roads moved elsewhere and will not see motorists opting to leave their car at home in favour of public transport.
The car remains king and it will take a lot more to topple its crown.
It is further proof for those who argue that the investment in such charges would be better spent on improving public transport provision so that it is seen as a realistic proposition.
At present, public transport is not an attractive option for a variety of reasons – from a lack of punctuality to the poor state of buses and train carriages.
The right kind of investment in the right place might go some way to changing opinions.
Of course, such an investment would be a long-term solution as altering these entrenched attitudes will take some time.
Perhaps that is why the quick fix of the congestion charge remains the Government’s favourite solution?