London, 18 Dec 2003.
For immediate release.

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Press Release 387

Tolls Make for Inefficient Use of Roadspace
The ABD welcomes the full opening of the M6 Toll this week.
This road is long overdue, but the fact that it is a toll road greatly reduces the benefits it brings to both the West Midlands and the nation as a whole.
"Today, on the first day for through traffic, the M6 Toll was almost empty whilst the M6 continued to be gridlocked," said the ABD's Nigel Humphries. "Trucks were boycotting the new road, and many drivers were clearly prepared to sit it out on the M6 rather than pay up. That's an inefficient use of precious roadspace."
"This should be a warning to anyone supporting the idea of road pricing. People will go out of their way to avoid it, and that makes for unnecessary jams on alternative routes whilst a few rich motorists enjoy an empty road."

The M6 Toll at Junction T3, photographed at 09:07 Tuesday 16th December 2003

The M6 Toll should be:
  1. Providing welcome relief from congestion for through traffic. But it won't because a significant proportion will avoid the toll.
  2. Easing congestion for commuters and bringing greater prosperity to Staffordshire and Birmingham. It won't do that because there is still too much through traffic on the M6.
The M6 Toll is failing to obtain the maximum safety benefit from the new road, by discouraging drivers to switch from all-purpose roads, which have a higher accident rate, to a purpose-built motorway - the roads with the lowest accident rates.
The ABD is delighted that 83% of people opposed further toll roads in a phone-in to BBC Midlands Today.
The roads should be free to use in the most efficient way possible by those who have paid their road and fuel tax. They are the lifeblood of the economy, and all road charging in any form can achieve is to reduce the overall efficiency with which people use them.
Toll Roads for the use of the few who are prepared to pay are a luxury Britain cannot afford.


Notes for Editors