31 Aug 2010.
For immediate release.

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Press Release

M6 Toll A Failure - We Told You First!
Now it Suits their Agenda, CfBT Joins ABD in Attack on Tolls
Anti-car campaign group “The Campaign for Better (public) Transport” today branded the M6 Toll road “a complete failure", citing many of the reasons the ABD has repeatedly highlighted since the road was opened.

The M6 Toll is 27 miles long and bypasses the congested section of the M6 around Birmingham. It costs £5 for cars to use, and is largely and increasingly empty, whilst traffic levels on the old M6 remain unchanged.

“This outcome was entirely predictable,” said ABD Spokesman Nigel Humphries. “Only those who can bill someone else will pay £10 extra to make a return trip that saves hardly any time. With modern traffic information systems people know the level of congestion on the M6 and will only divert onto the Toll Road when the M6 is gridlocked.”

This means that the M6 Toll is grossly underutilised — it is failing to do its job in relieving the M6 and is, just as CfBT say, giving very poor value for money as a piece of transport infrastructure.

In fact, millions in taxpayers' money is being spent installing hard shoulder running and all the associated paraphernalia to increase capacity on the M6 — all due to the failure of the M6 Toll to relieve this congestion.

“It should enrage those who live in Staffordshire or Warwickshire, who need the M6 to commute to work in Birmingham, to be sitting in traffic jams full of London – Manchester traffic that should be using the new road but is deterred from doing so by the cost,” said ABD Midlands Spokesman Paul Biggs.

“Drivers from the North West are getting a raw deal, too,” said Sean Corker, ABD Manchester Representative and anti road pricing campaigner. “They have a choice of paying £10 or sitting in a jam if they want to access the southern half of the country.”

Toll roads only work if they provide a real advantage to users over the alternative free routes — like in France where distances are much greater and the speed limit is higher on the Toll Road.

“People might be tempted to use the M6 Toll more if the limit was raised to 90mph,” said Nigel Humphries.

Public transport funded CfBT said in their report:
“Toll roads are not, and will never be, a solution to congestion on Britain's roads, no matter how attractive they may appear to cash-strapped politicians desperate to deliver otherwise unaffordable road schemes.”
Since a large portion of their funding comes from companies who provide public transport, the CfBT's main aim is to ensure that any available monies from the DfT are spent on public transport infrastructure and subsidies, not on roads.

CfBT's motive is to stop all road building, and they are attacking road pricing solely because it is the only way the cash strapped coalition government can afford to build new roads. If someone suggested tolling existing motorways, you can bet that CfBT would be supporting the proposal 1 2

It's disappointing that this type of duplicitous position is reported by the media as news, when the ABD's consistent and rational arguments saying similar things have been ignored.

We suspect that the ‘white elephant’ label now applied to the M6 Toll by diametrically opposite sides of the transport debate will also apply to the proposed high speed rail links, which will have high fares and empty carriages whist the existing lines groan under current overcapacity levels. We wonder what CfBT will have to say about that!

1. (Lord Adonis') decision to drop national road pricing was condemned by Stephen Joseph, executive director of the Campaign for Better Transport. “I think this is completely unrealistic,” he said. “If road use continues to grow, some means will have to be found to deal with it. If we are not to have old-fashioned Soviet rationing by queues, sooner or later a Government will have to look at pricing.”
Daily Telegraph

2. On the Eddington recommendations, environmental group Transport 2000 (The previous name for the CfBT) said: “We will support Eddington on road pricing, but only if revenues go back into public transport and other measures to give people real choice. We would oppose funding going towards big new roads programmes.”
Daily Mail

Notes for Editors about the ABD