Thursday, November 01, 2007

Keep taxing us, but the problem won't go away

These days, it seems that to many problems the solution is "more taxes" when it's up to the governement or a local authority to deal with it.

Take London traffic: it's bad. So what did Ken do? Tax people so that City boys can whizz around. But the only problem is that it's only buying time. It's just not working, check this article for instance: London has slowest traffic in Europe at just 12mph - Times Online
As the article puts it, positive incentives work, like for instance in Hamburg:
“Hamburg, in comparison, has a very good public transport system. They have free park-and-ride buses, and trains are coordinated; and if you’re on a bus, and you know you have a long walk from the bus stop to your house, you can ask the bus driver to call you a taxi".

People are not mad: if they have an alternative, they'd rather save money and time. Not sit in a car. London public transport is just not functioning, even the big money says so. For instance, I've blogged several times about The Drain which have been shut 6 months last summer to overhaul it. Well, tonight at 17:35 only one platform was operational at Bank, because of signalling problems....
Plus, it's the "most expensive in the world" (Guardian). As a passing comment, Ken's announcement to freeze fares before coming up for re-election is a really bad taste since the 1 zone ticket went from £1 to £4 in just a few years... At best it's spin, I'd say it's a con. Maybe we should look at our neighbours: in Paris, employers by law must refund 50% of employees travelcards. A simple measure that would make a lot of difference for many commuters and probably do more to move people onto busses, trams, tubes and trains....

Another one is waste management. The UK has a poor record on recycling and may even be fined by the EU (a positive catalyst for change I'd say). What's the response? Smart bins to tax people. You can guess where this will end: in the streets where fly tippers will dump their rubbish to avoid paying. Here again, there are little positive incentives, for instance in Richmond you can't recycle plastic (only bottles will be recycled from the 5th) and there's no collection for garden refuse.

My point? Politicians must try harder and be more creating when dealing with problems: the stick is not the only solution to all problems and in many cases taxes have perverse effects.

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Anonymous said...

O/T but topical for the blog. There are currently bunches of flowers being laid at the North Sheen Station level crossing. Any news?

Ludovic Windsor said...

Apparently a youth jumped under a train but I don't know more so far.