Road to ruin?

August 28, 2008

congestion.jpgSoaring petrol prices and the credit crunch are forcing British drivers off the roads.

Traffic congestion was 12 percent less in the first half of this year than in the same period a year earlier, a survey has found.

Could this mean that the market might be the answer to the problem of overcrowded roads?

It seems a simpler way of doing it than the elaborate technology used in London to keep cars out of the central Congestion Zone, and being contemplated in other British cities. Despite hefty fines on motorists, the scheme seems to spend much of its income on its own upkeep.

But if high petrol prices do keep the roads clear, it will of course be at the expense of the poor. A dose of austerity could mean fewer old bangers getting in the way of the Mercs and Rollers, but of course low-income drivers will find it even harder to get to work than they do already.

3 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

The blog is typical of the modern obsession with endless and useless debate about the symptoms of a problem instead of identifying and dealing with the cause.

Less people equals less cars, less overcrowded roads, less overcrowded cities, less overcrowded hospitals and less overcrowded cemeteries.

So the “simpler way of doing it” is very simple indeed. Just allow the population to decrease slightly and level out naturally at a sustainable level compatible with the existing infrastructure and conditions will improve and remain tolerable for those who remain.

The current government’s obsession with cramming in ever more people into a finite and already overcrowded space is completely at odds with its supposed aims of “opportunity for all”, “quality of life, “sustainable development” and “combating climate change”.

The road to ruin has got nothing to do with price of petrol.

Posted by Peter | Report as abusive

A modern capitalist economy apparently has to grow to survive. This means that the existing population has to become more productive, or it has to increase, or it has to conquer new territories to expand into.

Increased productivity is limited as a strategy, especially when other countries are increasing theirs more effectively and faster. Conquering new territories is no longer an option for the UK and the economic equivalent of expanding protected trade zones is not an option in the present free trade climate. That leaves internal expansion of the population, which amounts to increasing the national income by “renting” our space to productive incomers.

The result will apparently be the UK having the largest population per square mile of any European country by 2060 and we will have absorbed more than the total increase in the EU population by the same date, i.e. we will be expanding while other EU countries are contracting and we will have more than the population of Germany, a country several times our size!

What price road congestion and housing shortages then? Especially if the Tory “thinktank” has its way and a large part of the urban population in the North moves to the South East!

How is it that the rest of Europe can contemplate a reduction in population, while we cling to the outworn capitalist theory of an expanding economy?

Posted by Michael | Report as abusive

never nind the cars increase the airport taxes to reduce number of flights also make so that only flights that are near capacityfly cut number of short haul flights increase train usagefor frieght