The wevoteyes.co.uk website has totally ignored the costs has made some questionable claims of benefits of Tif Manchester.
I will deal with some of the costs that are left out, and then look at the validity of the claimed benefits. In so doing I hope to add to the understanding of the package, to get the best solution for society as a whole.
If I have got anything wrong please let me know and I will correct or clarify that aspect. If you disagree send in a (clean) comment and I will post it.
The Costs of Tif Manchester.
- The £1.5bn government grant is not a free gift. It costs the taxpayer and responsible government should show the stream of benefits exceeds this cost.
- People who continue to drive at peak times will pay the charge and thus have their living standards reduced.
- People who switch to public transport network to avoid the charge will have living standards reduced.
- People who aspire to use the luxury of car travel might have this opportunity cut off due to the charge. The Congestion Charge will create a Transport Poverty Trap. That is an income barrier to what many view as the more comfortable and convenient form of transport.
- A lot of the payers of the charge will live outside the Greater Manchester Boundary. This includes a disproportionate number of business decision-makers.
- Occasional peak time car drivers will have to pay a higher charge. This may make Manchester appear less welcoming and more expensive to outsiders.
- A substantial portion of the revenue from the congestion charge will be from fines (towards the foot on page 3). It is the occasional travelers who will be hit hardest.
- The Congestion Charge revenues are planned to rise by 5.5% a year to 2041. Please find this on page 10 section 5.1 of the funding proposals at http://www.gmfuturetransport.co.uk/pdf/funding_080808.pdf. This could either be from increasing charges, or by having new charging areas, or by having a two-way charging, or by extending the definition of peak time.
- People living close to the boundaries may have parking restrictions outside their houses to stop people avoiding the charge. Those living by the interchanges, such as East Didsbury, may also be adversely impacted.
The Questionable Benefits
The six benefits of the Congestion Charge as listed at http://www.wevoteyes.co.uk/benefits.aspx. I quote them here, in italics, with comments below, as they appeared on Sunday 9th November.
“You may not have to pay the congestion charge but you will benefit from the £3 billion investment that it will deliver for Greater Manchester.”
One. There will be new and better bus routes right across Greater Manchester.
Two. There will be new and extended Metrolink routes to the airport and town centres across the city.
Three. There will be more seats on trains and better, safer stations and platforms.
Four. There will be integrated, electronic ticketing allowing you to travel affordably and easily, anywhere in Greater Manchester.
Five. There will be more cycling provision, yellow school buses, park and ride schemes and if you do drive, it’ll be a faster and quicker journey to work.
Six. Our air quality will improve and we’ll see a cut in our greenhouse gas emissions.”
It is not £3bn of investment. See my earlier posting as to why this is the case.
One. Maintaining those bus routes will depend on the viability of those routes. If there is not the forecast number of passengers then they will be withdrawn. The Tif Manchester proposals both over estimate peak time commuters and over-estimate the long-term impact of the congestion charge. As the bus is usually the slowest form of transport, then it will suffer most from these error estimations.
Two. The extensions to the metrolink is the major plank of the investment. There is a strong political reasons why I believe that this work will not be cancelled if the public votes no on December 10th. That, is statements made recently by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Prime Minister that they are attempting to spend their way out of recession. I do not believe that the government will cancel a major investment program with some known direct benefit for the economy, and then rush to make expenditure elsewhere. I think it would do long term damage the Labour party’s standing in one of their major heartlands. In the absence of a clear statement to contrary, it is safe to assume that this investment will not be cancelled, or even delayed.
Three. There is already investment in stations and in trains, as usage of the railways has been increasing. Unless the government categorically states that they will block any more investment if the bid is turned down, then we can assume it is not dependent on the bid.
Four. Why cannot they introduce this independently of the bid?
Five. The number of yellow school buses under the bid is fairly small. However, the leader of Stockport Council, Councillor Dave Goddard, has contested this number. For drivers, the benefits of traffic speeds will depend on how many other drivers abandon their cars for public transport. This is likely to be less than predicted, as blogged here. It will also depend on the reductions in road space for new bus lanes, (such as on Kingsway?), or the slowing down of traffic, (such as on the Mancunian Way), or the blocking of road at entry points to the charge zone (e.g. the North Side of Wilbraham Road?).
Six. The environmental benefits are likely to be small. The Tif Paper estimates this at £44m per year, but, this may be extremely optimistic and is unsubstantiated. The worst pollution blackspots may not be much improved until we abandon the dirtiest buses.
Further to point two about the political reasons, please see the on Prime Minister’s response to a question by John Leech MP, as reported on Crain’s Manchester Business. Seems that there is a get-out clause, so a no vote will not mean “absolutely no new Metrolink”