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Lane rentals for utility companies

August 23, 2011

Long overdue

Ever found yourself fuming in traffic while a water company digs up the road?  If we want modern services, we have to put up with inconvenience when things need repairing, but there must be a way to minimise it.

There is.  Make the utility company pay.  Make them pay by the hour, more for busier roads, more during rush hour, and if they can get it done in the middle of the night, little or nothing.   It’s a brilliant idea, long overdue.   The government thinks so too, and is consulting on it right now http://www.dft.gov.uk/consultations/dft-2011-25.

iGreens have long supported road charging for drivers, to discourage unnecessary journeys and reduce pollution and congestion http://www.igreens.org.uk/privatisation_and_toll_road_stuf.htm.  This is a natural extension.  It will encourage utility companies to do the work quickly, get it done at off-peak times and cooperate with each other to share the costs.  The rest of us can only benefit.

Some of the costs will probably be passed on to utility customers, but not all because there is competition among utilities.  Much of the money raised will go straight to government so voters must insist on concomitant reductions in government taxes elsewhere.

In an ideal world roads would be private, some like the M6 toll motorway already are, and the owners would adjust the lane rentals to take account of the lost income from drivers. Government would simply set the rules and let the market sort out the best price. Until that happy day this is a good first step.

Jim Thornton 23 August 2011

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