On the Campaign for Better Transport

OK,  so toll road may or may not be of value.

So, how do we try and work out whether it is of value?

In the spring of 2006 it attracted just under 60,000 drivers a day. By the start of this year, the figure had fallen to just over 40,000, marginally more than when the toll opened.

Those who are willing to pay can enjoy a far quicker journey during the rush hour, especially when travelling southbound when using the relief road takes around 40 minutes – about half the time needed on the M6.

But at other times the time saving is marginal – in many cases little more than five minutes. This, the Campaign says, means the toll is poor value for the motorists.

Well, we could use whatever measure the Campaign for Better Transport is using, this is true. They don\’t think that saving between 40 and 5 minutes is worth £5. Fine, that\’s their view.

However, we don\’t actually run the country on the valuations of the Campaign for Better Transport. We try, as hard as we can, to run the country on the valuations of us, the hoi polloi, the citizenry.

And it would appear that 40,000 people a day do think that a saving of 40 minutes to 5 minutes is worth £5. Which means that whatever the Campaign for Better Transport think, it is worth it, it is of value, to those 40,000 people.

That, of course, is not the full picture. For now we have to try and find out whether the provision of the infrastucture is worth the value that it provides to those 40,000 people. What\’s the cost to put against that £200,000 a day of value?

No, I\’ve no idea what the toll road cost to build. But we have one thing we can look at:

Macquarie who built the toll described it as one of the jewels in the crown.

That would at least indicate that the people who built and run it are making a profit: that the income they get from selling what people are happy to pay for is higher than the cost of providing what people are happy to pay for.

We thus have added value.

The people using the road are gaining more value, which we can measure by their willingness to pay for it, than it cost to provide what those users are valuing.

So, the toll road is \”worth it\”, whatever the Campaign for Better Transport say about it.

For, you see, value is not what is defined by the Campaign for Better Transport. Value is, instead, what we ourselves decide is valuable, we peasantry as we spend our hard earned spondoolies.

So the rail unions, who part fund the Campaign for Better Transport, can fuck off quite frankly.

18 comments on “On the Campaign for Better Transport

  1. Sorry, being an idiot, I forgot to read the full results and focussed on the headline figure. I thus made exactly the same mistake as the CBT.

    The losses were entirely due to interest paid to the parent on lent capital. In other words, the Macquarie Group as a whole made about £34mn in profit from the M6.

  2. ….It suggests over-pricing of the road to me….

    Would a more flexible pricing system not be far more sensible.

    Save 40 minutes for say £10, save 5 Minutes for a pound.

  3. I use it twice a month, not as an alternative to the non-tolled M6 route but as an alternative to the traffic and junction ridden A5, when I visit my mother in the Midlands.

    It’s a only short part of my journey to and from Cumbria and I wish it were a complete alternative to the whole M6 journey.

    The time-saving is not the essence but the stress-free, light-traffic, good surface experience it provides.

  4. Yet spending billions of public money to provide a high-speed link between London and Birmingham that saves 33 minutes is just fine. Despite the fact that there’s little evidence of much demand for such a service.

  5. This is not one of those toll-roads that saves you
    a lot in petrol money so the toll is just a private tax levied without any regard for the ability to pay -and highly regressive. A working geezer working at the far end of the road and living this end would cop 10 quid a day in tolls.The road is probably making its money off long-distance travellers making more leisurely trips.
    @TA
    Beats me and all.Why another high speed link to Birmingham? From London? A High Speed rail link between the Channel Tunnel and Cambridge (with London on a loop ) would do more to restore the dispersal of productive capital that happened during the Industrial Revolution.

  6. Motoring taxes realize far more than the money spent on the upkeep of roads each year, so road tolls are simply an extra level of regressive taxation on top. There is an argument about externalities of course that the Greens like to make. If the system were truly a free market, and not an extortion racket enforced by uniformed thugs with ANPR cameras at the side of the road I’d wager the market value would be much less.

  7. “But at other times the time saving is marginal – in many cases little more than five minutes. ”

    But you can’t tell what those other times are.
    Prior to the toll road, you could be stuck on the M6 where the M5 merges for an hour or more. It was ghastly and the jams were – to the infrequent user – completely unpredictable.

    I don’t care that the ordinary M6 might be free-running: I pay £5 to avoid even the risk that it might not be.

  8. @NR
    It was designed as a private tax.The reason they are not making much money is because people can evade it.As the bloke from the RAC
    said on the telly just now: Toll roads do better in France because there are n’t the alternatives.Yes mate ,toll roads only make money when they have a natural monopoly,what to do with
    natural monopolies being the big political
    divide.

  9. GeoffH and the P-G are spot on; it is a pleasure to use and much of the pleasure comes from painful memories of using the alternatives in the area…

    @DBC: So as it isn’t a monopoly and there are alternatives, it isn’t a tax, then?

  10. @DBC Reed
    I don’t understand.
    “Toll roads only make money when they have a natural monopoly”
    but, erm, the M6(Toll) operating company / parent co. make £30m+ per year in profit from it. It’s certainly not a monopoly – apart from the local roads and A-roads, there’s an alternative motorway (the M6…). . .

    AVI

  11. It was intended to have a monopoly remit: there was not a nearby competing toll road to give the mythic “choice”.
    Some things form natural monopolies: a railroad ,as Henry George observed ,is not going to build a parallel line right next to an existing one; only right-wing hobbits want competing private fire brigades funded by fees or insurance;the same with bin collections and competing water supply companies which logically should have different pipes installed down the street and should give you a choice of taps.
    It was once generally understood by most people who could be bothered to look into it that most natural monoplies would be better in public control but the rise of hobbitry with its yearning for unadopted roads (sans drainage lighting and road surface) ,half a million pound Freedom houses with cess pits etc has led to an impoverishment of political debate in this country.
    As new infrastucture adds to house and land prices ,this can be paid for by Land Value Tax (vote Burnham).If the new infrastructure detracts from residential land values then the tax goes down.(Not actually a tax :people are being asked to re-pay the unearned capital gains in property values they have been gifted by unscrupulous politicians who have created a constituency in the overmortgaged masses.)

  12. DBC Reed – but there’s an alternative route paid for by taxes. Consequently there’s choice. So it’s not a monopoly.

  13. @Tracey
    My point is he RAC man’s: toll roads work best
    when they monopolise the route. This road is not
    taking the traffic off alternative routes: it may be making money,but measured in traffic it isn’t a success.

  14. DBC Reeds – why would we want to measure success in terms of traffic?
    If it’s making money for the owners, it’s not a monopoly and the people who use it value it more than the money they pay, it’s a success. Perhaps we should build more toll roads.

  15. The M6 Toll is profitable only when you disregard the cost of building the road in the first place and the interest on that money.
    Maquarie are betting on tighter supply of roads in the future (ie no public roadbuilding and increasing traffic) and seemingly they are greasing the right wheels to speed along that process.
    The M6 through Birmingham has seen almost continuous roadworks since the M6Toll was opened, and the other parallel routes (A5, A38, A446) have been sabotaged with pointless roundabouts, speed limit cuts and other tricks to make them less attractive routes.
    People in the area smell a rat.

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