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Manchester congestion charge: Critique of the GMPTE document and proposal

In December 2008, the people of Greater Manchester decide whether they agree with the proposals or not. Since writing an article that originally appeared on this page, I have thought long and hard about whether I should vote yes or no and I have decided to do a U-turn.

The first GMPTE leaflet was sent out to households throughout the Greater Manchester subregion during 2007. The proposal is also presented on a website.

www.gmfuturetransport.co.uk.

Does this proposal - and the document and website - make sense?

Given the stagnation in local public transport development over the past 50 years, these proposals look startling in their ambition.

They are nothing more than the public transport system that should already have been in operation for years.

In the previous version of this article, I gave my impressions of the Future Transport document and came to the conclusion that it was hastily put together and contained many flaws.

I criticised the charging method because it requires people to pay for crossing a boundary at certain times, on certain days and in certain directions

I believe a more sophisticated method of charging would be better, one that spreads the charge more evenly, and targets congestion hotspots across the conurbation.

It is the unfairness of the proposed charging method that I believe is the major flaw of the proposals. People are penalised arbitrarily depending on where they happen to be starting and finishing their journey.

However I have changed my mind, and decided that I am going to vote 'Yes'.

I believe it is better to secure the funding now and work to develop a more equitable form of charging later. I think that an opportunity for such an improvement in public transport will never come again in most peoples' lifetimes.

The congestion charge will, if approved, be in operation for many years in the future, and it could be developed and refined using future technology.

However, though I'm going to vote 'Yes', I believe that the outcome of the vote will be a majority 'No'.

It remains to be seen whether my pessimistic prediction will be borne out.

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