Letter to The Times: Fix potholes but don’t build new roads

It is excellent that The Times is highlighting the nation’s difficulties with transport as it is a neglected area of policy. Fundamental solutions are needed. Almost all transport planners think that there is only one way to rationalise our transport system: road pricing. It would of course have to include calibration to ensure that people pay more at peak times and that rural driving is cheaper than it is now, as it would replace fuel duty.

Second, there is widespread recognition of the futility of spending money to build more roads. A quarter of a century ago a report by an obscure transport committee (Sactra) led by Professor Phil Goodwin clearly proved that any new road capacity fills up quickly because it lures more people to drive. Hence governments cannot build themselves out of congestion. All that money on new and wider roads and grandiose rail projects such as HS2 would be better spent on more frequent bus services, urban tram schemes, improved cycle facilities and filling in potholes.

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