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Project BRUCE/future of road tolling discussion



  • Registered Users Posts: 573 ✭✭✭ Aontachtoir

    I presume this is tongue-in-cheek, but you don’t have to call out anything, especially not common and universally-understood terms which are in widespread use.

    Besides, it is very reasonable to view it as a tax on accessing the road in a motor vehicle rather than as a tax on a vehicle’s motor. If I own a field packed full of cars that never leave my private property and are not used on public roads, I do not have to pay tax on any of their motors.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,557 ✭✭✭ hans aus dtschl

    The trouble is, when people scream "ROAD TAX" as a justification for trying to run you off the road, it becomes something of a sensitive point (particularly when you do pay motor tax and lots of other tax). This is what makes me knee-jerk respond to any mention of "road tax" in the predictable unhelpful way!

    On the "per-km" charge, I agree with your mindset but I'm not sure whether what you're suggesting (per-km) will work. There's a few problems I can think of:

    1. We want the tax to shape good behaviour, not just increase state funds. To that end some people simply need the vehicle more than others. Blue badge holders are obvious, but actually women do lots more "socially responsible" type trips, like dropping elderly relatives places, dropping kids places. So per-km charges sort of disproportionally affect women doing what might be "socially responsible" driving while benefitting businessmen doing a lazy work-and-back commutes. I've no idea how to resolve that issue at all. How do we tax lazy entitled people more efficiently?
    2. Some people have very limited alternative transport options, particularly in the countryside. No amount of carrot or stick can give them alternatives to clocking up the km's day-to-day. At least in this instance, you could possibly make the "per-km" something of a "postcode" type tax with urban dwellers paying higher per-km charges. But what about urban dwellers who are working in countryside, for instance providing services or teaching in schools etc?

    The only really fair way I can think of is the likes of congestion charges, where you get charged upon entry to or transit through an urban area with good public transport and P&R.

    And maybe also a rule like the Japanese have, where you must declare exactly where you intend to park your car? This would go a long way to decluttering streets at the same time as creating a database of "where cars originate" and targeting those areas for improved sustainable transport. The census does this a bit already, and you can see for instance that in Cork, on one side of the Blackrock greenway lots of people walk and cycle to work/school, whereas on the other side almost nobody walks/cycles. It's already clear that one side needs more targeted schemes to get people out of cars.

  • Registered Users Posts: 23,826 ✭✭✭✭ AndrewJRenko

    If the tax is going to relate to the wear and tear caused by the vehicle, it needs to be multiplied by the fourth power of the weight of the vehicle. This is from the US, with imperial measures, but you'll grasp the relativities arising.

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 44,492 CMod ✭✭✭✭ magicbastarder

    depends on what the intent of the tax is. if you want it to discourage people buying land yachts, you don't have to use the fourth power relationship.

    i'd love to have this conversation with my father in law, while also avoiding it like the plague. his (ICE) car has a stated kerb weight of between 2.2 and 2.4 tons. it's a minimum of 800kg heavier than mine; it'd be like getting 8 to 10 fully grown adults sitting on the roof of my car to get my car to weigh the same.

  • Registered Users Posts: 573 ✭✭✭ Aontachtoir

    Sure, we can use it to shape good behaviour, but what is good behaviour? It is entirely unclear to me why someone driving to the place they work to support their family and pay their taxes is automatically less socially responsible than someone driving their kids to school or nipping down to the supermarket for a litre of milk. The school run in particular is a crime and should be clamped down on at least as hard as commuting.

    We don’t give people with limited transport options discounts on their fuel excise, so why would we give them discounts on its replacement? If you wanted, I suppose you could give someone a scaling number of tax-free kilometres every year based on the number of dependents, rural location, etc. Congestion charges are fine too and probably the easiest to implement, as long as we admit that these will punish people who do not have access to good public transport.

    Overall though, any change which makes it harder or more expensive to drive will most heavily punish the people who are most reliant on cars today. The people pushing for these policies are responsible for this, and must own the negative impacts as well as the positives.

    Lastly, and probably most importantly, that hole in the exchequer still needs to be filled.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,557 ✭✭✭ hans aus dtschl

    I don't disagree. You're only making my point more clearly I think! It's difficult to define good behaviour as far as transport is concerned once emissions and congestion are taken off the table. Right now "less emissions" is good behaviour. And obviously "not killing and injuring vulnerable road users" is a given. But per-km charges doesn't really get at enforcing good behaviour. It's just a blanket penalty. And maybe that's actually OK if you just need to fill government pockets.

    For what it's worth and to answer your question directly, the reason someone driving to their place of work is less socially responsible than someone driving their children to school is because single-occupancy multi-seat vehicles are a poor use of constrained resources (fuel, wear on the road, space on the road, storage space, etc). Again, in a sparsely populated area that's not a big deal but in an urban area it's wasteful and we know that we should aspire to better. Of course it would also be great to get the school runs out of cars, and the short distance school runs particularly, but it happens that they're marginally less wasteful than single-occupancy cars doing short distance commutes, and their end purpose (education of schoolchildren) CAN be more socially responsible than some jobs. I work for large wealthy corporations, for instance, and I would say someone bringing their kids to school by car is probably more socially responsible than me driving myself to work over the same distance.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,557 ✭✭✭ hans aus dtschl

    Yes and that's what I'm getting at with my "socially responsible behaviour" spiel. The ideal would be that people only use what they need, but right now as far as transport is concerned we kind of fetishise or encourage wasteful behaviour: vehicles that weigh more, burn more fuel, take up more space etc.

    Maybe we should tax by vehicle size and weight and their measured occupancy rates in future?

  • Registered Users Posts: 805 ✭✭✭ KrisW1001

    Size and weight is sufficient, I think, if you’re just replacing the flat annual motor tax, but weight tends to follow footprint fairly closely, so I’d say weight alone would be just as useful.

    The idea of “socially responsible” trips is something that is really difficult to determine, but my gut feeling is that these journeys would tend to be a lot shorter than typical commutes, and more importantly they would tend to happen outside of peak hours. I don’t believe they’d matter much to congestion relief, which is the main objective of Road User Charging.

    But if congestion reduction is the goal, we do need to talk about school runs. You only have to drive any morning when schools are off to see the huge impact school-drops have on city traffic levels. Whatever about primary-school kids, I find it hard to believe that secondary-school children couldn’t manage to use a bus if one were provided.. especially in cities.

    (Occupancy discounts would also encourage parents to drop their kids to school by car, as this would make their own journey into the city centre seem cheaper; As an extreme example, I know of a situation in another country where occupancy discounts encouraged a husband and wife who were going to different locations in a city take one kid in each car in order to save tolls on a stretch of road between their homes and the city centre)

    As I said above, I don’t like the idea of per-kilometre charging on the general road network, and I do thing any forthcoming charging proposal will be on motorway-style roads (The proposal that I heard of a couple of years ago was to bring in per km charges on the whole length of M50). Limiting it to congested motorways would also remove the problem of penalising rural dwellers who require a car to get around.

    Also, I would oppose the idea of needing a car parking space to own a car, as this penalises people who live in urban areas and must rely on on-street parking (or people in apartments who have only communal parking spaces). And besides, urban dwellers are not the primary cause of urban traffic, which mostly originates in suburbs and exurbs.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,557 ✭✭✭ hans aus dtschl

    Agreed with all your points except the last paragraph: why should we accept on-street parking for the semi-permanent storage of people's private property? It's not guaranteed/reliable, which can result in all sorts of bad behaviour (parking on footpaths, double yellows etc). We could maybe mandate that such homeowners have a permit, which the local authority issues on a per-person (and costed!) basis, and prevents the over-saturation of residential on-street parking in any given area. Similar with apartment complexes: if 50 apartment owners own a car, and there are only 20 communal spaces, it's surely causing negative effects somewhere else nearby? I might be missing a trick here, but it seems to me that if you can't tell me where your car will be stored at night, that you're perhaps getting more than your fair share of the public realm?

    The extreme example that comes to mind is the time one of my neighbours were keeping a horse in their transit van, parked a short way away from their house, and directly beside someone else's house!

  • Registered Users Posts: 805 ✭✭✭ KrisW1001

    I lived in a city centre for nine years and almost never had to resort to parking illegally. Parking problems happened during the day when people came in to town...

    Really, the answer is for more residents-only parking provision in cities. If you want people to live in cities, you need to allow them to have the same right to property as they would have elsewhere Most people living in cities won't actually need a car, but for those who do, there needs to be a place for them. And if you walk through the residential parts of the “model cities” like Amsterdam, you see lots of cars parked up.

    I have been in this situation myself: I lived in the city centre, but my job meant I had to travel to a rural location regularly. What should I do? Move out of my home just because someone says “cars shouldn’t be in cities”? Most of the time I worked at home, so contributing nothing to traffic, except for those trips that I had to take every week, for which no viable public-transport alternative existed.

    It was fine, and as I said, I never needed to park illegally; but one day, the city council decided to put your idea into practice and refused to renew my resident parking permit because I lived in an apartment (specifically an apartment: had I lived in a terraced house I could have continued to park on-street), which left me with a livelihood that needed a car, a car that I couldn’t legally park anymore, nowhere else to live at short notice, and an eight month fight to get things sorted out. (Now I think of it, they still didn’t refund about €200 of clamping fees though...)

    The mistake was to plan apartments with inadequate parking provision, or not enforce the planning (In the case of my home at this time, the developers claimed in the planning that there was one space per two units, communally used; then they sold the spaces exclusively with certain apartments...)

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  • Registered Users Posts: 5,696 ✭✭✭ Pete_Cavan

    If an additional tax/charge encouraged people to drive through villages instead of using the motorway, surely that would already be happening as you will have to pay for more fuel (and duty on same) if flying down the motorway. In reality, most people are willing to pay for the convenience and time saving of a motorway.

    Toll booths are a bit different in that many people resent handing over additional money, particularly when they feel they have already paid through the multiple other charges/taxes. If a new motorway charge was invisible, with cameras at junctions reading number plates for example, I think people would quickly get over the initial outrage and would quickly be using the motorway without considering the charge. It would quickly fade into a normal part of life, particularly if everyone is driving EVs and therefore not regularly paying for fuel which is heavily taxed.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,792 ✭✭✭ plodder

    I would be interested in the possibility of a per-km charge for all roads in the state. As in, at the NCT (or another inspection for this purpose) your mileage would be checked and your road tax would then be based on the number of km driven since the last check. The driver would be able to decide how often they want inspections if they don’t get annual NCTs. I wonder if that could be made work.

    It’s going to be interesting to see what replaces fuel excise, which as noted above was in many ways a pretty good usage-based tax for road users.

    Interesting idea. The only feasible (like for like) replacement for fuel excise has to be based on distance travelled. If car odometers were really tamper-proof, this would be a great solution, but the temptation to fake it would be enormous. Maybe if other countries decided to go the same way, the car industry could come up with some solution?

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,978 ✭✭✭ Stovepipe

    The fact that the tolling point is located way up on the Northern side of the M50 is the fault of the tolling company, so a huge numbers of users don't pay anything on it.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,978 ✭✭✭ Stovepipe

    European car buyers pay considerably less money for new cars than we do and get a better specification. They also have the option to import cars from anywhere in the EU that we don't. They also have a bouyant second hand market and ours has been trashed!

  • Registered Users Posts: 805 ✭✭✭ KrisW1001

    It’s not the fault of the tolling company - the toll was originally, and is still, for the use of the very expensive twin bridges over the River Liffey just here (You can get a good idea of just how big that viaduct is here: Google Maps). It was officially called the West-Link Toll-bridge, as a counterpart to the “East Link” tolled crossing of the Liffey at Ringsend.

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 44,492 CMod ✭✭✭✭ magicbastarder

    it's the bridge that is tolled, the crossing point between what is normally considered to divide the southside from the northside. i wouldn't say it's located 'way up on the northern side' by any meaningful definition.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,916 ✭✭✭ screamer

    We already get shafted in Ireland for everything car related from cost to purchase to fuel and car tax. We also have some of the worst public transport systems, which even if they exist in a lot of rural cases are not fit for purpose, running at odd times. It simply seems that life in Ireland is just becoming more of a drudge, tax the working person out of it, and I can see people just stop trying in short. Even company cars are now so expensive in bik they are being handed back in droves. I don’t know what the long term plans for this are, as if it’s to push everyone to live like rats in high rise urban apartments they better get building them.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,978 ✭✭✭ Stovepipe

    The tolling point is between Jn 6 and 7, North of the bridges so ten junctions, including the biggest at the Red Cow are untolled and the majority of them are on the South side. So thousands of vehicles every day use the M50 and pay nothing. How is that efficient? I hate tolls as I regard them as yet another tax but I'll bet the operators would have point to point tolling if they thought they could put it in tomorrow.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,142 ✭✭✭ JohnC.

    The toll is for the bridge, not the motorway. How many people use the rest of the motorway is irrelevant to this specific toll.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,978 ✭✭✭ Stovepipe

    I know about the bridge BUT it is already proposed that the M50 and other motorways be tolled per section and the bridge will become irrelevant as a tolling point.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,142 ✭✭✭ JohnC.

    So stop conflating something that currently exists with something different for a different purpose and implemented differently that may exist at some point in the future.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,696 ✭✭✭ Pete_Cavan

    This thread is literally about that something different for a different purpose and implemented differently that may exist at some point in the future (i.e. Project BRUCE). How many people use the rest of the M50 is entirely relevant as the goal is to get them to pay. The existing M50 toll is largely irrelavant except as a potential toll point (one of multiple) and it is a proof of concept of ANPR camera tolling.