Traffic management – a disastrous policy?
For example, government expenditure on rail over the last decade amounts to c. £50 billion, equivalent to £2,000 for every household in the land. Yet nearly half of us use a train less than once a year and those from the top quintile of household income travel four times as far by rail as do those from either of the bottom two quintiles.
Simultaneously, road capacity has been reduced by a series of minor adjustments at junctions such as:
- Setting stop lines back from the opposing curb line by several car lengths.
- Lengthening the all-red times at traffic lights.
- Channelisation schemes that ensure the busiest turning movement may be congested whilst the lanes reserved for other movements are empty.
- Banned turns and one way systems that force long diversions on the motorist.
These measures were driven partly by the desire to reduce road accidents, partly to assist pedestrians at all costs and partly on the mistaken idea that if motorists are delayed they may well go by bus. However, the costs have been very large. Here are the numbers based on the DfT’s values for time:
- A one minute delay to one thousand vehicles per day costs £83,700 per year. Two minutes added to all vehicle trips would cost £12 billion annually.
- Adding 1 km to 1,000 journeys per day (e.g. by banning turns), where the speed is 40 kph (25 mph), costs £189,000 per year. Adding 1 km at 40 kph to all vehicle trips would cost £13.5 billion annually.
The economic cost to the nation is vast. Detailed calculations are available here (and pictures).