For those of us interested enough the age old rite of paying tax on the use of cars on roads seemed a reasonable way of generating cash to pay for bridges, roads and tunnels etc. Maybe dubious investment in motorway service stations, which have a classification unique to the UK but we cannot win them all.
The real problem arises if we completed an audit on the income and expenditure. It’s a huge chunk of cash from road tax, MOT and fuel tax. The big five auditing chaps avoid this review like the plague because it would prove to us that the good slice of income from road tax goes nowhere near the roads. Ouch.
The weird, but seemed a good idea at the time, PFI deals held centre stage on roads. You have seen the signs; “Managed by XXXX on behalf of the Department for Transport”. Thus there is no single body to blame and everyone can point the finger at someone else. It’s also happening with the rail franchises. These guys are generally making fortune and investing nowt. We have national fleet of buggered trains- a lot as old as the hills. And now we have smart motorways, a bit of euphemism as some of these decisions are far from smart.
We have have watched billions being spent on overhead gantries telling of events that happened yesterday. As no one updated the gantry, they inducing a high degree of disbelief as to the relevance of the warning. Now we have the extra carriageway formed from the hard shoulder that only the brave or aggressive tend to use. Police cannot pull anyone over, as to swerve into a emergency lay-by with a naughty chap in tow is a feat not worth contemplating. Drivers failing to reach a safety lay-by in their vehicles can leap out of the car in the knowledge there is a good chance of whacked up the rear from an unsuspecting vehicle that has just moved into the new lane from behind a truck. And the breakdown trucks that are previously instructed to park 50 yards behind a broken down vehicle with their wheels turned full lock to the left ( so a thump up the rear would cause the breakdown van to lurch off the carriageway) now find they have to squeeze into the emergency lay-by maybe in front of the casualty.
Transport agencies now say most people tend to avoid the new half shoulder lane totally defeating its function. Thus after six months of 50 mph restrictions whilst they build the new carriageways and erecting gantries we are seeing a rethink. Maybe more safety lay-bys are needed along with another six month of 50 mph restrictions creating a jam that negate the whole purpose of the smart motorway to smooth traffic flow.