Mike Waters' blog: 30 March 2010 - Unpopular payment plan
30 March 2010
Mike Waters is senior insight & consultancy manager at Arval, the leading vehicle leasing and fleet management company.
Nowadays, paying for goods in instalments is standard practise for consumers with larger purchases like cars providing a prime example. There is also a growing trend in pay-as-you go purchasing as it not only allows people to spread the cost but often reduces waste as you only pay for the goods and services that you actually use.
This mechanism has been around for ages with mobile phones, satellite TV and music and it seems that the automotive industry is also catching on. Vehicles themselves can be hired in this way through the car clubs that are popping up in major UK cities and there are a new range of on-demand products coming through.
One of which is a pay-as-you-go satellite navigation system that means users only pay for sat-nav directions and traffic information when they need it. A good idea and one that could come in handy for drivers but while advances like this do seem to provide value, the same can not be said for the biggest pay-and-go initiative on the horizon. road pricing.
Already widespread in other countries, it appears to be an avenue that the government is keen to go down and with congestion remaining a major issue pressure is mounting. But it's not cut and dried as despite this clear position, resistance is strong.
Ten authorities had investigated the introduction of congestion charging in return for a government grant. However, on review, and under pressure from residents, pretty much all of the schemes have fallen by the wayside. There is a balance to be struck as these schemes generate significant funds to improve the local transport infrastructure but whilst there is no uniformity across the country, it's always going to be a tough sell for locals.
However, while battles have been lost for advocates of road charging they are still committed to the cause and alternative schemes, like workplace parking levy's are still very much alive. Nottingham has already signed up, much to the dismay of many local residents and businesses, and it looks unlikely that drivers will be able to dodge this kind of charging for too much longer.
If and when it happens and in whatever form it takes, I just hope that the government can come up with a fair and consistent system so that when a driver is travelling across the UK there is some level of uniformity. Without this, any towns or cities that go out on their own and implement a scheme are going to come in for a lot of criticism from drivers, residents and business alike.
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