Latest responses from the panel on whether fleets would be willing to pay extra tax to guarantee improved traffic conditions showed few supported the idea.
But it is the reasons for the lack of support that should worry the Government most – many members simply said they no longer trusted ministers to do what they promised. While many would like to see extra money invested in the roads to clear the growing log-jam drivers face every day, they fear extra taxes would be hived off into more 'needy' departments that were equally hungry for cash.
Even the promise of funds being 'ring-fenced' so they could only be spent on transport-related issues have failed to win over the fleet decision-makers in the panel. Overall, 62% said they would be unwilling to pay more taxes, despite the guarantee and for many fleets, it is already too late.
Courier companies that are part of the panel warn that they are already being hit financially by growing congestion, particularly in London, and they do not see any measures improving the situation in the short-term.
Other fleet decision-makers say it is time to rethink how the road network is used, potentially with operating rail services along hard shoulders running into cities, because the current lines are so congested. Overall, fleet decision-makers suggest they are tired of seeing their running costs rocket because of a lack of investment in the roads. Being asked to pay more to resolve the problem would be the last straw.
With Transport Minister John Spellar calling for fleet decision-makers to play a more active role in the transport debate, perhaps Ministers will hear the concerns of fleet decision-makers and decide to act. But then again…
'Our delivery drivers now carry out half the number of deliveries in London than they did 10 years ago. They say congestion is caused mainly by road construction, including unnecessary bus lanes cycle tracks and reservations in front of traffic at lights, many more traffic lights and no police to supervise the increasingly bad behaviour of road users.'
R.G, fleet manager
'I would be prepared to pay more taxes if the Chancellor of the Exchequer could provide a better public transport infrastructure which would enable people to leave cars at home.'
Phillippa Caine, company secretary, Corgi
'Yes, but only if conditions were improved by additional investment rather than trying to reduce traffic volume by increasing taxes and duties or introducing road tolls.'
S.P, Details supplied
'The current transport system is creaking at the seams and something must be done to stop it collapsing altogether. If all the money raised from taxation of vehicles was reinvested in sorting out roads/rail/public transport, we could eventually get the proper integrated transport system this country deserves.'
Alan Miles, administration & data protection manager, RNIB
'This largely depends upon how much extra tax and how much benefit and perhaps more importantly, even if they guarantee improvements, could or would they keep the guarantee? Since the hard shoulder is used very little, why not build a 'high-speed' tramway along the hard shoulder?'
Douglas Powell, fleet executive, Ventiv Health
'I would pay more in the same way I would pay more tax to guarantee better public sector pay and services. I feel the motorist gets a raw deal. Some of the tax revenue from motorists should go to the NHS and emergency services but a larger proportion should go back into the roads and public transport.'
Ian Smith, group accountant, CPiO
'I have no confidence in the Government's approach to the problem. When they show signs of a seasoned strategy rather than knee-jerk schemes maybe I will think differently.'
A.P.M, Fleet manager
'Undertakings to ring-fence funds will only result in existing funding moving elsewhere, while promises to improve Government's performance will be conveniently forgotten when the next so-called 'initiative' is announced. We must press first for existing motoring taxes to be effectively utilised.'
Reg Dixon, Niftylift
'Successive governments have penalised motorists and companies for too many years while putting little back in terms of investment in the roads. Once they show they are committed to providing a real and usable system, then I will consider paying more tax.'
Barclay S. Wales, managing director, Somerville
'No. We pay enough taxes already and I don't see where it goes – certainly not on relieving traffic conditions. I cannot see how any Government could or would guarantee to use the money on traffic, roads, etc.'
Audrey Milne, group fleet manager, Bayer
'No – enough is enough. The tax 'take' from corporate fleets and the private motorist is already excessive and vastly exceeds the amount spent on the transport infrastructure. When added to the money raised from company car drivers in the form of benefit-in-kind taxation and the proposed additional National Insurance charge to be introduced next year, I think one can say the motorist is already making a more than fair contribution to the coffers.'
David Mullins, administration manager, Slough Estates
'Large amounts of tax-payers' money is being spent in non-productive areas. For example, how much is spent by various departments in legal fees and compensation claims? Poor and incompetent administration must be costing the country billions. I would not trust any Government to use additional 'motor' taxation to improve road congestion.'
Richard Warner, company secretary, Seco Tools (UK)
'I do not believe paying more tax will ever improve our road system, no matter what the Government guarantees.'
Joanne Hanafan, fleet manager, King UK
'On a commercial and personal basis, the cost of transport delays has become unacceptable. Many journey times have now doubled or trebled, meaning delivery/collection timetables are just shot to pieces.'
F.M, fleet manager
'Any meaningful changes will take years of investment not only of money, but firm commitment of purpose and transport policies for all forms of transport.'
Paul Adey, Supanet
'We already pay far too much for what is at best an antiquated road system. If successive Governments spent the vehicle excise duty on roads, we would have the best roads in Europe instead of some of the worst. I am sick of incurring costs that are directly related to the appalling conditions of some of our roads while being asked to pay more for the privilege. The truth is no government is prepared to invest honestly in our transportation systems while the motorist is such as easy taxation target.'
John Clarke, Fleet Services South, Telewest Broadband