Fleet News

The big fleet issue

THIS week we asked our Fleet Panel whether congestion charging would have a positive impact on traffic conditions for drivers of company cars and vans in urban areas.

Our group of fleet decision-makers responded with a resounding 'no' by almost two to one, but some of the answers show it is not a clear-cut situation.

Among the 35% of respondents who said yes, congestion charging would deliver better traffic conditions, some included reservations over the condition of alternatives such as public transport, so employees could avoid charging.

Many fleet executives say there is still much to be done before the public transport network can be relied upon to provide a truly feasible alternative.

And others believe companies that need to carry out their business within charging areas will get on with it - the costs to individual drivers will be borne by their respective employers and passed on to customers.

Others believe that the charges will just be viewed as another tax on the motorist, and that local authorities will not have the political will or courage to raise charges to a level where it would have a real impact on the volume of traffic using the roads.

##Yes--left## ##No--right##

'Will congestion charging improve traffic conditions for essential journeys by company car and van drivers in urban areas?'

'NO - Any charge will be viewed by all as just another revenue-raising scheme and will simply be accepted and paid. Tolls would have to be so expensive in order to have any marked effect. This, of course, would be considered discriminatory, too risky and likely to damage the popularity of the prevailing government.
Chris Fitzpatrick, area fleet co-ordinator, Telewest Broadband

'Yes, the people who do not need to use their cars, and are non-company car/van drivers will attempt to find a cheaper way of getting to work by buying a motorcycle or car sharing or by putting up with public transport.'
John Rae, senior project manager, Securitas Micro-Route

'No, in isolation this will just increase costs to the already heavily taxed motorist/ companies involved.
There needs to be a much more extensive investigation into why our roads are so badly congested. Investment into public transport which works, is reliable and attractive to the public is required, as is better forward planning by local authorities and Government agencies, into road improvements.'
Andy Jacobs, Astleys

'Yes. But only marginally. Most people will still drive into chargeable areas if they really want to rather than need to.'
S.P. Name and address supplied

'Probably. Charging may help reduce overall congestion, but people still need to address what is and isn't an essential urban journey.
If the road journey is prima facie the easy option then even if on an essential trip, is it really an essential road journey?
Another factor to consider is that establishments having to pay such charges will ultimately pass this on to the end user - you and I, so the end user will ultimately pay for this and not the companies who are undertaking the journeys.'
Ian Smith, group accountant, CpiO

'If it is handled in a similar way to the way in which Singapore operates then yes, it will improve traffic conditions.'
Phillipa Caine, company secretary, CORGI

'On balance, I would say yes, but, with reservations. If public transport is improved, it may, in some cases, become more viable for certain categories of people to travel by bus or train thus freeing up more road space. In respect of companies, however, if your business needs to 'transact' in congestion-charged areas, then you have to grin and bear it which ultimately will result in higher prices or companies moving to motorway corridors where no extra charges apply.'
Chris Ward, Channel Express

'No, I think it will be worse because company car drivers will not want to pay the congestion charge, so will not drive into the city.'
Jacqui Pugh, Macmillan

'It will make no discernible difference. Businesses have to absorb the cost. The wealthy will pay and grumble. Day-trippers will accept the charge as part of the cost of their day out. It will be seen merely as a revenue-raising exercise with little environmental credibility. Where are the alternative transport initiatives?'
David Mullins, administration manager, Slough Estates

'No. They will put it on the charge to the company they are delivering to I suspect or the cost of the product if it is a salesman.'
Diane Miller, fleet manager, Milgo Solutions

'No, the answer is to design the roads more logically and allow the traffic to flow freely. Congestion charging is just another tax and will not work.'
D.M. Name and address supplied

'No. Company car/van drivers will simply pass it on to their employers and be reimbursed. As your question said essential journeys, I do not see how these can be discouraged without a very large and prohibitively expensive toll. I suspect £5 will not be enough.'
Glyn Davies, finance director, Staedtler

'In my opinion no. If your journey is essential then you will be prepared to pay the congestion charge or if you are a service provider, it will eventually be passed on to the consumer or customer at the end of the line.'
Nick Welch, Pinnacle

'Business has to be served and reps need to carry samples, etc, to show their clients, the cost will be passed onto the customer on the prices of the goods. Someone has to pay for this unnecessary tax.'
P.T. Name and address supplied

'No - the cost of goods will increase instead! We plan to put deliveries on to carrier and let the carriers bear the cost, but it will come back to us, and we will therefore increase our costs. Our reps will still have to make the same journeys, so we will absorb the price increase and in turn our costs will increase.'
Sarah Messingham, fleet manager, J A Magson

Marginally 'yes', but of course it's primarily a tax-gathering measure.
Reg Dixon, Nifty Lift

  • Some 57 executives voted in this week's issue. If you would like to join the Fleet Panel, all you have to do is e-mail: jonathan.manning@emap.com
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