Letter: Transport crisis

Sir: You describe congestion charging as "a deeply flawed policy that hits the poor hardest" (leading article, 9 December) If this is right then Mr Prescott cannot escape the blame, for he has made use of the price mechanism (congestion charging plus taxation of workplace parking) the central feature of his transport policy. You call for "new thinking".

Experience in US cities has shown that in a car-owning democracy public support can be mustered for measures aimed at "solo drivers" driving in to big cities at peak hours. Such measures include action by employers in the allocation of parking space, and action by the authorities (will the London Mayor have the necessary powers?) by reserving lanes on multi- lane roads for high-occupancy vehicles (HOVs), either in peak hours or at all times. They should be combined with provision of major park-and- ride facilities like those in Boston.

Why has this approach been ignored over here? The only HOV lane so far in Britain is in Leeds, created as part of an EU-sponsored experiment, with cars carrying only two people permitted to use the lane (in Washington the minimum "car pool" is three people).

Enforcement of HOV rules is not impossible given sufficient police will - US police are wise to the attempted us of tailors' dummies.


Transport Planning Consultant

Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire