Letter: Half-truths from the anti-car lobby

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The Independent Online
Sir: Once again the same old half- truths are wheeled out by the anti-car lobby ('Government challenged over motoring 'myths' ', 26 July). Motorists and freight hauliers actually pay pounds 23bn in taxes, not the pounds 11bn suggested by Transport 2000. The valuation of external costs is an inexact science, but the external costs of road use are falling as accidents are reduced to record low levels and as pollution from vehicles is reduced.

Congestion costs were recognised by government as a user cost as long ago as 1976. They may be very wasteful and need to be reduced, but they are not external costs paid by non- road users. They are paid for by motorists in lost time and additional fuel purchase.

Of course, public transport is important and we must renew our ageing bus fleet and improve the railways. It is equally true that the taxation of motoring can be made economically and environmentally more effective by taxing use rather than ownership or purchase.

It is not true, however, that road transport fails to meet its full costs, and there is no justification for an overall increase in motoring taxes.

Yours faithfully,


Head of Policy,

Society of Motor Manufacturing Traders

London, SW1

26 July