Issues: Would a congestion charge be regressive?

i.e. does it disproportionally hit the poor?

Many people think this charge will hit the poor more than the rich, but is this the case?

The poorest quartile of society have no access to a car so it won’t hit them.

The richest quartile make far more car trips than those in median groups, so unless they mend their ways the rich will contribute the most.

Remember this is a ‘congestion’ charge. The aim of the charge is to reduce the congestion, and hence delays and pollution in and around Cambridge. This change will significantly benefit the poor. They are the ones who use the bus, or even if they have a car they are more likely to be in a job where arriving late means a reduction in income. Remember if there was less peak hour congestion buses could do more trips at just the point in the day when they are full, so fares should then fall.

Furthermore, because the moneys raised from a charge have to go back into transport, this means that greater funding for the alternatives will become available. This is as has happened in London, where improved public transport and better cycling conditions leads to a virtuous cycle of improvements.

A charge will also encourage workplaces to consider work buses and so on more actively.

Of course in the short term, there are bound to be difficulties created for some people. But in the longer term, demand management should help everyone.


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