Issues: Discounts for residents

Some groups and political parties around the City have proposed that residents should get some discount. At present, the proposals do not allow for discounts.

We disagree that residents should have a very large discount. It would be both unfair and would undermine the traffic reduction potential of any congestion charge, as argued below.

A smaller discount might be acceptable, as this would probably not affect the viability of the scheme.

Residents cause as much congestion

Firstly, residents of Cambridge driving around Cambridge do cause congestion (even sometimes when leaving the city) in the same way as those who come into Cambridge by car.

Indeed, congestion from residents – like all other groups – imposes costs on others, in terms of time wasted in traffic jams (which of course often has an economic cost).

It is not true to say, as some appear to have implied, that it is only those entering the city that cause signficant levels of congestion.

According to this article in the Cambridge Evening News:

Highways chiefs surveyed the city’s inner ring road during the morning peak of 7.30 to 9.30am and found two- thirds of car journeys were made by residents – and many were driving two miles or less.

(We are seeking to obtain the source of this data.)

Residents have more choices to them than outsiders

Yet people within Cambridge are exactly the people who have a greater number of transport alternatives available to them already, and will have even more once the initial up-front investment in transport has been introduced.

For instance, people living in Cambridge often have a range of transport choices available to them, e.g. walking, cycling, various local or longer-distance bus routes, taxis, (sometimes park and ride) and of course the car.

By contrast, someone travelling in from Huntingdon only has the Park & Ride system available to them, and three long-distance buses per hour to a more limited number of locations within Cambridge. On this basis, people outside the city but having to travel into it are already disadvantaged in transport terms.

Discounts would disproportionally benefit those who can afford houses in the city

Also, those who have to live in the villages because they cannot afford the cost of housing in Cambridge itself would be disadvantaged compared to those who can.

Discounts would affect the viability of the scheme

A smaller discount of say 10-20% might be acceptable, as this would probably not affect the viability of the scheme.

It is true that the London scheme has residents’ discounts. However, this results in higher charges for everyone else because discounts result in reduced effectiveness of the scheme, because of less income, and thus a lower transfer of funding to public transport.

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