Thursday, January 17, 2013

Price of Procrastination

Hungary could lose EUR 640 million in EU funds for the metro 4 project if it continues to drag its feet on the congestion charge, according to a post this week on caboodle.hu.

According to the report, the Budapest Transport Centre (BKK) now states that it will be impossible to implement the charge until "the city's public transport network is completed". This would happen in 2015, if all goes as planned, and then the congestion charge could be implemented along with a system of peripheral park and rides, in 2016.

But how would the PT network be "completed"?? Isn't public transport a continual work in progress? A completion date strikes me as a phony benchmark, the latest pulled from bottomless barrel of excuses to delay the congestion charge.

Of course, the city leadership is terrified of alienating car owners and is desperate to find another way to tax themselves out of the metro 4 quagmire. A new "utilities tax" will hit landowners whose properties are crisscrossed by water and sewage mains and other infrastructure. Sounds like a soak-the-rich strategy, although everyone will feel the pain, from real estate tycoons on down to shop owners and flat tenants.

With congestion charging, at least you'd have a choice: drive downtown and pay or bike or walk and go for free. Or car pool and split the fee with your colleagues.

Or take BKV, which as of January 1 costs HUF 350 per ticket. That gets expensive, particularly if you have journeys that require a change of lines. Every change costs another HUF 350. This is the subject of another rant. But ... why should a public transport user have to pay an extortionate fee to use an environmentally friendly, space efficient means of travel while car users go for free over the same public roads?

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Car users go for free? You've obviously never owned a car or seen the price of benzine-more than 100 euros to fill the tank of a compact car. Parking 1,000 huf per hour min? Insurance? Oil changes- 150 Euros? Tires? 400 euros per set winter and summer...I could go on.

Greg Spencer said...

I've owned three cars and have paid for plenty of petrol, parking, insurance, etc. Never had to pay to use urban roads -- and I think that's wrong. Road construction and maintenance should be paid by users, not through the general fund, as it is now.

Also, car users cause congestion, which exacts a huge toll on all road users in terms of time wasted. Congestion charging has been proven to be effective in reducing traffic 15-20 percent everywhere it's been implemented. It's good, effective policy -- but because drivers have had free use of roads for so long, they view it as an entitlement.

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