The indigestion of congestion

The indigestion of congestion
Martin Brown

Posted by

Martin Brown

July 2012

It’s that sinking moment – when, suddenly, your day starts swiftly heading south.

We’ve all been there: when you see that oh-so-deserved end-of-the-day beer before dinner slowly sinking away as you sail past the motorway exit road and just ahead is one long tailback…

Congestion, traffic jams, hold-ups – call them what you will, they are wasteful, inefficient and frustrating. But spare a thought for those commuters in Yorkshire where they spend a mind-numbing 86 hours sitting in their cars going exactly…nowhere. That’s more than in London’s notorious rush hour (74 hours) while around Birmingham it’s 73 hours.

Apparently the Leeds-Bradford congestion hot-spot has taken it to seventh worst in Europe, according to TomTom’s real time analysis of journey times. Poland’s Warsaw is the most congested city.

Clever thinking, smart commuting, profitable business – that’s where we need to be heading.

If you’re driving an automatic diesel Passat in those Yorkshire traffic jams, the cost of standing still is over £40 in wasted company car tax for a 40% tax payer. That’s before the cost of fuel; or loss of productivity; or increased blood pressure…

Daft. And wasteful.

Amelioration programmes are in place around the UK. In Birmingham there are managed motorways already (opening the hard shoulder to traffic in peak hours); and a highly congested Kent section of the M25 orbital car park between junction 5 and 7 where the M25 meets the M23 intersection is also going to be managed now. And for the blighted commuters of Leeds, news that the government has given the green light to the trolleybus scheme.

All this helps of course – but does it get to the heart of the issue? No, of course it doesn’t.
Better in-car telematics would help avoid congestion more efficiently, that’s for sure.

But fundamentally we need to control traffic flows – and that means spreading the time people go to work and more importantly, encouraging home working, which is the best way to get cars off the road.

Does that sound counter intuitive coming from a car leasing company? No, not really.

If we’re going to pay company car tax on our fleet cars, and businesses are going to invest in cars, they must be used efficiently. And that doesn’t mean sitting in a traffic jam.

Innovation is the key to how we approach business travel. Doing the same old means more of us will end up contributing to even greater congestion. That’s not a vision of the future I want to embrace. Or endorse.

Clever thinking, smart commuting, profitable business – that’s where we need to be heading.

But, before all that, where’s that beer of mine?

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