Fringe Box



Letter: Should Guildford Consider a Congestion Charge?

Published on: 23 Jul, 2014
Updated on: 23 Jul, 2014

Traffic 3 470 featureFrom Bernard Parke

Everyone of us realises that the present traffic cannot be allowed to continue, but will tinkering with the notorious gyratory system be the answer?

Any changes will surely benefit through traffic; the kind of traffic that is of no benefit to our town. It is traffic that, frankly, we can live without and traffic which, in any case, contains drivers that would rather not be held up in central Guildford.

If this in so, it will do very little for us Guildfordians and in fact could increase CO2 pollution, to the detriment of our health.

Perhaps more attention to be given to encourage this form of transport to use by-pass routes.

It was once suggested to me that a congestion charge scheme here in Guildford, for non Guildford Borough residents,  would concentrate the minds of these drivers from further afield who might then be inclined to seek alternative routes.

What do you think? Would a congestion charge scheme for Guildford be feasible or desirable? Please use the “Leave a reply” feature below to have your say.

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Responses to Letter: Should Guildford Consider a Congestion Charge?

  1. Brian Miller Reply

    July 23, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    It will be very brave if the council even suggested it – but why not as part of the debate on the Local Plan which will be the main topic for next year’s local elections.

    Remember it was Durham City that was the first in the country to introduce a congestion charge, not London as popularly thought.

  2. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    July 23, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    Congestion charging is only possible when there are alternative routes the traffic could take. There are no viable alternatives, so such a charge would not be fair. It would achieve nothing except bringing in some revenue for the councils and a lot of irate motorists stuck in traffic jams just the same!

    I think the photograph of four lanes of heavy traffic is not anywhere near Guildford town centre. It has been used to emphasise the point.

    Mr Parke has always maintained that through traffic should be diverted away well before it reaches the town centre. I could not agree more. But there is a problem that he refuses to acknowledge and that is, in the shorter term, there is no funding available to build north south or east west routes bypassing the town centre.

    Longer term solutions using flyovers, bridges and tunnels are possible but in the shorter term, the solution is to improve traffic flow through the gyratory such that congestion and associated pollution are decreased and at the same time improve and enhance safety of pedestrian routes using available funding.

    GBC has secured funding of some £6.3m for the improvement of the gyratory and for sustainable transport. How this is most effectively used needs to be planned well.

    In my view, the current proposal to switch off Bridge Street to traffic except for buses is unfortunately flawed. If carried through it would increase congestion and pollution as further delays would be caused by the additional signal phases at both ends of the two-way Friary Bridge.

    The alternative is to take away the right hand most lane of traffic from Bridge Street and put it in contra-flow through Park Street and the Friary Bridge and heading for Millbrook together with widening the north footway in Bridge Street but leaving the rest unchanged.

    There is no proposal to deal with the daily tail back on Onslow Street that is caused by the busy pedestrian crossing opposite Debenhams. Something has to be done to improve traffic flow here and I have suggested a two-stage crossing formed by an island in the middle by introducing a chicane for the northbound lanes.

    Instead of demanding bypasses that are unlikely to be funded in the shorter term, we should concentrate our efforts on improving the gyratory as best as possible using funds that has been made available.

  3. Jim Allen Reply

    July 23, 2014 at 5:23 pm

    This was a question on congestion charging in the Burpham Forum Survey – it didn’t get much support when proposed.

    Perhaps three simple solutions at very low cost could solve the problem of Guildford traffic:

    1. Get rid of the bus lanes – we simply don’t have enough buses to warrant them and in many case on the gyratory system they clog the car lanes because they are turning right reducing through car lane traffic to one lane instated of the three actually available.

    2. Set the traffic lights so that they go green on the points of the compass while all other lanes are red – in ratio to the flow of traffic from each direction – this will reduce hesitation and lane blockage as at Moorefield Road and the A320 Ladymead intersections.

    3. Remove blockages as the first priority after a break down / accident and worry whose fault and who pays later – place a spider equipped pick-up wagon at the north and south end of the two lane section of the A3 and when there is a break down remove it – don’t sit and discuss who’s fault it is – noting the A3 is not blocked every day only some days, suggesting it is not capacity but breakdowns causing the problems. A target of five minutes would not be unreasonable from breakdown to removal.

    These three simply proposals are based on just a few years driving (40) in just a few countries (15+), so unlike the planners of our infrastructure in Surrey, I’ve only had to use their barmy ideas and procedures, not think up ideas behind a desk….

  4. David Smith Reply

    July 23, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    This would be a great idea – perhaps just for the Bridge Street ring road between 8am to 6pm Mon to Fri.

    I always try and car share when I commute into Waterloo and when I get so frustrated when I’m stuck in traffic leaving Farnham Road car park and every car you look in just has one person – a congestion charge will change the way people drive and may help improve our public transport system.

    Yes, a good idea.

  5. Dennis Harvey-Hepherd Reply

    July 23, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    Much of the traffic coming into Guildford is actually trying to get somewhere else.
    The A3 and A31 carry a lot of traffic around and away from the town. But for many other routes the only option is to come slap through the town gyratory system. This is because lack a decent southern bypass.

    An upgraded road connecting to the A31, the A3 between Puttenham and Milford, on to the A281 between Bramley and Cranleigh, then to the A25 and ending at the A3 near Ripley. This would cut town centre traffic by as much as 50%.

    In reality, no such scheme would get off the ground because of local politics, Nimbyism and ultimately cost. Sadly, big insoluble problems can never be solved by twiddling around the edges.

    Big problems need big brave solutions that will solve not complicate the situation.

  6. Brian Holt Reply

    July 23, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    I think a congestion charge will stop visitors and shoppers coming to Guildford, the town would end up with many more empty shops, and already has one of the highest parking fees, compared with other towns.
    We need to encourage people to come and support our shops, theatre, etc.
    Guildford Borough Council would lose a lot of revenue from their car parks, and they cannot even deal with parking on double yellow lines outside the town centre now. I never see a parking officer in Stoughton or Westborough where motorist park on double yellow lines through the day.
    We all know about the traffic congestion in the town which has now got worse since the subway was closed by Debenhams and a crossing installed instead.

  7. Damian Hockney Reply

    July 24, 2014 at 1:29 am

    Unfortunately, for those who believe in taxing or charging for road use in this way, the experience of the London “C-Charge” has ensured that most other cities and towns will not adopt the idea. London’s experience certainly killed the Manchester plans.

    Worst of all was the promise by both incumbent mayors and opponents during London mayoral elections that they would not increase the charge, only to do so, massively, once elected. More than double in a decade, which of course is considerably more than inflation in the private sector.

    There is also the consideration that such a tax does appear to have a detrimental effect on shop trade – as a London assembly member at the time of the overnight 60% increase in the charge, I discovered that VAT registrations (an important element in deciding the state of businesses in different boroughs) showed a worrying trend in boroughs covered by the C-Charge and a healthy one just outside.

  8. C Stevens Reply

    July 24, 2014 at 11:50 am

    A congestion charge is simply a non-starter, I would have thought. Who has the legislative powers to introduce it? How would the charge be paid? Who would pursue those who don’t pay?

    Everyone seems to accept that congestion round the gyratory is a nightmare, made worse by the closure of the pedestrian subway at Debenhams. All right, the subway wasn’t the most pleasant place in the world, but it got you straight across the road.

    I’ve seen it suggested that much of the congestion is caused by having two light-controlled pedestrian crossings close together. Sometimes just as the light on the Horsham road turns green and the traffic begins to move, the light at the bottom of the High Street by the Halifax turns red and stops traffic in that direction with the result that everything stops again causing traffic to back up all the way along Onslow Street and up the Farnham Road.

    A solution I’ve heard put forward is to have the two pedestrian lights operate simultaneously, turning red then turning green at the same time. That way the traffic would either move or stop rather than stop-go, stop-go.

    The more traffic snarls up along Bridge Street on the Horsham direction side, the more people push their way out of Walnut Tree Close and block one of the lanes of traffic heading in the direction of Onslow Street. And so it goes on.

    If there’s ever been an experiment at synchronising the lights at Debenhams/Halifax Building Society, I’ve missed it.

    Surely it would be worth a try?

  9. Brian Miller Reply

    July 24, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    Well Bernard Parke and my initial response has certainly started a debate; excellent!

    Whatever the merits of the idea there’s room for ‘fresh’ thinking, which is more than can be said for the council’s approach to the Local Plan, which is simply being driven by demand.

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