The costs of traveling would be enormous. Equivalent of petrol nearly £7 per gallon.
Now, I'm not merely trying to be argumentative, but I seriously question this. It's a widely-held view that the so-called Road Tax (actually the Vehicle Excise Duty, so it doesn't have to be hypothecated) is a nett contributor to the Exchequer. In other words, the government does not spend as much on roads as it collects in "road tax". So it's not entirely clear to me why free market road pricing would cause such an extraordinary rise in travel costs.
But even if it did, does that not tell you something about the value of the road network which is being hidden by its subsidy? People are abusing the roads because they're "free".
I would make the counter-argument:
- road costs, especially maintenance, are predominantly as a result of HGV usage.
- HGV owners are currently subsidised by other road users
- by implementing free market* road pricing, I believe that road use for lesser vehicles, such as cars and motorcycles could actually become cheaper as the costs they imply for the operator are much lower
- free market road pricing would also lead to better surfaces, fewer coned-off areas and possibly even improved road safety
He then went on to say:
Well I've looked at a variety of other funding options, but don't see any that don't result in a large drop in road users and so result in spiralling costs for drivers as they have to pay for a larger share of costs.
What this implies to me is that there are a significant number of "free riders", something that isn't supposed to happen in our overly taxed society. but as I said above, I actually believe that proper market pricing would lead to cars paying less than they currently do and other road users getting seriously fucked over, because they are currently shifting the externalities of their road use onto the motorist.
This in turn implies that the cost of road transport could increase quite dramatically. It could potentially even lead to an evisceration of the highly subsidised road transport business. I would expect foreign road transport users to be hit equally hard, something they largely escape now.
Who knows, it might even lead to a massive revitalisation of Britain's rail transport industry, or even canals or something totally new?
*You'll notice I've used the term "market" or "free market", rather than "privatised". This is because no "privatised" business in the UK is actually a free market.