Today I received an email from Lee D who says he (I assume Lee is a he): "would love to buy this bridge and raise the toll.” (The typos in the following quotes are his.)
He goes on: "your plight reminds me of the same sort of person who buys a cheap home near an airport then moans about the noise. You moved into the area after the toll was in place. the toll goes towards the upkeep or potential rebuilding of this bridge. no toll would eventually have to mean no bridge, then see how many of you would rather pay not 5p but 25p a trip instead of the long alternative routes. the video you made shows the traffic moving quite swiftly in my opinion.
"if it is just the speed of flow, or the wait it causes drivers and their pollution, then i would suggest maybe explore getting a multi-booth centre built a couple of hundred meters down the road on a new wider plot using just a normal bit of road. this would speed up the traffic by the maximum two or three times the width of the bridge would permit anyway. making the toll 24hr could help pay for this. as i am typing i am thinking of more stuff. i reckon even if the bridge was free, the width of the bridge would force a wait at least 50% of what it is now at peak times since traffic simply can't go over it in both directions at once."
I happen to think Lee is totally misguided, probably doesn't live in west Oxfordshire, almost certainly hasn't had to waste years of his life to pay a pointless toll every day and he proposes profiteering from other people’s misery. That’s nice.
I'd like to pick up on just a couple of Lee’s points:
Don’t like it? Then move
His argument about people who buy homes near airports then moan about the noise is crude at best, insulting at worst.
Well, yes, none of us have to live near the bridge, or the airport, or the motorway, or the San Andreas fault, but some of us find ourselves there anyway. In a democratic society, Lee, we have a right to try to make things better and improve our quality of life. That could mean campaigning for changes in the law that improve women’s rights, or safer construction of buildings in earthquake zones, or building a wall that reduces traffic noise for people living by a busy road or scrapping a pathetic and archaic toll to relieve a needless traffic bottleneck and hours of timewasting.
He says: “the toll goes towards the upkeep or potential rebuilding of this bridge”. Actually only part of the toll is earmarked for this. According to the figures I’ve seen the bridge yields about £100,000 a year tax-free. Great for greed-heads and profiteers! If you buy it, Lee, you’ll be making yourself the most unpopular man in west Oxfordshire. But you have already demonstrated you don’t give a hoot about our lives anyway.
He says: “no toll would eventually have to mean no bridge” What complete nonsense. 99.9% of bridges in this country are toll free. If the bridge was bought by the county council – as it clearly should be – they could scrap the toll overnight.
There's more: “if it is just the speed of flow, or the wait it causes drivers and their pollution, then i would suggest maybe explore getting a multi-booth centre built a couple of hundred meters down the road on a new wider plot using just a normal bit of road.” A multi booth centre, eh? From profits of only £100K a year? And on precisely what land is this going to be built? In the water-meadow? And how does this keep traffic flowing when each car still has to stop to pay a toll?
He says: “i reckon even if the bridge was free, the width of the bridge would force a wait at least 50% of what it is now at peak times since traffic simply can't go over it in both directions at once." Poppycock. It may be narrow, but traffic simply CAN go over it in both directions at once - and DOES. Every day. Nice and slowly, no problem at all. The toll booth simply acts an expensive speed hump. Except speed humps keep the traffic flowing, whereas the toll booth forces vehicles to stop altogether. With no toll, there would just be an occasional halt when two very large vehicles just happen to be crossing in opposite directions at the same time.
Act of Parliament
Just one point you haven’t considered in your quest for easy money, Lee. To raise the toll you need to amend the Act of Parliament which allows a toll to be collected. You’ll want to look into this before you buy.
If my comments seem angry or barbed it’s because they are, Lee. Collecting tolls may be legal, but is is right? It basically comes down to this: is it really fair or ethical to profiteer from an activity that causes daily misery to 10,000 people? Not in my world it isn't.