Manchester Mulls a Congestion Tax

We’re up at 6:45 am this morning, after a night of hearing about how enthusiastic these Brits are to see Obama win the prize. In the Independent, a headline dramatically intoned “Is this troubled nation ready for change?” Troubled? huh? I thought I’d reserve this moniker for Congo or Mozambique. Indeed, there is not a pundit here who isn’t weighing in on how important our election is to everyone here in Britain.

Today will be a long day, composed of mostly waiting and some flying too. We’re waiting for coffee and continental here in the Mal Maison, a chic British chain that features dark lobbies and an overall coolness reminiscent of Virgin’s marketing.

One idea that’s coming up for vote here is a congestion tax. This is what they’ve done in London, charging motorists for entering the city center during rush hour. Posters on the tramway say that “9 out of 10 people won’t pay the tax” because they’ll travel off-peak or because for other reason they’ll be exempt. I asked one bloke at the Crown and Anchor pub what he thought about it. “I don’t have a car, so I don’t really care,” he said. I am sure there is an opposition of car commuters who’ll fight this upcoming vote, but this group hasn’t been able to put up posters every ten feet on the subway, so we never heard from them.