by Phil Hobson on 24 October, 2007
Launching the campaign this afternoon, Michael German AM, leader of the Liberal Democrats in Wales, is to primarily use electronic means to get the message out that cash-only tolls at the bridges have “had their day and are completely customer unfriendly.”
Mr. German hopes that by harnessing the power of the internet, his campaign will reach people faster and further than by traditional means. “Cash-only tolls cause problems for everyone from local residents to the occasional traveller. The internet will reach people in a way that would not be possible otherwise.”
Speaking from the National Assembly, Mr. German said, “The legislation that governs the toll collections now has to change. I have been asking for this and talking to the bridge operators and government officers for some years. We need an amendment to the law that says tolls can only be collected ‘in cash’”.
Phil Hobson, County Councillor for the Larkfield Ward said, “We have seen technological developments whereby people pay for tolls on the new M6 around Birmingham by card. If they can do it there, we can implement the necessary technology here too in months. Customers on MegaBus use internet and mobile technology to buy tickets, and train companies are doing the same. You can pay for the London Congestion Charge in the same way.”
Citing examples of mobile technology being used to bridge gaps in development in Africa, Mr. German added, “In Lesotho and Kenya, people use their mobiles as wallets. This old- fashioned and expensive way of collecting tolls needs to come to an end. Give customers the choice and convenience to pay the way that is right for them.”
This afternoon, the Leader of theLiberal Democrats also filed a ‘Statement of Opinion’ requesting fellow Assembly Members support the campaign. Mr. German is calling for “amendments to The Severn Bridges Act 1992 that requires drivers at toll booths on both bridges to pay in cash. Amendments are needed to this legislation so that facilities to pay by card and e-payment options can be swiftly introduced.”
Mr. German and Cllr. Hobson hope that the campaign will reap the same result as an earlier on-line campaign this year.
Global banking corporation HSBC was forced into a humiliating u-turn by an internet campaign on Facebook by students who threatened to leave the bank unless it continued to offer interest-free overdrafts.