APRIL 2008 NEWS
Wednesday 30 April 2008
More on Friday's Dartford toll protest
Bexley Times - "‘Scrap the tolls’".
"London congestion charge did not improve air quality"
Report from a Health conference in Philadelphia - New Scientist. It does not need scientists to reveal this. The TfL reports since 2004 have shown that there is no measurable improvement in air quality, but this does not stop TfL and their allies spinning myths based on their "estimated" figures.
Queens Gazette - "Bd 7 Hails Congestion Pricing Defeat ".
More on Mayor Daley's screwball version of "congestion pricing", though we all knew that the "Con" was just a bunko game - Chicago Tribune - "Ride downtown -or pay the price" New York Times - "Chicago Gets New York’s Congestion Money" Chicago Sun Times - "City receives $153M in federal funds for traffic".
Miami Herald - "Gridlock alert: 5 cities with the worst traffic".
Following LA's decision to introduce Lexus lanes in return for thirty pieces of Federal silver, here is a piece in the LA Times which backs the idea - "Taking the "free" out of freeway".
Some readers views on SGV Tribune - "Just another tax".
There have been more stories on the new report calling for a vast increase in infrastucture spending and changes to land use. Here's a couple - Tampa Tribune - "Bay Area Bound For A Massive Traffic Jam" The Hill - "Report: Roads may need gas-tax boost".
One Green that opposes toll increases - Evening Sun - "Green Party candidate wants Punt's seat".
Other stories - Pennsylvania - "Pa. governor pushes back turnpike bid deadline a few days" Oregon - "Check out bridge funding options online" "Texas officials take step toward tolls on 170, 360" New Jersey - "Plan floated to more than double existing tolls" Arizona - "The big debate: At a crossroads" New York - "Thruway needs proper oversight - Tolls rising again, but no one knows where money really goes"
New Jersey - "Corzine reviews options to boost transit trust fund"< Florida - "Massive toll road project delayed" Texas - "Editorial: Not serious on roads" Pennsylvania - "Teamsters rally against turnpike lease"
Illinois - "State toll agency sued over enforcement process" New Jersey - "Corzine Weighs Options on Toll Increases" New York - "Local politicians speak out on toll increase" Land Line Mag - "Florida bill would increase turnpike tolls, among other things".
Ken's nice little earner only produces loose change
Evening Standard - "Revealed: the real cost of Ken's C-Charge".
Borough backs Porsche
BBC - "Kensington joins C-charge fight".
Tolls by the back door
Scotland has clearly rejected tolls in any form, but Glasgow which is still strongly Labour now plans to introduce "Low Emission Zones" i.e. areas where a toll is charged on "polluting" vehicles - The Herald - "Glasgow plan for traffic pollution charge". The Herald which is very pro tolls has backed the plan in its editorial. The Institute of Advanced Motorists Trust are also quoted as backing the plans as they believe that cars would not be affected!!!
South African view
We reported on the 10th that "South African busineses want roads to be financed from fuel tax not tolls". Today there is more opposition to tolls "as promising nothing but attractive returns for the operating companies at the expense of added costs for everyone else" -
IOL - "Chamber slams tolls plan for N1 and N2" IOL - 'Toll roads would backfire' Paarl Post - "Toll project 'brings no benefit".
Well not quite, but the main story this morning on the BBC was that house prices year on year were down - by 1 per cent. Though no doubt they will be back up again soon - all we need is more increased population, more restrictions on house building, more cuts in interest rates and more money pumped into mortgages of over 100 per cent - "UK house prices see annual fall".
Tuesday 29 April 2008
USA Roundup Late news
As expected Mary Peters has given Mayor Daley of Chicago part of the "congestion pricing" bribe fund - Chicago Tribune - "Chicago awarded $153 million by U.S. to ease traffic congestion". There are two puzzles. The first is why are states and cities prepared to sell themselves for so little? The second is what in this particular case is Mary getting for the Federal money? It seems that the bizarre answer is that Chicago will introduce "higher street meter rates during the morning and evening rush periods" to "encourage commuters to take transit downtown instead of driving" - DOT Press release. Can it really be that Chicago commuters park their cars on the street during the morning peak and that the cars then enter another dimension during the day only to reappear at the same street parking meter during the evening peak? We assume in any case that the Mayor and his friends have their chauffeurs park off street.
Other stories - San Jose Mercury - "Report calls for national gas tax hike to fix ailing roadways". (From a quick read of the report it might be more accurate to say that the report calls for taking zillions of dollars from drivers in as many ways as possible and handing it over to the construction industry.)
Another regressive tax change - OR - Let them eat cake
The Association of British Drivers have issued this press release -
"Much furore surrounds the loss of the 10% tax band but hidden in Alastair Darling's budget was another blow that will hit some poorer families much harder - the backdating of draconian VED rises for cars registered between 2001 and 2006, bought when nobody knew that 225g/km would be an important threshold.
ABD chairman Brian Gregory explains: "Recent budgets have featured rises in vehicle excise duty for less efficient vehicles but these have always been restricted to new vehicles to discourage purchase and have not been retrospective. In the 2008 budget these taxes were not only raised and new banding introduced but by backdating the increases to cover vehicles registered since 2001 Alastair Darling has at a stroke punished those who cannot afford newer, more efficient cars."
ABD spokesman Nigel Humphries said: "This impacts hardest on poorer families who need larger cars. Such drivers may not even realise the huge rises on older Mondeos, Lagunas, Vectras and Galaxies even with middle range engines until VED renewal time. Even some smaller cars such as Astras and Focuses are hit if they are unlucky enough to have an engine in a higher CO2 band. Such families face a double hit as their cars will plummet in value due to the tax changes. Already the trade guides are predicting large drops. The arrogance of Darling is astonishing. When questioned in a radio interview following the budget he suggested that those affected needn't pay higher VED as they could buy new cars. Just how are they supposed to do that when food, council tax and mortgages are all up way above "inflation"?"
The ABD calls for the scrapping of VED and a revenue neutral amount put on fuel tax. Fuel tax is the only fair tax as it depends upon usage and efficiency rather than taxing vehicles regardless of mileage. If the government wishes to reduce CO2 output then taxing use of fuel is clearly the most effective, fairest and simplest method."
More on East Midlands Con No
Leicester Mercury - "CONGESTION CHARGING SCHEME UNDER THREAT" Evening Telegraph - "SPLIT IS LOOMING OVER CONGESTION CHARGE".
What the doctor ordered
It is proposed that a "London-style congestion charge" be introduced "to help cut pollution in the industrial heartlands of the Black Country" - Birmingham Mail - "Congestion charge call". We wonder how much of the poor air quality is due to cars. We also wonder why the proposal is for a tax that is in no way related to vehicle emissions.
"Petrol rises profit Stagecoach"
The millionaires, news media interests, trolls, greenies and cyclists that backed the Bloomberg tolls plan still hope to have their way in the end, but neither has the opposition gone away - Daily News- "Congestion pricing plan was a regressive tax on Bronxites".
New York State is considering levying fines on trucks that cause a nuisance on other roads when they avoid the tolls - Ithaca Journal - "Gov. Paterson can put an end to the problem".
Newspaper.com - "US Senators Propose Alternatives to Tolls". The headline might be correct, but the influence of the trolls is so great that alternatives for financing up-front costs, will not stop them from imposing tolls.
The LA Times Editorial backs the Lexus lanes (See "Toll Victory for the Right" yesterday). The Times say that "carpool lanes are ... frequently just as jammed as the rest of the freeway. Tolls automatically fix that problem ..". It sure does, by transferring traffic into the other lanes which will become more jammed, but hey that doesn't matter as only the plebs will suffer! "Green light for toll roads".
Toll road opponents in North Carolina have an unusual ally - mass transit proponents who are concerned that toll roads will reduce money for mass transit - News & Observer - "The bell tolls for low-income drivers".
Toll pushing pops back up in New Jersey, with one Senator wanting a lot more tolls and no gas tax increases - Newsday - "Senator to push for toll hikes, tolls on free interstates" Star Ledger - "Corzine looking at targeted toll hikes for transit needs".
Mary is expected to give some money to Mayor Daley to encourage "congestion pricing" in Chicago. Does the man who sold the Skyway need a Federal sweetener? Chicago Tribune - "City to get grant for easing traffic".
Other stories - New York - "DOT Announces New Program To Cut Down Traffic" Delaware - "Higher tolls give DelDOT reprieve" New York - "Thruway toll decision arrogant" Land Line Mag - "New York Thruway to increase tolls in 2009 and 2010" Pennsylvania - "GOP leader derides turnpike 'secrecy'" Land Line Mag - "Rhode Island bills to address toll bridges, revenue die".
An MEP has suggested that the bridge linking Bulgaria and Romania should have tolls removed - Focus - "MEP pushes for lifting Danube Bridge tolls".
Monday 28 April 2008
Friday's Dartford toll protest
It seems that the proposal for a toll free trial at Dartford had been rejected and abandoned almost before it was put forward. This is a remarkably quick answer, but the Tory MPs are now calling for more people to get the proposed discount - News Shopper - "Call for toll discount".
Toll Victory for the Right
On Friday LA agreed to 85 miles of Lexus lanes and got part of the bribe money earmarked for New York - LA Times - "Diamond lanes for the rich" LA Times - "Is a toll too much to ask?" NY Daily News - "L.A. drives away with N.Y.C. cash" Press Telegram - "Grant puts L.A. on path to toll roads" My Fox - "Carpool Lanes on the 10 and 210 Becoming Toll Lanes" ABC - "Proposal converts carpool to toll lanes" Daily Breeze - "Feds OK grant for toll roads" LA Times - "MTA votes for tolls on some carpool lanes by 2010" SGV Tribune - "Congestion pricing's cost".
PS Apparently Colorado are begging "Margaret" Peters for the remaining crumbs - Boulder County Business Report - "U.S. 36 loses out on funding". Given the apparent desperation with which these states are after so little money in the richest country, it really must be a mad mad world.
USA Roundup - Monday
More tolls selling in Washington State which looks like becoming the Land of the Trolls - Cascadia Prospectus - "Steady progress on congestion pricing, tolling".
You don't have to drive to get toll bills in Illinois - Southtown Star - "Oak Forest man doesn't drive; billed $3,100 for tolls" newspaper.com - "Illinois: Lawsuit Filed Over Outrageous Toll Fines".
Other stories - "Western New York Lawmaker Wants to Abolish State Thruway Authority" Washington State - "Drivers ready to pay when Highway 167 "HOT lanes" open Saturday" New York - "NYS THRUWAY: Area motorists miffed over increase".
USA Roundup - Sunday
Americans of a green hue are similar to Greens elsewhere, they want to cut "greengouse gases". Their answer is not of course a gas tax but "congestion pricing" - Courant - "We're still not close to green".
Other stories - "Bill calls for 25 percent increase in Florida's turnpike tolls" New York - "A secret for saving on your bridge tolls" Washington State - "Editorial: Wrong way on Thruway tolls" Illinois - "Without notices, more skip".
USA Roundup - Saturday
Other stories - New York - "Thruway's latest toll increase has drivers fuming; revives calls to abolish authority" Illinois - "Tollway woes? Get on the phone for a fix" Illinois - "I-Pass users 'want the dinger back' -- may get it" New York - "Drivers share woes - and how they'll cope with rising tolls" New York - "Thruway OKs series of toll hikes" New York - "Thruway Takes Another Toll on Drivers".
Toll proposed for Bridge of the Americas
El Paso Times - "Free bridge may get tolls".
Oops! Drivers reject toll roads, road charges and HOT lanes
The AA is part of the Government campaign to sell "road pricing". Despite this it has just published this survey showing that drivers don't want tolls - "AA members don't trust government to deliver fair road pricing".
Does this mean that the AA has changed its spots? Unfortunately - NO. The press release is designed to give the impression that drivers would support tolls if only they trusted the Government. And of course it is most unlikely that those surveyed were told the whole truth, such as about the billions that it would cost to set up and run this scam. If they knew the whole truth, then tolls would only be supported by those with vested interests and those who want to force poorer drivers off the road.
Cambridge Toll - GREAT idea but NIMBY
The "Cambridge Network" which appears to be linked to the University thinks that the Cambridge Toll is a great idea though it wants large areas excluded from the proposed toll zone - areas that seem to be connected with the Network - "Cambridge Network is ready to play its part in achieving a meeting of minds on transportation".
No tolls - for now
Some of the worst tolls are in third world countries, where they are collected by police, bandits, army, rebels or even on behalf of the legitimate authorities (though very little will get back to them). It seems that in parts of Burma, they have a respite - Narinjara - "Army Stops Toll Collection in Western Burma".
Welcome to United Ireland
With the introduction of barrier free tolling, there was a "fear" that "foreign" drivers including those from Northern Ireland would escape tolls. But they will be pursued by "debt collection companies who will track down foreign drivers and get payment or else launch court proceedings" The penalty for each missed toll will be 146 Euros (115 UK pounds or 229 American dollars).- Irish Independent - "No free ride for M50 tourists".
Toll (or Toll PR) Referendum?
This Thursday there are elections all over Britain, but most of the British and international attention has ben focused on London - Ken v. Boris. The Tory candidate is not absolutely opposed to the London Toll (though he would not introduce the planned £25 charge, and would scrap the western extension if that is what the local people want, and "reform" the rest of the scheme). Despite Boris intending to keep the original toll zone, those who support Ken have mentioned little other than Ken's "political courage" when he introduced the amazing wonderful and popular "Congestion charge". Even the Tory Sunday Telegraph in their editorial yesterday said - "The Congestion Charge - which Mr Livingstone introduced against considerable opposition - should be recognised as his greatest success." And the Tory Times on Friday said - "The congestion charge .. was a bold decision that has reaped .. rewards in terms of a reduction in congestion.". So the election result, whatever it is, is almost a referendum on the success of the London Tolls scheme (or should that be the success of Ken's PR people?) - AFP - "London road price scheme fuels election debate" Toronto Star - "Congestion fee fuelling mayor race in London". Strangely enough the pro tolls, New York Times let this comment through from their correspondent - "Mr. Livingstone’s main contribution has been to give the city a traffic congestion charge that is the envy of every metropolis that doesn’t have one and that, in the minds of most people I know, in six years has made little or no difference to the traffic jams in central London." - "Clown Prince of the City".
Road subsidy - for the toll operators
The Australians are a strange lot when it comes to tolls, they don't appear to be that outraged when secret deals mean that free roads are closed to force them onto the toll road, or when the trolls get subsidies to compensate for delays in road closures - Telegraph - "Taxpayers pay $25m for Lane Cove tunnel they hate".
Last week's "Gavin & Stacey" comedy show on BBC had the pair struggling to force open a toll barrier on the Severn bridge as they were 10 pence short of the toll. This apparently inspired Shadow Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan to table a Commons motion on Thursday, which called for motorists to be allowed to pay for the tolls by credit or debit card. She said - “The Severn crossings are icons of modern Wales but are let down by the archaic way people are forced to pay to use them.” The real comedy is that politicians fail to see that it is the tolls system which is archaic.
More on East Midlands Con - Yes, No?
Nottingham Evening Post - "COUNCIL BOSS REJECTS ROAD CHARGE IDEA".
From the Herald who in a report on ferries say that the removal of the Forth and Tay tolls meant "a loss of income of £227m a year" - "Campaigners unite to fight for extension of cheaper ferry scheme". The truth is that the Forth tolls income was £12 million a year and the Tay £4 million - and this is before deducting the cost of collecting the toll.
Friday 25 April 2008
Boris's Ozzie Guru
The Australian - "The man holding Boris's leash". Though can Boris really beat the man responsible for the "ultimately popular .. congestion charge for driving into the city centre"?
This report suggests that the Mayoral candidate who's policies best match the wishes of Tory voters is the one from UKIP! Guardian Comment - "London's forgotten elections".
Association British Drivers - "Treasury Dash for Cash Exposed as Motorists are Mugged Yet Again".
Today's Dartford toll protest
BBC - "MPs propose toll-free trial week" Evening Standard - "'Axe Dartford crossing toll'".
Drivers and businesses will applaud the initiative taken by Adam Holloway and his colleagues as they know that the main effect of the tolls is to delay traffic - causing frustration, increasing vehicle emissions and the risk of accidents. If the Government really believe otherwise then they should accept the suggestion of a one week trial. If the Government do not accept this suggestion, it will prove that they already know that the traffic flow will improve and they just don't want to let go of this toll tax on users of the crossing.
Latest move to get drivers off the road
BBC - " Strike to close key oil pipeline".
More on East Midlands Con
Nottingham Evening Post - "ARE CONGESTION CHARGES WORTH FIGHTING?".
"Public transport expert to lead motorists' lobby group"
Transport Briefing. Much of the news media seems not to realise that it is many years since the RAC Foundation was a "motorists' lobby group". It is not one, and in recent years has been part of the campaign to introduce tolls on Britain's roads. So it is quite appropriate that they are to have a road toll advocate as their new director.
One London manifesto
Mayor Watch - "Hockney Vows End to War on Motorists".
Thursday 24 April 2008
The Seattle "Traffic Choices" study was designed to test (prove) that road pricing was a good idea. The study ended in December 2005, but for some reason we have had to wait a long time for the report - My Northwest - "Paying your way out of traffic" includes audio Seattle Times - "Wide use of tolls could unclog roads, Seattle study says". There are links to the report etc at - Traffic Choices Study. We have not yet read this final report, but this is our views on the earlier reports (scroll down to "Seattle").
Americans are not affected by fuel prices - NY Daily News - "We'll put pedal to metal - even at $5 per gallon!". But apparently the Europeans are (could be because they pay twice as much)- SF Chronicle - "Europeans turning backs on cars - Astronomical fuel prices stoke use of public transportation, bikes".
LA Times - "U.S. offers L.A. $213 million for toll lane plan".
Other stories - The Trucker - "Toll fees to pay for airport road in Mississippi" West Virginia - "States Explore Privatizing Roads" Illinois - "Issues with I-PASS irritate many readers" Virginia - "Un-freeways" New York - "Thruway Authority to vote Friday on more toll increases" New York - "Thruway toll hikes look like a ‘go’" Colorado - "Local input is necessary in I-70 congestion debate" Illinois - "Tollway is living up to its poor image" letter Florida - "Tolls rising? Lawmakers seem intent on road deal".
Overloaded trucks are damaging China's roads - LA Times - "New roads take Chinese nowhere, fast". China has a system of tolls and no fuel tax. Overloaded vehicles not only cause damage they overstrain engines and use a lot more fuel. But while the road charge is related to a vehicle and not the weight or the fuel used, there is an incentive to use big overloaded vehicles.
"What if we all walked to work?"
BBC. The short answer is that we would probably be fitter, but judging by pictures of the centre of British cities pre the motor car, there would still be congestion.
The Director of the "Centre for Transport & Society" reveals that he "drives 65 miles to work, but works two days a week from home". By our reckoning that means his driving to and from work in a week adds up to nealy 400 miles. We assume that he would not want to walk that far!
"Record petrol prices make case for road pricing"
Environmental Transport Association. "Not only will road pricing cut congestion, it will save motorists money as there will no longer be any fuel duty or vehicle excise duty." It is very good that this green company wants to save those dastardly drivers some money, but according to the official figures, road pricing could cost an average of £10 billion a year for set up and running costs which is the same as adding another 23 pence to the price of a litre of fuel. If the company do not understand that this will on average cost drivers a lot more than now, do they understand that "cut congestion" = poorer drivers forced off the road?
East Midlands Con
BBC - "Region congestion charge proposed" Nottingham Evening Post - "£3.60 TO DRIVE INTO NOTTINGHAM" Nottingham Evening Post - WILL NOTTINGHAM GET A CONGESTION CHARGE?".
More on Dartford toll protest
Kent Online - "Day of action to scrap tolls".
Details of tomorrow's (Friday 25th April) protest - 8.30am at Express by Holiday Inn car park, Dartford.
DIRECTIONS BY ROAD-
M25 from the North - As you cross the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge, stay in the left hand lane. Keep to the left-hand tollbooths, as Junction 1A is approximately 50 metres after the tolls. Follow the signs for Erith (A206). After the second roundabout take the first road on the left.
M25 from the South - Junction 1A is the last exit before the tolls for the Bridge. Keep left after Junction 2 as 1A opens up as a feed lane. Turn left at the roundabout sign-posted (A206) and take the first left.
"Harbour Bridge goes toll free" - but only for a day
Sydney Morning Herald.
"Drivers fuming over toll hike bid for Tate's Cairn Tunnel"
The Standard (Hong Kong).
Wednesday 23 April 2008
CONGESTION CHARGE DROPPED!
A nice headline, though we must admit it is a bit of a cheat. Durham had a "congestion" toll before London but it is a bit Mickey Mouse, and has been suspended due to some old bones - Northumberland Gazette - "Tolls dropped after workmen dig up human remains".
More on the NZ toll that just about covers the cost of collecting it
NZ Herald - "Toll road's financial viability called into question".
USA Roundup - Today - later stories
Capital News - "Some states may charge tolls on freeways" video NY Daily News - "We're getting hosed by gas prices, and the worst is ahead" Dvice - "Skymeter, the spy in the sky that could help save the planet".
Clear? OR Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea?
David Cameron "unveils" his transport policy in Solihull - icSolihull - "Tory leader's clear message". It was last Friday ( see "A Tory Toll future") that the Tories released their paper on "Greener Local Travel" and that DC gave a frank interview to the Yorkshire Post. This was our comment sent to the YP but not printed-
"Drivers will be alarmed by what David Cameron told your paper in his interview last week.
When asked about the need for road improvements he spoke of "additional road tolls" and "local road pricing measures in order to
deliver these things". He went on to say that he thought businesses would support "a local toll with a local road".
He seems to have forgotten about one "local toll"- on the Swinford Bridge, which carries the B4044 over the River Thames near
Eynsham in Oxfordshire. Like all tolls, the Swinford toll is resented by those who use the crossing and they have called for the
toll to be removed. A call which is backed by their local MP - David Cameron.
Perhaps by proposing new tolls he is thinking of the M6 Toll. A road which he may well use himself, as it is nice and empty. The
toll road is empty but alternatives routes through the area are badly congested. This makes no sense for UK PLC and it is a pity that
David Cameron apparently fails to see that.
Drivers avoid the M6 Toll as they dislike tolls in any form, and believe that they are already overpaying for the use of the roads.
The Government takes about £30 billion a year in taxes on fuel and another £20 billion on things like vehicle excise duty and
company car tax. At most £7 billion of that goes back into maintaining and building roads.
If the Conservative manifesto at the next General election includes "local tolls" then drivers will make sure that David will still
have plenty of time after the election to ride his bike."
PS While DC is backing tolls on roads and "congestion charges" providing that local "people" (= politicians) decide, many local Conservatives are strongly opposing tolls in various areas including Manchester, Liverpool, Dartford and the Humber.
"The World's Worst Traffic Jams"
The place is Sao Paolo - Time. The problem of course is all those damn cars, not the 20 million people that live in the city. If only they had tolled roads and even better an "electronic collection system using a plastic transponder" - Wikipaedia - Toll roads in Brazil.
USA Roundup - Today
Orlando Sentinel - "Judge tosses thousands of citations, fumes at toll 'injustice'" Newspaper.com - "Court Slams Florida Toll Roads Over Bogus Ticketing" (includes link to the full court decision).
Toll crackdown in Illinois - Southtown Star - "Some I-PASS users getting bad news".
Hire tolls - Houston Chronicle - "Avis parent may pay $190,000 for unpaid tolls".
Free tolls - Click Houston - "Toll Road Employees Lose Free Ride".
AP - "More states consider tolls on freeways amid budget deficits".
Other stories - New York - "Paterson Removes WNY Vote Against Toll Hike" Maine - "York bands together against toll relocation" Maine - "Greater York Region Chamber joins toll plaza opposition" Virginia - "Could a toll pay for HRBT's expansion?" Texas - "Gov. Perry sticks to privatization for toll roads" New Jersey - "Beesleys Point Bridge repair plan faces rough road" New Jersey - "Leader departs support group of Corzine's toll plan" California - "Hearing to look at toll-lane projects".
USA Roundup - Tuesday
Most Wanted list - Pegasus - "North Texas Tollway Authority names top ten violators".
Star Telegram (Texas) - "It's all too easy to create a future lined with tollbooths".
Other stories - New York - "Why I Voted for Congestion Pricing" New York - "Replaced For Speaking Out?" California - "Editorial: Loophole lets some avoid tickets, tolls" California - "The Mid-Bay Bridge is taking its toll" Texas - "Perry: Transportation reforms, tolls worth fighting for" "Maine: Good Old Americans Take On State Power" New York - ".. Resurrect Congestion-pricing".
USA Roundup - Monday
The British are coming (or at least the myths about congestion tolls are) - Pegasus - "Congestion Pricing Is Coming" letter.
Forbes - "Europe's Most Congested Cities".
USA Today - "U.S. gov't eligible to receive data from British traffic cameras".
Other stories - Land Line Mag - "Louisiana bills address bridge deals, other funding" Cascadia Prospectus - "Gov Kulongoski eyes Congestion pricing in Metro Portland" newspaper.com - "House Speaker Endorses Toll Road Bank" New York - "House Kheel Plans To Put His Money Where His Mouth Is In '09" Colorado- "Tolls on I-70: A bad idea for entire state" New York - "Congestion pricing dead? Not to these folks" newspaper.com - "New York: Bloomberg Pushing Bridge Tolls".
Plan for higher tolls
Euractiv - "EU considers truck pollution charges ".
Road pricing "crucial"
A call from the Institute of Logistics and Transport for the Government to increase its effort to sell road tolls - MHW - "Government transport policy ‘unconvincing’, says CILT".
London Toll Trap
Ham & High - "Confusion reigns over TfL's Congestion Zone signs".
More on tracking
Scenta - "On course for accuracy".
We reported last Tuesday (15th) that the Government was marching on towards bio-fuels even though greens were now retreating from them. It seems that even Europe has its doubts - The Register - "Biofuel backlash prompts Brussels back-pedal".
Monday 21 April 2008
A view from afar
Agencies in America and elsewhere are to be given access to Btitain's CCTV system including "congestion charge" cameras - Telegraph - "New anti-terrorism rules 'allow US to spy on British motorists'".
PS to "Congestion charge has not cut jams, admits TfL chief"
Following Friday's story we had this letter in today's Evening Standard -
"TfL's admission that congestion is as bad as it was before the C-charge would please Abraham Lincoln as proof you can't fool all of the people, all of the time.
TfL has had a good run for its money: the story of the charge is a PR triumph. Cities around the world have been taken in and considered introducing a toll charge, though few have actually done it, and most of these have not attempted an expensive London-style scheme with cameras monitoring vehicles throughout a tolled zone.
London was not even the first city with a major toll scheme to counter congestion - Singapore introduced full-blown Electronic Road Pricing in 1998. Some opponents of the London scheme have proposed we go in for a Singapore-style variable rather than a flat charge. But research shows such systems fail in practice because they are too complex.
The problem drivers face is that policymakers will hit them with the nearest available weapon and if that fails, they look for a bigger one. Some of the new proposed anti-emissions measures such as higher daily charges and higher excise duty for "gas guzzlers" are unrelated to distances driven or peversely encourage more driving.
If London has a new Mayor let's hope the hype stops and more attention is paid to getting people moving without charges."
A new toll where they now estimate that it will cost 65 cents to collect each dollar - NZ Herald - "Cash will be one of several options for paying road tolls".
On Friday (see the 18th news) the Dominion Post said that there was a plan to introduce tolls to Wellington in the form of a "congestion charge". It was then denied that there was a plan. Now the newspaper is doing its best to sell the "plan" - "Editorial: A road worth travelling".
More on - Happy Australians
ABC - "NRMA says businesses support Sydney tolls" The Age - "Businesses willing to pay tolls: survey".
Saturday 19 April 2008
USA Roundup - Saturday
Bloomberg tolls - New York Times - "The trouble with negative externalities" NY Daily News - "Congestion plan returns as bridge tolls".
And the New York Times which did it's best to sell the tolls plan has now published this - "Congestion Pricing: Just Another Regressive Tax?".
George and Mary have been pushing tolls for some time, now Nancy joins the sales team - US Daily - "House speaker sees infrastructure bank as option" Trading Markets - full speech.
Meanwhile John McCain the Republican candidate for President has proposed a gas tax holiday to boost the economy. Is it just a coincidence that George and Mary want to replace the gas tax with road tolls?
Other stories - From Newsday - "More states considering tolls on freeways" Texas - "Work to change Highway 161 to toll road could start Monday" Florida - "Alligator Alley lease proposal under fire" Texas - "Editorial: State Highway 161 planning is a mess".
Australian businesses are happy to pay tolls, apparently - SMH - "Tolls fine if they unclog roads: poll".
USA Roundup - Friday
Perhaps we should pray for bad weather! Seattle Times - "Rain delays opening of new toll lanes".
Letter from us in the New York Sun - "Wreckage Scattered In Albany".
The Brooklyn Paper - "Pay-to-park is dead, too".
Streetsblog is still crying over the failure of the "congestion pricing" plan and the billions that it thinks would have been taken off drivers and given to users of mass transit and cyclists (gold plated?) - 1 2.
Other stories - Colorado - "HOT tolls to change with traffic"
Colorado - "Traffic and tolls on I-70" letters Maine - "Drivers can borrow E-Z Pass transponders during I-295 project" Florida - "Lawmakers floats new Alligator Alley plan" Massachusetts - "It’s fuelish not to raise gas tax" Pennsylvania - "Idea to lease highway resurfaces as I-80 toll strategy languishes" Pennsylvania - "Leasing turnpike fastest route to better highways" Florida - "Senator wants endowment fund to lease Alligator Alley" Texas - "TxDOT says no to NTTA offer on toll road" Land Line mag - "Pennsylvania governor on fast track to lease turnpike" Land Line mag - "Kentucky bills fail to garner support to create toll authorities" Colorado - "Metro mayors want more state funding for roads".
Another £50 billion
The BBC has revealed that the Government is to spend another £50 billion on boosting the supply of money. This round the Government are doing it by taking housing mortgages off the hands of the banks. This adds to the £50 billion or so already spent on propping up and then taking over Northern Rock and another £50 billion fed into the general banking system over the last two months - "Bank £50bn mortgage rescue plan". One of the beneficiaries from this £150 billion will be the toll road operators who rely on a plentiful supply of cheap money to boost their profits. This largesse to the asset renters is in stark contrast to the Government's treatment of drivers and the miserly £5 billion or so that is spent on the roads system on which the whole economy depends.
"One London Set Out Campaign Aims"
The One London party which oposes the C-charge have not got a candidate for Mayor but hope to increase their seats on the Assembly - Mayor Watch.
Phil Taylor on the Mayor
Phil is a Tory Councillor who campaigns against the London Toll (How does he get onto Guardian Comment???) "If competence is the issue...".
Friday 18 April 2008
Norwich Toll - EUREKA!
"Surpluses from schemes would not be sufficient .. (and) road pricing would shift congestion to new areas as drivers attempted to avoid paying" - BBC - "Study rules out congestion charge" Norwich Evening News - "Congestion charge plan scrapped" Norfolk Eastern Daily Press - "Norwich congestion charge plan stalls".
A Tory Toll future
The Tory Party has issued a paper on "Greener Local Travel". They oppose the use of bribes to persuade Councils to introduce road tolls. But Councils will still be able to do this after they "consult", and where tolls are introduced following promises of money from the Labour Government, then a Conservative Government would continue the payments - Tory Party - "David Cameron: Flexible Funding for Greener Local Travel" Daily Express - " COUNCILS 'BLACKMAILED' OVER SCHEME".
More revealing of Tory policy is a long (nine page) interview of David Cameron in today's Yorkshire Post - page 3. When asked about policy on improving roads his answer included - "there may well be some additional road tolls and some local road pricing measures in order to deliver these things, but they will be delivered. What I think is wrong about the Government's scheme is that I don't think the eye-in-the-sky national pricing idea is a runner. I think connecting a local toll with a local road is something that business can and would support and I think we should see many more of such schemes ..... Much better, I think, to be able to say to people, look, okay, this is a scheme we would go ahead with, here are the tolling arrangements or here are the road pricing arrangements we would enter into.".
"Congestion charge has not cut jams, admits TfL chief"
What next? Daily Mail.
TfL doing more to save the planet
This is so crazy it must be a spoof. Mustn't it? Guardian Diary.
Dartford Toll - Another petition
This time from the Residents Association - icEssex - "Fighting the toll".
Licence to print money or a house of cards?
The Australian bank Macquarie which owns toll roads around the world including America and Britain seems to have hit on a way to grow money. All it seems to need is Governments to a) give them control over a key road and b) make sure that the money that they borrow is cheap - Economist - "For whom the tolls swell".
Wellington "charge" on and off
Off - Dominion Post - "$198,000 spent on congestion report" Scoop - "No proposal for congestion charging in Wellington".
On - Dominion Post - "How London and Singapore do it" Stuff - "Putting the brakes on rush hour".
Threat to Halcyon days
Portugal News on Line - "August ‘free passage’ on April 25 Bridge under threat".
Swiss to pay toll for love affair
Swissinfo - "Swiss still in love with their cars".
Thursday 17 April 2008
When the SNP with support from almost all the other parties removed Scotland's last tolls, they said that a new Forth bridge would be toll free. But it now seems that consultants and civil servants are still pushing for tolls - Dunfermline Press - "Consultants refuse to rule out tolls on new crossing". There is a lot more money to be made from a tolled crossing. They need toll plazas and far wider approaches to accommodate the toll lanes. They also usually involve expensive private financing. Let us hope that the Scottish Government keeps to its promise.
The Government has already taken over the Northern Rock Bank and fed a further £50 billion or so (including £15 billion this Tuesday) into the banking system. Now it is planning to go a step further and buy housing mortgages from the banks - BBC - "Government plans to help UK banks". The intention is to make sure that the housing price bubble does not deflate (of particular concern to MPs with their two or more houses). For drivers this will mean more inflation and the probability that the Government will milk them even further in order to keep the rich rich (their wealth is mainly in assets that benefit from inflation, with the assets financed by cheap borrowing).
More on sale of Pennsylvania Turnpike - Philadelphia Inquirer - "Rendell expects to name turnpike lessee soon"
Pittsburgh Post Gazette - "Rendell says bids nearing on pike lease" Patriot News - "Turnpike nears auction block" Land Line Mag - "Pennsylvania governor unveils proposed Turnpike lease" Forbes / AP - "Pa. governor outlines terms of turnpike privatization bids".
Toronto "task force pushes congestion tax"
Peak period tolls cheaper
The catch is that you need two passengers (or dummies) - Chosunilbo - "Highway Toll Fee Cut by 50% in May".
A windy story
BBC - "High winds studied on road bridge".
Wednesday 16 April 2008
USA Roundup - late news
Sale of Pennsylvania Turnpike gets closer - Herald News (Illinois) - "The $1,400 toll - A JOLIET WOMAN SAYS THE TOLLWAY'S ERROR LED TO A MASSIVE FINE AND THE SUSPENSION OF HER LICENSE PLATE".
Sale of Pennsylvania Turnpike gets closer - Philadelphia Inquirer - "Rendell wants to pick turnpike operator in next two weeks" Philadelphia Inquirer - "Pa. governor outlines terms of turnpike privatization bids" Patriot News - "Gov. Rendell calls for Turnpike bids".
Labour in Derby suggest that a "congestion charge" be introduced, but it would only apply to vehicles coming from outside - Evening Telegraph - "ELECTION '08: BUSES ARE JUST THE TICKET AS PARTIES DEBATE TRANSPORT".
Selling tolls in Bath
A new residents forum has been set up in Bath. Yesterday it had its second meeting at which the proposal for "congestion charging" was backed. A pity that they apparently couldn't find anyone prepared to speak against it, or didn't they try? Bath Chronicle - "CONGESTION CHARGE CONSULTATION PLANNED".
"We can't drive away from global warming"
Friends of the Earth remind everyone of the really important issue in the Mayoral election - New Statesman.
ABD review of policies of the main candidates which affect drivers (pdf file).
From the "Most wanted" list - Daily Times (Maryland) - "DELAWARE: Md. man called top DelDOT toll violator". 7 Years - for growing pot or for not paying tolls? Star Ledger (New Jersey) - "Old Bridge man gets 7 years for growing marijuana".
Other stories -
Washington State - "Rossi plan de-emphasizes I-5 bridge tolls" Colorado - "Eagle County: Mountains wary of I-70 toll" Florida - "Lee commission ponders $500 million Colonial expressway" Colorado - "Metro mayors want more state funding for roads" Colorado - "Metro mayors want more state funding for roads" Virginia - "Tolls increasing at five more facilities" Maine - "Irate York selectmen demand meeting on I-95 tolls" Virginia - "RMA Agrees on Toll Hike" New Jersey - "County to Take Over Bridge Commission Bookkeeping" Maryland - "Call to Action" (from OOIDA).
Dartford toll protest
The local Tories have organised a protest for Friday 25th April at 8.30am at Express by Holiday Inn car park, Dartford.
DIRECTIONS BY ROAD-
M25 from the North - As you cross the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge, stay in the left hand lane. Keep to the left-hand tollbooths, as Junction 1A is approximately 50 metres after the tolls. Follow the signs for Erith (A206). After the second roundabout take the first road on the left.
M25 from the South - Junction 1A is the last exit before the tolls for the Bridge. Keep left after Junction 2 as 1A opens up as a feed lane. Turn left at the roundabout sign-posted (A206) and take the first left.
They want a week's trial of no tolls. If tolls are kept then they want an extended discount scheme for users of the tolls in Kent and Essex. They have issued this statement -
Local Conservatives, Adam Holloway and PPC for Dartford, Gareth Johnson, have asked the Government to introduce a one-week trial when the tolls will be removed to assess its actual impact on journey times and queues.
This trial would take place as part of the consultation process. Adam and Gareth believe that there would be free flow of traffic, less pollution, fewer traffic jams and would speed up journey times and make business more effective.
This could be very simple and quick to put in place and should form part of the consultation process. This would settle the argument once and for all about congestion and whether this form of road tax is justified
The Government has admitted that the discounted passes for local residents using the crossing may not be permanent and could be rescinded at any time and this is just yet another stealth tax.
They have also raised the issue of tackling fraud where out of district travellers may use friends and family in the discounted areas to obtain fraudulent passes.
Adam Holloway has reviewed two road use and toll charging studies produced for the Highways Agency on the options available for the Dartford Crossing and finds that the most logical scenarios are not being considered as part of the current consultation process.
He also believes that the company, Jacobs Babtie, author of the report, Getting the most out of the Dartford Crossing is not being totally honest with the public as they were awarded the contract to run the toll system in 2003 and that their report produced in 2004 is subsequent to the contract being awarded by the Highways Agency.
Two reports, Brown and Root, August 2001 and Jacobs Babtie, 2004 both refer to the option of scrapping tolls southbound which would ease congestion.
The Babtie report states, “….. toll plazas are the inherent constraint southbound and the possible removal of the toll plazas and the introduction of additional lanes for the potential to increase the capacity and alleviate congestion." It also refers to the construction of an additional lane southbound which would allow an extra 8000 vehicles an hour or one-way tolling would increase the flow of traffic by 6400 vehicles an hour.
An earlier report states that increased toll charges would move traffic to the Blackwall Tunnel and also adversely affects the low paid.
Adam questions why Babtie, the company which was awarded the Le Crossing contract, is also the author of a report that should be giving an objective view. How can this be so when they have a vested interest in keeping the tolls which pays for their contract?
The statistics the Government uses state that by removing the tolls traffic could increase by 17%. The report states that this could be between 12-18%. The report titled, Getting the most out of the Dartford Crossing, is a misnomer
Nearby local authorities (and therefore locally elected representatives) have not been consulted - with the exception of Dartford and Thurrock. It is essential that those living in nearby areas should be alerted. In Kent, this should include people living in parts of Gravesham, Sevenoaks, Bexley, Sidcup and Bexleyheath, for example.
Tuesday 15 April 2008
More on - Not the facts as we know it, Jim
Last Thursday we had the story about the BBC changing a Global warming story, apparently under pressure from believers. Today there is this follow up in the Register - "The BBC, the UN, and climate bullying". In brief the fuss is because the Earth is currently getting cooler. The Global warming believers say that the trend is still that it is getting warmer and that it is only cooler because of La Nina. Sceptics say much of the temperature measurement differences over the last 100 years correlate with El Ninos (making it warmer) and La Ninas (making it cooler). This begs the question as to which is cause and which is effect, even before you take account of the interaction of 1,001 other factors in a complex chaotic dynamic system. About the only thing that almost everyone agrees on is that they don't really want the Earth to get cooler.
PS A recent letter from some of the sceptics to the IPCC (pdf file).
Finger pointed at cars
There is another report inferring that cars are killing many people due to respiratory diseases - BBC - "Pneumonia 'linked' to pollution". Headlines around the world make it clear who is to blame - "Pneumonia from traffic pollution 'killing thousands'", "Excess pneumonia deaths linked to car exhaust fumes", "Traffic pollution leads to increased pneumonia deaths". It is possible that the conclusions are correct, but it appears that there is no proof that the disease is caused by air pollution or that it is car exhaust fumes which are primarily responsible..
Looking both ways in Canada
Toronto Star - "Where the buck meets the toll road" Toronto Star Editorial - "Let's not alienate drivers".
- Washington Times - "Court hears Dulles Toll Road challenge".
Bloomberg Tolls. Despite the defeat of the plan, the New York Times continues to repeat fantasies about the London scheme, such as - "the congestion charge .. has reduced traffic delays by 30 percent" and "London’s congestion pricing program substantially reduced congestion delays" - "What Didn’t We Know About Congestion Pricing?".
Other Bloomberg story - Village Voice - "Bloomberg & the Press give Joe Bruno a pass on Congestion pricing".
- Times Union (New York) - "Yearly Thruway tax would save time and money" letter Times Union (New York) - "Doing away with Thruway tolls: You can't get there from here" Q & A.
Other stories - New Jersey - "State spent $7.3 million on stalled toll increase plan" Texas - "Why are we still paying for the Dallas North Tollway?" Pennsylvania - "Credit agency downgrades turnpike's bond rating" Kentucky / Ohio - "Voinovich: No tolls for BSB" New Jersey - "Mayor Thomas F. Kelaher Opposes Sale Of Toll Roads".
Government march on, but band stops playing
There are two problems with "bio-fuels". The first is that the cost of fossil fuels may not yet have reached the point where it is economic to use these alternatives. Economics is not an issue that concerns Greens or Governments. But the second problem is that in an overpopulated world, bio fuels compete with food for arable space and fertilisers etc and encourage the destruction of more forests. Neither the Greens nor the Governments are concerned about overpopulation, but a split is emerging on biofuels, where the Greens are having second thoughts while the politicians are still working to the old script - BBC - "Petrol must now include biofuels" DfT Press release - "Green light for cleaner, greener fuels".
Monday 14 April 2008
"Roads must be 'mayoral priority'"
BBC. Though the AA criticises the Mayor, it does not oppose the principle of the "congestion charge". It is not suprising that the Mayor blames the congestion on the replacement of water mains. The position of the Tory candidate is unclear - Boris had said that if the people in the area did not want the Western Extension then it would be sracpped, but this promise seems to be fading into the background now that he stands a good chance of winnning. The Lib Dems are repeating their promise to scrap the Western extension, though they have threatened to introduce a toll at the Greater London border.
Band aid from the experts
The people and organisations who promote road pricing and roads privatisation are generally the same ones who push for economic growth by pumping excessive sums into the economy and by encouraging population growth. It seems that they are beginning to notice a few problems, though there is no sign that they have made any connection with population growth or that they have any other "cure" apart from printing more money - BBC - "World Bank echoes food cost alarm" BBC - "Bank lowers interest rates to 5%" World Bank - "Rising Food Prices Spell Hunger for Millions Across Africa" IMF - "Ministers Resolve to Counter Slowdown, Combat Food Hikes".
Bloomberg tolls - New York Post - "MAYOR MIKE PERKS UP".
More tolls pushing in the Washington Post - "The reality is that road pricing is inevitable." - "The Bumpy Road to Congestion Relief".
Other stories - Illinois - "Toll-fine mistakes clog system" New Jersey - "New toll roads make a lot of sense" New York - "Doing away with Thruway tolls: You can't get there from here" Washington State - "Cordon blues: New York is no indicator of tolling's future" California - "Congestion pricing is a tough sell" North Carolina - "Monstrous tolls" letter New Jersey - "Corzine's toll plan draws attention in other states".
More on - Road pricing tenders
Telegraph - "Return of plans to tax drivers for every mile".
"One London Condemn Ken's 20mph Pledge"
Sunday 13 April 2008
Stop Congestion Charge Party Candidate for Mayor
Mayor Watch - "Chris Prior: 'Abolish the Congestion Charge'".
Road pricing tenders
Sunday Express - "SKY SPY TO TRACK DRIVERS".
Bloomberg tolls - Bronx Beat - "Critics and supporters assess failed congestion plan".
More on the EZ way to make more money - Boston Globe - "Fast Lane ignorance has toll, study says".
An even easier way to make fast money - sell the road - NY Times - "Toll Road Offers New Jersey a Fiscal Test Drive".
Or you can borrow mega billions using future tolls as security - NY Times - "Other States Keep an Eye on Corzine’s Uphill Trek".
Other stories - Delaware - "Task takes money, but from where?" Delaware - "Suburban commuters will only change when it doesn't pay to drive" Kentucky / Ohio - "Tolling for new bridge in play" Virginia - "Push for a statewide roads solution" Colorado - "Light stays green for possible tolls on I-70 near tunnel" Pennsylvania - "Why is it taking so long for federal government to tell state its decision on tolls for Interstate 80?" Oregon - "Kulongoski, green transportation and his legacy".
Saturday 12 April 2008
Bloomberg Tolls - There are more of the Troll attacks on Sheldon Silver. There is also one defence - NY Daily News - "Reform-Minded Dem Club Defends Silver".
Some of the other stories - Times Union - "One man rule" NY Times - "How to Vent About Albany" Bay News - "Brooklyn delegation split on congestion fee-Move to tax motorists divided local representatives in Albany".
A story about traffic on the Port Authority tolled bridges (in effect a tax on those who cross the state line from New Jersey) falling since the recent toll increase - NY Times - "Higher Tolls, Less Traffic on Bridges and Tunnels". (Port Authority tolled bridge traffic would not have been affected by the Bloomberg tolls as the bridge toll would have given drivers 100 per cent rebate off the "congestion price").
Other stories - Colorado - "I-70 toll bill is weaker, but alive" Oregon - "Peak hour tolls are a big part of Oregon governor's transportation agenda" Texas - "Last piece of tollway around Austin to open April 30" Colorado - "Watered-Down Toll Proposal For I-70 Gets Committee's Backing" Pennsylvania - "Fitch Downgrades Penn Turnpike Commission Long-Term Revs" Oregon - "Governor wants to consider highway tolling".
The other China gets tougher
Taiwanese drivers already face stiff penalities if they go through electronic tolls without a working tracking tag, but they now face penalties if they then back up or even if they switch lanes before the electronic booths - China Post - "Drivers face heavy fines over misuse of ETC toll lane".
"WE SPEND 140M HOURS EACH YEAR STUCK IN TRAFFIC"
Daily Express. This is another one of those stories that you don't know what to make of. Four hours per driver stuck in traffic when spread over a year is less than one minute a day - we should be so lucky!
Friday 11 April 2008
"LEZ Is A Nice Little Earner"
"Little" is the operative word, both in terms of income and the effect it has on air quality - Londonist.
Vote Green, or not
Spiked - Ask Ethan - "Is it ethical to vote for Sian Berry?".
You would think that China had its hands full with Tibet and the Olympics, but it is again trying to crack down on the phantom army vehicles trying to avoid tolls - PR-inside / AP - "China's army confiscates thousands of fake military vehicles, license plates" People's Daily - "China's PLA cracks down on fake military vehicles and number plates".
Bloomberg Tolls - The toll advocates control most of the news media, but there also seems to be a bit of censoring going on with some stories, as added comments which pointed out things like the myth of the success of the London charge have been removed - a very appropriate reaction from those on the extreme right and left who like to see a controlled monitored society.
NY Daily News - "Gerson Sheds Light On Congestion Pricing Promises" WNYC - "A Bad Week for Bloomberg" link to MP3 NY Daily News - "Keep congest plan alive, says fed big" NY Sun - "U.S. Official Chides Lawmakers On Defeat of Congestion Pricing" Downtown Express - "Pols mull the post-congestion pricing era" The Villager - "Albany was roadblock for congestion pricing" NY Times - "Federal Transit Chief Calls Defeat of Congestion Pricing ‘Short-Sighted’" NY Daily News - "U.S. official laments defeat of congestion pricing" Times Ledger - "Insulted Queens reps say mayor was arrogant".
Other stories - Florida - "Board Suggests New Tollway Authority" New Jersey - "Tolls not the answer" California - "S.F. official's view of Doyle Drive debate" Pennsylvania - "Pa. given capitalist advice on tolls" Washington State - "Bridge Tollpayers Getting Their Money's Worth" Illinois - "Toll scofflaw fines may be cut" Pennsylvania - "Toll road project moves into next phase".
Cambridge Toll - Effect on patients
CEN - "Hospital boss hits out at congestion charge".
Surcharges if you go electronic and surcharges if you don't - Irish Independent - "Drivers now forced to pay for M50 device" Irish Independent - "Motorists braced for 'rip-off' tolls" letter.
Toll collector killed while tolls suspended
The Nation - "Motorway toll collector run over by truck".
Thursday 10 April 2008
"Tolls: two-tier solution - Mexico offers a cautionary example with its autopistas for the rich, slow roads for the poor"
Report from Quebec on Mexico's roads - The Gazette story Editorial - "For whom the toll tolls: It tolls for thee".
Tolls - No joke! KTAR - "State Wants KTAR to Pick Up Tab for April Fools Day Joke" Arizona Republic - "Gov.'s office opposed April Fool's prank".
The toll pushers at the "Reason" Foundation are backing the sale of the Pennsylvania Turnpike - "Pennsylvania Turnpike Is One of the Country's Least Cost-Efficient Toll Roads". The "reason" that they give is that the Turnpike spends more (at 62 per cent) of its toll revenues on operating and maintenance costs than other toll roads. On that basis if 100 per cent of the money went into road maintenance that would be even more inefficient. In the real world drivers want their money spent on building and maintaining roads, not on providing profits or paying toll collectors. And most drivers would prefer an efficient way of charging for roads use - gas taxes.
Using video to fight tolls - Clarion University - "Clarion professor helps with Act 44 repeal videos" One of the videos.
Land Line Mag - "A long road to the next ‘highway bill’".
Tolls - No joke! KTAR - "State Wants KTAR to Pick Up Tab for April Fools Day Joke" Arizona Republic - "Gov.'s office opposed April Fool's prank".
MIT - "MIT economist finds E-ZPass program hides tax hikes".
Bloomberg Tolls - NY Daily News - "Politicians fear congestion backlash" Queens Tribune - "Congestion Pricing Dies in Albany" Queens Courier - "Assembly kills congestion plan" Queens Gazette - "Pricing Plan Nixed".
Fox - "NuRide Hooks Up Car Poolers and Rewards Them For It".
Other stories - Tennessee - "Lawmaker withdraws own bill limiting toll roads, bridges" Washington State - "Painting for toll lane this weekend on Route 167" Washington State - "New toll rates closer to reality after approval" New Jersey - "Corzine’s Toll Plans Just Won’t Die".
More on - Higher "Congestion" Toll = Higher vehicle emissions
Daily Telegraph - " Row over Congestion Charge pollution claims".
"Why is Livingstone's city the most watched in the free world?"
"Urban toll roads a definite no-no, says chamber"
South African busineses want roads to be financed from fuel tax not tolls - Tyger Burger. The chances of this are slim as the beauty of a toll road is that the money can easily vanish.
More on Auckland Toll
NZ Herald - "Road tolling rejected for $1.9b tunnel".
A toll tunnel too far
Sydney Morning Herald - "oor vision for the state in blurring of the divide".
Not the facts as we know it, Jim
The British establishment kick started the Global Warming religion, and are still in the forefront of evangelising it. Though it is not that easy to control. Yesterday the BBC on the live Breakfast TV news programme interviewed some Saami people who herd reindeer in Northern Norway. They were asked how they were coping with Global Warming. The BBC must have expected a "Oh yes it certainly is hotter and we are suffering as a result ..etc etc..". But the interviewees must not have been rehearsed as the woman said - No! Last winter was the coldest she's ever experienced and she was looking forward to the next one being a bit warmer!
There is more control over recorded programmes and online content. Though this week Newsbusters in America revealed what happened with one story at the BBC. The BBC had a story last Friday about recent figures indicating that the Earth may be cooler - "Global temperatures 'to decrease'". The story says that - "this year's temperatures would still be way above the average - and we would soon exceed the record year of 1998 because of global warming induced by greenhouse gases." It seems that this is not the way that the reporter originally wrote the story - Glen Beck show on Youtube.
There is a similar situation at Britain's Weather Bureau, where it seems that Britain is warmer than people think. The most recent example is their summary of the weather for March, which most people got the impression was much colder than usual. But No!, it seems that appearances can be deceptive as officially last month was 0.4 degrees centigrade warmer than the average for March in the UK. So turn off the heating, put away those coats and get out your shorts.
Wednesday 9 April 2008
"Ken's C-charge guarantee"
In a BBC debate last night the Mayor said that "I'll give you this guarantee, if I break my word and increase the congestion charge for cars below the polluting level, I will resign... I've given an absolute commitment just now. I will not break my word. If I did, I would step down from the job. I would guarantee that ordinary cars stay at £8. We only want to get the gas-guzzlers off the streets." - Evening Standard. The Mayor could of course still extend the toll zone, remove resident discounts or alter the definition of a "gas-guzzler". But whatever he might do it seems that the "C-charge" is no longer attempting to deal with congestion, it is now a "Climate charge". Perhaps the Mayor has ambitions for staging the Winter Olympics.
Higher "Congestion" Toll = Higher vehicle emissions
Porsche, who are fighting the planned £25 toll for vehicles with higher emissions have managed to obtained a copy of a report commissioned by Transport for London (TfL). The report says that vehicle emissions will increase when TfL raise the toll as traffic will divert on to longer routes. TfL say that they are having the report rewritten - Daily Mail - "Higher congestion charge for 'gas guzzlers' will make pollution worse, says 'secret' TfL study".
The New York Times has a piece that refers to the proposals to impose more tolls in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania and says - "Unfortunately, each initiative has encountered fierce resistance". To overcome this resistance it suggests that tolls should be based on - "tiered classes, taking into account weight, sales price, emission rating and gas-mileage efficiency" - "Pick on the Big Guys". A four year old child would recognise that a gas tax is not only very cheap to administer, but also does not involve the hassle of tolls and tends to reduce the demand for imported oil. So why do George and Mary and many of those who control the news media want to replace the gas tax with tolls?
Bloomberg Tolls - Including more attacks from the trolls on Sheldon Silver for not forcing the Democrat members of the Assembly to back the tolls plan. This is partly designed to give the impression that it was just one man who opposed the tolls, partly to make an example to discourage other toll opponents and partly because he proposed an extra one per cent tax on millionaires. Here is one exception to the attacks - Juan Gonzalez in NY Daily News - "Sheldon Silver is a hero for standing up to bully Michael Bloomberg".
Other Bloomberg toll stories -
Queens Gazette - "Vallone Votes 'No' On Congestion Pricing" NY Daily News - "Pro-Congesting Pricing Gottfried 'Frustrated' With Bloomberg" Staten Island Advance - "Thanks, Shelly: Island losing 33 express buses" Staten Island Advance - "With toll-plan defeat, mayor losing grip on relevance" NJ Voices - "Corzine and Bloomberg, two CEOs, find politics a different business" NY Daily News - "Largess is plentiful in Sheldon Silver's district, even as rest of state pays price" NY Daily News - "Other cities vying for funds N.Y. lost" NY Sun - "In Washington, Mayor's Goals Are Modest" NY Sun - "Challengers Emerge Aiming To Topple Silver" NY Times - "Take Alternate Route"
NY Times - "The Defeat of Congestion Pricing" letters WNYT - "Lawmakers reach tentative budget deal" NY1 - "Lawmakers Respond To Collapse Of Congestion Pricing" Land Line - "New York legislators let congestion pricing plan fail" Fox - "ATA Applauds Defeat of Congestion Pricing in NYC" Fox - "ATA Applauds Defeat of Congestion Pricing in NYC".
Other stories -
Illinois - "Drivers on hook for old toll fines" New Jersey - "Tolls for I-78, I-80 urged" "New York's loss could be Colorado's gain" Virginia - "Free Riders" New Jersey - "Lawmakers weigh tolls on free roads to generate transporation funds".
More on Liverpool Toll Protest
Wirral Globe - "Campaigners in toll rise protest".
A couple from Scotland
- Courier on Tuesday - "Weekend delays warning for bridge users".
- Scotsman - "Drivers warned deadline looming for bridge tolls refund".
Tuesday 8 April 2008
Drivers vote No to tolled roads
The latest quarterly traffic figures for the M6 Toll were released today in Australia. The figures are slightly affected by Easter being early and because there are less road works than a year ago on the toll free M6. But it is clear that most drivers are continuing to shun the toll road - Our M6 Toll traffic page. Despite the traffic figures the Company slightly increased its income because of price increases. The big loser is Britain and particularly the West Midlands which continues to suffer congestion while there is a virtually empty motorway which could take all the through traffic. The culprit is not the Company, but the politicians who allow this situation to continue instead of buying the road and removing the tolls.
Bloomberg Tolls - NO - The State Assembly was not bounced into a decision by the Mayor and Federal authorities who demanded that tolls be introduced to Lower Manhattan in return for a $354 million grant. Though that sum was minute when compared with the State and City budgets. It may even have been no more than what was spent on lobbying and offers of favours from the Mayor. The Democrat caucus in a private meeing decided that there was not enough support to put the toll plan to a vote in the chamber. As most of the news media are in the trolls camp and apparently had lost the "tolls" word from their lexicons, this decision has been criticised by many of them -
Yonkers Tribune - "Why the Fat Lady Sang" Reason - "You're Just Like Crosstown Traffic" Streetsblog - "Plan B .." (converting roads into bus lanes, gardens and places to park bicycles) AP - "NYC Mayor Loses Big on Traffic Fee Plan" (with Bloomberg quote "corrected") NY1 - "Commuters Have Mixed Reactions To Demise Of Congestion Pricing" NY Daily News - "Bloomberg says congest plan had the votes, but doesn't blame Silver" Wall Street Journal - "All Congested: NYC Pricing Plan Torpedoed" Crain's - "De-congestant: Paterson's traffic panel" Newsday - "Bloomberg:traffic plan had the votes, doesn't directly blame Silver" Newsday - "Mayor assails Assembly leaders on Congestion pricing" NY Times - "The Mayor Lashes Out, but Says He Wants to Move On" (lots of added comments).
NY Magazine - "Shelly Silver Savaged the Day After He Kills Congestion Pricing" NY1 - "Mayor Calls State Lawmakers Cowards For Putting The Brakes On Congestion Pricing" Staten Island Advance - "Mayor furious with Albany as congestion pricing dies" AP - "NYC Mayor Loses Big on Traffic Fee Plan".
Times Union - " Red light for Bloomberg traffic bill" NY Daily News - "Editorial: Take a hike, says Silver" NY Daily News - "Jeffrey Dinowitz, a voice against Mayor Bloomberg's congestion plan" NY Daily News - "Mayor Bloomberg can be proud of his traffic congestion proposal" NY Daily News - "It's time for 'lame duck' Bloomberg to shift gears" NY Daily News - "Sheldon Silver's gettin' good at just saying, 'NO!'" NY Daily News - "Mayor Bloomberg unleashes fury as Sheldon Silver halts congestion pricing".
Newsday - "Congestion plan supporters call for alternatives" Newsday - "SILVER: Little support for congestion pricing plan" Newsday - "Editorial: Shortsighted Silver blocks NY Congestion pricing plan" Lower Hudson Journal - "Congestion-pricing bill dead" Lower Hudson Journal - "Albany choked" Times Herald Record - "Congestion pricing dies in Legislature" NY Sun - "Congestion Pricing Wreckage Scattered in Albany" NY Sun - "Mayor's Duck Is Looking A Bit Lame" NY Sun - "Editorial: Bloomberg's Last Stand" Staten Island Advance - "AP Analysis: Bloomberg knew traffic fee was tough sell in Albany" Star Ledger (NJ) - "New York legislators scrap plan for traffic".
NY Times - "Editorial: Mr. Silver Does It Again " NY Times - "Bloomberg Tactics Were Highhanded on Traffic Plan, Lawmakers Say" NY Times - "$8 Traffic Fee for Manhattan Gets Nowhere" NY Daily News - "Bloomberg Rues 'Sad Day,' Slams Assembly For 'Cowardice'" NY1 - "Bloomberg Suffers Another Defeat At Hands Of Sheldon Silver" NY Daily News - "Quinn: 'We Did Our Job'" Reuters - "New York anti-traffic fees wither without a vote" Streetsblog - "Assembly Dems kill Pricing".
Queens Courier - "Assembly Kills Congestion Plan" WNYC - "Congestion Pricing Plan Dies in Albany" Fox - "New York Congestion Pricing Plan Rejected" ABC - "Congestion Pricing defeat; Columbia student remembered..." Lower Hudson Journal - "Congestion Pricing Plan Rejected" Gothamist - "BREAKING: Silver Says Congestion Pricing is Dead" Crain's - "Congestion killed in Albany" Fox - "New York Legislature Rejects Manhattan Traffic Fee" NY Daily News - "Congestion Pricing Is Dead (Updated)" NY1 - "Congestion Pricing Plan Dies In Albany".
Before the decision - NY Daily News - "Congestion Pricing Chaos In The Senate" Press & Sun Bulletin - "Congestion pricing fee bill is likely to die" Gothamist - "Albany Faces Congestion Pricing Deadline Today" NY Times - "Deputy Mayor Hits Airwaves to Argue for Traffic Fees" Streetsblog - "One more chance to support pricing: Call your reps today" NY Daily News - "Brodsky Sounds Off On Bloomberg's Failed 'Jedi Mind Tricks'" Lower Hudson Journal - "Congestion pricing looks almost dead" NY Daily News - "Sheekey: People Who Don't Help NYC Should 'Fear'".
A view from Washington State on the Bloomberg Toll not being endorsed, includes Mary Peters hinting at repeal of gas taxes if states buy into tolls - Crosscut - "Congestion pricing: Even New York's got a problem with that".
thenewspaper.com - "IBM Patents Congestion Pricing".
Union Leader - "E-ZPass proves to be anything but for driver".
Other stories - Washington State - "The difference between Cordon pricing and Congestion pricing" Washington State - "The difference between Cordon pricing and Congestion pricing".
Washington State - "Narrows bridge toll hike proposed" New Jersey - "Corzine hypocrite to cry highway robbery" Virginia - "Highway Money" Texas - "North Texas Tollway Authority offers $1.2 billion for State Highway 161" Texas - "Driving at rush hour may cost more on Katy Freeway" Colorado - "Ritter denounces I-70 toll plan" Florida - "Lee County keeps Expressway Authority alive" Oklahoma - "Private tollway?" California - "Government workers safe - from tolls" Louisiana - "Parish Council takes stand on issue of Causeway sale" Florida - "Transportation Officials Talk up Toll Roads" Texas - "Texans protest TxDOT's plans for corridor, tolls".
"Mostly a public-relations triumph"
A bit of the truth that slipped past the censors on Sunday - NY Daily News - "Congestion fee hasn't stopped snarls".
The reality in London is that not only is the speed of traffic just as slow as it was before - (Angie Bray, one of the London Mayor's Conservative opponents on the London Assembly, summed up the failure of the charge to improve traffic speeds - "congestion charge is a charge on congestion that we once got for free".) - The scheme has also proved very expensive to set up and administer. To generate a profit the charge had to be increased from five pounds to eight pounds (about $16) and for some vehicles is to be increased to twenty five pounds ($50) - these are all daily charges. To ensure payment there is an extensive CCTV system and substantial fines if the toll is not paid on the day.
As the London scheme has failed to reduce traffic congestion it has increasingly been repackaged as an anti air pollution and an anti global warming measure. As far as cleaning the air is concerned, there are various claims made that it has achieved this - but these claims are based on estimates and ignore the actual figures for particulate matter etc which show that the air quality has not improved. As to man made global warming, even if you believe in this, the effect of the London charges on atmospheric CO2 is so minute that it would not be possible to measure it.
The situation in Singapore (where they call this "Electronic Road Pricing") is similar to London - the charges have failed to reduce traffic. Low Thia Khiang from the opposition Workers' Party said in the Singapore Parliament last year - "Is the ERP just a means to squeeze money from the motorists who face the same jam?". He is not alone, Lee Kuan Yew (the former Prime Minister who is still part of the People's Action Party Government as "Minister Mentor") said in February this year - "Having paid so much for the car, you might as well pay the ERP and use it."
"Taxes, not tolls"
Reaction to Montreal tolls proposal - The Gazette.
More on Prague Tolls
The plan is to reduce road space and then toll the remaining lanes - Prague Daily Monitor.
Mayoral candidates and the charge
Roger Lawson from the ABD on the London Toll and the candidates - New Statesman - "'More rational policies, less gesture politics'".
Liverpool Toll Increase - Protest on Sunday
Daily Post - "Tunnel protesters make their point"   Pictures of protest.
NZ Herald - "ARC opposed to tunnel alliance".
More on Sir Rod tolls
Herald Sun - "A road to the future" The Age - "Only unannounced off-ramps could make links viable" The Age - "Melbourne's public transport is on a road to nowhere".
Monday 7 April 2008
Bloomberg Tolls - Will it be Yes or No?
WNBC - "DeDapper's Blog: Dead End For Congestion Pricing?" Politics on the Hudson - "Budget Deal Slows" Staten Island Advance - "Clock ticking for congestion pricing plan".
NY Daily News - "Bloomberg Deploys Sheekey" NY Times - "In Congestion Talks Upstate, Mayor Sends in the Surrogates" NY1 - "City Lawmakers Rally Against Congestion Pricing" NY Daily News - "News Of The Day (And Weekend)" NY Daily News - "Trading in private wheels for city rails" NY Daily News - "Congestion pricing deadline Monday night as deadlock drags on" Staten Island Advance - " COMMITTING TO CONGESTION PRICING" NY Sun - "Some City Vehicles Could Pay Fees" NY Sun - "Congestion Pricing May Be Dead in Albany" NY Times - "Traffic Plan Faces an Uncertain Vote" AM - "Congestion pricing battle faces deadline".
From Sunday - Streetsblog - "Bay Ridge anti-congestion pricing forum" WNBC - "Congestion Pricing Plan Comes Down To Wire, Changes Proposed" NY Daily News - "Bloomberg: Shut Up And Vote" Staten Island Advance - "Revelations that Council Speaker Christine Quinn hid almost $5M in taxpayer funds by allocating it to non-existent organizations" NY Daily News - "Shelly Silver, shadow governor" Washington Post - "Slow Going for N.Y. Traffic Plan" NY Times - "Taking Back the Streets".
Saturday 5 April 2008
Bloomberg Tolls - The Mayor has now failed to get the scheme through on the back of the budget. Despite this and despite many in the State Assembly not wanting the tolls scheme, it is likely that the Mayor will have secured the votes through various deals to get his scheme through by Monday's "deadline". The Mayor and his Federal allies seem to have caused a panic by saying that New York will not get a $354 million Federal grant if it does not agree the tolls plan by then.
New York is being bought cheap. Estimates of the financial cost to America of the war in Iraq range from $600 billions to $5 trillion. If the State Senate is persuaded to follow the City Council lemmings then this will be another fiasco that the people have been bounced into by politicians who are, at best, naive. NY1 - "Congestion Pricing Appears To Be Stalled In Albany" 1010 - "N.Y.'s Traffic Fee Plan in Doubt in Legislature" NY Daily News - "Changes may be needed for traffic plan" NY Times - "Ms. Quinn and the Potemkin Accounts" Newsday - "NY's Traffic plan in doubt in Legislature" ABC - "Congestion pricing on its last legs?" Politics on the Hudson - "No Trade For Assembly Speaker Silver" Wxxi - "Paterson Disappointed in Secretive Budget Process" Streetsblog - "God's Love: we're not against congestion pricing".
In California some (about a million) are more equal than others - thenewspaper.com - "Government Plates Immune from Tolls, Photo Tickets" Orange County Register - "Special license plates shield officials from traffic tickets".
Mary says that the belief that toll lanes are for the wealthy "isn't exactly true" Washington State - "HOT lanes driven by pay?
Some fear wealthy commuters will have an edge in paying tolls".
Other stories - Washington State - "U.S. office wants Seattle to demonstrate congestion tolling" Ohio - "Turnpike officials unsure what revenue loss will mean" Louisiana - "Council makes it clear: No sale of span".
Don't panic - people like to be crowded
It is suggested that it may not be true that the population of Britain is increasin, and if it is then isn't this great as it gives greater incentives for "eco-friendly living" and for "the congestion charge" - Guardian Comment - "The crowded house fallacy".
"Keep existing tolls says Sir Rod"
Herald Sun. But taxi drivers say that they should be toll free - The Age - "Free CityLink urged for cabs".
Liverpool Toll - Scotland shows the way
Daily Post - "Scot who led toll free revolution says same can happen to Mersey Tunnels" Daily Post - "Revealed: How tunnel tolls rise will subsidise public transport".
Friday 4 April 2008
Bloomberg Tolls -
Later stories - Crain's - "Congestion pricing seeks approval as pilot" WNBC - "Congestion Pricing At Standstill In Albany" NY1 - "Last-Minute Deal Could Revive Congestion Pricing Before Deadline" NY1 - "Clock Ticks On Congestion Pricing" WCAX - "Dem leader: NY Senate short on votes for Bloomberg's traffic plan" WNBC - "DeDapper's Blog: The Fate Of Congestion Pricing" WNYC - "Nonprofits Feel Congestion Pricing Pinch" NY Daily News - "Bloomberg chases congestion pricing votes while Silver vote days away" NY Daily News - "Sheldon Silver can kill congestion pricing without lifting a finger in public".
Despite the Congestion, one of those taking part in the "congestion pricing" sales push got - a speeding ticket! NY Daily News - "Transport Commish busted for speeding while driving to lobby for congest plan" WCAX - "NYC transportation commissioner's driver gets speeding ticket".
Earlier stories - AM NY - "Pol calls shenanigans on congestion vote?" NY Sun - "The Latest Slap" NY Sun - "Congestion Pricing Critics See A $1 Billion Accounting Trick" NY1 - "Assembly Still Divided Over Congestion Pricing" Staten Island Advance - "Lawmakers edge closer to sealing state budget" Downtown Express - "Mr. Speaker, Downtown needs you to get congestion pricing passed" Metro - "Quinn defends role in phantom funding".
Newsday - "Progress slow on NY State Budget" Brooklyn Paper - "Congestion pricing: The Brooklyn vote" wxxi- "Budget Stalled Over Congestion Pricing" ABC - "City Council investigated for slush fund" NY Daily News - "Avella FOILS For Congestion Pricing Negotiation Documents" Queens Tribune - "Congestion Pricing Is Albany Bound" NY Daily News - "Conservatives: Just Say No To Congestion Pricing".
Other stories - Pennsylvania - "Turnpike tolls may become inevitable" Maine - "York residents turn up the heat against toll plaza plans" Texas - "Deal may be near on tollway bridge from downtown to SW Fort Worth" Maine - "Angry York crowd of 500 blasts I-95 toll plan" Washington State - "HOT lanes should be tested before fully implemented" Land Line Mag - "Virginia governor signs toll bills" Florida - "Planners seek more comments about proposed bridge tolls".
Possible car ban in Dublin
Irish Independent - "A charge by any other name".
Brisbane Times - "Three new tunnels for 'toll city'" The Age - "Eddington report provokes questions".
Another Dartford toll petition
A Havering councillor from the Resident's Association has started a petition calling for the Dartford toll to be scrapped - BBC - "Residents petition to scrap toll" petition to PM.
Private Finance rules to be fudged
Building - "Tick, tick, tick…".
Mayor does his bit for the future
There have been hundreds of reports over last two days, about the "revelation" that the London Mayor is now said to have at least 5 children by three women - BBC - "London's Mayor has five children". How many partners the Mayor has should be his business, but if every man was to father five children then the population would increase by a factor of about 18 every century. Will the Greens give Ken a medal for that?
New Tyne toll
Work starts soon on a new Tyne Tunnel. The existing publicly owned toll tunnel will be handed over to the private operator with the operator and the passenger transport body sharing the loot. Users of the existing public tunnel are already paying for the building of the new private tunnel as the Government said in 2004 that it was OK for the transport body to increase tolls and profits even though the new tunnel will not open till 2011 - News Guardian - "Works starts on tunnel in May".
Thursday 3 April 2008
Bloomberg Tolls. Those who may be new to this story should be aware that nearly all the news reports are in favour of the tolls scheme. They vary from the almost fanatical pro tolls Streetsblog, to papers like the New York Times that due to ignorance or other motives feed their readers with myths about the effects of similar schemes in London and elsewhere. Most of the City Councillors who approved the scheme will have done so because they have been unaware of the full facts and there are also allegations of deals. We will soon know if the Mayor's spin machine has also succeeded in fooling the State Senate.
Later stories today -
NY Times - "Budget No, Boating Law Yes" Streetsblog - "Glick worried that pricing will make air quality worse" Streetsblog - "$8 is crazy (should be at least $40)" Downtown Express - "Silver's likely to support traffic pricing, but puts passage in doubt" WNBC - "The Fate Of Congestion Pricing" eTrucker - "Manhattan drivers soon may face extra tolls" NY Times - "Battle Over Congestion Pricing Proposal Continues, Now on Two Fronts" Village Voice - "Congestion Pricing Faces Albany Deadlock" Queens Chronicle - "Traffic Plan Gets Council Approval".
Streetsblog - "Grim news from Albany" NY Times - "Traffic-Fee Plan Stumbles Into Albany" WNYC - "Diplomats Exempt from Congestion Fee" NY1 - "Fate Of Congestion Pricing Still Hangs In The Balance" NY Daily News - "Assembly Democrats haggle over congestion pricing plan" NY Daily News - "Under plan, N.Y. drivers entering Manhattan on bridges would also pay" Newsday - "Budget upstaged by NYC congestion pricing plan".
Earlier stories - Jersey Journal - "Healy, Ramos split on Hudson toll hike" Star Ledger - "Just like old times, N.J.-N.Y. feud is on" The Record - "State leaders back Corzine on N.Y.C. plan" NY Sun - "Bloomberg, Speaker Face a Test" Metro - "Put that way, $354M isn’t that much cash" Metro - "Battle Over Congestion Pricing Proposal Continues, Now on Two Fronts" Star Ledger - "No to New York extortion" NY Times - "Mayor Presses for $8 Fee for Drivers to Enter Parts of Manhattan".
Queens Courier - "Fate of congestion pricing in Albany" NY1 - "All Eyes On Silver Who Holds Key To Congestion Pricing" Staten Island Advance - "Congestion pricing politics" Fox - "Congestion Pricing Backs Up Budget" Capital News - "Still hammering out a budget" NY Daily News - "The Word According To Silver" Brooklyn Daily Eagle - "Congestion Pricing Faces Hurdles in Albany, B’klyn Responses Indicate".
Today's biggest story in the New York Post starred one of Bloomberg's main supporters - "THIS $$ IS HERS FOR THE FAKING".
Other stories - Washington State - "Washington DOT testing congesting pricing on Highway 167" New York - "Washington Public hearing on proposed Thruway toll hike tonight" Indiana - "I-Zoom debuts, hits tiny problem" Wisconsin - "Lawmakers face tough choices on transportation" Virginia - "Residents tell legislators to abolish HRTA" Washington State - "'HOT' lanes wide open to solo drivers -- for a price" Colorado - "Gibbs and Scanlan shred I-70 bills" Land Line Mag - "Tennessee lawmakers advance bills to amend tollway act".
Common Sense v. Congestion Conspiracy
Reading Evening Post- "‘We are growing and could do it’".
Dartford Toll Discount
Kent Online - "Driver confusion taking its toll".
Road pricing test centre
Eureka - "New R&D Centre will advance transport".
War of Words
Hampstead & Highgate Express - "Conti vs Aaronovitch".
Porsche's statement on Legal action
Another American View
LA Times - "In London, a levy for sins of emission".
Not enough tolls?
Herald Sun - "Cheap off-peak road tolls move".
Too much tolls?
The Australian "motoring organisations" like Britain's AA and RAC support tolls, so we were a bit surprised to see this headline, though it seems that the concern is that drivers will divert on to untolled roads - Brisbane Times - "RACQ concern about new tolls".
Wednesday 2 April 2008
USA Roundup exc Bloomberg Tolls
A story that we missed yesterday (1st April) - Islander (Vermont) - "Tolls Coming To Grand Isle County".
Truckers in many areas have been protesting against high diesel prices, tolls and other costs - Greenville News (South Carolina) - "Rising costs will idle big rigs, driver says". Here is one opinion on fuel tax cuts - Review (Pennsylvania) - "Reducing fuel taxes, road tolls not best solution".
Other stories - DC area - "No Tolls Allowed on Federal Parkways" New York - "Senate Committee Approves Transfer of I-190" New York - "Reviews mixed at Thruway hearing" Maine - "There have to be other toll site options" Indiana - "Toll Road rates rise" New York - "Thruway toll increase gets airing" Washington State - "Highway 520 Bridge tolls necessary" Colorado - "A detour around gridlock on I-70" Arizona - "KTAR Reveals Toll Road Plan is April Fools' Joke" Colorado - "Officials oppose I-70 toll plan" California - "The price of gold" Florida - "Consultant: X-way brass made me do fundraising" West Virginia - "Manchin completes signing, vetoing".
New York - "Effort to Eliminate Grand Island Tolls Gains Steam" Texas - "Corridor comment period extended to April 18".
BLOOMBERG TOLLS Hangover
More Latest - Gotham Gazette - "A Congestion Pricing Update" NY1 - "State Lawmakers To Begin Formal Talks On Congestion Pricing" NY Daily News - "Assembly Dems Start Congestion Pricing Conference" WNBC - "DeDapper's Blog: Getting Congestion Pricing Passed" NY Daily News - "Politicians who back congestion pricing wonder: Is it gutsy - or career-ending?" NY Daily News - "Thompson Gets In On Congestion Pricing Action".
Latest - NY Magazine - "Bloomberg’s Biggest Fight for His Green Legacy Yet to Come" NY Daily News - "Parker A Solid 'No' On 'Snake Oil' Congestion Pricing" Gotham Gazette - "A new Congestion Bill" Queens Ledger - "Council Approves Congestion Pricing" Gotham Gazette - "Analyzing the council vote".
More recent stories from Streetsblog, the toll advocates - Corzine ratchets up inter state bickering Brodsky presents Dems with a cloice - God's love or Al D'Amato? We win a no expenses paid trip to Albany Brooklyn assemblyman protects families from pricing.
Others - Hoboken Now - "Ruben Ramos weighs in on congestion pricing" WNYC - "Congestion Opposition Cries Foul" Gothamist - "Corzine: Congestion Pricing is "Outrageous"" NY Daily News - "Color-Coded Congestion Pricing" NY Daily News - "Kids' health and IQ could improve with congestion pricing plan" Observer - "Congestion Pricing? Not Without Sheldon Silver".
Reaction to the proposal that a large slice of the increased tolls on the bridges from New Jersey would go to mass transit in New York - NY Post - "'CONGESTION' WAR WITH NJ GOVERNOR" Star Ledger - "New York threatens extra toll from N.J." NY Sun - "Corzine Vows A Lawsuit On Cars Plan" NY Times - "City Plan to Raise Hudson River Tolls Draws Corzine’s Fire" Newsday - "Corzine weighs legal action against congestion pricing plan" Star Ledger - "Corzine blasts congestion pricing plan".
Bits and pieces - NY Daily News - "The big green light" NYU - "Congestion pricing is in NYU's interest" NYCLU - "Privacy Protections Must be Broadened and Strengthened in Congestion Pricing Plan, NYCLU Says" NY Daily News - "Next stop, Albany, for congest drive" NY Daily News - "Mayor touts labor's backing; uniforms still want congestion pricing parked" Newsday - "City's winners in congestion pricing plan" Daily News - "Diaz Jr Says: 'We'll All Have Some Explaining To Do' On Congestion Pricing In '09" Mobilizing the Region - "In NYC, Three Cheers for the City Council".
The Mayor is also reported to be trying to get his tolls plan incorporated in the state budget which needs to be agreed very soon. This would make it difficult for opponents to vote against the tolls - Times Union - "Secretive push for agreement on budget".
Some of the known rewards for those who voted for tolls - NY Daily News - "Pork handouts offered to pressure council members to OK congestion plan". And the only one of the 51 city councillors who was absent for the vote - NY Daily News - "Conspicuous Absence on Congestion Pricing Vote".
The establishment is of course 100% behind the Bloomberg tolls (they usually avoid the "t" word and call it "congestion pricing") and ready to vilify anyone who might stop the money machine - NY Times - "It’s Up to You, Mr. Silver".
More cash for consultants preparing toll plans
Bath Chronicle - "IS CONGESTION CHARGING ON THE WAY?" BBC - "New cash fuels road charge plans".
One car per family
Xinhua - "Beijing's vehicle population up 13% in 1st quarter".
Legal action starts
BBC - "Porsche in C-charge legal fight" Bloomberg - "Porsche Files Suit Against London Over Congestion Tax".
Liverpool toll protest
Wirral Globe - "Tunnel tolls protest".
More on Flying knight goes underground
There has been adverse reaction to Sir Rod's proposal for a lot more roads and a lot more tolls, though it is mainly complaints about more roads - The Age - "$18 billion to link east and west" The Australian - "Levies to fund transport plan".
PS One way that cars might be tracked and tolled - Cnet - "RFID-tracked cars coming to Australia & NZ?".
Does the flying knight have a Kiwi twin?
Stuff - "MP keen to pay for tunnel with tolls".
BBC - "'Millions of holes' dug in roads". The report includes this from the Department for Transport - "Since 2002 the government has more than trebled funding to local authorities for investing in their roads. We recently announced a three-year settlement which will mean funding of £809m in 2010/11, up from £265m in 2000/01, in addition to funding also provided for routine maintenance." There were similar claims in Parliament last week when in response to a question about the need for a new road to Canvey island the PM said - "I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his question, because it allows me to point out that we have increased spending on roads by 80 per cent in real terms since we came to power, and that that spending will have more than doubled in real terms in the years up to the next decade.". But these claims have even more holes than the roads. It is increasingly hard to discover how much is spent on "roads" as part of it is now given to public transport authorities to spend on schemes to impede traffic. Even if it was all spent on improving the roads £809m in 2010/11 is virtually invisible compared with the £50 billion that the Government gets in taxes from roads users.
Tuesday 1 April 2008
Flying knight goes underground
The Age - "Tunnel plan drives MPs and banks to distraction".
Prague Tolls by 2010
Another city is to fall victim to the myths created by Ken's spin machine - Radio Praha - "Prague City hall gives green light to congestion charge".
BLOOMBERG TOLLS WIN CITY COUNCIL VOTE - It was a day early, but Bloomberg has succeeded in making fools of New Yorkers, as his tolls plan won the city council vote by 30 votes to 20 (the decision needs state approval) - NY1 - "Congestion Pricing Plan In The Hands Of State Lawmakers" Staten Island Advance - "Council green-lights congestion pricing" Bloomberg - "New York City Council Approves Manhattan Traffic Fee Plan" Times Herald Record - "Region's commuters dodge congestion fee" NY Times - "Council Votes 30-20 for Traffic Fees" NY Daily News - "City Council OKs congestion plan" Crain's - "City Council approves congestion pricing 30-20".
Standing behind Bloomberg and his tolls plan were George Bush and Mary Peters the Transportation Secretary who offered New York money if they agreed by the end of March to bring in road tolls. They will be laughing that the Democrats have fallen for their bait.
Just a few hours before the vote the NY Times had this article which indicated that it would go the other way - it seems that those who support the tolls were either late converts or did not want to admit it - "City Council Schedules Congestion Pricing Vote".
Tolls shock for drivers in Arizona as they hear this morning's news - KTAR - "Valley Freeways Turn Into Toll Roads Wednesday".
Other stories - Indiana - "Rocky debut for Toll Road's i-Zoom" Washington State - "More evidence that Washington infrastructure collapse is over-hyped" New Jersey - "Poll: Most back budget cuts over toll or tax hikes, but Dems wary" Pennsylvania - "Let's hold our noses, support gasoline tax" letter Virginia - "Transportation funding discussed" North Carolina - "Foes of toll road vow to avoid it" Pennsylvania - "New lease on life?".
"Angry Pedestrians and Road-users In Limbo" protest against toll plan in Northern Ireland
Banbridge Leader - "DISTRICT BRACED FOR CONGESTION CHARGE TRIAL".
£250 toll for cyclists
Loughborough News - "Congestion Charge for Loughborough Cyclists".
Another April Fool?
The Economic Affairs committee of the House of Lords has concluded that - "competition from immigrants has had a negative impact on the low paid and training for young UK workers, and has contributed to high house prices" - BBC - "Immigration 'small benefit' to UK". Is this an April fool joke? It can't be that someone is allowed to say this, though we can be reassured that the Government will rubbish this, and in any case will continue to keep the door open wide - they either can't shut it or don't know how. As far as roads are concerned the report implies that the committee realise that higher levels of population means more congestion and a need for more roads, though one of the few explicit references is that - "Rising population density will also increase the demand for infrastructure including roads".
report pdf version.
As this is actually dated 31st March perhaps it is not a joke - Singapore drivers are to be offered cash incentives if they give up their entitlement to own a car - Channel News Asia - "Cash incentive to give up your car?". More proof that the ERP tolls scheme has been a fabulous success in reducing the use of cars.
"No April Fools joke, road tolls rise again"
A visitor from Betelgeuse and the new parking laws
Independent - "Tales of the City".
Cambridge Toll debate
Civil Engineers in Cambridgeshire have organised a dedate to be chaired by the head of the RAC Foundation - "Lunchtime congestion charging debate - 1 May". As the Engineers and RAC Foundation advocate road tolls, there can be little doubt about the outcome. Those speaking against the scheme are Roger Lawson from the ABD, the head of the local Chamber of Commerce, and suprisingly a Tory councillor - she should have a word with her colleagues who have volunteered to eat this poisoned apple.