DECEMBER 2006 NEWS
Thursday 28 December
More on Tunnel "collapse"
Of these stories, only the first comes anywhere near to making the obvious point - if you want to make the maximum economic use of a road, then you don't put a toll on it, the Government should buy the tunnel and remove the toll - Sydney Morning Herald - "High cost to pay for a road going nowhere" Sydney Morning Herald - "Cross city, cross-purposes" The Australian - "State may run failed tunnel if no buyer" news.com - "Warning private sector turned off by tunnel" Reuters - "Struggling Australia tunnel set to be sold-papers" The Age - "PPPs the 'true victim' of tunnel fiasco" Perth News - "Private sector 'wary after tunnel'".
New Jersey toll sale
Anthony Cowell, an ex Deputy Attorney General for New Jersey gives his views - Counterpunch - "Highway Robbery". There is also this from AP - "Critics".
Tolls economy 1
The new Dallas to Fort Worth toll road is all electronic. Drivers without tags get billed. At the moment they are sending out bills for 25 cents, with more than that as the cost of postage - Star Telegram - "State needs lessons in arithmetic".
Tolls economy 2
Every now and again, the American papers print something showing the madness of tolls. This is from Charles Fredda of Colts Neck - Asbury Park Press.
More on Tunnel "collapse"
Of these stories, only the first comes anywhere near to making the obvious point - if you want to make the maximum economic use of a road, then you don't put a toll on it, the Government should buy the tunnel and remove the toll - Sydney Morning Herald - "High cost to pay for a road going nowhere" Reuters - "Struggling Australia tunnel set to be sold-papers" The Age - "PPPs the 'true victim' of tunnel fiasco" Perth News - "Private sector 'wary after tunnel'".
Wednesday 27 December
Toll roads are generally a licence to print money, but one has just gone into the hands of the receivers - The West Australian - "NSW govt sees no risk in tunnel failure" Sydney Morning Herald - "Bell tolls for the roadway few wanted". Why has this happened? One possible reason is that the secret agreement made by the Government to close roads and force traffic into the tolled route was exposed. Whatever the Government say in public, it is likely that their banker friends will not lose out.
Gridlock - what to do?
The Boston Globe seems to be pro tolls, but is not apparently anti roads. Today they give space to an argument that you can build your way out of congestion - "Making gridlock a priority". We agree that it is wrong to tax roads users and then use those taxes to finance inaptly named "mass" transit sytems.But though inadequate roads spending is a problem, the real issues are - population growth and the over concentration of work, leisure, shopping and education facilities in the centre of big cities with a population that is forced to travel considerable distances to get housing at a reasonable cost.
Hong Kong Jam
The city is planning to follow Singapore down the electronic road pricing route - The Standard. Hong Kong would be wise to study very carefully what has happened in Singapore, where ERP has not reduced either numbers of vehicles or miles travelled.
Knock on effect
Following the proposal to increase tolls on the Thames crossing at Dartford, the Bexley Times reports that the council have called for the Inquiry into the proposed upriver crossing to be reopened. Bexley Council say that higher tolls would significantly affect traffic on the Thames "Gateway" Bridge - linking Thamesmead to Beckton in East London. Though the long public inquiry closed in May, the decision has not yet been revealed.
US Aid goes to "good cause"
Macedonia has a problem with tolls collection, so it is to get new toll booths, courtesy of the World Bank and US Agency for International Development - Makfax.
The New Zealand Herald nails its colours to the tolls mast - "Only tolls can ration road use"
We often comment that the effect of lorry tolls on European motorways is to divert the traffic onto unsuitable roads. According to mti.com, Hungary has now found an answer - they are to toll minor roads.
Tuesday 26 December
Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy
A writer from CanNews Service suggests that Canadians should "be thankful " that they are not facing Britain's road pricing plans - Gazette - "Britain considers pay-as-you-go driving". The article also says that "most criticism came from some commentators in the right-wing media". Really? Road pricing is wanted by fanatics who believe in market forces at any price, and by those who want to exploit it. They have succeeded in duping many Greens into supporting it (rather than higher fuel prices), but these Greens probably also believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy.
Monday 25 December
There are few cars in Vietnam, yet they still have a traffic congestion problem. Their solution is to restrict numbers of buses and motorbikes - Vietnamnet - "Hot debate over solutions to traffic congestion in Hanoi".
Sunday 24 December
"Gas tax, the fairest, most efficient ''user fee'' available"
The Metro West Daily News gives its twopennyworth on the tolls in west Massachussets - "Is Patrick deaf to toll equity argument?".
Old New Hampshire tolls tokens are being sold as jewellery! Telegram.
Saturday 23 December
Big sell off
The closing date to express interest in buying the Pennsylvania Turnpike was yesterday, and 40 companies have made submissions - NEPA News. No doubt PA drivers will be pleased that there are so many philanthropists around.
The Express Times in New Jersey reports that - "Resident and environmental groups contend that privatizing toll roads such as the New Jersey Turnpike and Atlantic City Expressway could lead to steady toll increases, block upgrades on other roads and compromise the state's ability to change with the times." - "Groups argue privatization would hike tolls".
The Governor of New Hampshire wants harsh punishment for those evading tolls, so as "to be fair to other drivers". But David Miner says that if the Governor wants to be fair then he should lift some of the tolls off the people of Merrimack - Nashua Telegraph.
Friday 22 December
Early Xmas Present from Minister to Drivers
On the 10th and 11th October there was a public inquiry into a proposed increase in the tolls for crossing the Clifton Suspension
Bridge. The Minister has now approved the increase, which is from 30 pence to 50 pence, and will be applied from 8th January - BBC - "Bridge toll rise gets green light" Bristol Evening Post (Saturday) - "GO-AHEAD FOR BRIDGE TOLL TO RISE TO 50P".
The NAAT was one of the objectors at the Inquiry and we have now issued this statement -
"It was inevitable that the Minister would approve the increase, but it flies in the face of the facts and justice for drivers.
Particularly as it emerged at the Inquiry that the trustees and "their servants" don't have to pay the tolls.
The Trust has been very slow in publishing accounts, but the latest accounts showed that the Trust had reserves of £6.5 million. It
was clear at the Inquiry that the main reason that the Trust wants even more money is to spend it on things like the illuminations
and a museum. These may be worthy objects but they should not be paid for by motorists.
It is outrageous to treat motorists as a cash cow by increasing tolls by 66% to pay for such expenditure. Similar historical bridges
such as the Menai Suspension Bridge, and London's Tower bridge manage without any tolls at all."
The Trustees have today issued a statement saying that they needed the increase because they get no help from outside funds including the "lottery". At the Inquiry the Trust said that they had applied for and been refused lottery funds. We made enquiries of the National Lottery bodies, and they could only find one application for funds. The application was in 1997, and the Trust withdrew the application "pre decision".
It seems that the Trust prefers to charge drivers.
NAAT account of what happened at the inquiry.
The power of tolls
A new underwater power cable is to be laid from Oakland to Treasure Island. Pacific Gas & Electric Comapny want to provide and pay for the cable, but the Bay Area Toll Authority are insisting that bridge tolls should pay for it - Mercury-Register. This is just another example of the wonderful tolls pot, which the tolleaucrats can use to pay for just about anything that they like.
For the last 15 years, the Netherlands has been cited as a leading example of road pricing. The only problem is that there are almost no tolls (just on one tunnel) and their plans for road pricing are always in the distant future. This seems to be upsetting the trolls and bankers, so the OECD has warned them - Dutchnews.nl.
Road Pricing reality
Today online reports that "Madam Tracey Ng has just endured the slowest drive of her life" It took her 30 minutes to "drive" along 800 yards of Orhard Drive. As you probably guessed the road is part of the world's most advanced road pricing scheme - "A bypass needed for the Orchard heartbeat?". You can see why the Singapore system has virtually no effect on drivers on our road pricing page (scroll down to Singapore).
PS Today online in a separate report says that heavy rain on Thursday led to power cuts and part of the Electronic Road Pricing system temporarily failing. It does not report what effect, if any, this had on traffic.
Thursday 21 December
Western tolls going??
There have been conflicting reports on the outcome of Wednesday's meeting of the Massachussets Turnpike Board. The board decided to postpone a decision confirming that the tolls will go. As the new Governor and the Boston establishment are very keen to keep the tolls, that seemed to mean that those in the west will have to keep on paying. But the Republican takes a slightly more optimistic view - "Board vote boosts toll removal plan".
"Selling roads is a scam"
The New Jersey Public Interest Research Group have issued a statement expressing concerns about possible sale of the Turnpike - "Diverse Groups Detail Serious Issues with Privatizing NJ’s Toll Roads".
According to Bloomberg.com, the state is expecting to get $10 billion from the sale of the roads. They obviously believe that there is such a thing as a free lunch.
Cat amongst the pigeons
The recent report which pointed out that it would be better to finance Texas roads from gas tax rather than tolls, has put the cat amongst the pigeons. Though toll pigeons come emperor size - Austin American Statesman - "Watson calls for delay in toll vote".
Petitions across the Atlantic
The Telegraph gives readers a chance to comment on road pricing plans and the petition from "Peter Roberts" - "Will you protest against road-pricing plans?".
At the same time WBEN 930 reports from New York that Rus Thompson has handed over petitions to Governor Pataki. The petitioners want the Grand Island tolls removed.
Road Tolls to pay for train rides to airport
In a bizzare deal the operators of the Dulles airport are to be given the Dulles Toll road, so that they can use the tolls to directly pay for building a railroad - Washington Post - "Dulles Airport Authority to Take Over Toll Road".
PS The airport have now said that there will be a series of road toll increases starting in 2008 to boost the money available for building the railroad.
Wednesday 20 December
Western tolls to go west?
The Massachussets Turnpike Board meets again today to decide the future of the western tolls. Whatever they decide will eventually need backing from the new Governor. The Boston establishment are campaigning hard to keep the tolls in the west of the state - they probably like tolls anyway, but even better if they are inflicted on someone else.
PS The incoming Governor has warned that whatever the board decides he will do his best to make sure that the tolls are kept. He is considering whether he can overrule the existing board, by increasing the size of it and making sure that all the new appointees are toll fans.
"Taking Its Toll" campaign
The Kent Messenger Group of newspapers have started a campaign to scrap the Dartford tolls - Dartford toll petition. It already has over 2,300 signatures, if you use the Dartford crossing, then please sign.
Petition in news
The Telegraph mentions the petition against road pricing from "Peter Roberts" (which now has over 56,000 signatures) - "55,000 sign No 10 petition against road pricing". Our own petition has not been mentioned in any English papers, but has been mentioned in two papers north of the border (see Scotland news page).
More on Malaysian toll hike
Raj, a reader of Malaysiakini gives his views - "Toll hike a ruse to cheat public". Raj's comment "They make sure we have a hard time using alternative routes just to force us to use the tolled highways. I have seen this at the Damansara toll plaza near the Eastin Hotel and at the New Pantai Expressway. The roads are so narrow that they cause a long jam. Traffic lights installed at slip roads are also programmed to have a very short ‘green light’ period creating even more jams. Why must they do this?" rings a few bells!
Dan Hennessy of Long Beach made a novel protest against a hike in the Atlantic Beach Bridge toll. He paid for his annual pass with 13 thousand pennies - Newsday - "Man makes cents out of fair hike".
Unanimous toll vote
A local council yesterday voted against using tolls to build the Mountain View Corridor - Salt Lake Tribune.
Troll economics lesson 1
Globes.co.il reports that tolls on the Yitzhak Rabin Highway also known as the “Cross Israel Highway” are likely to rise 20% in 2007 because there is not sufficent income from the vehicles using it. We wonder how many more vehicles will use it after the toll rise?
Troll economics lesson 2
The Arizona Daily Star reports that a politician has come up with a new idea for freeing traffic on the Interstate 10. He wants to build a new road for the trucks - a toll road. No doubt all the big rigs can hardly wait for this opportunity to pay tolls.
More roads, more tolls
The Conference Board of Canada is an "independent" (i.e. financed by big business) think tank which has just produced a report "Build It and Will They Drive? Modelling Light-Duty Vehicle Travel Demand". The report is based on a model of Canada’s car use. It concludes that - "Where people live is the most significant factor in determining how far they drive. A major part of the solution to Canada’s transportation challenges is more dense urban development, so people live closer to their workplaces and the services they use.” The report also says that building more roads does not increase demand. Despite these conclusions it apparently recommends congestion charging - Todays Trucking - "More roads don't lead to more traffic: study".
Tuesday 19 December
The BBC report on the toll increase on the Severn bridges which comes into effect on 1st January - "Cost of Severn crossing increases". As is often the case, the Beeb seem to act as an arm of the Government News Network. This is what we sent the BBC and they ignored - "It is time that this "toll tax" was removed. Bridge users have been paying it for 40 years. The promise is that the tolls will be removed when the cost of building the bridges is recovered. But the Government started in 2003 taking some of the income as VAT, which postponed the date. The fear is that when the new date is eventually reached, the authorities will find another excuse to keep collecting the money, as they did with the Dartford crossings.".
New Year headache
Lots of tolls are set to rise on the 1st January, including Ohio Turnpike, where they have just announced the increase. Cars will pay 14 per cent more, and trucks 8 per cent. Ohio is still worried that trucks divert on to less suitable roads to avoid the toll. As with a lot of American tolls, the idea is to sting those who are just crossing the state, in this case travelling between Indiana and Pennsylvania. This will now cost $33.50 for a 240 mile journey. If this was recovered through gas tax instead, it would be less than two cents per gallon, but who wants to hand over so much money on a toll, that will be largely wasted on collection and administration?
PS This later report indicates that the Governor's representative on the Turnpike board voted against the toll rise. They went ahead anyway, as they needed the rise in part to pay for new toll equipment - Layover.com.
PPS Another report today about trucks avoiding tolls - "Toll evading truck traffic frustrates village revitalization".
The Austin tolls come into force on 6th January. As they reckon that 10 per cent will try and evade payment, they have spent $70 million on cameras - Kvue.com - Only in the world of the Trolls could you spend so much money on a few cameras!
There is a report that the German system for collecting tolls from trucks - "Toll Collect" (also known as "Madly Collect")may be changed so that the toll is partly based on the time of day. At the moment the charge is solely based on the number of kilometres travelled by a truck on the motorway. According to a press release last week, nearly 48 billion kilometres have been charged since the system started on 01 January 2005. There are 840,000 trucks registered to use the system, of which 540,000 have onboard units. Foreign trucks must make up a lot of the traffic, as 300,000 of the registered trucks are foreign, and there will also be unregistered trucks, nearly all of which will be foreign.
Malaysia is being urged to bring in road pricing or "pay as you drive" because of traffic problems. As usual the "success" of the London scheme is being cited. Though one acdemic has come up with the novel idea that it might help if Malaysia started taxing fuel.
Monday 18 December
A Monster by any another name
The RAC Foundation continue to champion tolls and road pricing and today have an article on Guardian online. They suggest changing the name to "UK Drive Time" - "A route map for road pricing". What a sorry state Britain is in, but the reader's comments at the bottom of the article are reassuring.
April in Florida
Is this a hoax? A Florida official gives reasons for NOT building a toll road - including that it would cost a lot more to build and operate - Florida Today- "Parkway tolls look unlikely".
Why tolls are not cheap
As we reported on the 13th tolls in Malaysia are to increase by 60 per cent from 1st January. An article in Malaysia Kini wonders to what extent this is because of inflated construction costs and secret contracts - "Samy’s ‘cheapest’ toll rates claim misleading".
Daniel Schulman and James Ridgeway in Mother Jones discuss the great Highway Sale and Leigh Ferrara, gives a list of roads for sale - "The Highwaymen" "Who's Buying Your Commute?".
Keeping it in the family
MIG has sold part of its American toll road interests to - MIG (or at least another part of Macquarie) - Sydney Morning Herald - "Macquarie Infra offloads US toll roads" As this is the wonderful world of the Trolls, no doubt large profits and commissions were made by all parties. We wonder who ultimately pays?
No Tolls vote
Another council has voted against toll plans - Times NZ - "Councillors reject eastern road tolls"
Sunday 17 December
Public Private Finance - Caribbean experience
Clifton Yap in the Jamaica Observer raises various concerns including the toll road contract. It is said that construction cost was about US$140 million , the firm after some swapping of bank loans has received US$240 million, and will be receiving tolls for the next 35 years on its "investment". Clifton says "Think about it" - "Jamaica's development - cause for much concern".
Mass turnpike future
In Massachusetts, the Turnpike board meets on Wednesday to discuss the scrapping of the western tolls - Milford Daily News - "Expensive road ahead". Meanwhile someone has suggested that they abolish the tolls on the whole of the Massachusetts Turnpike and approve a couple of super casinos to make up the income.
Meanwhile Pennsylvania is on course to sell its Turnpike - Lancaster Online - "Yellow brick road". They reckon that they will get billions. What they don't say is that drivers will be paying out even more billions - or do they reckon that you can sell your house to the banks and live rent free?
Tolls v Gas
Till recently the Texas Trolls had it nearly all their own way, but now people other than the anti toll campaigners are starting to question the need for all these tolls, and wonder if a gas tax is not a better way to pay for roads. The Austin American-Statesman says that higher gas taxes might reduce the demand for new roads and that anyway "it would help promote demand for more fuel-efficient cars and trucks" - "Raising gasoline tax is a good idea, even if we still need tolls".
The Observer reports on the incredible success of one of the petitions to the Prime Minister. The petition is one of those against road pricing, and it has so far attracted 46,000 signatures - as many as the next six most successful petitions combined. The petition was started by "Peter Roberts". He is a bit of a mystery man, he appears to have never taken any interest in tolls or "road pricing" and we suspected that he had some connection with the Tory party. But according to the Observer, he did it as a member of the Association of the British Drivers - "Protests grow over Blair's plans for national road pricing". The Observer describes this as "Blair's plans", if only this were true, unfortunately at the moment all three main UK parties are supporting road pricing, and it is the RAC Foundation which is acting as cheerleader for tolls.
The Observer quotes a couple of surveys on road pricing but there is also a poll on the BBC which has so far attracted 29 thousand votes, with the result that 73% are against "road charging", 23% in favour and 4% voted "don't know".
The Western Mail yesterday mentioned are own petition - "Motorists urged to sign poll petition". There are links to all the petitions at top of our home page - you must be a British citizen or resident to sign the petitions, but anyone can take part in BBC vote.
The opening of the Cove Lane Tunnel has been delayed. The NSW Nationals say that this is a ploy by the Government as the toll free honeymoon period will now be just before March's election - Sydney Morning Herald - "Tunnel launch branded as an opportunistic election ploy".
Saturday 16 December
A Missouri state senator is battling to have the law changed so that Missouri can charge tolls to pay for new and existing roads - Land Line mag - "Tolling sought once again for I-70 in Missouri". It isn't clear why the senator is so keen, though it appears that his constituents agree with him, as an official poll in 2004 said that two out of three people wanted tolls!
Friday 15 December
The chairman of Autostrade has attacked an Italian government proposal to tax tolls. He said it was "a one-sided decision" to change the concession agreement. There is nothing to stop any Government from introducing new taxes or raising existing taxes. It is however most unusual for the Trolls, as their concession agreements are usually secret and sacrosanct.
Ken is being nominated. No, it's not for his tact and diplomacy - Spiked.
The people of Sydney are fighting over who should pay the most tolls - Telegraph - "Keep your handsoff toll Cashback". A pity that they keep electing politicians that will treat them all as fodder for the banks.
PS The "cash back" scheme is bureacracy gone mad. Drivers have to fill in a form to get their money back, and last year 198,000 drivers went to the trouble of doing so - though they do get an average of $Aus 450 back for their trouble. can anyone think of a harder way of collecting money and then giving it back?
There has been a lot in the California news about "HOT" lanes, including this - Inside Bay Area- "How much would an open lane be worth?".
HOT lanes are just a way of sneaking in tolls. They start by making new or possibly existing lanes as reserved for vehicles that have two or more occupants. Then they say that the car share lanes are empty, so why don't we let some driver only cars in, as long as they pay a toll. Then they say that two in a vehicle isn't good enough if you want to avoid the toll. When will Californians wake up and realise that the most efficient way of paying for roads is a gas tax; not a cumbersome, confusing HOT system.
There are now at least 6 petitions to the Prime Minister against one form or other of tolls. So we have now started one against all tolls - existing and planned.
Thursday 14 December
Toll increase consultation
The Government have announced the start of consultation on increases to the Darford crossing tolls - BBC - "Thames crossing tolls scrutinised" DfT Press release including link to consultation documents.
The reasons that the Government give for keeping and increasing the tolls fly in the face of the facts.
They say the tolls are a safety measure, but US research shows that approaches to tolls are the most dangerous places on the road.
This is because of drivers slowing down for toll booths, searching for change, and possibly switching lanes where there is a mix of manned and automatic toll booths. The Government also say that the tolls control the growth of traffic, but the traffic has little choice, all the tolls do is to restrict the volume of vehicles that can cross and cause jams.
MPs from all parties have called for an end to the tolls, if this consultation is genuine, then the Government should listen to them.
Temperatures are at a record high, so they say - BBC - "2006 sets British heat records". This may or may not be accurate. We wonder how many people are aware of what the "Central England Temperature Records" are and who, where and how has beeen measuring the temperatures since 1659. We also wonder how many people realise that most of this series is deductions that were made by just one man. And do they know that the more recent temperature measurements are distorted due to urban areas growing closer to the locations where the measurements have been taken and that estimated adjustments have to be made. If you search on the web for "Central England Temperature" you will see that nearly everyone accepts these CET records on faith, a bit like the Ten Commandments.
Because of the costs of the Ohio River bridges project increasing to $3.9 billion, it is suggested that they and existing bridges linking Indiana and Kentucky may be tolled - Courier-Journal - "Tolls considered in bridge project". This is really Catch 22, as soon as the possibility of tolls arises, the costs of bridges and roads at least doubles.
Cash - less
Following yesterday's announcement that Transurban are to take over the Sydney Roads Group, it has now been said that all the roads will be eventually switched to a cashless system. The Government support this as it will reduce toll delays and thus "improve traffic flow". The main benefit to the Trolls is that the punters are not aware of how much money thay are paying - Sydney Morning Herald - "Bell tolls for cash on motorways".
The Associated Press have put out a story from the Trolls. They point to pollution problems in Asia and say that the answer is a road pricing system as they have in Singapore - International Herald Tribune - "Exploding growth in vehicle numbers in Asia posing pollution headaches". This is the usual disinformation, the root of the problem in Asia (and elsewhere) is a combination of explosive population growth and economy changes.
Singapore does have very high costs for owning a vehicle and has tolls. But it also has low taxes on fuel, particularly diesel. The result is that the average mileage per car in this tiny country is 12,500 miles a year - one of the world's highest. China also has a system of tolls, but no taxes on fuel. As China's GDP per head is rocketing up, do the Trolls really expect anyone to believe that this tolls system will reduce pollution in China?
The Hartford Courant of Connecticuit comments on the fall in traffic in 2005 (which we reported on 6th). The editor says "There's a movement afoot to bring tolls back to Connecticut. The better way to extract a user fee from drivers is at the pump." - "Let's Keep Driving Less". Only problem is that the Trolls give people driving less or using more fuel efficient cars, as an argument for tolls!
Florida has about 8 authorities controlling toll roads. One alone (the Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority) has spent $1.6 million in last 4 years on PR, including holiday parties and ghost writing of magazine articles - St Petersburg Times - "What did board get for $1.6M on P.R.?".
Bus law 2
On Tuesday we reported on the Government's new "Bus Law". Today the Troll Times seems to agree with us that this would probably make things worse. So are we wrong? "Transport policy takes dangerous turn".
Wednesday 13 December
The federal government plans to double the tolls on the Harbour bridge in New Brunswick. Residents are calling for the tolls to be scrapped instead - CBC - "Bridge debt a 'mortgage you can never repay': Saint John MP". It is not unusual for the debt on a tolled facility to be more then it cost to build as most of the toll income is wasted in collection, poor administration and cosy relationships with contractors. But even if there were no debt, the trolls will never let go.
Two more examples of the big Troll sales push - Spooner Advocate - "Open Road Tolling is a sensible funding option" North West Progressive Institute - "The Discovery Institute and tolls". One thing is for sure, there is a LOT of money behind all this sales push.
Though the European trolls are not merging for the moment, two Australian trolls today agreed a merger. Transurban are to take over Sydney Roads Group (a spin off from MIG) and become Australia's largest troll - The Age - "Transurban tops in tolls".
Not tolls, but another indication of what the car haters are up to, and what people think of it - Sound Politics - "Utopian social engineering at its worst".
"A tax is not a tax"
An article written from a trolls / mass transit viewpoint, but which also indicates who is for and against tolling New York City and the free bridges - Gotham Gazette - "Congestion Pricing And The Future Of NYC: Addressing The Objections".
Not really! Just another of many instances of a switch to one way tolling so as to eliminate half of the toll queues and accidents - Star Ledger - "Northbound Barnegat toll booths to get the boot".
The Trolls have called off their merger - at least for now - Houston Chronicle - "Autostrade Board Calls Off Merger".
Ken reaches out
Effect on Ken's plans for penal tolls on older lorries in the "LEZ" (low emission zone) - thisislocallondon. Issues like pollution should be addressed by the Government not by a London Tsar who wants to reach out as far as the M25, M1, M4 and M11.
Transport for London have appointed a new marketing boss, who's job will include - "Educating the public on London's Congestion Charge". Should be an easy job then, as most of the news media are happy to go along with a bit of fantasy.
New Year Present
Tolls in Malaysia are to increase by 60 per cent from 1st January. Under the agreements with the toll operators the Government has to guarantee them a profit. A lot of people are already avoiding the tolls. The high increase will be on the basis that more drivers will use other roads, but that a hard core of drivers will pay anything - The Edge - "Road tolls to rise by up to 60%".
Tuesday 12 December
The Great Plunder
"Only one-third of fees collected by state and local government from motorists goes directly to road construction and maintenance" according to 2005 statistics.
Gas taxes were $20.5 billion, registration fees and miscellaneous taxes $13.5 billion, and road tolls were $6.5 billion. The $40.5 billion is split - $12 billion on "administration and overhead", $13 billion road construction and maintenance, $6.5 billion on debt (mass transit as well as roads) and Highway police, $1.5 billion on mass transit, and $7.5 billion on social spending - Newspaper.com - "Billions in Highway Taxes Diverted to General Spending" (includes link to FHA statistics).
PS The above report may not be reliable, as it seems that the figures for both taxes and spending should be a lot higher. The figures were only released today, and all details are not yet available, but this is the main source.
The Government has announced that it is to make changes to the law to give local authorities control over bus companies. There has been a mixed reaction from bus companies, what they really want is cars to be forced off the road through either road pricing or reservation of half the road space for buses. It is likely that the main effect of the Government proposals is that bus company monopolies will become established, with smaller bus companies not being allowed to compete.
Merger still blocked
There are still problems with the Trolls merger. The merger is being pushed by tollocrats at Brussels, but the Italian Government is doing its best to block the "fusion" - AGI - "AUTOSTRADE AND ABERTIS FAR FROM FUSION".
Monday 11 December
Electronic tolling is to be trialled on the Tamar bridge - BBC - "Bridge toll tag scheme trialled". Experience in the United States is that electronic tolling systems can be dangerous. This is because the electronic tolls usually have separate unmanned booths and lanes, and accidents occur as drivers switch between lanes. This will be far more likely to happen on the Tamar bridge as there are a lot of tourists that use it. Instead of electronic tolling, drivers would prefer no tolling. Drivers will of course get no say, and the people will be kept in the dark.
Silence is golden
Saturday's Times had an interview with a rather taciturn Transport Secretary. It suggests that he wants to "avoid frightening motorists" - "Listen carefully: you're about to enter a verbal congestion zone".
Perhaps Duggie had in mind the experience of Dave two weeks earlier - ABD - "Miliband admits The Inconvenient Truth".
The Director of a Boston establishment organisation argues that tolls should be kept in western part of the state but are changed to "road pricing" - Boston Globe - "Free roads are anything but free". In America they of course believe the myths about the London congestion charge.
In Sunday's Florida Ledger there was a story about a toll income boom on the Polk Parkway. This raised the question about when this and other roads would have paid off their debts and become free - but the Tolls PR spokesman said - "That is an urban myth, that toll roads are paid off and become public. No toll roads have ever dropped their tolls.".
Sunday 10 December
The Patriot News points to some difficulties with selling the Pennsylvania turnpike - "'Pike transfer may already be an impossibility". The piece ends "What are the economic and moral consequences of making a long-term lease or permanent sale of a major piece of public property to gain a short-term fix?". When it comes to tolls, there is no such thing as morals or even economics.
Different solutions to Irish congestion
Dublin has major traffic congestion, mainly caused by economic boom and increased population, but also "fuelled" by relatively low fuel prices, with some effect from delays caused by tolls. There are two reports on this today.
The Sunday Times solution to the problem is for the Government to buy out the toll roads. Being the Times they don't want the tolls removed, only replaced by electronic tolls.
The Sunday Post though quotes Automobile Association spokesman Conor Faughnan - ‘‘Tolls are a crude and clumsy way of raising money, and should be done away with. Rising motor tax may not be popular, but it would work better for this purpose. People who are driving to work are being demonised, and this is unfair as, for many, it is the only direct route." - "Gridlock - No easy solutions".
Saturday 9 December
"Kink in tolls process"
More on Thursday's story about new figures that show that a gas tax is better value than tolls - My SA - "Toll road argument thrown into doubt". Did anyone really need figures to prove that tolls cost drivers a lot more money and inconvenience than using gas tax or bonds repaid from gas tax? And does anyone think this study will make any difference to those who profit from toll roads and have lots of money to make sure that they get what they want?
It seems that both the USA and Britain are again to go boldly where no sensible person would go. The new US Transport Secretary, Mary Peters, yesterday announced that she is setting up a carbon copy of Britain's Transport Innovation Fund to encourage American cities to introduce "congestion" charges and more tolls - DoT press release DoT "Gridlock" site.
An example of what is going on in Britain, with plans for 50 thousand new homes in Oxfordshire, but no new or improved roads - Oxford Mail - "Congested A34 faces gridlock".
Radical plan for thousand pound a mile tolls
As this plan is not yet being promoted by the usual suspects, it is probably not yet official - Rockall Times - "Astounding plan to cut congestion at a stroke".
Friday 8 December
Scientific proof - "Tolls are good for you"
The New Scientist seems to have joined the Trolls as they say - "Charging motorists to use roads is the only way to encourage them to drive less.". They also suggest that the best way of doing this is to use the existing mobile phone network cells, and they say in Taiwan they have already demonstrated that this will work. As the Government readily accept what is told them about global warming by some scientists, we wonder if they are daft enough to believe that this would really work?
It takes two
The Nashua Telegraph reports on a campaign against toll evaders - "Police crack down on toll evaders with bad excuses". Two toll attendants hid in a booth. One caught and counted the money as it slid through the toll basket, and the other "kept an eye on the cars". Could this replace automatic machines?
The Green's favourite paper the Guardian has a eulogy on the flying knight. No doubt the readers will approve using a polluting black cab to go to the airport, the frequent air trips, and especially the praise for Rupert Murdoch - "Affable airline boss becomes knight of the roads".
Greenpeace have today issued a press release on the need to burn less oil. They have various suggestions, but taxing fuel is not one. Instead they advocate road pricing and congestion charging - "Oil and peace don't mix".
Thursday 7 December
Some brave people in Texas are suggesting that instead of tolls they should raise the gas tax. Those who want tolls are shouting this down and say that the gas tax is "regressive" - East Texas Review - "Eight-cent indexed gas-tax increase can replace tolling".
A Tale of Two Cities
The establishment campaign to toll New York is hotting up. Heaven help them, as they believe the myths about the success of the London Congestion scheme - Streetsblog - "Road Pricing Worked in London. Can It Work in New York?".
More on pre budget announcement
The Chancellor who yesterday increased fuel taxes is being attacked by greens, Tories and Lib Dems for not being "green enough". Perhaps he's not all bad.
The FTA have complained that the Government have not committed to doing something to stop foreign lorries being run on the cheap on British roads - TNN - "FTA Disappointed". For what it's worth, this is what was published yesterday - "Haulage Industry Task Group:summary of evidence".
Yesterday's pre budget announcement did have at paragraph 7.58 - "Further work is now being undertaken by the Government to explore ways of delivering more targeted enforcement on foreign vehicles. This could be done by introducing a database covering all foreign hauliers entering and working in the UK. One way this could be achieved would be via a ‘vignette’ - a time-based charge for the use of UK roads designed to make foreign hauliers pay for some of the damage they cause on UK roads. If such a scheme were introduced it is very likely to be administered through the existing VED registration process in order to minimise the administrative burden on domestic hauliers. The Government will undertake a detailed feasibility study into options for establishing a database, including through a vignette." Sounds like a good idea, but will it be allowed by the EU? And why are the RHA and FTA not pushing for reductions in vehicle excise duty?
An article from Joe Stowers who reckons that road mileage (in US) would halve if people lived closer together - Fairfax County Times - "Density doesn't always mean more traffic".
Wednesday 6 December
Fuel tax up - More Tolls Lobby complain
As expected the Chancellor is increasing fuel taxes from midnight - BBC - "Industry anger at fuel duty rise". The tax is going from 47.1 pence to 48.35 pence a litre. By our reckoning and including VAT, this will mean drivers paying an extra £750 million a year.
PS There are some further reactions to the fuel price increase. Not surprisingly the advocates for tolls on all roads are saying that the fuel price increase will damage Britain and hit the poor -
AA Motoring Trust - ""Nobody is going to scrap their driving habits, simply because most people can't. People would rather give up spending money elsewhere than stop using their cars.
FTA - "Increase in fuel duty will undermine public confidence in a national road pricing system. This will remind all road users that the main aim will be to dip into motorists' pockets."
RAC Foundation - "The increase in fuel tax would be especially hard on low-income families, who spend around a quarter of their household expenditure on running a car. Many on low incomes are dependent on their cars."
People living in the area of the Atlantic Beach Bridge recently called for the tolls to be removed. Instead the bridge operators have announced that the tolls will increase by 60 per cent, or for those who buy a book of advance tickets, by 100 per cent. The operators say the increase is due to "costs for insurance, maintenance and employee benefits"
There is pressure to move more tolls on the New York State Thruway - Buffalo Biz - "Call out to relocate Lackawanna tolls". What will they do when the toll booths reach the state line?
Brighton Groundhog Day
The Argus today says that "Motorist will spend more than 139,000 hours a year stuck in traffic on the A27 north of Brighton by 2025 if road pricing is not introduced." But if road pricing is introduced then wasted time will fall to 28,000 hours a year - "Pay to drive - or sit in traffic jams".
We must admit you can't beat the Trolls when it comes to figures, as they don't live in the real world. If a driver was on the road every hour of the year, that would be about 8,766 hours. It could of course be that they meant not one motorist but all drivers, but it also says that the daily traffic on the road is 78,000 vehicles, so that would mean that each driver was wasting less than 2 hours a year.
PS The Argus also had this report on Sussex businesses opposed to road charging - "Firms attack plan for road pricing".
The Orlando Sentinel says that a Florida toll authority has spent over $10,000 on designing ads for a toll increase that hasn't yet been discussed. The papers says that "Some question why the ads were commissioned at all, the authority's board risks looking as if its public deliberations are a sham."
The Birmingham Post gives the reaction of a local FSB official to the latest road pricing plans - "Public should pay road charges, not businesses". He says - "The original intention was for any road charging to be revenue neutral, but similar schemes have not worked out like that in reality and, if you think about it, they never would."
The Stagecoach bus company today said - "The big issue for government about this congestion charging is that local government structure in metropolitan cities is very dysfunctional." Not sure if even they understood what this meant, but it seems that it's not all bad as they also announced today that profits were up 34 per cent.
We reported on the 21st November that the Pennsylvania Governor immediately after the election revealed that he wanted to sell off the Turnpike. This morning the papers say that he is talking to Australia's MIG about road sales and a new toll road.
When the Americans sell a road they usually get billions of dollars for it. By contrast the BBC today reports that a British council is selling a road for one pound (two dollars) - "Council set to sell road for £1".
Americans drive less
According to the Federal Highway Administration, Americans drove less in 2005 than 2004. Individually each American drove 1 per cent less, which is partly offset by population growth. It has been suggested that the fall is partly due to higher gas prices in 2005 compared with year before, and partly due to demographic factors - there are more old people and they drive less than young people.
We could not believe this, the Troll Times today has a piece from Alice Miles which is not supporting road pricing - "England's Brown and unpleasant land". Alice says -
"It’s not as if anyone would choose to drive in the particular hell which is the rush hour if they could avoid it. And petrol duty already taxes the amount, if not the time of day, a car travels, and more fairly than road charging because it hits harder the richer you are and the more hungry and faster your car. Road charging prices the poor off the road while enabling business to speed along the unencumbered networks untroubled by oiks and grannies in old Austins. If overall travel must be curtailed, then why hasn’t there been any serious discussion of, for instance, petrol allowances - an annual allowance that each person would be free to use or sell on to someone else? Let the poor make some money from their enforced stillness. Let those who manage without cars gain some benefit from their abstinence.".
Con in the sky
Last week the Australian flying knight said that the answer to road congestion was more tolls, congestion charges, and road pricing, whereas he suggested that we needed more airports. Perhaps on his flying trips to Britain, he should have stopped off in Bangalore - dnaindia.
Unique Irish Toll
Yet another toll road - the Port Tunnel Dublin - opens in a fortnight. It is unusual in that it is designed to encourage heavy traffic away from the city streets. Trucks can use it for free, while vans and cars will be tolled. One van driver is suggesting a blockade - Dublin People - "A pain in the toll
Tuesday 5 December
American drivers want tolls
At least they do according to a press release today from the American Automobile Association, who say that 52% of drivers want more tolls. The AAA have not released any details as to what exactly the drivers were asked. The same group of drivers put roads and transportation at the bottom of a list of possible priorities. The Oil companies will be pleased as only 21 per cent thought that gas tax was the way to finance roads.
No Tennessee Tolls
Nashville City Paper reports that Tennessee is to use more of the gas tax on roads. The Governor says that they will not bring in toll roads, though it seems he reckons he has no choice - "When it comes to where you would put a road in Tennessee that somebody would pay to drive on and they couldn't just easily take a road along side of it somewhere, it's not obvious about where that is".
Brendan O’Neill, as far as we know had never written on any aspect of tolls, but today he has a long piece on Spiked arguing against last week's "no brainer" report - "Welcome to the stay-at-home society". You may notice a reference to the RAC Foundation, we thought this strange, but it seems that back in February 2003, they were actually arguing that there were answers to congestion apart from tolls.
There are 4 or more petitions against some aspect of tolls on the new site for petitions to Prime Minister (see top of our home page). The petition which says "Scrap the planned vehicle tracking and road pricing policy" is now the most popular petition with over 15,000 signatures.
There is also a new petition aganst the Dartford tolls.
Transport for London have announced the usual Xmas suspension of the Con charge from "Saturday 23 December until Monday
1 January inclusive". Not quiet as good as it sounds as there is already no charge at weekends or public holidays. Though we shouldn't complain too much as all other toll operators in Britain charge 365 days a year!
No - GI - tolls
Opponents of the Grand Island, New York, tolls have set up a - web site - "Say No". The campaign now has support from the "Grand Island Town Supervisor".
NZ toll consultation closes
Radio New Zealand reports that submissions are now closed on the tolls proposals, with 20,000 individuals or organisations submitting their view. They also report that the New Zealand Council of Infrastructure Development, a business backed lobby group, wants tolls - no surprise there then!
More Florida Troll trouble
From tampabays10.com - "Crosstown board fights to stay alive".
Snake Oil sales conference
Yesterday there was a conference organised by the Institute for Public Policy Research, a Labour Think Tank - "Steering through change: winning the debate on road pricing". This is all part of the campaign to try and sell this snake oil to the people. It is interesting to see who the organisations are that are part of the sales team - the Transport Secretary, the boss of Transport 2000 , the boss of RAC Foundation and the boss of "Congestion Charging" in London.
PS The RAC Foundation may have been busy helping the Government tolls campaign and they have only just issued this press release.
PPS The text of the Transport Secretary's speech.
"Weather of Mass Destruction"
Association of British Drivers press release - "Pre-Budget Statement: Green or Brown?".
Monday 4 December
More on Car Party
We reported on the 8th November about the formation of a "Party for Drivers" who hope "to attract enough interest to be able to fight seats in the areas of black box charging trials and are also hoping to field candidates against the London Congestion Charge and Congestion Charges and Tolls in general.". They wish to "make this into a social cause for justice for the less well off who are being taxed off our roads". Today they are complaining about how the news media are ignoring them - freepressreleases. We know how they feel! The news media are swamped with news stories and press releases - unfortunately reporters usually take the easy way out, and they think that closed organistions like the RAC represent drivers and reporters publicise what they say.
"Toll systems cost more than they are worth"
This is according to Doctor Hans Grueber (originally of the Green Party) of Highway Robbery Incorporated. He also says - that the toll "choice is false, not based on any facts, and amounts to blackmail". A situation that exists world wide! NZ Herald. The article ends - "Do we really want Lexus lanes v loser lanes? The problem with creating a hybrid between toll and congestion charges is that they are mutually exclusive. A tolls system tries to increase traffic on the road to make as much money as quickly as possible to pay back the loan. Congestion charges are aimed at reducing traffic. If tolls are such a good idea, why would Transit use deception to convince us? The answer is simple. I put $1000 cash on the table at the Auckland City Council meeting for the first councillor to come up with one good reason for tolls. There were no takers. There is no good reason."
Female First reports on how Ken's proposed £25 (nearly fifty dollars) daily toll will not just hit 4x4s - "Ken’s Congestion Charge Hike Will Hit Families Hardest".
What is also ignored by Ken and his allies is that if these cars have higher emissions then they are already paying more in fuel taxes. On the official "urban cycle" these cars get about 20 to 22 miles per gallon. Their country cousins though they drive more may pay less in fuel tax, as these cars on the official "extra urban cycle" average 37 to 39 miles per gallon.
New York Mayor says no to con
The New York Daily News reports that despite pressure from Trolls, the Mayor currently has no intention of following in Ken Livingstone's footsteps - "Drivers get brake on congest tax". Other sources say that there is a "big money push" behind this, and they are funding environmental and neighborhood groups to encourage them to back tolls.
PS Here is a pro tolls piece from Streetsblog - "Congestion Charging in New York City : The Political Bloodbath". Though this is pro tolls, Mayor Bloomberg may not be encouraged by the suggestion that Mayor William Jay Gaynor only removed the tolls from the East River Bridges in 1910 because of an assassination attempt.
Trucks 'n Tolls
The Tribune Herald reports that truckers will avoid new Texas tolls - My SA - "Proposed toll road could drive away truckers".
Also this morning, the Patriot News of Pennsylvania reports one reason for "massive congestion on the I-78 is that it is a major truck cutoff between points west and south to New York City, since it allows trucks to avoid all tolls until they reach northern New Jersey"
Bit more on "No - brainer" report
The big bosses organisation, the CBI, have published a press release welcoming a national road pricing scheme. They obviously look forward to poorer people being driven off the roads, lots of lucrative contracts like Capita's for the London con charge, and maybe some of the revenue going into more subsidised train services.
The FT this morning has a piece on the problems of road congestion. Amazingly they actually print that Philip Lerman, who runs a small business in Bradford says - "I don't want road pricing because it would further erode freedom from surveillance. They should build bigger roads. If you want to keep moving goods around the country, roads have to be equal to the demand."
Spokesmen for Chambers of Commerce around the country, including Oxford, are confirmimg their enthusiastic support for tolls. Though the Oxford Mail reports the reaction of David Robertson, the county council's cabinet member for transport - "Congestion is a fact of life and pricing people off the road is not the answer."
PS You have to laugh don't you, after all the hype about road tolls being needed to save the planet, this evening in stark contrast there is a story on the BBC about a report from "Oxford Economic Forecasting". They say expanding air travel and British airports "Would boost the UK economy by £13bn a year, outweighing the costs of climate impacts by 2030."
Sunday 3 December
Sunday views on "No - brainer" report
More from the main conduit for the Government's effort to deceive the public on road pricing - BBC - "National road tolls 'in 10 years'".
Apart from the spin following on from the interview with Douglas Alexander, the Transport Secretary, the BBC also reported that George Osbourne, the Shadow Chancellor, said the Tories were "sympathetic" to road pricing and he could see that the M6 toll road had brought "great benefits" to the West Midlands. The rest of us may wonder how a politician can be blind to the fact that there is still massive congestion on the old M6 while the toll road is virtually empty - The answer is that the likes of Mr Osbourne will be on the empty toll road.
Hamish McRae, in the Independent on Sunday, gives a less than warm welcome to road pricing. On the other hand Simon Jenkins in the Sunday Troll Times is enthusiastic about road pricing despite (because?) admitting that "It will penalise the poor". He also puts forward a remarkable idea - "With rationing by price the available tarmac can handle more traffic, perhaps even 50% more, without too much pain." - "Let the taxman put the brakes on".
The Sunday Telegraph has an article "The nine-year jam: still no end in sight""" by Chris Grayling, the Shadow Transport Secretary. In general he is saying too little too late but he supports both some "road pricing and tolls in the right places: for example to support improvement projects such as the M6 toll road".
Also in the Telegraph, Sir Tel gives a TOGs view - "Wogan's World"
Saturday 2 December
"No brainer" - Texas style
San Antonio Toll Party view - My SA - "Toll road proposals will fleece Texas taxpayers".
We believe that British greens with their support for road tolls are simple minded dupes of the establishemnt, but it seems that greens elsewhere are just the same - Reuters - "German Greens refocus on environment to win voters".
Trolls in trouble
Florida Trolls are accused of maladministration, including paying $1.5 million to toll lobbyists - Tampa Tribune - "Audit Rouses Authority Critics".
Archaeological discovery from the reign of "Tightass Hystericus", the well known non chariot driver - The Spoof
Saturday views on "No - brainer" report
If there is one thing that demonstrates above all else the effective con trick pulled by the Government it is the reaction of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders to the proposal for more punitive charging of drivers - in their own words they "welcome publication of Sir Rod Eddington's study". How daft can you get?
Local newspapers have largely followed the national line - i.e. they have fallen for the deception that income from road pricing will either be offset by reductions in other roads taxes or that it will be spent on better roads - they are in the dark about the collection and enforcement costs. Despite ignorance of what a disaster this would be, there are some opposed to it including - Saima Mir in Bradford Telegraph - "'Road pricing my be final straw'" Rhodri Clark in Western Mail - "How do I get little Jimmy to school on time".
The Association of British Drivers have come out strongly against road pricing. Their press release today
is headlined - "ABD calls for a referendum on Road User Charging - "No Choice for Drivers" - it's New Labour or Blue Labour - "Roads for the rich" as Cameron's Blue Labour Party embrace Road User Charging".
Moneysupermarket.com says that "there is a need for insurance companies to educate the public" to accept road pricing and "black boxes" in vehicles. They also say that " 27 per cent of drivers say that they wouldn’t even contemplate installing such a device in their car, no matter how much it could save them on insurance, with another 20 per cent saying they want their cover slashed by at least 50 per cent before allowing their driving to be monitored by insurers"
The Daily Express is against road pricing and described the idea as "Toxic". Predictably the troll Times is enthusiastic about road pricing and looks forward to poorer drivers being forced off the roads, and preferably out of trains as well. Also predictably the green Guardian says that "Sir Rod quite rightly recommends congestion charging", and its only quibble is that it wants to make sure that nothing is spent on improving roads. Perhaps less predictably the Independent "welcomes radical action and that the issue of climate change has transcended the world of environmental pressure groups and entered the world of economics and business"
The Telegraph on the other hand is marginally against it - Editorial - "The car economy and the morality of driving" David Millward - "Raising fuel tax could be the stick to beat gridlock" David Millward - "Pay £24.57 a day for right to drive to work" Simon Heffer - "Why we must tell the road-pricers to hop it".
Friday 1 December
A bit more on "No - brainer" report
The "One London" party which has two members on the London Assembly has issued a statement - "The plans for pay-as-you-drive road charges are paying twice for what we've already overpaid for. Rod Eddington is the latest in a long line of government 'business leaders' wheeled out to put a thin pro-business spin on the government's latest anti-enterprise initiative." Other groups on the Assembly have not commented on the plans for more con charges.
Not a lot of people know that the flying knight, having left BA, is now living back in Australia. By coincidence the Age today (though there it's already tomorrow!) reports that Sir Rod is heading an inquiry into "transport connections between the east and west of Melbourne". Any bets as to whether he proposes punitive road pricing for his own countrymen?
Dissapointingly the Daily Telegraph which usually supports drivers, seems to be backing the infliction of tolls. Their Transport correspondent says - "It is a statement of the bleeding obvious, and that is no bad thing".
Ford McFarlan on Spoof has a radical idea - "Motorists Will Pay to Enter Cars". Seems more sensible than what the flying knight actually said!
Shares in various companies have gone up following the report - those to benefit include - bus companies, train operators, airlines and various companies that might administer road pricing schemes or supply equipment.
More news and reaction to "No - brainer" report
BBC - "Motorists 'must pay for road use'" INCLUDES ONLINE POLL "A businesslike approach to fixing transport?" "Experts consider Eddington report" (What the BBC calls "experts" are, with the exception of Paul Smith, groups that campaign for tolls) "UK transport needs 'urgent' help".
From Paul Smith of Safe Speed.
The two organisations which journalists assume represent drivers (though they have no members) are usually in support of tolls, though this time the AA Motoring Trust do not appear to be backing tolls - "Motorists must not pay for decades of debate and planning delays". The RAC Foundation have not yet issued a press release, though they appear to be hand in glove with the Government and the Trolls.
Reaction from the Federation of Small Businesses - "Eddington’s transport report puts UK economy at risk".
The hauliers to varying degrees support the flying knight - RHA - "More questions than answers" FTA - "Eddington puts freight back on the map".
Blogger Frank Fisher is amazingly given online space in the Guardian to criticise the proposals - "Spy in the sky or pie in the sky?" Below Frank's views there are some online comments.
From Wes in London - "Take it from me I live in London, congestion charging doesn't solve congestion, it just pushes it out and causes more congestion around the zone. Meanwhile lining the governments coffers. Staggered/flexible business hours, flyovers, bypasses, bridges and in some cases forcing business outside of the city center is the most EFFICIENT way of solving congestion.Keeping cars moving and getting them to their destination faster is also better for the environment than blocking them up in queues."
The Lib Dems reaction includes - "Support for a road pricing scheme is welcome, but it is not enough to meet the green switch that is required." They also propose "Cutting down on building new roads. This is not a sustainable approach to tackling the traffic on our roads - more roads leads to more congestion."
The Tories have not yet issued a press release, but Chris Grayling, their Transport spokesman has today said -
"We believe that some degree of road-pricing or an increased use of tolls on our roads are likely to be a part of the strategy of any Government
for tackling congestion on our roads. We are happy to see the
development of local road pricing schemes in cities as long as they are
wanted by local communities. We
are also ready to see charging used to fund improvements to our
transport network, as happened with the M6 Toll. But we certainly would
not want to see premature moves to an untested national scheme. We are awaiting further recommendations from
our Quality of Life Policy Group and our Economic Competitiveness Policy
Group on this subject."
You can probably guess NAAT reaction, this was our press release -
Road pricing would be the greatest folly that Britain's politicians have ever inflicted upon the people. The London Congestion
Charge is a crude system compared with what is proposed for road pricing, but £5 of the daily £8 charge is spent on administration
and enforcement. In addition there is the initial cost of implementing road pricing - estimated by the Government as up to £62
billion (Cost of road pricing implementation from Annex J of Feasibility Study of Road Pricing in the UK, published July 2004). Why would anybody want to waste all this money on tax collectors and spy cameras?
Drivers do not want tolls in any form. That was clearly demonstrated in the referendum that was held in Edinburgh in February of
last year - they voted against tolls by a three to one margin. The views of drivers were also clear from recent Government sponsored
research (Attitudes to road pricing from page 4 of "Consumer Behaviour and Pricing Structures", research carried out by Leeds University
for Department for Transport and released on 17th March 2006). That research revealed - "the emergence of a preference for any road user charges to be collected via a surcharge on fuel
tax rather than through a separate distance charge" - due to the greater complexity and a disinclination to have to pay 'yet another
bill'. It also concluded that road pricing would probably fail to achieve its stated aim, as charges that varied according to the
road and the time of day would be too complex for most people.
Drivers realise that they are already overtaxed, though they may not realise that direct and indirect roads taxes add up to £50 billion a year. The Government could reduce congestion by spending some of that £50 billion on improving the road system. If instead they continue on their present course, then they will eventually kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.
We urge everyone to tell the politicians that this daft idea should be killed now. Road taxes are already too high - we want less
Tolls will "save £28 billion a year"
The Eddington Transport Study report which was eventually released this morning.
More on the Australian flying knight's Transport report (most recent stories first) -
BBC - "Motorists 'must pay for road use'" FT - "Transport solution to focus on planning overhaul" Reuters later report - "UK transport plan gives green light to road tolls" Times - "Wider motorways and bigger trains 'needed to keep Britain going'" Guardian- "Transport chief backs road-pricing schemes" BBC - "Business wants rapid transport action" BBC - "Road tolls backed in key report" Reuters earlier report - "UK transport plan gives green light to road tolls".
This is part of the written statement to MPs by the Transport Secretary yesterday -
"Sir Rod Eddington's study into the effects of transport on economic growth, competition and productivity has been informed by the recently published report by Sir Nicholas Stern on climate change which made a major contribution by demonstrating, on the basis of the most robust and comprehensive evidence available, that economic growth and the environment cannot be considered in isolation.
The Government will outline shortly its initial reactions to his advice. I will then publish next year, alongside the Comprehensive Spending Review, a more detailed response, which will take forward the 2004 White Paper and set out new plans to minimise carbon emissions and sustain economic growth, by delivering improvements to transport at the national, regional and local levels. And it will reflect the conclusions of ongoing work on the long-term development of rail, as well as the conclusions of the ports policy review and the further steps on road pricing mechanisms."