JANUARY 2009 NEWS
Friday 30 January 2009
The President and CEO of American Trucking Associations argues against "congestion pricing" and privatization. He says that - "fuel taxes is the best solution" - Transportation National Journal Blog The Trucker - "ATA chief: Congestion pricing, privatization will add unnecessary costs to economy".
Yesterday the Illinois Senate after an impeachment trial unanimously voted that Governor Blagojevich be removed from office. The Governor had been very careful to put nothing in writing or to talk over possibly bugged phones, but he was judged to have been trying to make money from the selling of Obama's old seat - Chicago Daily Herald - "Erasing all signs of former governor". Part of the FBI criminal complaint against the Governor related to toll road deals (see 10th December). Not surprisingly, in the State of Illinois these allegations have disappeared from view.
Other stories - Maine - "Turnpike tolls set to increase early Sunday" Delaware - "Habitual toll dodger loses wheels" Texas - "Private toll lanes, free public highways to merge first in Tarrant project" Maryland - "Toll, E-ZPass increases approved despite opposition" Connecticut - "TA tax by any other name..." Virginia - "Local toll road eyed in Orrock transportation bill" South Carolina - "I-73 gas tax on table" West Virginia - "Turnpike media tour: Day 2" Virginia - "Chesapeake embraces a private roads fix".
Reminder of the Good Old Days
One economic worry that Governments don't have nowadays is that the unions will be fighting for a fair share of the cake. But one area where the unions are still powerful is the oil industry - BBC - "Refinery strikes spread across UK ".
Manchester "Plan B" business tax rejected
BBC - "'Transport tax' proposal rejected".
At the same time there is some reaction to the property development interests who wanted road tolls in Manchester whatever the people thought - Property Week - "Manchester toll backlash".
Bit more on Reading toll plan
Get Reading - "Congestion charge talks: What next?".
Bit more on - Taxpayer to rescue financers of private toll bridge
Vancouver Sun - "Details needed, please, before B.C. commits tax dollars to finance the Port Mann project" The Province - "James is calling for audit of all public-private deals".
Changes to new New Zealand cashless toll
Voxy - "Nzta Cuts Toll Road Account Balance".
Thursday 29 January 2009
USA Roundup - later News
Maryland - "Bay Bridge motorists oppose toll hikes" Texas - "Dallas police/fire retirement system invests in toll road ..." New York - "Key Democrats Politely Oppose MTA-Funding Tolls" Delaware - "Police: Habitual toll violator gets the boot" Maryland - "Board votes to raise truck tolls, add E-ZPass fee" DC / Virginia - "Board Members Still Jittery Over 'HOT-Lane' Proposal" DC / Texas - "Spanish firm picked to build North Tarrant toll road" Florida - "95 Express: Ramp stoplights add insult to injury ".
Give 'em Air
BBC - "Britain warned over air quality" Guardian - "Europe to prosecute Britain for breaking air pollution laws".
As usual traffic is blamed. But the fact is that for the worst pollutants - PM10s, all forms of road transport are only responsible for 20%. Cars by themseves are responsible for 8% (half from engine emissions, the rest from tyre and break wear) - NAEI - "UNECE Emission Estimates to 2006 - Particles as PM10 ".
DfT - "Regional transport statistics: 2008 edition".
More on Manchester Plan B
Having wasted between £30 and £40 million of taxpayer's money in preparing and trying to sell the road tolls plan, the authorities are considering an extra business tax - BBC - "City firms 'could fund transport'".
It seems that the politicians have not yet grasped the new reality. The old economic model has failed. The current official efforts to prop it back up will probably lead to an even bigger failure next time. The Government and Councils should think about how things can be run more efficiently and economically, and not be proposng new taxes. The congestion that they created will probably wane as the Recession really begins to bite.
Tolls fun in the home state of the new President and his Transportation / Tolls Secretary - Chicago Tribune - "Blizzard of I-PASS violations buries recipient".
Some licking of lips - "Obama’s DOT Pick Urges Role for PPPs in Rebuilding U.S. Infrastructure".
Other stories - West Virginia - "Turnpike Tolls: End the Curse" Illinois - "Insider's views of I-88 project" Texas - "1Panel expected to approve contract for work on North Tarrant Express" Washington State - "Report says tolls on Highway 520 bridge could be less than $3 in 2016, compared to $6 toll on Narrows Bridge that year" New York - "Marshall lashes MTA over Cross Bay toll" Washington State - "Charge tolls on new 520 bridge only, key panel says"
Colorado - "Mileage taxes and transportation funding: 3 letters" Landline mag - "Colorado lawmakers eye tolls, registration fee increases" "West Virginia Turnpike Discusses Toll Hike" Washington State - "Possible toll for I-90 floating bridge OK'd" West Virginia - "Turnpike tour intended to show 88-mile road in desperate need of repair".
Update on Reading toll plan
Newbury Today - "Congestion charge could hit West Berkshire - Secret talks between Reading Borough Council and West Berkshire Council to discuss plans for congestion charge".
Nottingham Parking Levy
Chamber of Commerce complains - Nottingham Evening Post - "Are we ready for the Workplace Parking Levy?".
Consultation referred to at yesterday's Transport Committee meeting - Nottingham Evening Post - "Parking tax poll - council admits 83% are against plan".
Taxpayer to rescue financers of private toll bridge
Vancouver Sun - "Tax money to support Port Mann partners" The Province - "Gov't to borrow $500m for Port Mann" Globe and Mail - "Province takes on larger share of toll-bridge project" Surrey Leader - "B.C. bucks up for Port Mann twinning" Vancouver Sun - "B.C. government ponies up third of funds for Port Mann project".
Bit more on - Ontario Government to build new toll road
Globe and Mail - "Tory upset with timing of announcement on eastern extension of Highway 407".
Bit more on new cashless toll
Voxy - "Credit Cards Beat Toll Queues".
India to convert another 10,000 km of highway into private toll roads
Times Of India - "Mammoth road network project for 20 years ".
BBC - "House prices 'continue to slide'".
The annual house price fall has now reached 16.6%. Bad news if you bought a house 12 months ago, but this is a remarkably small fall. The Stock Market is a better indicator of the economy and on 1st January 2008 the FTSE 100 was 6,460, by the 29th January last year (only four weeks later) it had fallen by 10.4% to 5,790. Over the last 52 weeks it has fallen a further 27% to 4,230.
Wednesday 28 January 2009
BBC - "World growth 'worst for 60 years'" BBC - "Global job losses 'could hit 51m'" BBC - "Debt burden 'will last 20 years'".
Why the question mark?
Partly because though some people are badly affected, others will not feel any impact and many are benefitting, such as toll road operators whose main cost is interest.
Partly because job losses of 51 million compare with an annual world population increase of 80 million. So should the headline be "Global jobs to increase by 29 million"?
The real reasons for gloom are again ignored by the news media. The economy is like a car that has been badly driven and inadequately serviced. The only solution on offer is to lower the price of fuel and increase its supply. In Britain, "Broad Money" has been out of control for a long time and it is to get worse as the authorities will engage in "quantative easing". The Financial Services Authority (the tame pets of the financial sector who sat on their hands during the asset price bubble and the trading of what turned out to be toxic financial instruments dreamt up by the City) announced last week that British banks will be allowed (goaded?) to keep low liquidity ratios. This increases the velocity of money and will also eventually lead us into an even bigger banking crisis.
The shape of things to come? Crosscut - "Tolls and other traffic management ideas are coming back".
Wall Street Journal - "Toll Roads Are Paved With Bad Intentions".
Other stories - Florida - "Turnpike improvements threatened by decreased revenues " Washington State - "520 Volumes Could Be Cut In Half" Oregon / Washington State - "12-lane span option gets backing from fed agency" Maryland - "Truckers ask phase-in of toll increase" Colorado - "Senate panel backs road-funds bill" Massachusetts / Rhode Island - "Taking a toll on drivers"
Pennsylvania - "Highway-speed E-ZPass planned on I-80 toll bridge by 2011" West Virginia - "Turnpike tour to go as planned" Massachusetts / New Hampshire - "Tolls, but on which side of border?" "EZ-Pass To Save Maine Turnpike Travelers" Nevada - "Toll lane plans ready for Legislature to consider" Utah - "Officials hope adjustable rate for express lane will reduce congestion".
More on Cambridgeshire Con Trick
Cambridge Evening News - "Road tolls 'stitch-up' denied".
More on - Ontario Government to build new toll road
The Star (Toronto) - "Ontario grabs piece of the action on Highway 407" The Star - "Highway 407 to be extended" Toronto Sun - "Ontario to own 407 extension" Peterborough Examiner - "Highway 407 extension will be publicly owned toll road".
More on an Irish Con
Irish Times - "City car charges troubling - Labour".
Change in Japan?
Japan has been ruled by its Emperor and the "Liberal Democratic Party" (once backed by the CIA) since 1955. But there is now a slim chance that Japan will become a real two party state due to the popularity amongst ordinary people of the "Democratic Party of Japan" which is anti establishment and anti corruption and has said that it will abolish all tolls - Japan Times - "Can Japan afford the DPJ?".
Objections to another South African toll
IOL - "Airport toll plaza plan in doubt".
As we suggested on Sunday there is "fun" with New Zealand's new toll road due to problems with the off road cash machines that are used instead of conventional toll booths - RadioNZ - "There have been more teething problems on the new toll road north of Auckland.".
Tuesday 27 January 2009
Warming - A view from Down Under
A Health Warning:- These items published in Australia, should not be read by those with investments in Emissions Trading Scams or who are anthropogenic global warming believers and are of a nervous disposition - ABC Unleashed (December) - "The ETS: Completely unnecessary" The Australian (Jan 20th) - "Facts debunk global warming alarmism".
Ontario Government to build new toll road
The troll vampires are after new blood - CTV Toronto - "Province to own new extension of Hwy. 407".
Government throws some more money around
This time it is the turn of the car industry who are to be "lent" 2.3 billion pounds - BBC - "Car firms get £2.3bn loan package".
This may appear a strange action from a Government that (like its Tory predecessor) is keen to force the poorer drivers off the road and treat those who are left as embryonic criminals. It may also appear strange in the context of the increasingly penal CO2 taxes, particularly when you first buy the car (the "showroom tax" which was announced in 2008 though it has not yet taken effect). But the action is likely to be welcomed by many Labour MPs as they have constituencies where people work at car plants or their suppliers.
Cambridgeshire Con Commission starts
Cambridge Evening News - "Views sought over county's roads". This appears to be little more than a Con trick by the Council. The chair of this Commission is the same person who last year (see news page for 1st, 2nd, 3rd July) advised Reading to introduce a charge.
The chairman is being helped by one of the other members of the Reading Commission - Tony Travers from the LSE - Hunts Post - "Road pricing body starts work". The paper describes the professor as an "expert transport economist". He is certainly an expert on economics who is frequently interviewed by the news media. But it is not clear how he is an expert on "transport". The LSE site lists his "experience" fields as - "central-local government relations, community charge, education finance, local government, mayors, poll tax; UK: politics, elections, parliament, political parties, polling, public attitudes/opinions, public services.".
More European tolls on commerce
Reuters - "Abertis consortium wins 852 mln euro Slovak deal".
Transport Committee - "Taxes And Charges On Road Users"
The Transport Committee will hold its fourth evidence session tomorrow from about 2.45 to about 5 pm. It can be seen on Parliament TV.
We have seen some of the correspondence between the DfT and someone who is complaining about the Workplace Parking Levy Scheme which is planned for Nottingham. In a letter dated yesterday the DfT say that the "DfT is neither encouraging nor discouraging Workplace Parking Levy Schemes .... The decision on whether to develop a local scheme is a matter for the local traffic authority.".
The DfT seem to have forgotten that the main reason that authorities are thinking about these schemes is that they hope to get money from the Government. Even so it is amazing that any local authority would at this time be planning a step which will harm businesses in its area.
Another research foundation which has pushed tolls rather than fuel taxes, but now suggests that rather than tolls roads owned by private companies, they would be owned by public pension funds -America 2050 - "Not the Macquarie Model: Using U.S. Sovereign Wealth to Renew America's Civil Infrastructure" Keston Institute for Public Finance and Infrastructure Policy - the report (pdf).
A woman has given birth to eight babies, it is a secret whether this is a result of fertilty treatment -CNN - "Octuplets' births surprise California doctors" BBC - "US woman gives birth to octuplets".
This makes the American population about 305,694,526, but this increases at the rate of one extra person every 14 seconds. The result is that America's population by 2050 is officially forecast to reach 439 million compared with "only" 281 million at the start of this millenium. But as no one talks about this, it can't be a problem and has no effect on consumption of fuel, or traffic congestion etc etc. Can it?
Barmy blarney - The new President has declared that he will cut CO2 and reduce oil imports - CNN - "Obama acts on fuel efficiency, global warming" BBC - "Obama aims for oil independence".
The eloquence of the speech hides the fact that his policies are not logical. There is an overlap between reducing fuel use and cutting CO2, but there is also a conflict as a great deal of resources could be wasted in measures that might cut CO2 but do not reduce fuel use. The Greens seem to be the most irrational people on planet Earth and it is them that the President will be pandering to, an example is his decision to reverse Bush's policy that fuel efficiency standards for cars should be determined at Federal level, instead each State will now be set free to make its own rules. Or is the real Green aim to kill off the American auto industry?
More troll economics. "Proof" that gas taxes have no effect on either the amount of fuel consumed or the number of miles driven - Sightline Daily (Washington State) - "What Gas Taxes Don't Do". By coincidence, Washington State happens to have the highest gas taxes of any state -
FHWA - "Tax Rates On Motor Fuel".
Other stories - West Virginia - "Leaders vow toll fight" Florida - "Traffic slump takes toll on major roads" North Carolina - "Only hope for I-95 may be tollbooths" Massachusetts - "Taxpayers deserve better than this " Maryland - "Transit authorities propose E-ZPass fees for Md. drivers" Florida - "417 Expansion Plans Put On Hold" Oregon / Washington State - "The toll may tip the debate on the size of a new Interstate 5 bridge" California - "Have Your Say on How to Spend $226 Billion Over the Next 25 Years" "Mass., New Hampshire Consider New Highway Tolls".
New toll road rush over
NZ Herald - "Plain sailing as Northern Gateway loses its novelty value".
The new congestion tolls on the Harbour bridge
Daily Telegraph - "Drivers to expect weeks of turmoil as tolls start to bite" Sydney Morning Herald - "Case of the vanishing cars: clear run confuses" ABC - "Harbour Bridge toll hike 'won't fix congestion'" Live News - "Toll increase just an irritation: NRMA" Sydney Morning Herald - "Harbour toll's a real wake-up call" Hills News - "Now $1 extra to get to work" ABC - "Time-of-day tolling starts on Sydney Harbour" 9News - "Peak hour toll begins on Harbour Bridge" The Australian - "Time-of-day bridge tolling begins".
An Irish Con
Herald - "Congestion fee for city drivers in three years" Independent - "Drivers facing congestion charge within three years".
A Pakistani Con
International News - "Congestion pricing: an effective option to resolve traffic woes".
Another example of economic "logic", the story starts - "If somebody residing in Karachi is asked whether they are happy to bring their vehicles to city’s business district, they will in all probability reply in the negative." It seems that in order to encourage them, you have to create some space by stopping those who already use their vehicles by "congestion pricing".
Another reason for toll queues
Yomiuri - "Trucks going nowhere pose headache".
It's summer time at the South Pole
BBC - "Emperor penguins face extinction".
Monday 26 January 2009
Tolls authority popular
Daily Telegraph - "Roads fiasco takes its toll".
Concord Monitor - "Toll you so!". Seems like an easy one to sort out. Every state can have a border toll. If it is payable both ways then you can double your money! Though it might in the end be better to get some engineers from the former East Germany to advise on building a Berlin Wall at each state border. Just think what would be saved in CO2 if interstate travel was stopped!
Other stories - California - "Golden Gate Bridge traffic down, bus ridership up" New Jersey / Pennsylvania - "It's time for DRPA to get out of development" Massachusetts - "Border toll idea panned" Virginia - "Cheapeake officials support toll span for Jordan bridge".
Transport Committee still in their fantasy world
The uncorrected transcript of the Transport Committee evidence session on "Taxes And Charges On Road Users" on 14th January with witnesses from North East Chamber of Commerce, London First, Freight Transport Association, Brewery Logistics Group, Central London Freight Quality Partnership, British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association, Retail Motor Industry Federation, and UK Petroleum Industry Association Ltd is now available.
The chairwoman asked about tolls for trucks, and got support for this from the Freight Transport Association.
London First as usual gave their "strong" support for the existing London toll and "the prospect of extending congestion charging in central London" (fortunately London "First" are the only people who believe that the Con is to be extended).
Almost all of the witnesses (one exception was the UKPIA who did not comment on this) said what most of the committee will have wanted to hear - they supported local and national road pricing and congestion charging and the reduction or abolition of fuel duties. The committee will be aware that these are not really the views of drivers or businesses, but then most MPs like the Queen in Alice in Wonderland seem to be capable of believing "as many as six impossible things before breakfast".
One point that the UKPIA made was that British (and European) refining capacity does not match the demand mix -"The UK imports 3.5 million tonnes per year of diesel and gas oil, predominantly from Russia, and 5.3 million tonnes of aviation jet fuel. We export 6.6 million tonnes of fuel oil, mainly to Africa, and 4.5 million tonnes of gasoline to America.".
Manchester Toll Poll cost
Manchester Evening News - "£2.2m cost of c-charge poll". The story is based on a report going to the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities this Friday which gives a detailed breakdown - AGMA Word doc. The MEN story says that the overall cost of preparing and trying to sell the plan for road tolls was £24.1 million. This is not correct. The overall spending has not been revealed, but is somewhere between £40 and £50 million.
Sunday 25 January 2009
Another report on Illinois - the Dollar State from which both the new President and his Transportation Secretary hail - Daily Herald - "If Blagojevich is ousted, his tollway signs will follow suit".
A change from the usual tolls selling - Capitol Hill Blues - "Toll Roads 4 Dummies?".
Other stories - California - "'Congestion Pricing' Use Parking Meters to Tell You Where to Go" Texas - "Transportation still in the fast lane in Austin" New Hampshire - "Interstate 93 tolls are a bad idea, even if the feds approve it" Indiana - "Toll Road operators express confidence" Massachusetts - "Fast Lane users fuming about monthly fee" Massachusetts - "Nothing 'free' in Pike deal" Pennsylvania - "Let’s get to work" Tennessee - "Tolls won't cover bridge cost".
A welcome change
Ken Livingstone's greatest success as London Mayor was the hype that his PR machine created to sell the "success" of his Con scheme. It seems that now London has a new Mayor, there is a bit more realism in reporting about the Con - Times Of India - "Congestion tax: Flop in London, what about city?".
New toll road too busy
No doubt things will be different when the tolls kick in - TVNZ - "Sightseers urged to stay off toll road" Newstalk - "Delays now for returning traffic" Nelson Mail - "Motorists flock to new toll road".
The new road does not have conventional toll booths, but if drivers have not set up an account, then they have to pay at "cash machines" at the end of the motorway. Sounds like fun.
More news to cheer you up
No it isn't that some peers may have been caught breaking the rules, it's the mess that Britain's pensions are in. Recent stories include - Telegraph on 24th - "£35 billion black hole in council pensions" This is Money on 25th - "FTSE 100 firms dwarfed by own pension funds" Times on 25th - "Bond threat to FTSE 100 pension liabilities" Times on 24th - "Pension Protection Fund: a guarantee too far" FT on 23rd - "Quarter of final salary pensions face axe".
Like much of the rest of the British system, the pensions system is inefficient, unfair and corrupt. It is also bust with massive deficits, and if it was a regular business would be closed down.
The basic State pension is inadequate and the State Graduated Pensions system which started in 1961 was scrapped in 1975 and replaced in 1979 with SERPS. The only ones to benefit from this backward step were the people who made vast profits selling private pension schemes. As usual the pensioners and the taxpayer lost out.
Nearly all public sector employees are in one or other second pension scheme which is funded by contributions from employees and employers. Though over the last decade or so, many ex employees have been given second pensions even if they did not contribute. We say "funded" but a major problem is that most of these pensions (those covering all Government employees plus teachers, the police force and a few other categories), are unfunded - i.e. the contributions which have been made by the employees and employers to the "funds" are spent by the Government, this leaves the taxpayer with something over one trillion pounds of unfunded liabilities. Even where they are funded (as they are for most local Government employees), the funds are inadequate as they were deliberately run down by the Tories in the late 1980's in order to reduce local taxes.
In theory, company pension schemes don't suffer from the same problem as those in the public sector, as at least there are funds. The problem is that in some cases the funds are a mirage (as with Robert Maxwells' publishing empire) and in most other cases the funds are inadequate because of poor investments and Labour's change to the tax rules in 1997.
Most pension schemes, whether in public sector or in companies, are also affected by the crazy and potentially corrupt system of "final salary schemes". This means that a person's pension is not based on the money that has been put aside during their working life, but is based on what they "earn" in the last year or two. This is open to manipultion but is in any case a mad way of running a savings scheme.
The reason why Britain has such a "system" is because the main beneficaries include MPs, Company directors and the establishment in general.
Like the other houses of cards in the system, it will eventually fall down. The tax payer will rebel over what the unfunded public sector schemes are costing them. Many of the larger companies will have unfunded liabilities to their pension funds which are more than the value of the Company, this means that the shareholders will own nothing, which in turn means that the shares are worthless, which will have a knock on effect as much of the pension funds are invested in the Stock market.
How does the system keep on going? Presumably like Mr Micawber we are all hoping that something will turn up.
Saturday 24 January 2009
Many American tolls are in effect border taxes designed to mainly hit drivers from other parts of the "United" States. So it is not surprising that the Massachusetts Governor now wants to implement such a system - Boston Globe - "Patrick queries US on Mass. border toll idea" Boston Herald - "Toll plan would charge admission to Massachusetts" Providence Journal - "Road tolls at the Massachusetts line? Reactions are all over the map".
This story says that approval is being sought from the Federal Government. Now that it is clear that the new administration plan to finance road improvements through tolls, it will be interesting to see what they think of this unifying idea.
Other stories - Texas - "Former deputy constable under investigation" inc video Massachussets - "State pulls a Fast one with monthly transponder fee" letter Massachussets - "Drivers Up In Arms About Gas Tax & Toll Fee Hike".
Humber rally cry
Scunthorpe Telegraph - "Rally call over bridge tolls".
Someone recently complained to the DfT about the money wasted in the abortive attempt to sell the Con to Manchester. This is part of the reply which demonstrates that Government Ministers are still living in a fantasy land -
"Congestion on our motorways, major roads, towns and cities is frustrating for motorists, bad for the economy and damaging to the environment. It is therefore correct for the government to consider everything it can do to tackle it, and this includes congestion charging. Furthermore, the money spent on developing Manchester's TIF proposals was not wasted; it is important that our cities properly understand the nature of their congestion problems and are able to develop solutions to allow their economies to continue to grow, and through the funding we allocated to Greater Manchester they have been able to do this.
You ask why the government continued to consider congestion charging following Edinburgh's rejection of a proposed congestion charge in 2005. It is important to stress that congestion is a growing problem. The number of vehicles has gone up from 26 million in 1996 to 34 million today. If left unchecked, congestion is predicted to cost the economy around an extra £22 billion every year by 2025. We know that high quality local transport and targeted smarter choices measures, such as travel planning and sustainable travel initiatives, can make significant reductions in traffic and congestion locally. However, we have strong evidence that suggests that investment alone will not be enough. Without harder demand management measures to lock in these benefits they will quickly be lost as traffic growth will continue. In certain areas unchecked traffic growth will have a detrimental impact on economic growth, as well as imposing large costs on the public and business.
In response to this, in 2004 we announced the creation of the TIF, a £200m per year fund to support local authorities that have congestion problems and wish to explore whether a congestion charging scheme should be part of the solution. However, we have always been clear that it is a local decision on whether to proceed with a TIF proposal, and we have certainly not attempted to force a congestion charge on any local authority. As you are aware, both Edinburgh and more recently Manchester have chosen not to proceed with congestion charge schemes and we will now work with them to try and tackle congestion through existing funding allocations. We will continue, however, to work with other forward thinking local authorities through the TIF."
The New Zealand AA welcomes a new toll road - Scoop - "Northern Gateway Great News for Motorists". Though it is a mutual, the NZAA mainly sells insurance and other services. According to its own website, a poll they did of their members had 51% opposing this toll as against 28% supporting it.
Private finance wobbling
Vancouver Sun - "A bridge too many?" Surrey Leader - "Financing tougher, but still viable, says P3 boss".
Friday 23 January 2009
On Wednesday there was a gathering of the usual interests at a Conference on - "Driving Forward Our National Network - Tackling congestion and improving the UK’s trunk road and motorway network: what are the policy tools needed to achieve this?" pdf file on IRFNet. The conference was hosted by a firm of lawyers used by the trolls - BDB. Speakers included the RAC Foundation who issued this news release - "New Deal For Road Users". It seems that the Foundation may have backed away from its previous enthusiasm for road pricing in general and for new roads financed from tolls.
The Illinois connections - Chicago Tribune - "LaHood slithering in under governor cover".
On the other hand, the new President seems to be cracking down on the osmosis between the various lobbies and Federal agencies - Land Line Mag - "Government job opportunities limited by Obama ethics rule ".
The Trillion dollar ($275 billion of tax cuts and $550 billion of "thoughtful and carefully targeted priority investments") Bill to stimulate the economy has been published - "The American Recovery And Reinvestment Act Of 2009". The thirty billion for highways is on page 69.
Yesterday we reported that the Delaware River Port Authority was using the tolls money to fund a memorial on the site where Presidents George Washington and John Adams and their slaves lived. They have now agreed a further distribution of tolls loot - Bulletin - "Port Authority: $9.5 Million In Nonbridge Projects" Philly - "DRPA committee approves more special projects" Courier Post - "DRPA approves $11M in grants".
More on Colorado mileage tax - Rocky Mountain News - "Mileage fee, tolls become tough sells in road-funding bill".
Other stories - California - "Crackdown on cheaters" Massachussets - "Turnpike Authority gets it half-right" "It ain't Easy Being a Voter in Los Angeles" West Virginia - "Turnpike tour - Could purpose of tour be to drum up support for inevitable toll hike?" Massachusetts - "Varying toll plans share a similarity: You still pay more" Arizona / Tennessee - "Mississippi River Toll Bridge" Reuters - "Mass Turnpike risks default without toll hike" Massachusetts - "Turnpike dials down toll hike plan".
New Manchester Con rumour
MEN Blog - "C-charge to return? Don't bet on it". A lot of Government and private sector money went into promoting the original scheme. The same interests may well be gambling some more money on the slim chance of a multi billion prize, but the politicians are not daft enough to dig up this congestion charging corpse.
Humber toll increase Inquiry date
The people worst affected by the tolls are on the south bank of the river, the Inquiry is to be held on the north bank. Do the authorities think that this will reduce the protests? Scunthorpe Telegraph - "Tolls inquiry: Dismay over venue" Hull Daily Mail - "Date set for bridge tolls inquiry".
On the slippery slope to road pricing?
BBC - "Cameras tackle traffic congestion".
Lancashire Con ruled out
Lancashire Evening Post - "County says 'No' to congestion charge".
BBC - "UK in recession as economy slides".
The slide is even clearer if you look at the official graph - ONS - "GDP Growth - UK output decreased by 1.5% in Q4 2008". If you bear in mind that GDP takes no account of the utility of spending, then ways out of recession include - more wars, more crime, more production of shoddy goods which have to be replaced sooner, more inefficiency, more waste and so on. Sounds as if it should be easy to get GDP back up!!
Thursday 22 January 2009
The doubt about what the new President and his (Republican) Transportation Secretary will do about tolls and privatization was largely removed yesterday - Wall Street Journal - "Nominee for Transportation Dept. Urges Role for Private Sector" Grist - "Rep my LaHood - Transportation Secretary appointee LaHood appears before Senate panel" theNewspaper.com - "New Transportation Secretary Endorses Toll Roads". At the confirmation hearing for Ray LaHood by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Transportation & Science, he was asked about tolls by Kay Hutchinson and he replied - ".. We do have to think outside of the box. Part of (that) is the idea that in trying to build lanes or add lanes or additional roadways, you have tolling pay for part of that... If you want to add an additional lane, or build a bridge, then you ought to think of tolls as a way of paying for the building and the maintenance" - Senate archived webcast (Bit about tolls starts 100 minutes in).
The Obama / LaHood policy looks as if it will the same as the Bush / Peters one - low gas taxes coupled with tolls and privatization. Some reports put a positive spin on what was said by saying that there were no plans to toll existing free lanes on existing free roads!!
It is now clear that the new Administration plan to finance the promised boost to infrastructure by tolls. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure is today holding a hearing on the planned massive spending on infrastructure.
The Delaware River Port Authority is controlled by New Jersey and Pennsylvania. It is funded from bridge tolls, and is notorious for the way that it spreads its patronage about. The latest robbery is to fund a memorial on the site where Presidents George Washington and John Adams and their slaves lived - Philly - "Rendell to seek $3.5 million for President’s House memorial".
Other stories - Massachussets - "Vote on Pike toll increases may be delayed" North Carolina - "Tax hike, toll roads recommended to county" Kentucky / Indiana - "The shoutout" Massachusetts - "Drivers get Fast Lane devices for free, but monthly fee applies" Massachusetts - "Transportation chief sees potential conflict" Washington State - "State should heed toll advice" New York - "Queens residents lash out at MTA over proposed cuts, fare hike" Maryland - "Lawmakers disagree on Bay Bridge toll plan".
Car sales down
For 2008 as a whole the fall was just under 6%, but the trend is heading towards a cliff - BBC - "UK car production drops sharply".
Plan "B" after all
Manchester Evening News - "Bid to salvage C-charge cash".
Surrey Leader (British Columbia) - "Falcon shifts into reverse on Pattullo tolls".
Another day, another dollar
As we suggested yesterday the 16.6% increase last year in broad money supply has gone unreported in the British news media. Though it seems that at least some of the money market herd may be thinking about the ineptness of the Bank of England and our other financial regulators, as the pound has reached new lows - BBC - "Pound still close to 23-year low" Wall Street Journal - "In U.K., Currency Tumbles on Fear That Bailout Will Fall Short ".
Wednesday 21 January 2009
More good news for toll supporters
NZ Herald - "Bill will double for late toll payments ".
Workplace Parking levy
A chance to give your views on the Regulations that are to be introduced (the first city that they are likely to be applied to is Nottingham) - DfT - "Workplace Parking Levy - Completing the legal framework".
How corrupt and morally bankrupt can an economy and politicians get? The bailed out banking system is planning to finance toll roads so that they can milk the public twice - Wall Street Journal - "Finance Coalition Touts Private Stimulus".
Other stories - Massachusetts - "Millions chose to avoid Turnpike in 2008" Tennessee - "Franklin's western bypass might be toll road" Massachusetts - "Vote on Pike toll increases may be delayed".
Today's news - Caboodle - "Congestion charge gains momentum in Budapest".
A few tolls reduce as traffic declines
Straits Times - "Cut in ERP rates".
More private roads likely
Globe & Mail (Toronto) - "Ottawa appoints 'P3' champion".
Jamaica Gleaner - "Alarm over toll discrepancy".
Cheap way to collect tolls?
Southern Star - "E-toll costly to run".
More on - Australian truck tolls
AB&C - "BIC rejects tieing incremental road pricing to IAP".
Yet another day, more poor economic news and more about what is happening that is not reported
Today's news - BBC - "UK unemployment hits 1.92 million". For those seeking work or due to leave education in the summer this is grim news. Though the real situation is worse, as many jobs in Britain do not add to the overall well being - not least of which is toll collecting!
It is many years since the news media reported on this, but the latest figures for "broad" money supply were also released today - Bank of England - "Provisional estimates of broad money (M4) and credit (M4 lending):
December 2008" pdf.
The figures show that during 2008, broad money (M4) increased by 16.6% and "M4 lending exc. the effects of securitisations etc" grew by 15.5%. This oversupply of money could be the main reason that the economic house of cards is collapsing, but the response of the politicians and the economic "experts" to the problem is to create yet more cheap money - Wall Street Journal - "BOE Chief Says Bank Is Set to Lift Money Supply".
Tuesday 20 January 2009
New man, but same sort of people behind the throne?
The new president is now in office - CNN - "Obama: Challenges real, but 'they will be met'" BBC - "Moment of history as Obama sworn in".
The President may surprise us, but it is likely that he will fall for a combination of the "green" lobby and corrupt businesses. Look out for more privatization, more tolls and "congestion pricing", and more low carbon gimmicks / frauds such as carbon trading, carbon storage, and alternative fuels that indirectly cause more damage than good.
Latest on attempt to squash Skye toll convictions
The Firm (Scottish legal news) - "Tolls campaigner gets the "Megrahi treatment"".
Another day, more economic news and more disinformation
BBC - "Big fall in UK inflation to 3.1%".
The usual interests are trying to give the impression that inflation is low and that there is a risk of deflation which they claim will be disastrous. In fact the inflation rate which was announced today - ONS - "Consumer price indices
December 2008" pdf, was still above the Government target and higher than the inflation rate a year before (CPI was running at 3.1% in December 2008 compared with 2.1% in December 2007). Real interest rates are negative. It is a fallacy that recession and deflation always go together. All post war slumps in Britain have occurred at the same time as inflation.
Even before the current economic crisis had become apparent the Government and the Bank of England were allowing the money supply to increase at a rate of 11 to 12% per annum. The official inflation figures have been lower than this, because imported goods for most of the time stayed cheap, and because the excess money largely went into asset inflation which is mainly ignored in the official inflation figures.
Opposition to European plan for more and higher tolls on trucks
Euractiv - "Commission under fire over green road charging ".
Web pages covering a new Forth crossing have been set up by the Scottish Government - Transport Scotland - "Forth Replacement Crossing". The Events page gives details of an exhibition which is being held at various venues between 20th and 31st January.
PS From this mornings' Courier, including an official answer to why this bridge is several times more expensive than other similar bridges - "Forth bridge a ‘difficult’ challenge".
Anti new toll bridge ads - Courier Journal (Kentucky) - "8664 ads to address possible bridge tolls" 86 64 website.
Other stories - Washington State - "Tunnel: The ball is in the state's court" Washington State - "The Viaduct decision's next step: tolling" Massachusetts - "In D.C., Patrick eyes toll hike alternative, praises snow and ice effort" Massachusetts - "Vote on toll hike may be delayed" Washington State - "Pierce lawmakers want to study tolls as answer for Highway 167".
Monday 19 January 2009
Objections to South African tolls
IOL - "'Highway robbery'".
"Appeals" non-service moving
London Councils - "London’s Parking and Traffic Appeals Service is on the move".
"Bit" more on - Upside down banking
The Royal Bank of Scotland which has been the main beneficiary of taxpayer's money is expected to today report the biggest ever loss for a British company - nearly thirty billion pounds including the effect of write downs - BBC - "RBS set to report record UK loss". Shareholders in Northern Rock may wonder why the Chancellor did not give this bank the same treatment as he gave to their company.
Other stories - Daily Express - "Taxpayers Facing £1 Trillion Bill As Darling Bails Out The Banks...Again" Daily Mail - "We’re a nation on the brink of
More toll fun - Southtown Star (iIlinois) - "Tollway wipes out blown tolls".
Over there - Thenewspaper.com - "UK Lord Accused of Cheating Congestion Tax".
Other stories - Texas - "Katy toll details are still up in the air" Connecticut - "Study: Residents don't want highway tolls".
BBC - "Is your journey really necessary?".
"Energy Trends" December 2008 (5MB pdf file) also implies that travel is down as the consumption of road fuels in third quarter of 2008 was about 8.5% down on the third quarter of 2007.
More on - Upside down banking
BBC - "New set of measures to help banks". Perhaps the most alarming measure is that the Government is telling Northern Rock to pump a lot more money into the housing market. This is the bank which played a major part in creating the housing price bubble by throwing money at those who wanted a mortgage. It was not money from savers, but money from the money markets with a far higher risk that the source of funds would rapidly disappear which it did. Since the bank effectively went bust, it has been trying to make sure that its mortgages are more securely funded. That policy is now to end, not in order to help the economy in general, but to reflate the housing price bubble. The Government's use of astronomic amounts of money to bail out favoured sectors of the economy, contrasts with its attitude to roads users including those on the Humber bridge.
Humber bridge - Government washes its hands
Scunthorpe Telegraph - "Kirk: Bridge a Government responsibility" Hull Daily Mail - "10,000 reasons to scrap bridge toll" Grimsby Telegraph - "A Toll Too Far: Bridge cost petition hits 10,000 mark".
Australian truck tolls
AB&C - "Incremental pricing expensive, hard to implement: report" AB&C - "Charges to go up as free-flow tolling takes effect".
"The third Forth crossing"
Quite a headline - The Sunday Herald.
Sunday 18 January 2009
Party time for toll road bankers - Washington Post - "Wolf Criticizes Company With Ties To Owner of the Dulles Greenway".
Other stories - California - "Crowded city concerned about congestion pricing" Massachusetts / New Hampshire - "I-93 toll race heats up, but many are wary of proposals" Virginia - "Questions remain on Midtown project" Illinois - "SOS: Man cleared of his tollway troubles" Pennsylvania - "Pa. Turnpike taking on new debt at difficult time".
Indian "Congestion charge"
Telegraph - "Bribe Cards" Telegraph - "No-entry passports".
Upside down banking
On Friday the American Government announced another "bit of help" for the Bank of America. In this case $138 billion of cash and cover for bad debts - BBC - "Bank of America bail-out agreed". In Britain, the Government is expected to announce this week another banks bail out in the form of cover for bad debts - BBC - "Insurance aid plan for UK banks".
The whole financial system is now exposed as totally corrupt with astronomic amounts of taxpayers cash being used to buy worthless debts from the banks. The value of the banks and much of business now depends mainly on how well they get on with the politicians and the officials who dole out the cash and set the premiums.
Saturday 17 January 2009
The unions want more tolls, not less - Worcester Telegram - "Labor lines up against gov.’s plan for Pike".
Now that the trolls have come up with various forms of electronic tolling to reduce the toll queues they are selling this to drivers as one of man's greatest ever inventions - Daily News - "N.H. proposes 'open tolling' in Hampton". The question is why are American drivers so cowed that they will sit for long periods in queues at toll booths without revolting and demanding the removal of tolls?
Other stories - Kentucky - "8664 challenges Transportation study".
More on Japanese toll reductions
Japan Times - "Holiday, weekend expressway tolls to be cut to ¥1,000".
Thursday's debate on new Forth road bridge
Courier on Friday - "MSPs rule out tolls to fund bridge" Scottish Parliament Official Report for Thursday.
Two attempts by Labour to amend the motion were defeated, A Tory amendment to add at the end of the motion "and calls on the Scottish and UK governments to work together to ensure that the new crossing is delivered at the earliest possible opportunity." was agreed without a vote. The amended motion was then passed, with only the two Green MSPs voting against it - " That the Parliament notes the Scottish Government's choice of conventional capital funding for construction of the Forth Replacement Crossing and welcomes the fact that Scotland's biggest infrastructure project for a generation will be delivered without the need for tolls, and calls on the Scottish and UK governments to work together to ensure that the new crossing is delivered at the earliest possible opportunity.".
Friday 16 January 2009
MPs to change rules so that their expenses are not revealed
BBC - "MPs' expenses plan 'outrageous'".
Finland to retaliate over new Russian tolls
YLE - "Transport Ministry Plans Toll for Trucks".
Questions from Tory peer who says that he paid
Part of a debate in the House Of Lords yesterday on "Traffic Regulation" -
Lord Trefgarne: My Lords, ... The point that I want to draw to your Lordships’ attention and raise with the Minister relates to the congestion charge administered by Transport for London. I do not object in principle to the congestion charge, although I am not sure that it is as effective as some people maintain. I suspect that it does not raise as much money as some claim because the costs of administering the charge, with all the electronic equipment required to register cars going in and out of the zone, are no doubt considerable. However, I strongly object to a system which does not allow a proper challenge to what I maintain was an incorrectly levied charge, as happened to me last year.
I confess that on two or three occasions I have failed to pay the congestion charge, and on those occasions I have hastened to pay the penalty. You need to hasten to do so because, if you do not, the charge goes up. Therefore, I immediately ring up with my card details and pay. It is my practice to pay the congestion charge on a regular basis using my debit card. I ring the relevant number, talk to the relevant person and give the details of my car and my card, and normally all is satisfactory.
However, on one occasion last year, I did just that only to receive a penalty notice a week or so later claiming that I had not paid the charge, although I had clear evidence that I had. My bank statement showed that the charge had gone through my account on the relevant day, so I wrote to Transport for London maintaining strongly that I had paid and that therefore the penalty notice was out of order. After a delay of several weeks, that was dismissed as being irrelevant. I was told that I had probably paid for a different day or perhaps a different car. I have only one car, so it could not have been that. Nor could it have been a different day because, if it had been, there would have been a different charge. If you fail to pay on the day in question by, I think, 10 o’clock at night, the charge goes up from £8 to £10. The amount that had gone through my account was £8, so it must have been the day in question.
I took legal advice and hired lawyers, who advised me to lodge an appeal. The outcome three or four months later was that case was dismissed. The wording from the adjudicator was precisely the same as that from the official at Transport for London who had rejected my initial representations. I do not believe that the adjudicator paid the slightest attention to my representations; he simply mouthed what he had been told by Transport for London.
Who are these adjudicators, who I am told are appointed by the Lord Chancellor? What are their qualifications and how many are there? How many appeals against alleged wrong application of the congestion charge were there last year, for example? How many appeals were allowed and how many were disallowed? If the adjudicators simply repeat the information given to them by Transport for London it is not a proper appeal procedure. It is a travesty of justice and I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, will give some clear answers to the shortcomings of the appeal process on the congestion charge by Transport for London.
Lord Tunnicliffe (for the Government): The noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, raised the congestion charge. I have the harshest possible note on this, saying that it is a matter for the Mayor of London, who is responsible for setting and administrating the process. If I can say anything more useful than that, I shall write to the noble Lord.
Lord Trefgarne: My Lords, I am afraid the Minister is not correct. No regulations have been passed by Parliament that govern the application or the operation of the appeal system. It is his responsibility, not the mayor’s.
Lord Tunnicliffe: My Lords, I am perfectly willing to believe that the noble Lord is probably right. My problem is that I can go no further today with the brief I have in front of me.
Lord Trefgarne: My Lords, will the noble Lord be good enough to confirm that he will write to me on the points that I raised, to overcome the—if I may say so—rather inadequate reply which he gave me a few moments ago?
Lord Tunnicliffe: My Lords, I will certainly write to the noble Lord to cover those points to the extent to which I am able to do so.
City Watch (Los Angeles) - "Poor Angels Need Parking Too".
Land Line Mag - "Cintra profits even as toll traffic declines".
Other stories - New York - "Seneca leader tells governor to brush up on state history" "Maine Turnpike tolls set to rise on Feb. 1" Massachusetts - "Backbone needed to push state reforms" New York - "Stakes raised in battle over state cigarette tax" California - "Plan aims to reduce bridge toll cheating" Texas - "Toll roads may get price hike" inc video "Trans Texas Corridor Renamed, Not Dead".
Tories go a deeper Green
BBC - "Tory blueprint for green economy".
More on the Humber tolls
Hull Daily Mail - "Bridge toll inquiry to consider reports".
More on doubt whether tolled bridge will be built
The Province - "Mann private-financing woes embolden NDP" Maple Bridge News - "Highway 1 partners blow deal deadline".
Russia moves further towards private roads and corruption
Moscow Times - "Duma to Hear Bill On State Road Firm".
Thursday 15 January 2009
Freedom not to inform
Complaint in the Economist about the difficulty of getting information under the Freedom of Information Act - "Free-ish - Four years on, the Freedom of Information Act is popular but underfunded".
In this particular case the paper has been trying unsuccessfully to get information on the London Congestion Charge from TfL. From our experience local authorities and the Government are able to evade or delay supplying information almost indefinitely and there seems to be nothing to stop them.
USA Roundup - Later news
New York - "No surprise as poll shows New Yorkers overwhelmingly opposed to soda tax, tolls on East River" Virginia - "Public Hearings Set for HOT Lanes" New York - "War of words escalates between governor and Seneca president" Oregon - "Bridge Tolls In Portland? City Wants Option" inc poll and video.
Banned book review
Spiked from 5th December - " ‘There’s a lot of rich people backing this cause’".
Planes and trains and um er roads
Following the usual official leaks, the Government today announced its support for a third runway at Heathrow - BBC - "Go-ahead for new Heathrow runway". Geoff Hoon tried to present this airport expansion as Green, with the Tories and the Lib Dems vying for the claim of who was the greenest and would do the most to stop people from flying and to reduce the poisonous CO2. As this gas was being exhaled with every breath, perhaps if Parliament closed it would do as much as anything else to reduce CO2.
Though the news media gave all their attention to the third runway, the announcement covered other things including that the Government say that they plan to "invest up to £6bn in major improvements to the strategic national road network" - DfT Press Release - "Hoon outlines air, road and rail improvements to boost economy and jobs".
The good news in the accompanying doc from the DfT - "Britain’s Transport Infrastructure Motorways and Major Trunk Roads" pdf file 6Mb is that the Government have for the moment abandoned plans for toll lanes on motorways (see para 66), and there is no mention of any of the other forms of tolls such as "congestion charges" or "road pricing".
The bad news is that the Government are not spending one penny more on the roads. All they are doing is updating the announcement that they made last July (see our News page 16th, 17th, 18th July 2008). As we pointed out then the six billion is only one billion pounds a year taken from the fifty billion pounds that the Government takes from drivers. In the real world outside the House of Commons, the economy will continue to be hampered by the unwillingness of any of the political parties to spend a fairer share of roads taxes on roads. This shows how weak drivers are compared with the Green lobby and trains lobby or even the air industry lobby.
More on the Senecas digging up their tomahawks - Olean Times Herald - "Senecas fighting back with toll booths".
More on Massachusetts tolls debate - Wicked - "Senators propose unified transportation agency, call for toll freeze" Boston Globe - "Senate roadway plan avoids tax or toll hike" Eagle Tribune - "Senate plan would merge transportation agencies " Boston Herald - "Chief’s a gold dig-ger" Wicked - "Local pols file bill to double gas tax, nix tolls"
NECN - "MetroWest lawmakers urge gas tax hike" inc video Boston Globe - "State Senate would create transportation superagency" inc comments Boston Herald - "Mass. Senate: Combine transportation agencies".
Many of the papers as usual are publishing syndicated stories selling tolls, here is a sample one - Westport Now - "Talking Transportation: Value Pricing Our Highways".
More on Oregon scheme to replace gas tax, including an interesting comment posted by "wch" - Oregonian - "Oregon envisions gas tax based on miles, not gallons".
Most of the tolls in the Eastern states are disguised border levies on cars and trucks from other states. Though Connecticut charges out of state trucks without tolls - Hartford Courant - "Truckers Aren't Getting Free Ride".
New Hampshire drivers are "speeding" through the electronic tolls at an average of 22 mph, when they are supposed to go through at 10 mph - Union Leader - "State to EZ-Pass drivers: EZ does it at tolls".
San Francisco Chronicle - "S.F.'s half-baked congestion pricing plan".
Other stories - "OOIDA Call to Action – Ohio members" Ohio - "Turnpike, trucking officials need to compromise on tolls" New York - "M.T.A. Hears Riders’ Reaction to Plans for Service Changes: They’re Angry" California - "Plan aims to reduce toll cheating on bridges" Land Line Mag - "Discounts for some, toll increases for others in Ohio"
Texas - "NAFTA Superhighway Plan Still Possible" "Will the proposed Jefferson Parkway toll road take Colorado commuters for a ride?" Rhode Island - "New road tolls eyed by state" Connecticut - "Toll meeting postponed".
Labour back off from tolling new Forth road bridge
Scotsman - "Labour leader rules out tolls to fund building of new Forth bridge".
PSSNP Press release.
FSB call for scrapping of Dartford Toll and for another Thames crossing
Bexley Times - "‘We need a lower Thames crossing’".
Left side view of the Manchester Toll campaign
Socialist Party - "Why Manchester rejected the congestion charge". Strange that they avoid the mention of "toll"!
Tolled bridge or not
Vancouver Sun - "Port Mann Bridge financing thrown into question" Surrey Leader - "Highway 1 partners blow deal deadline".
Wednesday 14 January 2009
Now that the Harbour bridge has gone cashless, the penny is slowly dropping that drivers are being ripped off - Daily Telegraph - "Hey, don't we own this yet?".
With Greater Manchester rejecting tolls, it seems as if the officals will now punish drivers by doing nothing - Bolton News - "Bolton Council boss in warning over traffic problems".
The Senecas are renewing their threats (last made in the summer of 2007) to toll the Thruway - Buffalo News - "Senecas brace for showdown over tax" Post Journal - "Senecas Prepared - Nation Ready To Battle State" WIVB - "Seneca Nation suing to collect tolls" inc video Press Connects - "Senecas threaten to collect Thruway tolls" Buffalo News - "Senecas threaten to impose tolls on Thruway" WIVB - "Senecas announce plans to collect Thruway Tolls" WGRZ - "Senecas Could Respond to Cigarette Tax with Thruway Sanctions" inc comments Newsday / AP - "Seneca Nation targets NY Thruway in tax dispute".
A new idea to sell Massachusetts service plazas and more on Tolls v Gas Tax - Wicked - "Patrick administration to explore privatizing Pike service plazas" Boston Globe - "Patrick asks bids for Pike plazas" Boston Herald - "Pol betting on casinos to ea$e Pike burdens" CBS - "Gov. Patrick Outlines Gas Tax Goal" NECN - "Gov. Patrick considers privatizing Mass Pike plazas" video
Land Line Mag - "Massachusetts governor open to fuel tax increase, with conditions" Worcester Telegram - "Mass. Turnpike to study privatizing service plazas" Boston Globe - "Turnpike explores sale, lease of service plazas" lot of comments Boston Herald - "Gov. wants to privatize Pike service plazas" lot of comments.
Bond Buyer - "MassPike Swap Payment a Looming Threat".
From the NY Troll Times - "Some States in a Pinch May Raise Gasoline Tax" "Will a Mileage Tax Replace the Gas Tax?".
Other stories - Washington State - "Transportation panel should heed toll advice" Washington State - "Tolls and taxes would help to pay for tunnel".
Another hearing on "Taxes And Charges On Road Users"
Live link to meeting which starts at 2.45 PM.
Comment from Bernard Ingham in Yorkshire Post - "The mucky business of penalising drivers".
Bit more on Bournemouth And Poole tolls
Bournemouth Echo - "Bournemouth and Poole says 'no' to congestion charge".
Bit more on Essex testing ground
Daily Express - "New Revolt Over ‘Spy In The Sky’ Road Tolls".
Living on debt
The latest trade figures (for November) were released yesterday. The Trade gap in goods was the biggest ever at £8.3 billion. After deducting the surplus on services the deficit was £4.5 billion, which means that Britain is consuming each year about £1,000 more per person than it produces - BBC - "UK's trade gap hits record level" Official Stats.
It is expected that today it will be announced that more taxpayers money is to be pumped into supporting the "private" sector - BBC - "Business loan plan to be unveiled".
Tuesday 13 January 2009
BBC - "UK economy downturn 'frightening'".
The real gloom is not falling retail sales etc. It is that the British establishment has not got a clue of how to create an economic system that is fair and effective at producing the goods and services that people want as efficiently as possible. All that we will get is the alcoholics cure for a hangover - more alcohol. This may well "work" again, but it is a cure that will ultimately kill.
Big Blue selling the Big Lie that tolls will magic congestion away - Streetsblog - "IBM Pitches Congestion Pricing to Middle America".
New York is being given the 2008 Sustainable Transport Award. The city won because it did more than most to create traffic congestion, as it reduced by 49 acres the area used for roads and parking. Bloomberg has so far failed with the other part of his plan - charging drivers for the congestion he has created. If he eventually gets congestion pricing, then no doubt he will get the Nobel prize - Environmental Defense Fund PR - "New York is First U.S. City to Win International Award for Sustainable Transport".
Land Line Mag - "Spanish company lands four infrastructure projects".
Comments on last week's final go ahead for one of America's biggest burning money projects - DC Examiner - "That giant sucking sound is Dulles Rail".
The Massachusetts Tolls v Gas Tax choice (for the Governor) - Worcester Telegram - "Patrick looks at gas tax - Alternate to Pike toll hike" Boston Globe - "Patrick considers raising gas tax" Boston Herald - "Deval Patrick fuels talk of gas-tax hike" Boston Globe - "Patrick outlines goals of any gas tax hike" inc video & a lot of comments Worcester Telegram - "Patrick puts conditions on possible support of gas tax hike".
Other stories - "New tolls could lead truckers to avoid Ohio Tpk." California - "Tollway prices to increase next week" New Jersey / Pennsylvania - "How to tell a crook from a rainmaker" Nevada - "BC considers tolls, changing name of bypass project" Pennsylvania - "Jump-start road repairs with tolls".
Herald Sun - "More revenue from less traffic for Transurban" Sydney Morning Herald - "Heavy tolls to be extracted from drivers for decades to come".
Bit more on - Harbour bridge tolls now electronic
Daily Telegraph - "Drivers abandon cashless Sydney Harbour Bridge".
From the dream world of the trolls
Bournemouth Echo - "Congestion Charge For Bournemouth And Poole Is 'Inevitable'" (inc lots of comments).
More on - Essex testing ground
EADT - "Anger over spy in the sky to monitor Essex drivers".
Indian protest ends
Indian truckers have ended their strike in return for promises on tolls and other charges. Any bets on whether those promises will be kept? Reuters - "Truckers' strike ends on eighth day" BBC - "Indian truckers call off strike".
Continental trolls still pushing for higher charges on trucks
IPS - "Trucks Get a Free Ride to Emit".
If emissions of the deadly Carbon dioxide from trucks will increase by over 50 percent within twenty years, then what does that imply about the many other things that the politicians should really be worrying about?
Monday 12 January 2009
One way to avoid tolls - 1010WINS (New Jersey) - "Police: Jersey City Truck Driver Had Trick Plates".
Other stories - "Texas lawmakers to weigh private road deals against tax increases" Connecticut - "Gas Tax Hike, Tolls Needed Urgently".
Having a legally registered and taxed vehicle while avoiding the Con
Metro - "Drivers' false address con costs millions".
Bit more on financing of a new Forth road bridge
Telegraph - "Alex Salmond 'provoking row over Forth Road Bridge'" SNP Press release - "£26 bridge toll leaves PFI totally discredited" Stv - "Scottish Labour call for a discussion on bridge funding" inc video.
Harbour bridge tolls now electronic
ABC - "Traffic coping with cashless Harbour Bridge: RTA" The Australian - "Choice gives driver $3 bridge to history" Daily Telegraph- "Cashless Sydney Harbour Bridge has crash start".
Last word on - Give 'em the money
Manchester Evening News Blog - "Villiers: no blank cheque for Greater Manchester".
Sunday 11 January 2009
Comment on the "Green Brain Trust" (in reality the Trolls) plan for a mileage tax in Oregon - Bradenton Herald - "Fear Big Brother as nagging backseat driver".
Freedom, Texas style - Star Telegram - "Ask not for whom the arrest warrant tolls; it tolls for thee".
Otther stories - Connecticut - "End Free Ride" New Jersey - "Margate toll hike meets protest, call for takeover" Oregon / Washington State - "Portland, Vancouver clash over size of new I-5 bridge" Virginia - "VDOT seeks proposals for U.S. 460 project, with tolls" Massachusetts - "Firm says it can seek $400m from Mass Turnpike" New York - "MTA Head: Payroll Tax Better Than Bridge Tolls".
More on financing of a new Forth road bridge
Including from the trolls at the Scotsman - Scotland on Sunday - "Bridge battle is taking its toll". Guardian - "SNP presses case for right to borrow".
Meanwhile it has been calculated that a bridge financed from tolls would have huge charges - Sunday Herald - "PPP Forth bridge ' would mean £26 toll ... per day'". This is similar to the calculations that we made a year or more ago - New Crossing. Though the point is of course that at these prices the bridge would not be built as no one would use it and the private owners would stand as much chance of getting their money back as shareholders in the "Company of Scotland Trading to Africa and the Indies" (Darien Company).
The Private Road
Globe & Mail (Toronto ) - "For whom the bill tolls".
Irish tolls doing well
Independent - "Barrier-free road takes its toll as driver hit for €5,500".
Congestion in the city of 25 million
Jakarta Post - "Editorial: Easing the traffic".
Bit more on back door to tolls et al
Telegraph - "Why waste authorities are a lot of rubbish".
Friday 9 January 2009
Alabama / Florida - "Toll Road Fate Still Up In The Air" Massachusetts / New Hampshire - "New NH toll should be squashed" "Chicago loses $153 million transit grant; Daley blames feds for blown deadline" Massachusetts - "Patrick open to avoiding toll hike" Massachusetts - "Road to improvement is paved with tolls" Massachusetts - "Mass. Pike board member seeks toll hike delay" West Virginia - "Turnpike officials say toll hike may be ahead".
The real economy suffering
BBC- "UK manufacturing declines sharply".
There is an additional toll for some workers - South Wales Argus - "Chepstow recycling plant move could cost workers".
More on - End of toll collectors, but not tolls
Sydney Morning Herald - "Tags for the memories: technology takes its toll on bridge life".
More on financing of a new Forth road bridge which was debated at Holyrood yesterday
Herald - "May the Forth (bridge) be with you ... even if we have to pay for it". Questions and comments about the Crossing came up various times in yesterday's Official Report including - (under "Engagements") (under "Forth Crossing" - you may have to scroll down a bit).
More reaction to that fine
Bad Idea - "Boris Johnson Gets Fined Over Congestion Charge, Continues To Prove He Is A Scarily Brilliant Politician" Telegraph - "Boris Johnson fined for not paying 'wretched' congestion charge" Guardian - "Johnson fined for forgetting his C-charge" Independent - "Boris forced to cough up over C-charge fine".
Bit more on the Humber tolls
Scunthorpe Telegraph - "'Drop tolls completely' call" Hull Daily Mail - "Scrapping Humber Bridge tolls will pay off".
BBC - "Heat may spark world food crisis".
Whether you believe in what climate scientists say about the significance of the effect of increased CO2 seems to be a matter of faith. What is however clear is that the Global warming hype seems to be a smokescreen to hide the effects of population growth on demand for food and just about everything else.
In 1950, the world population was estimated at 2.55 billion. Today it is estimated at 6.75 billion. This BBC report predicts a food problem by 2100 due to Global warming. Most population predictions only go to 2050. But in 2003, the UN produced estimates going up to 2300 - Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division - "World Population In 2300" pdf. They had figures on 5 different assumptions based on different fertility rates. For 2100 their predictions were - low 5.5 billion, medium 9.1 billion, zero growth (assumes that birth rate falls off to a level where there is no further population growth) 9.1 billion, high 14.0 billion, constant (assumes that "fertility constant .. at the level estimated for 1995-2000) 43.6 billion.
The constant figure is a bit high if you look at the net population growth so far this millenium which is about 1.1% a year or 10% since 2000. That would give a population at 2100 of about 18.5 billion. Though we can be reasonably certain that something awful will intervene and stop the population from reaching that level.
Thursday 8 January 2009
Another instalment of horror comic -NY Times - "Why You’ll Love Paying for Roads That Used to Be Free, Part Two".
Chicago congestion pricing funding evaporates - Chicago Tribune - "Daley: City Hall not to blame for lost federal bus grant" Southtown Star - "Chicago misses out on $153M for new bus program" Chicago Sun Times - "City misses out on $153M ". Never was so little hyped into so much, when Chicago "got" this money (see 29th and 30th April 2008).
Other stories - Massachusetts - "Governor Patrick: Toll hikes might not be necessary" West Virginia - "More Talk Of Toll Increase" Maryland - "Readers speak out on E-ZPass fee proposal" New York - "Go To MTA's Hearing At CSI On Jan. 26 To Oppose Plan For Toll And Fare Hikes" Pennsylvania - "Pa. Turnpike takes its toll: Travel cost rises 25%" Massachusetts - "Toll foes say ‘no’ at Pike hearing" Massachusetts / New Hampshire - "Our view: Toll defeats purpose of I-93 improvements"
Texas - "New road plan rises from ashes" "Exact change lanes disappearing from Maine Turnpike" Texas - "Trans-Texas Corridor may be dead, but we still need to chart course on highway construction" Texas - "Transportation project's name changes, not the senselessness" Massachusetts - "Eastie drivers cry foul over low-profile toll notice" New Hampshire - "I-93 toll proves to be hot topic".
Bit more on the Humber tolls
BBC - "Bridge tolls 'should be scrapped'" BBC - "Councils unite on bridge tolls" video Grimsby Telegraph - "Bridge Toll A Step Closer To Being Scrapped" Grimsby Telegraph - "Councillors back fight to scrap tolls" with comments.
Another Indian toll protest
Business Today - "India’s costliest road".
Good news for Trolls
The Bank of England, which was founded in 1694 has set the lowest ever interest rates at 1.5% - BBC - "Interest rates hit all-time low". According to the inflation figures published on 16th December, the Consumer Prices Index of annual inflation was running at an annual rate of 4.1% in November. So in real terms interest rates are in effect negative. This is bad news for British savers and for those overseas who hold sterling assets; this will tend to lead to a fall in the value of the pound and to inflationary pressure. Negative interest rates are of course good news for those in debt including Trolls whose profits receive a big windfall when interest rates are low.
As nominal rates may soon reach zero, it has ben leaked that the Government are considering pumping more money into the system to try and restart a spiral of higher inflation and consumer spending. The Chancellor has today denied this - BBC - "No plan to print money - Darling". The Chancellor's statement is worthless. Let's hope that we can't soon say the same about the pound.
Times - "London Mayor Boris Johnson fined for failing to pay congestion charge" BBC - "C-charge fine for Boris Johnson".
Congestion charge on walking
Some reaction - Herald - "Managed access is the answer to busy hills", to yesterday's story - Herald - "It’s high time we had a congestion charge for the hills".
As usual, the pressure of population growth on space and resources is ignored. Though it seems that someone must be gaining as the European Union has offices in Africa encouraging immigration to Europe - Daily Express 3rd January - "50 Million Invited To Europe".
Another report shows the economic damage caused by Humber tolls
Hull Daily Mail - "Councils call for Humber Bridge toll to be abolished" Hull Daily Mail - "Scrapping Bridge tolls 'would benefit region'" Grimsby Telegraph - "Axing the toll would boost region by £350m" Scunthorpe Telegraph - "Scrapping bridge tolls costs £8 each".
London Assembly Tory member complains about Dartford tolls
Ilford Recorder - "Huge toll hike a bridge too far".
Some more on Labour wriggling on tolls
The Scotsman - "Battle of the bridge as Forth crossing becomes political football".
We have repeatedly pointed out that the Trolls who want a privately financed and tolled bridge (whether needed or not) have created this controversy by the hyper inflated figures for the estimated cost of a new bridge. Yesterday there was another letter in the Courier on this issue - "Don’t accept inflated figures" (second letter).
Empty bus lanes in the home of road pricing
Asia One - "Bus lanes underutilised".
Bit more following release of Malaysia's secret toll agreements
The Edge - "The true cost of privatising highways".
More on - Give 'em the money
Following David Cameron's speech which we reported on Tuesday, the Transport Secretary replies - Manchester Evening News - "Hoon blasts Tories' cash vow" Manchester Evening News Politics Blog - "Hoon fumes at Cameron". The Cabinet are in the North West for a meeting today in Liverpool. Will they be announcing some electoral sweeteners?
A plea for more tolls
Nigeria removed all tolls in 2003 (or at least that was what was supposed to happen). They are now in the process of privatising main roads, reportedly because of inadequate maintenance. All this is likely to mean is more extortion for travelling on roads that are still poor - Punch - "FG may concession Lagos-Ibadan Expressway".
Wynnum Herald - "E-toll glitches".
Indian Government to encourage more toll profiteering
Live Mint - "The Capitalist | New toll policy is great for investors, lenders. But for taxpayers?".
Wednesday 7 January 2009
USA Roundup later stories
At last the President-Elects position on tolls is clear - his new limo has a small slot in the driver’s window that can slide open, and which it is assumed "is for paying tolls" "US Secret Service to unveil Obama’’s limo on Jan.20".
A revamped version of the proposal that tolls pay for most of New York's mass transit, including free buses - Grist Mill - "The Freedom fee". Like the previous proposal it assumes that nearly all drivers will pay rather than either switch to the already crowded mass transit or just avoid Manhattan island altogether.
More selling of roads privatization - Public service (UK) - "Limitations on US highway spending must be addressed".
Other stories - New Hampshire - "New I-93 toll eyed near Mass. border" "Maryland toll hike not fair to truckers: Industry group" Florida - "Give yourself a raise: Avoid Tolls" West Virginia - "Tolls, windmills with no tulips...".
The Skye toll criminals
BBC - "Anti-tolls veteran in prince plea". Over 100 campaigners were branded as criminals for opposing the Skye tolls, though at least they were not transported as happened to the "Rebecca" toll opponents in Wales!
First, cause congestion. Second, charge for it
Northampton Chronicle - "Our councils planned this destruction".
Bit more on Insecure tolls
NZ Herald - "Driver: I was misled on toll website safety".
End of toll collectors, but not tolls
The Australian - "End of long road for bridge-toll takers".
More from continental trolls
Euractiv - "Tough negotiations ahead over green road charges".
More tolls proposed for Ireland
Independent - "Motorists face new tolls to cover cost of €4bn Dublin Bay tunnel".
Indian truckers protest against costs, including tolls
News on Air - "Truckers' strike pushes prices of essential commodities up" BBC - "India truck strike begins to bite".
More on the death (exaggerated?) of the Texas mega toll highway - WFAA - "Trans-Texas Corridor axed, TxDOT says" Star Telegram - "Trans-Texas Corridor plan officially axed, at least for now" Victoria Advocate - "TTC no more" Texas Cable News - "Not everyone believes Trans Texas Corridor is really dead" Caller Times - "Trans-Texas Corridor dead; I-69 not" Houston Chronicle - "State officials scrap Trans-Texas Corridor" McClatchy - "Texas kills road plan at heart of North American conspiracy talk".
Other stories - Massachusetts - "Shifting dynamics complicate transit plans" New Hampshire / Massachusetts - "NH asking for test toll at Mass. border " Pennsylvania - "Low gasoline prices unique opportunity" New Hampshire- "I-93 toll proves to be hot topic"
Pennsylvania - "Toll hike serves as wake-up call" Massachusetts - "Tolls could be in Newton Corner’s future" Land Line Mag - "Maryland toll increases unfairly target truckers" Maryland - "Truckers not happy over state’s proposed toll hikes" Florida - "Express lane use exceeds expectations".
More on Labour wriggling on tolls
The Courier - "SNP face quiz on bridge funds" The Herald - "Nationalists accused over lack of funding plan for bridge" Times - "SNP accuses Labour as row escalates over Forth crossing" Telegraph - "Alex Salmond's Forth funding plan fails to bridge the gap".
The Trolls are seeking to get revenge for the abolition of the tolls. This is clear with the Tory Telegraph siding with Labour on this issue. The estimated cost of the bridge is ridiculously high. And however much the real cost is, it will be more expensive if the bridge is "privately" finaced by the banks which though they have just been bailed out are still looking for more cash.
Tuesday 6 January 2009
USA Roundup - later stories
Another expert who preaches that tolls are the answer to congestion. Their effect is so magic that - "In the space of a year or two we could have you zipping along .. at the height of rush hour at a comfortable 55 miles per hour" - NY Times- "Why You’ll Love Paying for Roads That Used to Be Free".
The mega toll highway bites the dust - Houston Chronicle - "Trans-Texas Corridor is dead, TxDOT chief says" Dallas Morning News - "Trans Texas Corridor plan on road to reality".
A review of reports on the proposal, following a trial scheme in Oregon, to replace gas tax with a mileage tax - Loaded Orygun - "National Media Getting Mileage Out of Mileage Tax Proposal". That so many presumably rational people could support such a crazy scheme is amazing. Apart from the many reasons why the scheme would not work, the most important point is that what America needs to concentrate on is reducing fuel use, and the best way of doing that is the gas tax.
More on Insecure tolls
Yesterday we reported on the "worthless" pledge that a new tolls payment system on the web was secure. Today the system has been taken down - NZ Herald - "Computer security flaws close new road's toll payment system ".
Give 'em the money
Manchester Evening News - "Cameron 'promises' TIF cash". If there are a few billions to spare, then the criteria for doling it out should not be that the authorities have just had an abortive attempt at introducing road tolls.
Labour wriggles on tolls
SNP Press release - "Treasury admit PFI not the solution for Bridge" The Herald - "Forth Bridge row set to be debated in Holyrood next week" SNP Press release - "SNP promise toll free bridge".
Tolls come first - South Bend Tribune (Indiana) - "Better Toll Road plan needed".
A Green view of the man Obama has picked as Transportation Secretary, though there is no clue as to LaHood's views on tolls - Daily Green - "What's Under LaHood, Obama's Transportation Secretary Pick?".
Other stories - Pennsylvania - "Mileage tax, road tolls considered for transportation funding" Maryland - "Not so E-Z" Virginia - "No E-ZPass here" Kansas - "Speeding Toll — Pull this over" Kansas - "Promotion gives drivers free ride"
New Hampshire / Massachusetts - "New I-93 toll eyed near Mass. border" Connecticut - "Tolls would present too many problems" Virginia - "Tolls increase 25 cents, to $2.75 a trip, on Pocahontas Parkway" Connecticut - "Toll Booths" letters Pennsylvania - "Turnpike Tolls Increase" Maryland - "E-ZPass, Truck Costs May Rise".
More Tory complaints about back door to tolls?
Reading Evening Post - "Small print may mean ‘congestion charging’ Tories claim".
What the Tories are complaining about seems to be the provisions in the ("Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill" ) relating to new combined authorities and "Economic Prosperity Boards". Under Schedule 6, there are amendments to sundry acts including the Transport Act 2000 as recently amended by the Local Transport Act 2008, and including the road user charging provisions. It seems that the new bodies are to be given similar powers to that granted to the new (and not yet in existence) "Integrated Transport Authorities" in relation to road user charging. The Tories made almost no effort to stop the undemocratic ITAs having a say on road tolls, so why are they now concerned about the undemocratic EPBs?
Malaysia releases secret toll agreements
New Straits Times - "More questions than answers on tolls" The Star - "Buy over major highways, govt urged". A surprise that the "private" toll operators were being financed by the Government, but following the Credit Crunch this will now be the case in most countries, with the "private" finance coming indirectly or even directly from the taxpayer.
Yesterday the Government issued a press release - "New car resolutions for smarter drivers" which says that they have a new website that will help buyers of new cars to "save fuel". In fact the emphasis of the new site is on CO2 emissions and not fuel. The two are almost but not quite proportionate. If the Government really wanted Britain to save fuel it would enable drivers to easily compare the fuel efficiency of vehicles as driven under various conditions (urban, rural, motorway, mixed) and not cloud the issue with hot air.
Monday 5 January 2009
MP opposes tolls on the Thames but not elsewhere
BBC - "A bridge too far?". At least the MP opposes the tolls in his own area, but why does he think that tolls elsewhere are OK?
Essex - testing ground
Essex Echo - "County is picked to test road charging" The Gazette - "Pay-to-drive tax faces Essex test".
Lord Hanningfield who is apparently opposed to this and also opposes the Dartford tolls (which affect Essex) otherwise appears to be one of the main Tory advocates of tolls!
Leading toll advocate dies
Sir Alan Walters, Margaret Thatcher's main economic adviser has died - "Sir Alan Walters: the Times obituary".
It is difficult to assess the influence of one man on a particular policy. But Sir Alan wrote various papers advocating tolls including "The Economics of Road User Charges" in 1968 for the World Bank, he also sat on the Smeed committee which advocated tolls on all UK roads. Whether through his influence or not the Tories most of the time that they were in power increased the number of tolls. Even today the Tories at a national level appear to be keener to increase tolls rather than advocate giving a boost to the economy by removing them.
NZ Herald - "Pledge for motorists on website security". Tolls are a form of robbery, so it is not suprising that they do not bother to have a https site which would indicate that payment details are encrypted. The "pledge" is worthless.
Toll company woes
The Australian - "Infrastructure rethink needed as PPPs burn participants".
Wow! Someonelse who thinks that people would be daft to buy the idea that tolls are better than a gas tax - Atlanta Journal - "Why abandon the gasoline tax?".
San Francisco Con proposal - NY Times - "San Francisco Studies Fees to Ease Traffic".
Proposal from Kansas for speed tolls - Capital Journal - "Slow down or pay - State legislator wants to base interstate tolls on speed".
No tolls and less pounds - Montgomery Advertiser - "Free toll for Montgomery commuters".
Other stories - DC / Virginia - "HOT Lanes: Will people be willing to pay for them?" inc audio
Pennsylvania - "Turnpike travelers grumble, pay up" Pennsylvania - "Toll Increase Hurts Truckers" Pennsylvania - "Turnpike Tolls Increase".
Transport Briefing - "Transport agenda: what to watch during 2009".
More tolls discrimination
Yesterday there was a report on how those who live in the north west of Sydney were particularly hit by tolls, today there is a report from Toronto - The Star - "Gouged by Hwy. 407 tolls" letter.
Sunday 4 January 2009
San Francisco Con proposal - Sacremento Bee - "Less traffic, a better life".
Strangely enough one of the few sane voices in the crazy move away from gas taxes to tolls is also from the City by the Bay - Debra J Saunders in SF Chronicle - "Do not ask for whom the road tolls".
Other stories - Pennsylvania - "Editorial: Fares Will Take Toll on Motorists" New York - "Oops ... state Thruway has done it again" Connecticut - "Be ready to confront toll proposal" Connecticut - "No Tolls"
New Jersey - "Margate's bridge toll hike called 'excessive'" Massachusetts - "Massport holds its cards close" Pennsylvania - "Toll increase serves as reminder about overall funding shortages" Virginia - "Jordan toll may drive traffic to tunnels".
Another back door to tolls?
Sunday Telegraph - "'Super-councils' given power to impose road taxes". The Tories have done a good job by pointing out how the "Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill" could be used to bring in road tolls. But we and others told the Tories that the Local Transport Bill (now a 2008 Act) would have this effect, as under it the new "Integrated Transport Authorities" could instruct the highway authorities to do this. The Tories did not try to do anything about that. What is the point of trying to lock this latest backdoor, when one is already open?
Daily Telegraph - "Northwest motorists sllugged with $115 tolls trap".
It is clear that the Chinese Government decision to abolish tolls from 1st January has been largely ignored by those who control the toll roads. The puzzle is that page 2 of this article discusses what will happen to the redundant toll collectors - Beijing Review - "Better Late Than Never".
Another report on Dartford tolls debate
Kent News - "Minister unmoved by Dartford tolls Commons debate".
More on paying for the bridge made of gold
Scotland on Snday - "Building bridges". Nothing better demonstrates the corruption in the British system than the planned Forth road bridge. All the figures quoted seem to be on the basis that you think of a figure, double it and then double it again. It seems that the Trolls and their friends in the UK Government want to make sure that this bridge is privately financed. The UK taxpayer will not only be massively overcharged, but will probably be the one providing the money that it then in effect borrows back!
Saturday 3 January 2009
Boris for Mayor of San Francisco? Autoblog - "Keeping Drivers at Bay: San Francisco mulls congestion charge".
It is reported that the "National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission" will recommend a Federal gas tax increase and a lot more tolls- Reuters - "U.S. gas tax needs hike, overhaul: commission". The Commission includes some troll interests, so it is surprising that it is not going for a tolls only recommendation.
The story has been reported in various states including - Connecticut - "Time to raise the gas tax?" Indiana - "Local drivers react to proposed federal gas tax hike" North Carolina - "Future Transportation Funding Could Mean More Taxes".
Other stories - Florida - "Guetzloe: Editorial inaccurate" "Wish list forms for possible gas tax hike" New York - "Thruway tolls increasing this weekend" Pennsylvania - "Turnpike Fare Increase Starts Tomorrow - Motorists mull alternate routes" Connecticut - "Return Of The Tolls?" Pennsylvania - "Toll hike looming on Pa. Turnpike Sunday".
More on planed 407 toll rises
Unlike the British AA, the Canadian Automobile Association opposes toll roads. Their spokesman says - "Motorists pay enough in taxes and fees to drive their cars and our members believe that is enough. There are still so many non-toll roads that our members tend to avoid the 407 at all times of the day." Peterborough Examiner - "407 tolls rising Feb. 1".
Irish hauliers complain about toll increases
HGV Ireland - "IRHA calls for toll hikes to be reversed".
Friday 2 January 2009
Welsh Assembly member with Severn toll niggles
Free Press - "10p toll rise is 'too much'" South Wales Argus - "People 'failed' by Severn Bridge toll rises - AM".
Odd how politicians apparently think that a £5.40 toll tax for a motorist to enter Wales is too much, but £5.30 was OK.
More proof that the Trolls believe that American drivers are stupid - The Oregonian - "Mileage tax: A road leading away from the gas tax".
Other stories - Chicago - "New Parking Meter Laws Mean Confusion For Many" "Making rush hour costly
San Francisco may charge downtown congestion fees" Florida - "Roadway projects likely to slow, if not halt altogether" Connecticut - "Toll roads may return to the state's agenda".
Scenta - "UK faces court case over air pollution breaches".
As with many other areas, the politicians try to hide the facts, but it is still possible to get at some of them. In Britain, cars are NOT responsible for 96% of PM10s and NOT responsible for 88% of Nitrogen Oxide. Our Air Quality section.
Express - "£10 Million Bill For Road Spy Tests" Daily Mail - "'Spy-in-sky' trials get the go-ahead despite Government promise to scrap road-pricing plan". This is not a new story and in any case ten million is small beer compared with the vast costs if road user charging is implemented. It is also small compared with the £500 million or so that it costs each year to collect existing tolls and "congestion charges", but that is not an issue which concerns the national news media.
More on opposition to Dartford toll
Evening Standard - "10,000 demand scrapping of Dartford crossing tolls".
Humber toll campaign
Hull Daily Mail - "Support grows for axing tolls".
Nation of shopkeepers and borrowers
Overall it seems that retail sales in 2008 are likely to be within 1% of those for 2007 (sales to November were 1.5% up, but this will have been wiped out by a poor December despite a sales surge at the end - BBC - "Waitrose sees festive sales soar"). Given that there was a large increase in retail space, more online purchasing, and some retailers doing better than others, this of course means that some retailers are going bust. In the overall scheme of things, this is not significant except for those unlucky enough to work for those retailers who are suffering.
Due to the partial deflation of the housing price bubble, there was a fall in house prices of 16% in 2008 - BBC - "House prices 'fall to 2004 level'". Again this is not significant except for those unlucky enough to be a recent first time buyer. And though house prices need to continue to fall, it is certain that a large part of Government effort will go into reflating the housing price bubble.
Share prices fell 31% in 2008 - BBC - "Record stock market falls in 2008". Stocks can be subject to asset inflation and deflation, but this fall probably accurately reflects the prospects for UK Plc. Britain has for decades been consuming more than it produces, with the gap filled by borrowing from and asset sales to other countries. The people in Britain who have done best are those who produce nothing. In previous periods similar to this, the most likely result would be stagflation, but as the power of labour and the unions has been destroyed over the last 20 years, this is less likely. The people who got us into this mess still control the country, so it is likely that they will repeat the formula that has enabled their lifestyle, this will mean low interest rates, a massive increase in money supply, continuing inadequate regulation, and continuing decline of real industry in favour of those who profit from the efforts and assets of others. Ideal conditions it seems for investing in toll roads!
Thursday 1 January 2009
Dickens lives on in England and Wales
The start of the year (February) saw the end of all tolls in Scotland. At the end of the year, two stakes were driven into the heart of the road user charging vampire. The first stake was at the end of November with the new London Mayor's decision to remove the western extension to the charge zone. The second stake was at the start of December with the result of the Ballot on a Manchester con.
Elsewhere, the Government and trolls that control the toll roads and river crossings in England and Wales continued to hold on tight and squeeze drivers.
The coming year will see the trolls fighting a rearguard action on road user charging. Their best hope is that the Tories in Cambridgeshire will revive the Con charge scheme for the city as soon as the next local elections are out of the way. There are likely to be more toll increases, though the most significant event will be an Inquiry into the proposal to place a toll on a free bridge for the first time ever - on the Runcorn bridge near Liverpool.
Tolls are increasing on many roads twixt today and next Monday as the trolls celebrate the start of a new year. We have not listed most of the stories.
Other stories - "Turnpike tolls to go up in Maine" Connecticut - "Toll roads may return to the state's agenda" Connecticut - "HOT for tolling in Connecticut" Chicago - "Parking Meters and CTA See Price Hike In 2009".
Toll free in Troll Land
Today is the day that China's road tolls were supposed to be abolished and replaced with a fuel tax to improve air quality. As predicted by us, the trolls have ignored the Government decision. Instead last night, new electronic tolls came into operation and they are to be extended - Shanghai Daily - "E-toll system unveiled".
Strangely, though the operators will obviously continue to enforce tolls, Reuters is still reporting that - "a sharp rise in consumption taxes will replace road tolls and other charges in an effort to better match the cost of fuel with its use" - "China fuel price reform starts, where does it end?". Though Reuters also says that - "The formula is similar to one it (National Development and Reform Commission) established in 2006 -- and subsequently was almost completely ignored.".
Toronto Sun - "ETR slaps premium on peak travel" Press release.
Cashless but tolled
ABC - "Harbour Bridge e-tag alternatives offered to country drivers".
To card or not to card, that is not the question
The Severn tolls generate more nonsense stories than other tolls. Recently it has been disinformation about VAT, and today it is that old favourite - paying by credit cards. The politicans who presumably know the facts seem to be happy to feed this Government pap to the masses. Paying by card is not the problem, the problem is the toll, but if MPs thought that paying by card was important then why did they accept the removal from the Local Transport Bill (now a 2008 Act) the amendment which would have authorised this? BBC - "Severn bridge tolls can go on cards".
Humber toll campaign
Grimsby Telegraph - "Fresh backing for bridge tolls campaign" Scunthorpe Telegraph - "New backing for tolls campaign".
MP demands a share of Dartford toll
News Shopper - "BEXLEY: MP wants cut of toll profits for borough". Instead of asking for a share of the loot, MPs should be demanding that the toll be scrapped. If the MPs believe the Government claims that the tolls reduce congestion, then they are the only ones in Britain to fall for this.