JULY 2008 NEWS
Thursday 31 July 2008
Irish voluntary road toll
Herald - "Address farce may see 70pc of drivers avoid new M50 fees".
Star Telegram (Texas) - "The electronic toll road system breaks down when the bill gets mailed to the wrong address".
More on falling use of roads and gas - Philadelphia Daily News - "Bombs or bridges? As the Iraq war rages, infrastructure suffers" Delaware online - "Drop in traffic leaves less money for road work" Baltimore Sun - "Road block?" Pittsburgh Tribune Review - "National highway money crisis looms" USA Today - "Gas prices drive motorists away from toll roads, shrink revenue" Land Line Mag - "AASHTO estimates bridges need $140 billion – minimum".
Other stories - New Jersey - "A.C. Expressway is exploring cashless tolls" Massachusetts - "Mihos: Last chance for turnpike drivers".
Wednesday 30 July 2008
A road too far?
Sydney Morning Herald - "Tollway tipped to create traffic chaos".
Ynetnews - "Tel Aviv to introduce congestion charge by 2009". It seems that the Israelis must be assuming that the Arabs will reduce oil prices!
More on Mary's plans, or is it George's? Wall Street Journal - "Bush Calls for New Highway Tolls,
More Private Funding of Roads" AP - "Transportation secretary proposes new funding plan" Detroit News - "FHA spokesman calls U.S. transportation system broken" Salt Lake Tribune - "Bumpy road: As drivers conserve gasoline, highway funds tank" Atlanta Journal - "DOT chief: Transportation funding needs fixing" etrucker - "DOT officials detail transportation plans".
Bad news is good news - Wall Street Journal - scroll down to comment from "angelsprite".
Other stories - Pennsylvania - "Barletta campaign accuses Kanjorski of changing position on I-80 tolls" Florida - "Cash at X-way tolls may hit the road" Pennsylvania - "Supporters, foes press case on turnpike lease" New Jersey / Pennsylvania - "Editorial: Bridge Toll Hikes - Not so fast" Florida - "Road costs down, but so is cash" Pennsylvania - "Council to weigh in on tolling plan" West Virginia - "Senator: Put tolls on roads feeding turnpike" California - "Construction to Begin on I-680 Express (SMART) Lane".
"No tolls" for British Columbia road
Vancouver Sun - "No tolls on controversial highway, government says".
"C-charge costing London dear in cutting edge"
East London Advertiser. There are some businessmen who are big fans of the c-charge. They are the people who mainly travel in taxis at someone else's expense.
Two tales of third world tolls
Daily Star - "36 RHD staff sued for toll embezzlement" Daily Star - "Toll collected illegally from CNG drivers".
Tuesday 29 July 2008
More on Mary's contrary plan - Atlanta Journal - "Transportation secretary in Atlanta for announcement" Politico - "Peters' highway plan at risk of stalling" Boston Globe - "Road work funds shrink" LA Times - "Motorists help gasoline prices slide" Philadelphia Inquirer - "Losing The Drive" Fort Worth Star Telegram - "Americans are driving less, which means less money for highway construction" New Jersey Star Ledger - "Fewer miles, less money" Pittsburgh Tribune Review - "Higher gas prices make for more lonesome highways" New York Times - "Drop in Miles Driven Is Depleting Highway Fund; Loan From Mass Transit Is Urged" MSNBC - "As Americans drive less, highway funds drop".
Other stories - New Jersey / Pennsylvania - "Allen asks Corzine to overrule toll hikes" Florida - "Alligator Alley lease raises toll concerns" Alabama - "Two studies cite rewards, risks with public-private toll roads" California - "Transit agency meets on plan to charge fees to drive on San Francisco roads" Land Line mag - "North Carolina’s first toll road project is double trouble for highway users" Florida - "I-95 toll will buy life in fast lane in Miami-Dad".
Bikers will no longer have to pay on Itchen bridge and are to have a new lane specially contructed so they can bypass the toll queues - Southern Daily Echo - "Bridge charge for motorbikes is axed".
Leeds creeps towards road tolls
Yorkshire Evening Post - "Traffic rethink for Leeds".
Aussies Love Tolls
Courier-Mail - "Drivers fume over road tolls" ABC - "Growing support for congestion tax".
Monday 28 July 2008
AA Survey of opinions on VED
Press release - "82% agree that road tax is being used as a stealth tax".
Mary still using upside down logic to justify tolls system - DoT press release - "Nearly 10 Billion Fewer Miles Driven in May 2008 than May 2007 Seven-Month Decline in Travel Reflected in Highway Trust Fund ".
the newspaper.com - "GAO Questions Wisdom of Public Private Partnerships".
Psychological pricing? Drivers join the HOT lane when the price is high, on the basis that if the price is high then it must be worth it - Seattle Pi - "High HOT fee reflects distant backup".
More on fall in driving - Wall Street Journal - "Funds for Highways Plummet
As Drivers Cut Gasoline Use".
Other stories - Tennessee - "Tolls needed to fund Memphis bridge" Pennsylvania - "Chambers taking lead in anti-tolling fight" Texas - "Keep tabs on your toll-road balance" Massachusetts - "Turnpike problems will cost taxpayers".
Something strange in Spain
Typically Spanish - "Fewer road tolls between Alicante and Barcelona on the way ".
Hungry Aussie Cars
Sydney Morning Herald - "Cars will eat Sydney, even with $50 toll".
More on Tolls start on Melbourne's new road
The Australian - "Market watchful as road starts to take toll" The Age - "Smooth end to EastLink's free ride" Herald Sun - "Tolls now being charged on EastLink" Herald Sun - "Tolls now being charged on EastLink".
Sunday 27 July 2008
"Road Tolls an International View"
Kipp Report - six "slides".
New Jersey / Pennsylvania - "Citizens speak out on rising bridge toll" New Jersey / Pennsylvania - "What do you think of the bridge toll increases?" Massachusetts - "Editorial: Politics and the Pike" Pennsylvania - "Clarion area reaffirms opposition to tolls" Pennsylvania - "I-80 tolls rear their head again" Georgia - "Are toll roads the answer to metro Atlanta's traffic problem?" Oregon / Washington State - "Analysis: 5 ways to kill a new I-5 bridge".
Tolls start on Melbourne's new road
The Age - "Tolling starts on EastLink".
Saturday 26 July 2008
Washington State - "I-90, 520 bridge toll study shows rate could change driving" Pennsylvania - "Turnpike lease is hyped as win-win" Pennsylvania - "State resubmits application to toll Interstate 80" Florida - "Bad idea on roads gets more absurd".
Friday 25 July 2008
Can you afford to be poor? NY Times - "‘This Land Is Their Land’".
From USA Today - "Structurally deficient bridges" Star Press (Indiana) - "Report says privatizing highways can cost federal treasury".
Star Press (Indiana) - "Report says privatizing highways can cost federal treasury".
Other stories - NY - Thruway toll increases should be repealed" letter "N.C. toll roads get boost from state" California - "Bill would allow toll road by Hwy. 152" New York - "Traffic plan will live, despite 'spineless' pols, sez Mayor Bloomberg Georgia - "Developers drop truck lanes from I-75 toll plan" Washington State - "How High Could 520 Tolls Go?" Oregon /Washington State - "Kulongoski reiterates support for tolls, new transportation projects" "Florida gets 6 formal inquiries on leasing tollway".
"The battle for Skye bridge"
BBC sound clip.
A big dollop of Stats
DfT press release - "Road Statistics 2007: Traffic, Speeds and Congestion" DfT - the full report (pdf) DfT - road traffic data (Excel) DfT - congestion data (Excel). As usual the figures, particularly those for volume of traffic, should not be assumed to completely reliable.
Hauliers call for action on Foreign lorries
From last week - "RHA welcomes MPs' findings on foreign trucks" FTA - "Foreign lorries - Commons committee recognises unfair competitions". We are pleased that the RHA seems to have abandoned support for the lorry road user charging scheme (i.e. pay per mile tolls). In our view the two best ways of supporting Britain's haulage industry are to reduce the excise duty on lorries to nominal amounts and to place "safety" limits on the amount of fuel that foreign lorries have on board when they enter Brtain.
Tuesday 22 July 2008
Florida - "Pay-as-you-go express lanes could be headed to Orlando area" New Jersey / Pennsylvania - "DRPA set for public criticism" Bond Buyer - "Harris Co., Tex., Selling $350 Million" California - "Congestion pricing faces two hurdles" Texas - "Toll roads looking emptier lately" Land Line Mag - "North Carolina OKs funding for state’s first toll road".
More on - No witch burning yet
The Register puts a different spin on yesterday's story - "Climate Swindle film: bruised egos, but no offence". They also have this - "American physicists warned not to debate global warming".
Monday 21 July 2008
No witch burning yet
The political / scientific establishment complained to the regulators about the Channel Four programme that was atheistic on the issue of the Earth getting warmer due to CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. Not surprisingly the regulators sided with the establishment, but there are to be no burnings, yet - BBC - "Climate documentary 'broke rules'".
TfL says that there will be less Con fines
Evening Standard - "We'll be fairer to drivers, promises transport boss".
More ERP toll tales
Straits Times - "Keeping gridlock-free roads vital to vibrant economy: Minister".
Where the tolls go - NJ Voices - "Delaware River boondoggle" Philadelphia Inquirer - "Editorial: DRPA
Minding its own business".
The trolls who control England's political establishment last week announced a plan to have toll lanes on "motorways". They cited the success of the Washington Beltway project - Washington Post - "Toll-Lanes Contract Could Cost State".
Other Stories - Maine - "Toll plaza construction on hold" A target="_blank" href="http://www.mcall.com/news/opinion/letters/all-friedman.6508539jul21,0,6165130.story">Pennsylvania - "Cashless tolls won't be fair" letter Connecticut - "Rell not a backer of tolls" Texas - "Sierra Club says HOV tolls will send the 'wrong signal'" Texas - "Part of I-30 may return to tolled past" Kentucky - "Politicians back away from tolls on I-75/71 bridge" Pennsylvania - "I-80 toll decision holds up lease bid" Massachusetts - "Link Mass Turnpike debt relief to reform" Pennsylvania / New Jersey - "DRPA touts efficiency to sell toll hike plan" California - "Bridge district should have held off on toll hike" Massachusetts - "Our view: Big Dig debt means state must say 'No' to other plans" Massachusetts - "The Big Boondoggle that keeps on taking".
Skye campaign book
Press and Journal - "Book tells story of battle to end controversial bridge tolls".
Proposed car ban
Yorkshire Post - "Motorists face eco-town roads ban to keep bus routes clear".
Saturday 19 July 2008
Where have all the toll tokens gone - 16 million of them - NY Times - "Soon, Token Non Grata on the Garden State".
Other stories - California - "Bay Area's first 'SMART' lane project to begin this fall" New York - "Thruway Travel Plummets".
More on tolls future
Matthew Parris must feel quite at home with the Troll Times as he is almost fanatical in his advocacy of tolls. His column today is an attack on Labour for noise rather than action. He says - "the one serious and genuinely strategic new direction for transport policy, the only big transport idea the Government has entertained in a decade, the only one that needed courage - road-pricing - was dumped last week". This could be a case of whether the glass is half full or half empty. The fact is that the Government have made no announcement about "dumping" road pricing, they have said that they are looking at motorway tolls and that they are pressing ahead with "congestion charging". The direction seems to be clear though the trolls may wish the Government was pressing harder on the gas pedal towards a tolls future.
Friday 18 July 2008
Congress will not back gas tax cuts - wscoctv - "Gas Tax Holiday Could Mean Job Losses In States".
Tolls not high enough? Boston Herald - "Pike extracts toll for $100 gift".
Another example of weird Troll thinking - New York should have tolls because drivers have been badly hit by increased gas prices - Brooklyn Daily Eagle - "Why Congestion Pricing Must Make A Comeback".
Other stories - Massachusetts - "The hard politics of compromise" Oregon / Washington State - "Metro Council reluctantly nods to narrower I-5 bridge" New York - "Lighter Traffic Taking Its Toll on Thruway" Connecticut - "Tolls study planned" New Jersey / Pennsylvania - "DRPA braces for irate drivers" Connecticut - "Major doubts about state toll idea" Colorado - "ExpressToll will charge $7 to verify account holders" Tennessee - "No toll road if public opposed" Land Line mag - "Connecticut lawmaker touts tolling" Texas - "As we cruise toward electronic toll collection, a few bumps still need to be worked out".
88 mile toll queue
Not sure which is more surprising - that Communist Vietnam uses the corrupt capitalist tolls system, or erecting toll booths 142 kilometres from the bridge - Thanhnien News - "Uproar over Dong Nai Bridge toll plan".
Reading accepts bribe
Get Reading - "£2m to develop transport plan".
Cambridge Toll - More complaining about decision to step back
CEN - "Congestion decision to be reviewed".
Bit more on Toll future
The Register - "UK gov announces Road Pricing 2.0 - Managed Motorway" DfT - "Roads - Delivering Choice and Reliability" pdf file ("toll" occurs 18 times in this new document, so it is clear what the choice is).
Thursday 17 July 2008
More on Toll future
There have been more reports on this, many including the Telegraph - "Motorists face £5 charge to beat jams on motorway hard shoulder" say that "Motoring groups welcomed the package". It is no wonder that most drivers do not know what is going on, when the news media deludes them into thinking that the AA and RAC represent them. The Guardian has - "£6bn to ease jams as road pricing shelved". This fantasy is based on "Government sources". The Daily Mail "Plans revealed for pay-as-you-go lanes on the hard shoulder to beat motorway jams" has the AA saying that the toll plans "spell the death-knell for national road pricing".
The reality, which was ignored by the news media, was in our press release yesterday morning-
Ruth Kelly, the Transport Secretary, has today announced a "£6 billion investment package to improve and make better use of
England's motorways and other key roads". She said that the Government will consider tolling the new lanes and any new roads to
give "motorists a choice about how they make their journeys". It was also announced that the Government is giving more money to
local authorities to encourage them to introduce "congestion charging".
Some people may be misled into regarding this announcement as good news, in reality it is more bad news for roads users.
The six billion pounds spending is between now and 2014, so it is only one billion pounds a year. This amount is buttons when
compared with the amount of taxes that the Government takes from roads users. Fuel and other road taxes total a staggering 50
billion pounds a year, so the Government is only spending one week's worth of taxes and is keeping the rest.
There is no justification for tolls on any road. To say that tolls are to give drivers a choice is nonsense, the aim is just to
milk even more money from the Government's favourite cash cow. Where there is a choice, such as with the M6 Toll, most drivers and
businesses avoid the road, which means that a major transport asset is virtually empty, while the West Midlands suffers from
congestion and the resulting pollution.
Tolled lanes added to roads are in America referred to as "Lexus" lanes as they are mainly used by the rich. This two tier system
is not only unfair it also leads to accidents. A report in 2005 from the Texas Transportation Institute found that there was a 50%
increase in "injury crash rates" where drivers were discouraged in some way from using certain lanes. In Florida, part of the
Interstate 95 is just going over to a partial tolled system, as proposed by Ruth Kelly, and this has already led to more crashes.
The Government will be aware of all this, but it seems that getting more money from drivers and businesses is more important than
making the most efficient and safest use of road space.
Wednesday 16 July 2008
This morning's FT had an official leak that the Government would today announce plans for toll lanes on motorways - "Kelly calls on business to beat M-way jams". The Government's normal avenue for leaking its toll plans is the Times, but it had nothing on this story. The BBC initially had the story without mentioning the tolls and saying that the plan was welcomed by the AA, after the official announcement the story was updated - "Cash to target M-way congestion".
The Government may have decided to risk going for tolls as leaks indicate that the Tories are soon to announce their own plans for "effectively managed roads" i.e. toll roads, toll lanes and "congestion charges".
Fuel tax increase postponed
BBC - " Brown defends fuel duty decision" Treasury press release. The increase was due on the 1st October, and the Government have not said when it is postponed to. Including the VAT on top of the 2 pence, each month costs the Government £100 million. Hardly noticeable when compared with the £50 billion a year that they collect from all taxes on roads use.
Are tolls roads still a steal?
Sydney Morning Herald - "Toll roads to nowhere".
Peace Arch News - "We know for whom you toll".
Tuesday 15 July 2008
From Paul Mulshine in NJ Voices - "Another bad idea comes down the Pike".
New York Times - "Hazards: ID Tags Interfering With Medical Care".
From Governor's national meeting - Philadelphia Inquirer- "Rendell's focus in new governors' post: Infrastructure".
Other stories - Washington State - "Gasoline prices cost state tax revenue" California - "One toll hike may not be enough" Pennsylvania - "I-80 plan would see tolls by 2010" California - "Congestion relief stuck in traffic" with comments Indiana - "State drove lousy bargain with Toll Road operators" letter Texas - "Dorman endeavors to discontinue gas tax diversions" Florida - "Plastic poles erected on a portion of Interstate 95" California - "Declining ridership on 91 toll lanes".
It is reported that traffic is down 40 per cent following the latest price increases and more gantries - Today Online - "NEW ERP GANTRIES Traffic down 40%, speeds up 38%". There are two puzzling parts to this story. One is that a relatively small change to the system can apparently have such a large impact. The other is that if 8,000 fewer trips is a fall of 40 per cent, then the total traffic was only 20,000 vehicle trips a day, and is now 12,000. This is in a city state with a population of 4.6 million, 850,000 vehicles, and very high fixed costs for owning a vehicle. If each vehicle only made one trip a day, then a fall of 8,000 is less than one per cent.
Bit more on M6 Toll
Express & Star - "Scrap Toll calls after numbers fall". The interesting bit of this story is the view, expressed here and elsewhere, that drivers should be able to chose to pay for road space that other drivers are excluded from. "Breeze" says that "I travelled down the toll on Friday at 11.30 am..and i passed 6 cars!!." The answer to getting a few more cars on the empty road is according to Breeze that "the goverment has got to step in and bring the price of petrol down" - a solution that would no doubt please the owners of the M6Toll and those who like to put their foot down on the gas pedal, but do nothing to relieve congestion in the West Midlands or the increased use of fuel that results from that congestion.
Monday 14 July 2008
CNet Asia - "New Singapore land transport e-payment systems: Will it improve on a dangerous situation?".
More on the chaos as HOT lanes are introduced - Miami Herald - "For now, I-95 experiment an express lane to chaos".
Other stories - Pennsylvania - "Turnpike releases plans for tolled I-80 upgrades" Utah - "South Jordan Will Again Formally Oppose Toll Road" Connecticut - "Talk About Tolls" letters Colorado - "Hybrids get green light to go solo in HOV lanes" Texas - "Officials get peek at change in NTTA's electronic collection system" New Jersey - "DRBA officials lose E-ZPass bridge perks" Oregon / Washington State - "Bridging Columbia: Six lanes, 12, none?" Massachusetts - "Real estate sales no cure for looming deficit" Rhode Island - "Tolls on Route 95? DOT scans horizon for $300-million boost" West Virginia - "W.Va., others seek road funding sources".
M6 Toll in news
BBC - "Call for M6 Toll to be taken over".
PS Comment in Sydney Morning Herald - (scroll down to "Even tolls change").
Sunday 13 July 2008
Dartford Toll - Kent Council complains
Your Canterbury - "Sustainability and cautious approach are key to future of biofuels". The Council are complaining that the Government will be withdrawing the right for them to borrow £1 million a year. As Kent and other drivers are forced to queue to hand over £60 million a year, why have the Council not been more vocal in complaining about that?
South Bend Tribune (Indiana) - "Just no pleasing those Toll Road whiners".
NY Daily News - "Gas prices sink stations out of business". One thing that could be done to reduce some of the distortion over where drivers buy gas would be to lower state gas taxes and increase the Federal gas tax, with the proceeds distributed to states according to volumes of traffic.
Other stories - New Jersey - "Highways hocked, piece by piece?" Pennsylvania - "Mountain Top group joins I-80 tolling opposition coalition" Massachusetts - "Open road tolling stalled, not installed" Pennsylvania - "Panel to detail toll investment" Florida - "Ease the toll on the state" New Jersey / Pennsylvania - "Editorial: Bridge-toll increases taxing little guy" Florida - "Northbound I-95 Bedlam".
Saturday 12 July 2008
Latest M6 Toll traffic figures
On Friday the owners of the M6 Toll released their latest quarterly traffic figures to the Australian Stock Exchange. Traffic peaked a year ago, and the latest figures confirm the downward trend since then - M6 Traffic figures page.
Costa Rica to remove tolls to save gas
Inside Costa Rica - "President Arias Announces The Elimination of Toll Booths".
The folly of variable price toll lanes, not that the trolls could give a damn who gets hurt - Miami Herald - "I-95 toll lanes cause chaos, crashes".
Ending of a unique discount - Philadelphia Inquirer - "Proposed DRPA increases would hit seniors".
Other stories - Florida - "Editorial: For whom the bridge tolls" New Jersey - "'Lexus lane' a possibility for turnpike" Massachusetts - "Tourism job cuts concern leaders" California - "TWO-THIRDS OF RESPONDENTS OPPOSED GG BRIDGE TOLL INCREASE".
"The Eagle Has Landed (On Planet Zorg)"
Association of British Drivers press release.
The Government version of the bio fuels farce
Monday's press release - "Sustainability and cautious approach are key to future of biofuels" Tuesday's press release - "Gallagher review calls for Biofuels use to slow down".
The road ahead
If there is any doubt about whether the Government intend to bring in road user charging, it is reduced following an official leak that Leeds is to be given money to pay for consultants to draw up a "demand management" scheme - Yorkshire Post - "City to get £5m for study on congestion charging".
No tolls crime
Here's a reason for tolls that we have not heard before. A letter in the Press and Journal complains that now there are no Skye bridge tolls, criminals are free to come and go to the island. Perhaps someone has hit on a solution to all crime - we could have toll barriers on every street - that'll keep the criminals in their place!
Road to hell in Indonesia
You might think that drivers had enough problems with fuel prices, but Indonesia is being persuaded by western interests to introduce a "congestion tax" - Jakarta Post - "Local govt may slap more taxes on motorists". The purpose of the new tolls is said to be to "discourage motorists from consuming too much fuel".
Singapore has an extensive road toll system which it is claimed is needed to reduce congestion on the roads, yet at the same time the Government is trying to make sure that the island remains crowded - Straits Times - "Baby, come back".
Friday 11 July 2008
California - "Golden Gate toll to increase $1" West Virginia - "'Pike revenues drop, but still no talk about hiking tolls" Pennsylvania - "DRPA May Raise Tolls $1 On Four Bridges" Connecticut - "Say No To Tolls" letter Pennsylvania - "Opposition to I-80 tolls coalesces".
Thursday 10 July 2008
USA Roundup - later news
AP - "Privacy protections disappear with a judge's order".
Other stories - New Jersey / Pennsylvania - "DRPA: $1 toll increase in Sept., $1 in 2010" California - "Key Golden Gate Bridge committee approves $1 toll hike" West Virginia - "County deserves better than the toll road plan".
The Age - "Investors give EastLink a bypass".
Tax and CO2 - 4. "Cleaner" cars
Not really a tax issue, but the Government continues its war on plant food - DfT press releases - "New car co2 targets will reduce emissions and cut motorists' running costs". The high cost of fuel is already a very big incentive for drivers to buy cars which do more mpg. The political obsession with CO2 means that car manufacturers will not be directly aiming for the more important target of fuel efficiency. The imposition of a target based on fleet averages is typically mad, and will mean that to reduce the average CO2 the likes of Porsche may take over a firm making vehicles powered by elastic bands.
Porsche passes on its legal costs reimbursement - Bucks Free Press - "Charity benefits from scrapped congestion charge".
Private enterprise - NPR - "Teen 'Troll' Rolled Joints With Bridge Tolls, Police Say".
Electronic toll bug - Dark Reading - "FasTrak Toll Hacked, Exposing Privacy Dangers".
the newspaper.com- "Anti-Camera Petitions Earn Huge Public Support".
Other stories - Utah - "Road congestion pricing possible" New York - "City to Test Peak Rates for Parking Meters" California - "State approval on Riverside toll projects delayed" California - "Use of 91 toll lanes keeps declining" Alabama - "As the Valley grows, leaders are discussing transportation issues" Connecticut - "Toll Booths Proposed To Lower Gas Prices" Florida - "Let's get real – and fair – when it comes to SunPass cheats" Illinois / Wisconsin - "I-Team: I Pass Investigation Follow Up" California - "Los Angeles Freeway May No Longer Be Free" Florida - "Toll road advocates say signed resolutions will help fund study, answer questions".
Another story about China switching from a system of road tolls to fuel taxes in order to encourage fuel efficency. This was agreed over 10 years ago, the chances of it happening are probably still zero due to the usual interests - Shanghai Daily - "Putting off fuel tax takes high road toll".
Toll too high, even for Aussies
Scone Advocate - "High toll sets M4 East back a gear".
Tax and CO2 - 1. Road Tax Demonstration
From BBC - "Road tax increase 'will hit 9m'" "Bill passes after rethink on duty" "New car tax rates for 2009". In the Telegraph - "Nine million face 'green' road tax increases".
The MPs agreeing to this new system "demonstrates" two things - the political weakness of drivers - and the irrationality of MPs who believe that CO2 is "pollution" and that a tax which is not based on fuel used is the best way of reducing it. The stupidity of this is also demonstrated by the Toyota Prius hybrid which is in the next to bottom tax band and has a list price of £21,000. How many drivers will spend that amount of money in order to save £15 a year road tax compared with a car in the next tax band?
A real demo was staged yesterday by hauliers - BBC - "Hauliers protest over fuel prices".
PS Perhaps not surprisingly the AA (the insurance company that journalists believe is a drivers organisation) have said that though they disagree with the details, they support the principle of different tax bands according to CO2 ratings.
Tax and CO2 - 2. "Cleaner" cars
By coincidence yesterday the Society of Motor Manufactuters and traders published some figures showing falls in CO2 ratings for the average new car sold. Story in the Guardian - "Emissions from new cars fall as drivers downsize". The latest figure is 160 grams of CO2 per km, which compares with 165 for 2007 (fall of 3%) and 190 in 1997 (fall of 16%).
The fall in CO2 is itself of no significance and is only published because of the dominance of global warming believers. But CO2 is a close proxy for fuel use, and the fall in CO2 demonstrates that drivers are trying to economise on fuel use because of high oil prices. Though the actual fall in fuel used will be greater than these SMMT figures suggest as fuel used only partly depends on the fuel efficiency of the vehicle, it also depends on the distance travelled and how a vehicle is maintained and driven (such as excessive use of gas pedal and brake) - these are of course factors that are ignored by the MPs who have voted for higher vehicle excise duty and who support various forms of road tolls.
Tax and CO2 - 3. What the "experts" say
A Texan and a British academic suggest to the Institute of Fiscal Studies that there should be a system of road tolls and that fuel duty should be cut - Press Association - "Green taxes 'not a money-spinner'". Only in the strange world inhabited by the Trolls and the Greens can a cut in fuel duty be proposed as a "green" tax.
PS The story in Daily Telegraph - "Green taxes 'will not bring substantial funds'".
Wednesday 9 July 2008
It's a Mad Bad World
It is interesting to see on the BBC website some of the issues that have dominated this week's G8 Summit - Global Warming, Bio fuels / food, and Mugabe - "Road tax increase 'will hit 9m'" "Summit ends with climate 'vision'" "US and EU urged to cut biofuels" "G8 urged to relieve world crises" "Stop wasting food, Brown urging" "G8 'revulsion' at Zimbabwe crisis".
Zimbabwe is one of many countries where the head of state has not been elected by a fair and open ballot - including countries like Saudi Arabia, North Korea, China and of course Great Britain. No prizes for guessing which of these countries also has a hereditary head of the national church!
Speaking of religion, it seems that global warming is now a universal one. Though it also seems that the G8 leaders and China and India are all followers of St Augustine - "Give me chastity and continence, but not yet" - as the latest G8 target is for 2050 and takes this year as the base.
It also seems that whoever behind the scenes is pulling the leaders' strings is ignoring the effect of the rise in oil prices. In 1970, before Britain rediscovered Global Warming the price of oil was about $2 a barrel. Even as recently as 11 years ago it was only $10 a barrel. When in October 2000 certain interests nearly brought Britain to its knees by disrupting supplies of road fuel, the price of oil was around $30 a barrel. The current price is about $145 a barrel, but it has only had a slight effect on demand. Are we really to believe the world leaders think that their schemes for "green taxes" and "carbon trading" will do more than make a few people very rich while further impoverishing everyone else.
On food the leaders seem to be unsure over what to do about bio-fuels. Though it seems that the answer to the world's food problem is for Britons to make sure they throw nothing away (is obesity about to become a virtue?)
One thing that could have been guaranteed not to come out of the G8 Summit is any recognition that the root cause of almost every other problem is population growth. In 1950 the world population was 2.5 billion, it is now 6.7 billion - an extra 4.2 billion people to feed, house, consume fuel and create waste. The increase has been proportionately higher in those countries where the harmful effects - autocracy, corruption, disease, hunger, inflation, overcrowding, pollution and war - will be worse than average.
theNewspaper.com - "Opinion: Pennsylvania Turnpike Becomes Campaign Battleground".
Boston Globe - "Turnpike seeks aid from state on debt".
An example of green logic - if New York had introduced "congestion pricing" then drivers would not have been paying more to the oil companies - NY Times - "Take Another Look at Congestion Pricing".
Another bit of green wisdom (or have they been talking to Britain's Department for Transport?) - build another bridge but "the new crossing must permanently reduce vehicle miles traveled" - The Oregonian - "A bridge, yes, but only the right bridge".
Back to the Past - My Record Journal (Connecticut) - "Proposal would bring tollbooths back to highways".
Other stories - Illinois / Wisconsin - "I-Team Investigation: I Pass, You Pass" California - "Congestion pricing plan may switch routes" Virginia - "Who will really pay for roads?" New Jersey - "Corzine: Special Pike lanes just one option" Virginia - "HOT lanes are an expensive scam" letter New Jersey - "Latest Plan for Corzine to Consider: Private Lanes on the Turnpike".
Labour MP objects to cancellation of CO2 based "congestion" charges
BBC - "MP challenges C-charge scrapping".
Bit more on latest Euro tolls
EurActiv - "Green tolls to add to fuel cost pressure on truck drivers" EU Observer - "Plans for 'eco-tolls' on Europe's lorries unveiled".
Humber Toll - bit more on consultation
Hull Daily Mail - "Survey on effect of Humber Bridge tolls on firms". To send your views.
Cambridge Toll - More about complaint from the climate change councillor
CEN - "Road toll commission snubbed by council".
RAC turn for a press release
The recent RAC Foundation press release calling for "a root and branch review of motoring taxation" has been followed by a release from the RAC company on driver's views on a variety of issues including perceptions of how driving costs have changed, a view which is contradicted by the RAC - BBC - "Motoring 'cheaper than in 1988'" press release - "Raise Respect Not Road Rage Says RAC – Bonnet Lifted On Motoring's Biggest Changes Since 1988" The report which is now available.
One interesting bit from the press release is that "British drivers' annual mileage has also dropped by 1,190 miles (10,200 in 1988 compared to just 9,070 in 2008)". The Government surveys of how people travel did show some reduction in miles travelled, but since about 2005 official published figures (including some of the historical ones) are adjusted upwards, the reason given is that it is deemed that those people not surveyed travel more than those who are surveyed. This upward adjustment is not applied to the oldest figures, and the overall series continues to show an upward trend. It could be that driving has become such a major crime, that people are not admitting how much they do drive.
The report itself has a bit on congestion and the RAC implies that road pricing can be implemented with no overall effect on drivers. The implementation and running costs of these schemes are enormous, and it is a scandal that the RAC is misleading drivers.
Tuesday 8 July 2008
Australia's gift to America
The Newspaper.com - "New Virginia Toll Lanes Designed to Create Congestion - Illegal political donations helped give Australian company full control over Virginia transportation until the year 2087".
An EZ steal - WTAE - "Police: W. Pa. Trucker Dodges $500K In Tolls With Stolen E-ZPass".
Selling the steal in Pennsylvania - Politicker - "Turnpike lease group to launch PR campaign" Penn live - "Not just content to charge you higher tolls..." Patriot News - "Turnpike bidder plans big PR push".
Other stories - "N.J. considers higher tolls for higher speeds" New Jersey - "Corzine: Special Turnpike lanes 'worthy of examination'" Pennsylvania - "Transportation Committee Chairman wants to move past Turnpike lease proposal" Hawaii - "Mayor promises he'll veto study" Nevada - "EDITORIAL: Toll lanes picking up speed" Virginia - "Regional Divide Cutting Off a Fix for Va.'s Roads" California - "Congestion pricing to 110 freeway?".
More on yesterday's Euro toll news
Guardian - "EU transport chief eyes tough tolls, less pollution" Transport Online - "New Commission package to drive the market towards sustainability" Telegraph - "Truckers warn of EU roads 'stealth tax'".
Australian Troll hits the One billion bucks mark
Herald Sun - "CityLink earns $1m a day".
Before and after
Jamaica Gleaner - "'Hike not taking toll' - Managers claim no fallout from increase in highway rates". Did the price increase have no effect because the toll road was already empty?
Effect of Singapore's latest tightening of the tolls screw
Today online - "A dangerous dash to make a U-turn".
Plan for CO2 based "congestion" charges cancelled
BBC - "Mayor quashes £25 C-charge hike" Mayor Watch - "Boris Johnson Scraps £25 C-Charge" press release.
Monday 7 July 2008
RAC Foundation press release available
On Friday it was reported that the RAC Foundation had called for "a root and branch review of motoring taxation". Knowing their fondness for road pricing we feared the worst. Despite Friday's report there was nothing on the Foundation's website till late today - Press Release - "2P TAX DEBATE A DIVERSION: £2 BILLION MOTORING TAX RISE AHEAD, WARNS RAC FOUNDATION". It seems that they are sticking up for drivers, well done!
"Swindle" in Dominica
Dominican Today - "Official calls major Dominican freeway concession a “swindle”".
Cambridge Toll - Complaints about Commission
It looks as if the Cambridge tolls plan will not go ahead and now the cycling establishment and Cambridge's "executive councillor for climate change and growth" are complaining about the commission that has been set up to look at other ways of dealing with congestion - CEN - "Congestion probe plans come under fire".
Austrian Truckers protest against fuel prices and higher tolls
PR inside - "Truckers clog up Vienna autobahns to protest high gas prices, taxes".
Texas - "Williamson's plans for highway causing small uproar".
Reviewing the Con
Times - "Congestion charge could be limited to busiest hours". A bit ominous that the Mayor's man is revealing this to the Trolls favourite paper.
Crime report in the Guardian
The anti roads group "Campaign for Better Transport" are reinforcing the Lib Dem message (see "Lib Dems complain that too much is spent on roads and want trains to get more subsidies" on Sunday) - Guardian - "Local authorities face £671m bill after road schemes go over budget". The road wreckers as usual ignore the fact that roads are inadequate due to underspending, and that the cost escalation is because the Government drags its feet while costs increase.
The main example that is quoted is the "New Mersey Gateway". This will be a tolled bridge which adds to the cost of construction and the amount of land required (for toll plazas). It is a prime example of the crime that is being committed against not only drivers but the British economy - the authorities have announced that the existing untolled bridge will have half its lanes removed, will be "delinked", and in case that is not enough to persuade drivers to use the new tolled bridge, they will also put a toll on the free one. They have also said that despite building a new bridge their aim is that there will be no overall increase in roads capacity.
More on Euro tolls
Tomorrow, the MEPs are to discuss "Greener transport". There will be wider scope to increase road tolls for trucks, though the usual combination of greens and trolls want more blood. From EurActiv - "Railways: ban on green tolls 'absurd' and 'interventionist'" "EP: Tajani 'lame duck' on greening transport" "MEP: Eurovignette proposals too tough on roads" "EU 'green transport' plans to ignore CO2".
Irish drivers milked
Herald - "Only half €4bn motor tax is spent on roads". Irish drivers get off lightly compared with Britain where only about 15% of road taxes is spent on roads.
Today - "Click here to save $2". The fact that drivers are not sure where the tolls are, what the (variable) rates are, and the (variable) hours of operation are some of the reasons that the tolls have little effect on drivers. It is also strange that the authorities have decided that a good time to further tax drivers is when fuel prices are at a record high. A Government that had a less firm control over its people might be a bit worried about their reaction.
Fuel fooling around
Some of the 2,000 news reports on what Labour and the Tories have said about fuel duty and on an RAC Foundation report on roads taxes - Guardian today - "Tories unveil reform plan for fuel duty worth 5p off litre of petrol" BBC Sunday 6th - "Tories propose fuel duty changes" Telegraph Sunday 6th - "Tories propose fuel duty changes" BBC Friday 4th - "Call for review of motoring taxes" Daily Express Friday 4th - "DRIVERS FACE EVEN HIGHER TAXES" Telegraph Thursday 3rd - "Fuel duty: Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling signal that planned 2p increase will be dropped" BBC Thursday 3rd - " Brown hints at fuel duty freeze".
It is difficult to comment on the RAC Foundation report as though they must have put out a press release there is no sign of anything on their website.
Labour are just making noises, though if fuel prices are still high in the Autumn it is inconceivable that they would go ahead with a fuel duty increase. It would make them even more unpopular and hand a higher tax base to what may be a future Tory Government.
It seems that the Tories must think that based on previous ups and downs that current oil prices are likely to fall substantially and that they will be able to get even more tax money from drivers. Though the SNP have issued a press release saying that - "a week is a long time in politics" and accusing the Tories of "cynical hypocrisy" as the Tories had not supported on Wednesday an SNP amendment to the Finance Bill, which would have introduced a Fuel Duty Regulator.
Sunday 6 July 2008
America the "Land of the Free to hold up and rob drivers" - Dallas Morning News - "Ben Westhoff: My topsy-turvy tangle with Texas toll roads".
Comment on the Florida electronic toll system where "almost a quarter-million people in our tri-county region have been taken to court, some because the battery went dead on the transponder or they didn't place it in the right spot on the window" - Sun Sentinel - "SunPass indecision has taken its toll".
America compared with London - Star Telegram - "Downside Risk and the Agenda - Aping Europeans would not be good for American car buyers – and our automakers wouldn’t like it either".
New Jersey - "Transportation funding looms large" Kentucky - "Simpson opposes tolls on planned bridges" Virginia - "How much would you pay for a quick commute?" Virginia - "Private roads plan carries a heavy cost" Virginia - "... As huge tolls become part of daily commute".
Eastlink tollway not a Yellow Brick Road
Herald Sun - "For whom the road tolls" Live news - "Motorcyclists protest eastlink toll".
Lib Dems complain that too much is spent on roads and want trains to get more subsidies
Times - "Road cash streets ahead of rail".
This story seems to be based on a question raised by Lib Dems on 19 June". What Lib Dems do not mention is that-
A large part of the "roads" spending is not on roads at all, and much of it is spent on measures that create congestion.
Drivers contribute £50 billion a year in taxes, while rail is subsidised.
Only about 6% of freight is moved by rail.
The provision of almost 100% of all services depends on vans and other road vehicles, none of it is deliverable by rail.
The latest (2006) figures for personal travel in UK, show in billion passenger kilometres that the breakdown by mode of travel is: Motorised road vehicles - 742 (91.4%), Pedal cycles - 5 (0.6%), Air - 10 (1.2%), Rail 55 (6.8%).
Saturday 5 July 2008
German Truckers to protest against fuel prices and higher tolls
monsters and critics - "German truckers plan to join world fuel-price protests".
Florida - "Those for whom the toll bells will ring" Virginia - "Toll the lawmakers" letter Virginia - "For whom will the roads be tolled? Everyone." Virginia - "For whom will the roads be tolled? Everyone." Pennsylvania - "Rendell’s turnpike-lease plan dead, says legislator" Colorado - "Initiative May Clear Up I-70 Congestion".
For one of the proposed mini towns it has been discovered that Government officials are concerned that people will use cars and they want to force drivers out of cars by either tolling the roads out of town or by "using traffic light timings to make travelling by bus far quicker than by car" - Yorkshire Post - "Car tolls option at eco-town amid Whitehall doubts".
"Motorcyclists protest against tolls" in Melbourne
Peter Roberts on Workplace parking levies
Nottingham Evening Post - "WHY NOTTINGHAM'S PARKING LEVY COULD GO NATIONWIDE".
Friday 4 July 2008
New York / Canada - "Where Have All The Extra Toll Dollars Gone?" "Toll Roads Could Be Alabama Highway Funding Answer".
World Bank claims credit for Singapore tolls
At a Transport conference in Singapore, the representative from the World Bank has revealed that the tolls system there - "the first congestion charge in the world" - was introduced with World Bank technical and financial backing.
Invasion of the Clones
Evening Standard - "The cloned car running up £1,000 in unpaid fines".
Tamar bridge - turning of the tolls screw
All tolls are a scandal, but the Tamar bridge tolls are a major scandal - a tolls barrier on the main road into Devon - extorting money and delaying traffic, with a slice of the profits used to subsidise the ferry. Regular users have had the pain reduced by paying 50 pence instead of a pound, but the plan is to increase the discounted rate to 70 pence - Plymouth Herald - "Plan to hike bridge tolls by 40 per cent".
More from the Lib Dems
"Motoring taxes hit those without choice hardest - Baker". The Lib Dems are totally ignorant of the facts if they believe that tolls would be revenue neutral because of the cost of tolls collection. Their suggestion that "cutting fuel duty .. would encourage a switch from cars to trains" makes one wonder about their sanity, but at least they will get the votes of the oil companies and those who use a lot of fuel.
The press release refers to "today’s RAC Foundation report calling for a root and branch review of motoring taxation". There is nothing on the Fondation website. Did the Lib Dems dream this, or have they got an advance copy?
Indian truckers strike against fuel prices, road tolls and taxes is ended
BBC - "India truckers strike called off".
Thursday 3 July 2008
New Toll Road
"Many motorists say their trips have become much longer since the opening of the $2.5 billon toll road." - Herald Sun - "Drivers declare new EastLink freeway is road to chaos". Toll roads are never a seamless join with the rest of the road system, but it will be interesting to see how the problems change when the toll free trial is over.
Bit More on - Reading Tolls recommended
Reading Evening Post - "‘Nothing new’ in £80,000 report". Rob Wilson, Reading East MP says - "... it’s been known for a very long time that one of the major solutions to Reading’s traffic problems is a north-south bypass and a Thames bridge." The solution to problems in many towns is bypasses to take traffic round rather than through. This must be obvious even to the Government, the problem is that Briton's drivers are largely ignorant of the fact that while the politicians want more taxes, 85% of their existing road taxes is not spent on the roads.
PS Businesses say "No" - Reading Chronicle - "Road charges will cripple us say bosses".
PPS Reading Evening Post - "Transport commission top up poisoned chalice".
Greens complain that the Mayor may end the Western extension
Guardian Comment - "Stop Boris Johnson from hitting reverse gear".
Vancouver Sun - "High oil prices put the brakes on a future of endless progress".
New York traffic is down 4 to 5 per cent - New York Times - "Politics Failed, but Fuel Prices Cut Congestion".
Other stories -
Nevada - "Panel takes look at toll road proposal " West Virginia - "Toll plan isn’t very well thought out".
Texas - "Editorial: Nonsensical surcharges for road tolls" California - "LA toll roads, light rail eyed in Capitol political dispute" New Jersey - "Corzine: Gas tax hike a bad idea . for now" Utah - "Riverton council: Please, no tolls on Mountain View" Texas - "Tollway officials may pay $26 million to end dispute with TxDOT".
"Toll Road Firm Made Illegal Contributions"
Phillipines court says toll collection is illegal
GMA News - "Court says PNCC can’t operate tollway". No doubt the trolls will get the judgement overturned.
Wednesday 2 July 2008
More on - Reading Tolls recommended
From Reading Evening Post - "16-point action plan" "Independent Commision finally reports...".
PS Tories say that report was not needed as it included many of their ideas but they will be happy to discuss the tolls proposal though they are not "keen" on it - "Traffic report - 'waste of money'".
Today, Danny Cross in his "Cincinnati City Beat" column had this little jewel - "The main difference between a "toll," generally understood to be a small fee for driving on a few miles of public roadway, and a "tax," which is a required payment of one's money to be wasted by the government, is that everyone hates taxes while only people who have to pay tolls hate them."
South Town Star - "Out-of-state woman gets $11,571 parting gift from Illinois".
The Toll State has introduced a cheaper toll tag but it will lead to drivers paying a lot more in fines - Palm Beach Post - "Careless SunPass users could face big fines, state warns".
PS The drivers who were falling foul even before they introduced the new "fail-sure" tags - Orlando Sentinel - "City of Orlando, road agencies scramble to address backlog of unpaid toll and parking tickets".
A tale of one commuter - News Week - "The Long and Grinding Road". This tale shows some of the reasons that Americans drive so much - with rising population (in 1958 it was 175 million, today it is 305 million) and rising house prices (though not recently!) people are living further away from their work. The effect of higher gas prices may only be to increase prices for those houses where the commute is not so long.
It also shows how many Americans still fall for the three card trick - they are lied to about the effects of rising population and told that the solution to slow traffic is more toll roads and "HOT" lanes - these are just ways of milking more money from drivers and mainly benefit drivers of gas guzzlers, while those who drive smaller cars or qualified to use the "HOV" lanes before they were tolled are disproportionately hit.
A plan (scam?) for even more tolls in New Jersey. The ingenious idea is to add more lanes to the existing tolled roads but to have a two tier sytem - you can take the slow toll lane or pay more and take the faster one - WCBSTV - "'Convenience Pricing' On The Way To N.J. Highways?".
Other stories - North Carolina - "TBJ poll: Most would use toll road to shorten commute" Hawaii - "Mayor vows to veto congestion-fee idea" West Virginia - "Parkways OKs bond refinancing" Washington State - "Eyman's traffic initiative likely to make fall ballot?" Texas - "DFW officials want 121 toll money moved to bank" Texas - "Plan To Ease Traffic On Loop 820 Unveiled" New York - "Republican Knapp Calls for a Toll Roll Back".
Tax "on the most polluting cars"
BBC - "MPs gear up for car tax challenge". It is welcome news that many MPs oppose putting this tax on older car, but very sad that MPs from all parties support this tax for newer cars. If the aim is to encourage less use of fuel, then a fixed tax which does not vary with fuel use is illogical. And it is even sadder that MPs have been fooled into believing that CO2, which is essential for plant life, is a pollutant.
Indian truckers strike against fuel prices, road tolls and taxes
Express India - "Indefinite truckers stir begins, likely to hit goods supplies".
China's capital's Olympian measures to cut traffic
China Daily - "Choosing to take the green route".
More on Singapore scheme to buy out drivers
Today Online - "Get cash for Parf from Sept".
Tuesday 1 July 2008
Reading - Tolls recommended
Reading had the unusual idea of turning its ring road into a one way system. Following complaints it set up an - "Independent Transport Commission". Their report today says that the answer to the question is not 42, but road tolls - BBC - "Town 'must' consider road pricing".
New Mayor honours first part of his promise
BBC - "Londoners decide C-charge future" Evening Standard - "Western C-zone could be killed off" Press Release - "Mayor announces public consultation on the future of the western extension of the congestion charging zone".
New Jersey - "Toll Increases Straight Ahead?" newspaper.com - "Study: Toll Transponders Hide Cost of Tolling" Hawaii - "City looking into downtown road tolls" Oregon / Washington State - "Vancouver city council listens to testimony on crossing" Texas - "Tollway agency going after rental car drivers' unpaid fees" Florida - "Passes Go On Sale For 95 Express" "Indiana toll collectors talk strike" Washington State - "Bridge Tolls to Increase Tuesday".
Humber Toll - more on consultation
Scunthorpe Telegraph - "BRIDGE TOLLS: HAVE YOUR SAY". To send your views.
NI Roads Minister says "No" to tolls
BBC - "City congestion charges ruled out".
From an "anonymous" reporter - Business Day (Nigeria) - "The missing N2.8 billion toll gate fees".
"A freeze in fuel duty will do little to ease motorists' pain"