JUNE 2007 NEWS
Saturday 30 June 2007
USA round up 30th June
New York Exit Toll - NY Times - "Manhattanites Face Driving Fee on the Way Out".
Florida is firmly in the grip of the trolls, their latest suggestion is to scrap gas tax and have tolls on all roads - Herald Tribune - "Gas tax not enough for state's roads".
Other stories - Michigan - "Report: State should consider toll roads to ease congestion" Kansas - "Turnpike tolls increase this weekend" West Virginia - "Motorists in for bumpy ride on W.Va. Turnpike" Florida - "Traveling 836 out west? Toll starts Sunday" Pennsylvania - "I-80 tolls advance in Senate" California - "O.C. toll road to raise off-peak rates" Florida - "Law speeds up private toll roads" New Jersey - "Sale By Any Other Name" Pennsylvania - "Senate nears $900M transportation deal as fiscal year winds down".
"Falcon eyes regional tolling"
From the congestion hot spot of British Columbia - South Delta Leader.
Friday 29 June 2007
USA round up 29th June
Margie Petersen says in Mccall - "If you were to sit down and try to devise an inefficient, wasteful and bad-for-the-ozone way of collecting money, you'd be hard-pressed to do better than toll booths." - "Plan to add more tolls is recipe for wasting time, gas".
Sounds like a leg pull, but is apparently true - MMD - "Taking the "10 commandments" for driving on the road with your Toll Tags".
New York Toll "answers" - NY Times.
Another story from the topsy turvy world of the trolls. People in Alabama are registering as voters so that they can claim toll discounts - Press Register -"Election officials: Discounts lead to false registrations".
Other stories - Pennsylvania - "SEPTA approves proposed service cuts, fare hikes" Texas - "Tollway authority to take over road project" California - "FasTrak upgrades coming this summer at 7 bridges" Arizona - "Transportation chief (Mary Peters) touts toll roads" Georgia - "DOT's not-so HOT idea"
Texas - "Are emergency crews only using free tags to get to emergencies?" New Jersey - "Corzine says Turnpike is not for sale" Pennsylvania - "Longietti takes detour in voting against I-80 tolls".
Flight of the Birds bridge
Expatica - "Denmark and Germany agree on bridge".
More hot air
EDI report that there is - "Widespread support for transport CO2 targets". One way for reducing CO2 that they advocate is road pricing - which is of course supposed to replace existing taxes including fuel duty, and will thus increase fuel use. Though that of course is not as important as causing pain to drivers and lining the pockets of the firms that will run the scam.
Thursday 28 June 2007
"Drivers face more toll roads"
"More Canadian road tolls proposed"
- Hamilton Spectator.
FTA view of the Low Emission Charge Zone- Contract Journal - "Freight Transport Association's Gordon Telling".
Ruth Kelly is the new Transport Secretary. She replaces Douglas Alexander who moves to Overseas Development. When he was appointed he got a "Dear Duggie" letter from the PM telling him to give priority to introducing road pricing. Let us hope that any letter this time tells her to bury it.
USA round up 28th June
Double Take - Drivers who have transponders for both Illinois and Indiana tolls, may be charged twice - wcpo - "Motorists Juggle Illinois, Indiana Toll Road Passes".
The ultra right think thank, the Reason Foundation, are again pushing tolls and sale of roads. They have issued a report covering all the states. Here is an example of the resulting news coverage - LA Daily News - "Freeways are full of problems".
New York toll could pay for the subway - The Sun - "Study: Traffic Tax Plan Could Fund Free Subway" Metro- "All’s fare". Presumably they hope that this plan is not too successful, otherwise there will be no vehicle drivers left to subsidise those getting a free ride.
There has apparently been a worry that the New York toll would mean too many Jersey commuters would switch from car to rail. But billionaire Bloomberg's answer is that there is no problem as he expects the number of people coming in by road vehicle will only reduce by 3,000 - Metro - "Bloomberg to Corzine: Relax". Is it that Mike thinks that the people in New Jersey are all rich and they can not only pay the tolls but also give up a free ride? Or is it that Mike knows the truth about London and Singapore, and that his new tolls will have almost no effect on traffic levels but will only line the pockets of the firms that will run it?
Ralph De La Cruz in the Sun-Sentinel says - "Numerous toll booths make you stop and think". They certainly do, particularly the writer of the first comment who pays $2,000 a year in Florida tolls.
The toll pushers often say "the choice is tolls or no roads till hell freezes over". Though interestingly in this case they admit that in the short term the tolls will make the congestion worse - Naples Daily News - "Brent Batten: I-75 tolls: Two projects, one headache".
Other stories - California - "Toll Plaza Projects Boost FasTrak(R) Advantage, May Mean Longer Delays for Cash Payers" Massachusetts - "Patrick starts pike takeover" Pennsylvania - "Deal or no deal, Port Authority will raise fares" Pennsylvania - "House passes highway, transit bill that would toll I-80" North Carolina - "Officials hope state aids Skyway plan" Massachusetts - "Transportation boss vows Pike fix" Pennsylvania - "House passes highway, transit bill that would toll I-80" New Jersey - "Whelan & team vow to fight against the sale or lease of roadways to private entities".
Wednesday 27 June 2007
Number One, but not really
Due to other petitions dropping out, today the NAAT petition to the PM against all forms of tolls reached number one in the 1,100 open petitions in the "Transport and infrastructure" category. Unfortunately we are only number 13 overall, though with the man who campaigned against the Forth bridge tolls now the new PM, who knows?
"What did Blair/Prescott do for car users and manufacturers?"
Mike Rutherford's column in - Auto Express.
USA round up 27th June
As we often repeat, most American tolls are border taxes. Here is a letter today from Keith Cooper of Maryland - "Delaware legislators took the easy road, opting to tax out-of-state travelers to pay for infrastructure, instead of having those who use it pay for it. Why not raise gas taxes? Because constituents would complain and they may not get re-elected." Delaware Online.
After we wrote the above, coincidentally this story came up - Philadelphia Daily News - "AP NewsBreak: Plan to waive locals' I-80 tolls may prompt lawsuit".
am New York has - Streetsblog - "Three questions for Bloomberg".
Meanwhile, New Yorkers are still being fed the fiction that the people of Stockholm voted for tolls, when the reality is that if the votes in the suburbs are counted, then they voted against - Streetsblog - "Permanent pricing gets green light in Sweden".
A widely syndicated story on last year's road sale - "Indiana lawmakers at odds over toll road". It even reached Britain! Guardian.
A novel idea from Boston Herald - "Pike needs to play fare: Tolls for all or no one".
Not much to do with road tolls - but it could be!! - Fort Wayne News Sentinel - "`Free' is a relative term in America".
Other stories - Pennsylvania - "Pa. highway bill that would toll I-80 passes" Massachusetts - "O’Meara appointed new executive director of Turnpike Authority" New Jersey - "Whelan & team vow to fight against the sale or lease of roadways to private entities" Illinois / Indiana - "Motorists juggle Illinois, Indiana toll road passes"
Texas - "Frees tolls? Toppled bridges? No and ... no" Florida - "Bids aside, PBS&J may be back on toll roads" California - "SANDAG plans for traffic" Pennsylvania - "Rendell drops pike lease plan, for now" Texas - "State's deference to local leaders may end with vote on 121 toll plan" Florida - "DOT holding hearings on charging drivers to use I-95 express lanes" Colorado - "Feds key to speedier U.S. 36" Pennsylvania - "I-80 toll road plan advances - Local representatives say it could hurt region" Delaware - "Lamakers Propose Delaware Toll Hike" Virginia - "Woman Faced $1200 in Charges for Tolls She Already Paid".
A toll road expert who has dealt with anti toll protests in Jamaica is moving to a "company in the UK which needs his expertise" - Jamaica Observer. What does this mean?
Tuesday 26 June 2007
Better Never than Late
One of the first petitions to the PM was one from Richard Bagnall "To Scrap Road Tax and Tolls in favour of Tax on Fuel". It closed on 17th January having got only 212 signatutes. Now 5 months later there is a response from the PM.
We appreciate the fact that the PM as he clears his desk has found the time to respond, but what is extraordinary is the contents of the reply. Firstly the reply does not mention "tolls" - not even once!! Secondly what it does do is give a long argument why road tax should be kept - but the Government has elsewhere said that this tax would be scrapped if road pricing were introduced!!
USA round up 26th June
New York toll pushers push Federal toll pushers - amNewYork - "Officials push congestion plan".
Other stories - Pennsylvania - "Transit, highway proposal debated" Illinois - "Village presidents back toll bridge" California - "Toll-roads could be coming for car-pool lanes on freeway ramps" Pennsylvania - "House Dems Transit Plan Narrowly Survives Prelim Vote" Indiana - "I-Zoom lacks speed on first day" Pennsylvania - "Pa. House Democrats push new plan for transit, highways, bridges" Illinois - "Tolls proposed as funding tool for $90 million Fox River span".
The Khaleej Times tells its readers to stop - "Sulking over Salik".
Monday 25 June 2007
"A Price Worth Paying"
A European Commission Quango has published a report on lorry tolls in Europe - EFTE - "A guide to the new EU rules for road tolls for lorries".
Britain's Foreign Secretary attacks America. No, she is not worried about the civil war in Iraq, it's those unpaid "congestion charge" bills - Channel Four - "Diplomatic C-charge bill tops £4.5m".
View from America of the latest attack by the London Mayor on the American Ambassdor - New York Times - "This Time, It’s Personal: Mayor Blasts U.S. Envoy on London Toll".
USA round up 22nd to 25th June
According to NY Daily News, the New York toll pushers (Partnership for New York City) say tolls will "create a financial bonanza for restaurants, shops, construction workers, and taxi and ferry industries" - "Congestion plan road to riches". Where do these fantasies come from? The main people that will benefit are those who supply the spy cameras etc, administer the tolls, and chase those who haven't paid. Based on London experience, the shop and restuarant businesses will be particularly hit by tolls.
Despite the pushing, the chances of a New York Toll faded a bit at the end of last week - Long Island Business News - "Albany blows deadline" NY1 - "Legislature Breaks For Summer With Very Little Resolved".
From Sacremento Bee - "Tougher rules for ID chips?".
The Philadephia Inquirer favours tolling of one road as "the installation of toll booths should pretty well stop traffic completely, turning the Schuylkill into a 21-mile-long parking lot. And that, friends, represents untold economic opportunity." - "Schuylkill Expressway, the mini-mall". The paper is of course kidding, but the trolls might take it seriously!!
Other stories -
25th Florida - "Chambers: Collier needs to cough up $500,000 for I-75" Indiana - "People still divided on Indiana Toll Road lease deal" Pennsylvania - "Lawmakers can't agree on funding transportation" Indiana - "I-ZOOM glitches reported early" Pennsylvania - "House considers tolling for dollars" Delaware - "Hunt for more for road funds continues ..." Pennsylvania - "Push coming to shove in rush to budget" North Carolina - "Skyway: Cost higher than the bridge" Massachusetts - "Lean on the gas" Delaware - "DRBA to host meeting on proposed toll hikes"
24th Pennsylvania - "Toll booths may take root on I-80" Texas - "Department of Transportation: Study will determine feasibility of possible toll road in region" Arizona - "Toll road, militia bills stalled" Texas - "The choice is easy, actually" Louisiana - "Loop initiative grinds to halt over money" Massachusetts - "Bill Weld's latest pitch" Pennsylvania - "Turnpike privatization bill hasn't materialized"
23rd Pennsylvania - "Rendell's proposals hit dead end" North Carolina - "Paying as You Go: Toll bridge over Yadkin makes money sense, road officials say" North Carolina - "Paying as You Go: Toll bridge over Yadkin makes money sense, road officials say" New Jersey - "Republicans rage over last-minute funding for toll-roads sale" Virginia - "Priorities of transportation plan are off track" Colorado - "CDOT head calls for new thinking" Pennsylvania - "Toll talk could hit barrier"
22nd Florida - "Wednesday is decision day for I-75 tolls" New York - "So long to cash tolls; technology to take over" Florida - "East-West Toll Road Project Squeezed" New Jersey - "New Jersey Decides Its Toll Road Plan Still Needs Time" New Jersey - "Treasurer says toll hikes coming; GOP upset over budget language" New Jersey - "STATE BUDGET GREEN LIGHTS TOLL ROADS SALE!" Maryland - "Proposed toll hikes frustrate motorists".
As part of a barter deal, Transport for London have gone to Venezuela to advise them on how to deal with congestion - Guardian - "London transport experts get to work on Caracas gridlock". With the sunny climate and fuel at 6 pence (12 cents) a gallon, perhaps the TfL guys will want to stay there!!
It seems that Transport for London must really enjoy the warm weather, as they have gone off in the opposite direction to Singapore to learn how to deal with congestion - Independent - "London's new plan for traffic". This beggars belief. TfL have just spent a fortune on equipment for the western extension, are they now going to scrap it? And it is well known (outside of troll circles) that the Singapaore scheme has no effect on traffic.
The Telegraph has a story about how the amount paid by drivers on tax on fuel is more then the "environmemntal damage" done by vehicles - "Fuel taxes 'twice cost of damage to environment'". The Telegraph is somewhat confused -
(1) The idea that CO2 damages the environment is not proved and plants would not agree, and if it were true then why pick on road vehicles?
(2) It is not correct that "petrol taxes work out at about 50p a litre" For the more commonly used fuels, the duty is 48.35 pence, but this excludes the VAT, which on fuel at 97 pence a litre is 14.45 pence, giving total tax per litre of 62.8 pence.
(3) The impression is given that the AA represents drivers, but it is a company owned by a private equity group. The only real members organisation for drivers is the ABD.
"Transport 2000 recommends freight road pricing"
Transport 2000, the anti roads group, have issued a report recommending tolling trucks. This is despite their own finding that "the scheme might increase carbon emissions because some trucks would choose longer routes using cheaper roads" - Road Transport.com.
Unlikely allies in war on drivers
North of the border, not only are the remaining bridge tolls on the way out, it seems unlikely that they will ever have any road tolls, call them what you will. This is because both the SNP and Tories have declared their opposition to all forms of tolls. The local councils are now looking at other ways to hit drivers, and are proposing more charges for parking. The Friends of the Earth welcome the increased parking costs but want "congestion charging" as well. What may be suprising to some people is that the Institute of Advanced Motorists are also pushing for "congestion charging" - Herald - "New front in the war against traffic".
Salik toll delay denied
From Khaleej Times - "No plan to change date for Salik’s launch: RTA". Report in Arabian Business - "Public slams Dubai road toll scheme".
India - not so smart
The Financial Express says that Indian drivers have to "frequently stop at the toll plazas .. resulting in extensive delays and congestion" Apparently this was OK before, but not now that they have discovered the wonders of electronic tolling - "It’s time to drive in the fast lane".
Following the recent sale (see 20th June) of Sydney's Cross City Tunnel by the receivers, there is speculation about a toll increase - Telegraph - "Toll shadow falls over unpopular tunnel". In the circumstances a price increase may seem strange, but the M6 Toll in England illustrates the fact that when a toll is being boycotted, those who still use it are usually not sensitive to price increases.
"Transportation minister inches toward reg’l tolling"
- Tri City News.
Thursday 21 June 2007
Protest against Salik toll
Two petitions have been started against first UAE toll - Petition online Petition Spot.
More tales from London and New York
Not only is London's Cuddly Ken big pals with Mike in New York, he also likes to share a joke with his other big pal - the US Amabassador. On the radio today he said - "I would've been quite happy to crush the car with the American ambassador in it, quite frankly." - International Herald Tribune- "London mayor escalates battle with U.S. over congestion fee".
The aim of New York Department of Transportation is being changed. Streetsblog reports that the new NY DoT head ".. has to change its very mind-set, because staffers have long seen their mission as moving as much traffic as they can, as fast as they can..." - "Shifting gears at the DoT". We wonder what the new aim is?
The people of New York are still being largely misled by propaganda churned out by the London Mayor's spin machine, though at least there is some reporting that the claims may not be correct - New York Post - "LONDON CLOG FOG".
Latest from Albany - The Record - "Spitzer, Bruno in legislative Albany showdown" New York Sun - "Spitzer Presses Silver on Congestion Study" WNYC - "The Battle Continues Over Bloomberg’s Congestion Pricing Plan".
Report on Swedish MPs vote, at least it does not repeat the fiction that the people voted for this in the referendum -NY Business - "NYC gets boost as Sweden adopts traffic plan".
Boss Bloomberg backed -NY1- "Comptroller Backs Congestion Pricing, Offers Modifications".
USA round up 21st June
An unusual story, they said that they would increase tolls, people complained, and the increase has been cancelled - click2 Houston - "Commissioners Reverse Decision To Double Tolls" abc13 - "No doubling of fees on Westpark Tollway" Houstonist - "Toll increases a done deal? Yes. Er, no. Well, maybe ..." Lone Star Times - "Toll Road Uproar" Myfox houston- "Toll Increase Memo" Houston Chronicle - "LETTERS - 'No votes' on toll increase" Houstonist - "IMHO: Westpark Tollway goes from Hot to Not".
Another unusual story - a criminal escapes -
Leesburg Today - "Judge Dismisses Case Against 85-Year-Old Alleged Toll Runner".
A not unusual story - the trolls indifference to accidents at the toll booths - Berkshire Eagle - "MTA's poor ideas".
Wall Street Journal - "Paying for VIP Treatment in a Traffic Jam".
Other stories - North Carolina - "New Bridge In Wilmington Could Come With Toll" California - "Ceremony for bridge is shrinking - Toll Authority planned a $595,000 party" Florida - "Crist defends law allowing firms operate toll roads and collect automatic toll hikes" Florida - "No more free ride: State Road 836 gets new tolls" Pennsylvania - "GOP bill proposes tolls on I-79, other highways in Pa." Massachusetts - "Board debates toll hike" Virginia - "Showdown over a slowdown" Massachusetts - "Under Deval, highway robbery takes its toll" Pennsylvania - "State legislators consider competing highway proposals" Florida - " Officials to study toll road between Santa Rosa, Escambia" Massachusetts - "Paving the way for higher tolls" New Hampshire - "New Proposals to Relieve Merrimack's Toll Plight".
TFL is to spend £30 million on looking at new ways of tolling roads - IT Week - "Transport for London test drives technology".The IAM Motoring Trust seems to be a new name for the arm of the AA that advocated road tolls, they say - "Traffic in London has returned to the same levels as before the congestion charge. Technology is part of the answer and things such as satellite navigation can make the system more accurate." Not really sure what this means.
Wednesday 20 June 2007
IBM has issued a press release saying - "Sweden Votes To Adopt City-Wide IBM Road Charging Solution In Stockholm". They also say that this follows a "positive outcome of a public referendum that took place in September last year". The Swedish MPS evidently thought it was better to be green rather than keep their election promises. Though maybe they really believe that there was a "positive outcome". In fact though those in the central city area voted to keep the charge, the majority of those in the Stockholm Metropolitan area who voted in the poll (some areas did not have a referendum), voted aqainst the charge.
PSThe Local - "Congestion charge gets green light".
Time for a laugh and a whip round
Richard Branson has admitted that his "green" car is usually run on petrol rather than bio fuel. But according to the Daily Mail he boasts that when staying at his country home, the car makes a 100 mile round trip to get some of the real stuff. The billionaire wants his and similar cars to be exempted from the London "congestion" charge to encourage more use of the "green" cars - "Branson admits his eco car is run on petrol".
Liverpool people must be the most docile and gullible in Britain. They already have to pay expensive tolls to cross the river at it's centre, and now the authorities plan to put a toll on the nearest free crossing - the first time in Britain that a free bridge will be tolled. To distract from this they are shown pretty pictures of new roads and bridges!!! "A bridge too far?" "Stunning bridge is star of roadshow" "Let’s get this road plan right" "Super highway plan to tackle traffic chaos" "No tolls - no bridge" "Fly into the future".
Money Pit sold, but may become a gold mine
The receivers have sold Sydney's Cross City Tunnel - Telegraph - "Troubled Cross City Tunnel sold for $700 million". The banks paid more than expected - does this mean that they know the Government will force drivers to use it? Surely not!
By coincidence there is a story today about the Lane Cove Tunnel which opened in March. The story starts - "Traffic flow through the Lane Cove tunnel has fallen by more than a third, although the operator, Connector Motorways, is confident numbers will pick up once the narrowing of Epping Road is completed." - Hills News - "Tunnel traffic is below estimates".
USA round up 20th June
More stories about New York tolls -
NY News - "Drivers expected to steer straight at congestion tolls". This illustrates how the whole electronic toll system relies on the cooperation of drivers. If drivers ever revolt then the whole system will fall, Humpty Dumpty an' all.
NY Post - "BRIT MAYOR: DON'T FEAR THE FEE - LONDON'S TRAFFIC PLAN 'A SUCCESS'". New Yorkers are given "the real truth"!!!!!!
Other stories - Massachusetts - "Turnpike Authority considers plan to raise rush hour tolls" New Jersey - "Assembly members host public forum on toll-road plan" Washington State - "Good To Go? Well, not quite" Texas - "Moving Forward - State should approve NTTA's Highway 121 bid" Pennsylvania - "Death by drip - The old adage says two things in life are certain: death and taxes" California - "State tries to free up car-pool lanes; California's hybrid policy triggers federal requirement to keep lanes open" Texas - "As Westpark tolls rise, so do tempers - Drivers up in arms after officials double the fee at peak hours to ease congestion" Massachusetts - "Higher tolls, faster trips eyed for Pike - Cost would rise at rush hour under proposal" Pennsylvania - "Rendell's plan to lease toll road lacks support" Pennsylvania - "House Democrats offer plan for roads" Pennsylvania - "Turnpike revises its plan to raise revenue" Pennsylvania - "Teamsters rally against Pa. Turnpike privatization" Missouri - "Effort to toll I-70 in Missouri fails, again" Washington State - "WSDOT selects contractor to construct state's first HOT lanes".
Tuesday 19 June 2007
24Dash reports that the two most polluted areas in Britain are inside the London Congestion charge zone - "London is 'most polluted UK city'". This is not that surprising. In Britain the two most damaging pollutants to health are ozone at ground level and particulates. Believe it or not the levels of ozone are at their highest in rural areas. Particulates are worst in urban areas, but they are mainly produced by the big diesel engines on buses, lorries and taxis.
"LONDONERS TAKE A REAL POUNDING - TRAFFIC PLAN BLEEDING 'EM DRY"
Most Americans have a fantasy view of the London "Congestion" charge, which they get via British news media but ultimately comes from Ken's army of toll spinners. Though this story must have got by the censors as it says - "One issue that many raised was that those who live in the areas affected - some of the poshest in London - are given a 90 percent discount and pay just 215 pounds a year (approximately $430). Meanwhile, those who work in those areas, including domestic help for the wealthy, are forced to pay full price just to go to work." - New York Post.
Singapore is considering new measures to try and relieve road congestion. These include - through fares on buses and trains, more roads (or not), vehicle licences expiring at a certain mileage (rather than when vehicle is 10 years old), and - "car owners should be taxed according to mileage" - Channel News Asia - "Many rides, one fare?".
Singapore is the world's most advanced and longest established user of "road pricing" and is often quoted as a model by the trolls. The reality is a warning not to accept the fantasies that are peddled by advocates of tolls.
An example of tolls pushing from the land of Oz - "Getting out of a jam".
PS "Pay when you drive".
USA round up 19th June
Various papers have a story about the New Jersey (buried under toll roads) Governor's doubts about New York toll plans - Newsday - "Corzine questions Bloomberg's NYC congestion pricing plan".
Another NY toll story says - "Bloomberg's congestion pricing plan tanks with voters" and - "Mayor's traffic plan lacks support". The survey result was not as overwhelming as the headline suggests. On the other hand, those surveyed will not have realised that a very big slice of the tolls pie goes on collecting and enforcing the charge, leaving little money for subsidizing their mass transit fares.
PS The London Mayor has a spin machine that costs millions to run. But even he must be jealous of the power from owning your own news machine - BLOOMBERG.COM - "New Yorkers Favor Manhattan Entry Fees to Cut Transit Fares".
PPS Two more pro tolls - Streetsblog - "The perfect argument for congestion pricing" Brooklyn Daily Eagle - "Congestion Pricing: Good for All New Yorkers".
Cars that are supposed to be "greener" are exempt from some HOT tolls, but it seems that there are limits as "adding more eligible vehicles could thwart the intent of the program" - Times Union - "Thruway Authority limits Green Pass discounts to a thrifty few".
Other stories - Pennsylvania - "Workers Rally Against Leasing the Turnpike" Texas - "Harris County raising toll road fees" Pennsylvania - "Turnpike Commission Has Plan To Generate $700M" New York - "Do Public Authorities Care About The Public?" California - "Research Report Determines Alternative Funding Necessary to Complete Crucial Public Works and Infrastructure Projects" (or 101 ways to milk the people) Virginia - "Residents Oppose Planning For Lucketts, Hillsboro Bypasses" Texas - "Cintra out, NTTA in on toll plan" New York - "Tribal tolls should help nearby communities" Pennsylvania - "Lawmakers call for tolls along parts of Interstate 80" Texas - "NTTA endorsed for 121 project" Pennsylvania - "Fixing Pa.'s roads, bridges" Texas - "Toll road fees could be on the rise".
Bad for Business
icCoventry - "Fears over impact of road pricing".
More More on UAE toll
As a PS to yesterday's story about the first toll in the region opening on July 1st - Gulf News - more details Gulf News - views.
Monday 18 June 2007
More on Jamming
On the 12th we reported on the possibility of jamming as predicted by Peter Cochrane. It seems that a few people were interested - Silicon.com - "Motorists hit back on road pricing".
"The toll .. will never go away" Where the money goes - North Thompson Times - "Tolling for thee".
Business would be hit by tolls This report is from Canada, but the lessons of this poll are universal. Shoppers will go elsewhere if tolls are introduced - Toronto Board Of Trade - "Poll Shows Opposition to New Toronto Taxes".
"Slow down the green machine" How Toronto went from "no road tolls" to "maybe road tolls" - Toronto Star.
USA round up 17th & 18th June
New York Toll - NY Press - "Environmental Hypocrites, Says Gadfly" NY Metro - "Heading to overtime" NY Times - "For Upper Manhattan, ‘Congestion Pricing’ Has a Hidden Cost" NY Daily News - "Step on the gas - Naysayers haven't presented an alternative to Bloomberg's traffic plan".
A story that shows not all Americans accept tolls, toll increases and road sales as inevitable - Montgomery Advertiser - "Boycott taking toll".
Electronic tolls not only have the advantage that the driver is hardly aware that he is being milked, they also leave a record that "could be available for nearly a decade to track the movement of millions of drivers" - News Tribune (Washington State) - "Narrows bridge tolls - Quick fee, long record".
Why "other" people chose to drive - News Journal (Delaware) - "Wishing won't pry commuters from cars, but alternatives may".
Other stories - Texas - "County toll road rates could increase this summer" Colorado - "North I-25 study moves ahead" Ohio - "ODOT’s largest construction project ever produces Toledo’s ‘signature bridge’" Washington State - "Northwest, like the nation, at an infrastructure crossroads" Pennsylvania - "Tapping the pike without leasing" Illinois - "Mayors acknowledge earlier efforts to open bridge" Illinois - "A congestion fee? Transit funding is better choice" North Carolina - "Drivers might pay road taxes by mile" Illinois - "Are rush hour tolls on the road ahead?" Massachusetts - "State's plans for Turnpike garner mixed reviews".
More on UAE toll
The first toll in the region opens on July 1st. It should go without a hitch as there will be a big increase in capacity on the non tolled roads. Perhaps they will be able to close the toll road? Or perhaps not, as they expect to make $600 million a year. Gulf News - " A new era in traffic management".
Saturday 16 June 2007
Canada seems to have caught a new fever - tolls - it must be worry about where all the ice has got to -
One person who hasn't caught the fever yet is James Wallace who writes for Osprey News and says about tolls and other new charges - "In theory, these charges appear fair and pragmatic - let those who consume public services pay the freight. In practice, however, user fees are regressive, burdensome, counterproductive taxes that contribute to bloated, inefficient government."
Selection from the Toronto Star - "Walking the walk for cleaner air" "For whom the road tolls?" "Municipalities will talk tolls, province won't" "Memo to Toronto: You can do better" "Voices: Road tolls". And Toronto Sun - "Jury still out on whether tolls cut emissions".
USA round up 16th June
The Texas toll stories have many themes. One is the reluctance to raise gas taxes. Another is the idea that there is something even better than a free lunch - a toll road operator will pay the state billions of dollars for the right to build a road and collect tolls - now isn't that generous - Star Telegram - "At odds over asphalt".
Update on lawsuit over using road tolls to build rail lines - abc7 - "Dulles Metro Extension Sparks Lawsuit".
Other stories - Texarkana Gazette - "Pay as you go" Indiana - "Toll Road CEO drives into new era" Indiana - "Former Bush Aide Fights Nickname: Gov. Privatize" New Hampshire - "Tolls staying put?" New York - "Carrion v. Congestion" Florida - "Interstate 75 widening"
Massachusetts - "Patrick goes back to the future in taking over Turnpike Authority".
No "congestion" charges = no handout for West Midlands trams - Express & Star - "Metro bid grant blow".
Friday 15 June 2007
Tolls in Toronto - No or Yes?
A really odd story this one in a world where politicians are queuing up to bleed roads users - Toronto unveils big spending plans but says that it will be achieved "without any road tolls contributing to the financing" - Toronto Star - "$17.5B transit plan proposed".
This story is more like it - Toronto will have tolls to save the planet - CBC - City mulls road tolls to fight climate change" CTV - "Road tolls proposed in city's new green plan".
Rich deal - Fat cats love tolls as it forces plebs off the road and they can make profits from the con. Best of all they can use £150,000 ($300,000) from their loose change and buy a car that is exempt from toll charges - Channel Four.
Another Rich deal - More on the issue of the payments to the ex Con Charge Czar. It is interesting that Transport for London distributing last year - £222 million ($440 million) of largesse to "consultants" is only a footnote - Independent.
"Urban myth" - TfL aided by the police try and persuade a London Assembly committee that the ending of tidal flow on the Blackwall tunnel was done for safety reasons - The Wharf.
Impact of Toll Experiment
The DfT issued two reports yesterday. One was more guidance for authorities applying for congestion charge bribes, the other was on the "Social and Distributional Impacts of Road Pricing" - both reports. On the question of impacts, such as on people with low incomes, the conclusion is that they haven't got a clue and that a great deal more research is needed. It looks as if Manchester will be the new Alamogordo.
The Eurotrolls are reported to be pressing the Italian Government over tolls regulation. The trolls have been upset since the Italian Government stopped the takeover of Autostrada.
USA round up 15th June
Bow Wow - Users of the Maine turnpike are this week getting some extra benfits for their toll money. The Turnpike authority has spent $102,000 on a mural of "Weimaraner dogs".
More on NY toll proposal - Streetsblog - "Assembly considers bankrupting MTA to reduce congestion".
EZ to get wrong - NBC5 - "Taking Its Toll: Does I-PASS Overcharge?".
"No tolls, no crime" - Russell Scheibel of South Beloit in the Rockford Register Star has a novel way of getting rid of tolls - ".. Apparently, there are quite a number of people not paying the tolls when using the bridge. Why not take some of the public safety sales tax monies to pay off the bonds for the bridge? ..Therefore, there would be no crime in the free use of the bridge.".
Texas tolls for thee - Texas - "High-speed toll lanes in I-45's future" Texas - "TxDOT, Price Waterhouse back Cintra's 121 toll bid" Texas - "Transportation Commission rules in favor of local tolls" Texas - "Commission authorizes more than 80 toll road projects" MySA - "Mobility authority to control toll lanes".
Other stories - Pennsylvania - "Stuck in traffic" New Hampshire - "Time to get tough" Virginia - "Authority gets green light" Illinois / Indiana - "Peace declared in toll war" Virginia - "Isle of Wight vote gives regional roads authority taxing power" "Massachusetts lawmaker wants to post tolls along state’s borders" Maine - "More bonds OK’d for Maine Turnpike Authority".
"Road pricing get a new ally"
There must be something about Chambers of Commerce that they are often in the vanguard of tolls pushing - Hope Standard.
Thursday 14 June 2007
Cleddau tolls campaign
The campaign to scrap the tolls on Cleddau bridge is gaining momentum. Andrew Lye who recently started the campaign is on TV tonight - Dragon's Eye on BBC2 Wales at 9pm and repeated on BBC1 Wales at 10.35pm. If you can help in this campaign, then please see contact details for Andrew on our Wales & Severn page.
Humber Bridge - Call to scrap debt
The Humber Bridge Board has agreed to call on the Government to agree a four or five year "holiday" on bridge tolls. This will mean
a substantial reduction in the cost of crossing the bridge - for example, £1 (for cars). The Board argues that the government could
make as much money from the extra investment that would be made in the areas both sides of the bridge as it does from the crippling
vehicle tax - Hull Daily Mail - "GIVE US A BREAK FROM THE TOLLS" BBC - "Bridge bosses urge debt 'holiday'". Humber Action Against Tolls, led by Jenny Walton of Kirmington, has been campaigning against the tolls for many years. She said - "We are 100 per cent behind this proposal from the Bridge Board. These tolls are the most expensive in Britain - they hurt families
and businesses, discourage tourism and generally damage the economy on both sides of the river. People on the south side of the
river are the worst affected as they have to cross the river for many purposes including life-saving hospital visits. We urge
everyone to press councillors and MPs to get this burden removed from the area.".
If you can help then Jenny can be contacted by emailing us or phoning her on 01652 688703.
"Stuck in traffic to pay for rich"
The ferry users receiving $2,000 subsidy each are mainly the rich, while the ones who have to live far away to afford housing are stuck with big toll bills - Daily Telegraph. Raghvani, one of the people affected, has started a petition.
Bus and Tram stats
The DfT have issued the latest Bus and Tram stats. In the first full year since the wider introduction of free travel for pensioners, there is an increase in journies of about 3.5%, which puts the level back up to what it was three years before - press release Stats to March 2007.
Tolls are suggested for those walking on long distance trails - though no one has yet dared suggest tolls for those on two wheels - "Trail building: a valuable exercise worth supporting".
USA round up 14th June
CBS News report - "Tired Of Gridlock? Pay More Tolls". We wonder how many suckers will believe that this will have any effect other than taking more money out of their pockets?
"Me too" - Chicago considers "congestion charging" - Chicago Tribune - "'Congestion fee' might take a toll on city driving". Later report in Daily Southtown - "London already has congestion fees that work -- at least a little bit", and Chicago Tribune - "Will city driving take its toll?".
More on New York plans - am New York - "Mayor eases congestion plan" Staten Island Advance - "Fuel-efficient trucks would pay less under New York mayor's plan".
Other stories -
Illinois - "Higher tolls ahead at Riverside, 173" Texas - "121 toll bids go under microscope" New Hampshire - "E-ZPass: We know where you live" Ohio - "Quick bridge study is urged".
"Toll roads in Seoul area are choked with collection booths"
Drivers in South Korea are unhappy about excessive tolls - Hankyoreh - "Drivers angry over high toll fees levied by private firms".
"RAC report reveals growing support for road pricing scheme"
More spin, this time from the "RAC" - Guardian. Apparently 73% of drivers support road pricing with the money raised being spent on buses, trains and trams!! If the authorities believe this, then why are they avoiding a referendum?
We reported on 30th May that the Netherlands had hired a British firm to "research into the accuracy and reliability of satellite based road user charging systems". There is now a report that transport minister Camiel Eurlings intends to introduce road pricing in stages - because he thinks that it won't work.
Wednesday 13 June 2007
USA round up 13th June
The New York Trolls have been taking lessons from Britain, there will be the usual disinformation, cosy relationships with most of the news media, and a lot of money from various sources going into tolls pushing - Crain's New York Business - "Ad blitz seeks support for congestion pricing".
When it comes to how to handle public "consultation", the Americans probably didn't need any teaching, based on this other story about the New York tolls. Though a recent survey carried out by Quinnipiac University showed that most New Yorkers were opposed to the tolls, another survey has been done which says that two out of three support tolls "after the subjects were schooled on the proposed benefits of the plan" - Staten Island Advance - "Mayor's environmental plan popular, poll shows".
Latest on the Senecas' toll bill - Buffalo News - "Senecas bill state for motorists’ use of Thruway section".
Other stories - Florida - "Lee unanimously votes for one-way tolls" Florida - "Dentist drilled idea of one-way toll" Washington State - "Report Recommends Tolls For Local Highways" (includes vote - over 80% have said "no" to tolls).
York's Dungeon - "Pay off"
Yesterday we reported that York was thinking of having "congestion charging". Today there is news of a reward from the Government - York Press - "Road tolls may be pay off for dualling of A1237".
"Mayor quizzed over Bob Kiley deal"
The Mayor has been asked about the mega consultancy sums which are being paid to the ex Transport boss - BBC. This story started with a report
in the Evening Standard on 28th March which included - ""If you ask me what I actually do to earn my consultancy, I'd have to tell you, in all honesty, 'not much'.". The position of the Congestion Charge Czar has always been unusual -
BBC report from 2001 on his appointment to sort out the Underground and introduce congestion charging.
We reported on the 1st June that there had been an application to increase tolls on the Whitney-on-Wye bridge in Herefordshire. The NAAT asked for details and were going to object but apparently it was only an ""informal news release" of future intention". What a pity that when we went to war with Iraq, it didn't turn out to be only a story about what we might do. The increase proposal may resurface, if anybody can help us oppose this, then please contact us. The Hereford Times also published this request from us on the 7th - "End these tolls".
The 2007 Regional Economics Trends Survey has been "published" (not yet available). The survey is carried out on behalf of the big bosses organisation - CBI, and Government quangoes - the Regional Development Agencies. The survey apparently found that businesses thought that road pricing would be bad for them, but hoped that all the money collected went back into transport! Journal - "Firms fear pricing on roads will hit sales".
More Toll pushing
Daily Commercial News - "National urban transportation plan".
Tuesday 12 June 2007
York has narrow roads in the centre and very expensive parking. As everyone except the trolls seems to know they are very effective deterrents to roads users, but despite that York is thinking of having "congestion charging" - Yorkshire Post - "Drivers warned on clogging fees". With a city as old as York it is difficult to know what to do, but roads users pay £50 billion a year in taxes - perhaps the authorities could afford a few underground roads!
Some predictions from Peter Cochrane, former head of BT research - Silicon.com - "How we'll beat road pricing".
"DVLA entries are wrong for one in five motorists"
Does this mean that only four in five will be billed for road charges? Daily Mail.
"Businesses accused of green hypocrisy"
At a conference organised by Shell, businesses were attacked by greens but defended by Red Ken who said how great businesses were and that the enemy of the greens is the Government - Guardian. Ken also wants a "£15 carbon tax on an air ticket". That means that tax for flying to Oz would be less than the price of two days' London "Congestion" tax.
The London trolls pursue a 75 year old whose car was towed through the charge zone. Though the most amazing part of this story is that they say that they will refund her - Daily Mail - "I had to pay C-charge when my car was on a tow truck".
London ideal for foreign drivers
The good news is that 157,000 drivers have avoided paying the London Toll since 2005, the bad news is that they are foreign - Gulf Times - "Foreign’ drivers dodge £14mn fines".
"Taxpayers set to bail out Galileo as PPP faces collapse"
More money for Tolls satellite Transport Briefing.
USA round up 10th to 12th June
Drums along the Seneca - Times Union - "Seneca Nation sets stiff toll for state".
New York toll plans - Newsday - "Silver hits brakes over city traffic plan" Stony Brook Independent - "Congestion Pricing No Solution for City’s Traffic Woes" Streetsblog - "112,000 less cars" New York Post - "MIKE'S TOLL ORDER" New York Post - "MIKE VS. THE MTA - MESSES MAYOR CAN'T IGNORE" WNBC - "Mayor: Congestion Pricing Plan To Fuel Transit Upgrades" Newsday - "Suozzi was first in this line".
A road user complains about high tolls (on the Dulles Greenway which was sold to the Italians). Nothing odd about that, except it is Mary Peters who is busy selling plans for more tolls and more road sales - Denver Post - "All tolled, pay roads the future".
From Congress - New York Sun - "Democrats Look To Keep Toll Roads From Private Leases" Dow Jones Financial News - "Democrats warn over infrastructure deals".
Other stories - Florida - "Lee commissioners to talk Cape tolls today" West Virginia - "Trimming Turnpike expenses: Cuts to protect tolls are realistic" Tennessee - "Tolls may finance commuter road" Texas - "Perry signs compromise bill slowing toll road projects" New Hampshire - "'Last chance' E-ZPass toll deadline Friday" Pennsylvania - "Make sure the price is right for turnpike" Texas - "Perry signs legislation to halt private toll roads" Pennsylvania - "Group proposes solution to transportation crisis" (tolls & congestion charges) Texas - "Perry signs compromise roads bill into law" Indiana - "Daniels shakes state with change, Aggresive style" South Carolina / Michigan - "Federal officials: ‘It’s time to move forward’ on I-73’" Texas - "Judge riles activists over eminent domain" Virginia - "Dulles Toll Road ruling is appealed" Texas - "New HOV lanes, extensions under way on major routes" Indiana - "Daniels shakes state with change, aggressive style" California - "City on feds short list for traffic funds" New York - "Experts focus on how to get people to ride buses" Massachusetts - "Toll-burdened Merrimack may get relief" Florida - "Bayway bridge tolls may be going up" Massachusetts - "Holmes: Highway robbery" Florida - "95 Express would take toll on good old freeway" DC - "Who's crossing over my bridge?".
From Montreal Gazette - "There'll be a limit on the new toll bridge - a price restraint" "Bridge to Laval will be landmark public-private link" "Canadian cities should take a hard look at road tolls".
PS One the other way - "Criticism greets Tremblay's transport plan".
Saturday 9 June 2007
A question of ethics
Spoof or not? Spiked -"Is it ethical to own a car".
Macquarie, the well known philanthropists, are offering to solve congestion problems - Daily Telegraph - "Toll tunnel plan".
The trolls are on to a good thing in the Land of Oz, as drivers, who those whpo claim to represent them are apparently eager to pay more even if there are no more roads. This apparently is on the basis that the "other" driver will be forced off the road by the tolls - The Age - "Tolls could stall rising gridlock".
USA round up 9th June
New York Toll plans - New York - "Mayor Fields Tough Questions From Lawmakers On Congestion Pricing" New York - "Bloomberg tries to sell congestion tax to Albany" New York - "Fate of congestion pricing plan up in the air" New York - "From a sea of green, Bloomberg works a tough room" New York Times - "Taking questions: A traffic expert on congestion pricing" City - "The Obstacle to Bloomberg’s Master Plan".
Other stories - Pennsylvania - "Rendell, Pa. lawmakers diverge in search for road, transit money" Pennsylvania - "Give lawmakers the turnpike data they are asking for" California - "Peninsula-to-East Bay train could be derailed" Washington State - "No break for Pierce Transit" Indiana - "High gasoline prices are opportunity for change" "Illinois toll system gets upgrade".
Athens Charge except for early risers
Academics and the transport lobby are urging the Greek Government to introduce "congestion charges" to Athens. The suggestion seems to a cordon schem with a charge of five euros (£3.50 or $7) to enter the city between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday to Thursday or 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Fridays.
Tolls for Montreal
It seems that whoever people from Montreal vote for there will be tolls to pay for mass transit schemes - Montreal Gazette - "Opposition party gives thumbs-up to mayor's plan for bridge tolls". Could the reason for this unanimity be that like Stockholm those paying the tolls are from outside and don't get to vote?
Roads for trucks only
Here's an idea that truckers will love - new road capacity will be just for them with car drivers locked out one way or another - Peace Arch News - "Restricting lane use may end resistance".
"Call to delay Dubai road toll"
AME Info - It seems that the idea is to delay the tolls till a point where they will not be needed. Why have them then?.
More on Blackwall tunnel Kengestion
The stopping of tidal flow system in the Blackwall Tunnel causing congestion has been raised in London Assembly - East London Advertiser - "No public consultation over scrapping Blackwall Tunnel tidal flow, Transport bosses admit".
The Mayor of New York appears to have fallen in love with the London Mayor and the way in which he has got away with the "congestion charge". This morning we have a reminder of what the London Mayor thinks about some Americans. The Ambassador in London is apparently now a "venal little crook" - Guardian - "Mayor renews C-charge attack on ambassador".
Tolls for bikers
Report in Telegraph - "Congestion charge schemes will target motorcycles". This is not news, but raises the question of whether bikers will oppose the charge plans, or merely campaign for exemption.
Friday 8 June 2007
Toll collector puts on weight
A widely reported story - wnbc.
Not really news
Not sure how this got into the paper as it must happen thousands of times a month - a man ends up with his car clamped and a £490 bill ($900) for straying into the charge zone and not paying immediately - Malvern Gazette - "Bailiffs chasing £8 bill clamp car in driveway". This is how the Mayor and the firms that run the charges make most of their money.
USA round up 8th June
A widely syndicated AP story in America and other countries is about the growing support (from all but the people) for tolls to enter Manhattan - Newsday - "New York City hopes to make it too expensive to drive into the city". Another less used version of the story - Newsday - "Lawmakers to hold hearing on contentious NYC traffic fee plan".
Another view from the New York Sun - "As Traffic Tax Gains Speed, Silver Taps Brakes", and from the New York Times - "Congestion Pricing Proposal Races Ahead", NY1 - "Mayor's Congestion Pricing Plan Gets Federal Boost", Reuters - "NYC traffic-jam fighting fee wins Fed OK" and Staten Island Advance - "Manhattan car fee gains key support".
latest reports NY1 - "Mayor Pitches Plan For Greener New York To State Legislators".
The Federal Government has a $1.1 billion pot of money to bribe areas into bringing in more tolls. Mary Peters, George Bush's Transportation Secretary Mary Peters, has this week announced the short list of "Urban Partners" some of which will eventually get the money - Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Miami, New York City, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle - DOT Press Release. Oddly the PR does not mention tolls!
An example of the influence trolls have in America - tolls being reintroduced on a Colorado road is reported as - "Good news for U.S. 36 users".
Here is some real good news - "Barriers fall, spirits soar".
Other stories -
Texas - "Dallas aims to be example in fight against traffic congestion" New Jersey - " Corzine's debt fix, made simple" Washington State - "County floats $2 toll idea for 520 span" Florida - "I-95 toll plan in running for federal DOT funding" New Jersey - "DRBA offers toll-hike plans" Pennsylvania - "Turnpike proposal is huge state issue" Texas - "NTTA felt pressure to skip 121 bid" Virginia - "Virginia gets nod for study on I-81 environmental work" New Hampshire - "Merrimack: Toll relief, not amnesty" California - "L.A. misses out on federal transit funds" Texas - "Bracewell & Giuliani, the ‘guiding’ law firm on the privatization of Texas State Highway 121" Michigan - "Competing new bridges may span Detroit River" West Virginia - "Turnpike workers can keep steel-toe shoe allowance" West Virginia - "Turnpike workers can keep steel-toe shoe allowance" New Jersey - "N.B. opposes proposal to privatize toll roads" Texas - "Dallas named as semi-finalist for traffic-busting federal grant" Pennsylvania - "Rendell is prodded to release documents on turnpike privatization".
"The best in the world".
The Governor of New York State appears to be backing Billionaire Bloomberg's toll plan - BBC - "Congestion charge 'world's best'" Staten Island Advance - "Mayor's traffic fee plan gets a boost from the federal government". This story seems to have been inspired by the Green Kid a.k.a. David Miliband.
View from Over Here
The Daily Telegraph, which claims to be against road pricing, have gone all the way to Seattle to learn all about it - Evening Telegraph - " Road charging comes to Seattle".
"Petition call to end bridge tolls"
A petition to scrap the only toll in Wales has got over 1,000 signatures - BBC Western Telegraph.
Tolls - Good News for Peterborough
Businessmen say that road picing will benefit Peterborough - this is on the theory that it will be implemented in other cities and drive businesses into the city - Evening Telegraph - "Hidden benefits to road charging".
"Is road pricing really the answer to the road congestion crisis?"
A report on road pricing in some of this week's business magazines - Accountancy Age.
The new rabbits
All the Australian papers have the story about Britain's black box plans - Daily Telegraph - "Big brother fears as cars to get black boxes". Perhaps they fear another invasion!
Thursday 7 June 2007
More from the Eurotrolls
Auto Industry - "EC to spend £1.36bn on intelligent transport over next seven years".
Shape of things to come PS
Further report to yesterday's on Czech Republic plans for road pricing with microwaves and satellites - Prague Post - "Second phase of e-toll delayed".
Good news for Black box makerss
Not really a new story, but the Daily Mail reports on black boxes becoming compulsory for "safety" reasons - "By 2010, cars will have black boxes to send crash SOS".
There are 28 million cars in Britain, and 6 million other powered vehicles. At £400 each, the cost of equipping the whole fleet would be over twelve billion pounds, and the boxes would have to be replaced at some time.
USA round up 7th June
A welcome but rare sight - Buffalo News - "Concrete signs of toll victory".
Other stories - New Hampshire - "Official working on Merrimack toll-relief proposal" Indiana - "Toll Road off table for panel’s priorities" New Jersey - "S.J. interests protected in Del. River dredging deal" Pennsylvania - "Turnpike lease faces tough odds" California - "Which way for the MTA?" Missouri - "State joins effort to get grant for I-70 work" Illinois - "17 Hurt When Bus Crashes On Skyway".
Wednesday 6 June 2007
"Road toll protestor on Net debate"
Peter Roberts has a "debate" with the Greens - Shropshire Star Debate on "Driversvoice". Driversvoice by the way is another one of those bodies such as the AA, RAC, RAC Foundation and Motorist's Forum which are presented as if they represent drivers but don't.
Tell the doctor your problems
The "No" Roads Minister had a webchat this afternoon - 10 Downing Street. Do we smell some planted questions here? Not that it mattered as the Doctor was well briefed with the usual misinformation on road pricing.
"Road-pricing satellites get European thumbs up"
More spin from the Eurotrolls - Silicon.com.
"What extortionate price will truckers pay if pay-per-mile goes ahead?"
Mike Rutherford's column in - Auto Express.
Yorkshire bosses and choice
In Yorkshire the business bosses don't agree over whether the people should have a say on whether road tolls are introduced - The Press - "Business bosses divided on road pricing votes".
USA round up 6th June
Massachusetts - "Our view: New tolls should be last resort for transportation fix" New York - "Removing toll arms would speed V-N traffic" New Hampshire - "Windol Weaver requests more York toll plaza study" Colorado - "Transit officials keep fingers crossed on U.S. 36 tolls" New York - "Money gap is MTA concern" Indiana - "Authority to double tolls to pay for rail" Indiana - "I-Zoom zooms into NWI" Texas - "WEAK MEN MAKE WEAK DECISIONS" Louisiana - "Loop’s 1st leg: 4-5 years" New York - "Tackling traffic, improving health" Washington State - "Tacoma, WA, Narrows Bridge tolls will be $3 cash".
Gas Tax for Tolls - Or not?
China is again talking about introducing gas taxes and scrapping road tolls. It is unlikely that this will happen as there are too many fingers dipping into the tolls bucket - China Daily - "Time for a fuel tax".
One way of avoiding tolls in Taiwan
In a world heading for disaster due to population growth, Taiwan is to introduce incentives to increase its birth rate - including exemption from road tolls - Taipei Times - "Government considering incentives to raise births".
Shape of things to come
The Czech Republic plans to have road pricing using microwaves on main roads in two years. Pricing will be extended to minor roads using satellites - Prague Daily Monitor - "E-toll expansion delayed but ambitious".
How green is my hybrid
Here is the latest in a flood of stories about the so called green cars, which are exempt from taxes such as the London Congestion Charge - Daily Mail - "Toyota rapped by advertising watchdog for saying its ecocar is greener than it really is". The only thing that you can be sure about with most of these cars, is that the average person could not afford to buy them.
Tuesday 5 June 2007
Not congested enough
Those who think that roads users are just an easy source of money use the excuse that they want road tolls in order to reduce congestion. Less congestion means higher speeds. As you might guess that is not really the aim of the anti roads lobby. At the weekend Portsmouth started a trend which is likely to soon be repeated all over Britain. Drivers have apparently been averaging 24 mph in 30 mph zones. So they are reducing the limit to 20 mph. Whatever else this does it will increase congestion - The News (Portsmouth) - "New 20mph limit 'will save lives'" Telegraph - "Portsmouth brings in blanket 20mph limit".
USA round up 4th & 5th June
No wonder Bill Gates with his zillions finds it hard to smile. He lives in such a sad State that there is a " steady stream of customers eager to establish their electronic toll accounts", and the toll hustlers have now opened a second office to meet the demand - Tacoma Daily Index - "Good To Go! opens second Tacoma office".
Presidential candidates, foreign connections and road sales - News with Views - "SCANDALS THREATEN HILLARY AND RUDY".
Other stories - North Carolina - "Lawmakers Consider Tax Increase to Finish I-540" Virginia - "Greenway Tolls Increase July 1" New Jersey - "DRBA schedules public hearings on proposed toll increase" New Jersey - "E-ZPass use proposed for Merrimack toll relief" Texas - "Objects in Mirror - Texas and the Future of the American Highway"
"Illinois and Indiana disagree on Toll Road discounts" Texas - "Perry's office sees no toll moratorium at all" New York - "Thruway Accused Of Squelching Anti-Toll Billboards" (inc audio link) New York - "Sock it to truckers, Weiner declares".
By pass Tolls
Australians have become habituated to paying tolls, but surprisingly as part of a report on how slow traffic is, the RAC in Queensland say - ""Tolling bypass infrastructure is fundamentally flawed. It should be toll-free because tolling bypass roads only tends to put traffic back on to existing congested routes." - Courier Mail - "Rush hour slows to 20km/h".
Monday 4 June 2007
Pot and kettle
A Tory candidate in the council elections at Marlow says that Liberal Democrats deserved to lose because of their support for road pricing - Bucks Free Press - "Newcomers to town do care". The English Tories would be doing better if they were not also supporting the principle of road pricing.
Power of the Cycle lobby
One group that will never have to pay any road charges are cyclists. All cyclists are at some times pedestrians, and most of them are also drivers, but when they get on their bikes they have political influence that drivers can only dream about. They have forced the Government to withdraw the recent advice that cyclists should use cycle lanes where available - DfT press release.
Update on Arab tolls
The Salik tolls or "congestion charge" are due to start on 1st July - Arabian Business - "Dubai road toll 'clear' for launch" 7 days - "Dubai - Am I being fined?".
Drivers caught "off guard"
National Car Rental report that based on their vehicle fleet, the number of London Congestion Charge fines has increased by 50% since the zone was extended on 19th February.
Road tolls are quite common in third world countries. They are controlled by a variety of interests - police, criminals, anti Government forces, army and other businesses. For some reason they are not popular - Indian Express - "Kerala highway projects stuck as Left Govt holds up a No-Toll sign".
PS A contrary view - Economic Times - "Toll-free highways for Kerala".
Sunday 3 June 2007
USA round up 2nd & 3rd June
The new democracy is coming to Florida - Miami Herald - "Got a Hyundai? Get out of the Lexus lane".
Massachusetts / New Hampshire - "Bill calls for tolls at New Hampshire line" Illinois / Missouri - "Officials look with hope to reopening of McKinley Bridge" Florida - "Time to ditch beach tolls?" New York - "All backed up" Florida - "I-75 at less than 10 lanes would take a toll on north-south roads, planners say" Texas - "I-190 toll removal to begin next month" South Carolina - "Transportation chief: I-73 would help backed up SC beach traffic" Texas - "Police Stop 183-A Drivers Who Don't Pay".
Bosses for tolls
In Britain, Chambers of Commerce are often part of the establishment and support tolls, a practice which has been exported to Canada - Tri City News - "Tolling gets new ally".
A story in the Sunday Telegraph about the new Bill which as well as making it easier to introduce road tolls will also give local politicians and bureaucrats the control of buses. The Bus operators claim that this will cost taxpayers about £7 billion - " Buses get ticket back to the 50s".
Britain's Police want new laws that will force drivers to have special number plates with chips that will confirm the identity of the vehicle when it is scanned - Daily Mail - "Number is up for car plates, say police".
Friday 1 June 2007
China has no gas taxes and instead has road tolls. We have reported before on the lengths that Chinese drivers will go to avoid paying the toll, including disguising vehicles as if they were part of the People's Army (CCTV on 30th - "Six arrested for manufacturing bogus military vehicle plates"). But the latest trick amazed even us. A mining company has demolished part of the Great Wall on the border between the northern province of Shanxi and inner Mongolia so that "their trucks could avoid motorway tolls." - China Daily - "Toll-dodging truckers breach China's Great Wall".
There has been an application for a 60% increase in tolls on the Whitney-on-Wye Toll Bridge. If anyone can help us to oppose this please contact us. Hereford Times - "Bridge tolls to increase".
There have been some strange goings on with the tolls on the Dunham bridge over the River Trent, where last Autumn we assisted Gerry Watt who was opposing a toll increase. Earlier this year the Minister decided that the increase should go ahead. Not a surprise as it seems that the establishment will rubber stamp whatever tolls the operators ask for. But at the start of this week we were told that in this case when the Minister made the Toll Increase Order there was a mistake and some vehicles will have apparently been charged without legal authority. The timing of telling us this was such that it was too late to do anything about it. We have however asked some questions including what will happen with vehicles that may have been illegally charged.
The money goes round to good causes
One of our Troll friends the IPPR has apparently been getting money from the Government - Evening Standard - "Leftist think-tank 'got taxpayers' cash'". We don't understand why this is news, most of those promoting tolls, "congestion charges" and "road pricing" get their money from central government, local authorities, quangos, and companies. The most laugable part of all this is that most are registered as charities. Though when last year we queried with the Charity Commissioner why one toll operator was a registered charity, they told us that this qualified them to be a charity according to a staute of Queen Elizabeth (the first that is). Those who campaign against tolls are not allowed to register as charities because we are "political".
Who represents drivers?
Mike Rutherford usually talks a lot of sense even though we suspect that he is the only member of the "Motorist's Association" - Auto Express- "Negativity from pro-motoring bodies isn't helping our cause". Mike correctly points out that the RAC does not really represent drivers (it is a commercial company), but seems to think that the RAC Foundation does (though he does not agree with what it has been saying). The reality is that the Foundation does not represent drivers either, and has taken a leading part in trying to sell road pricing - its main criticism of the government being that they are not doing a good enough sales job. The ONLY real members organisation for drivers is the ABD.
"Pay as you pollute!"
Another story in the Auto Express is so odd that it reads like it's a spoof, but is apparently true. It says that they are testing a road pricing system where the charge would be based on measurement of the amount of emissions as the vehicle travels along the road - "We drive the first 'pay as you pollute' car".
Boot on other foot
In an interesting twist, Labour politicians are attacking Lib Dem politicians for backing "congestion charging" - in Cambridge - CEN - "Support for traffic charges attacked".
USA round up 31st May & 1st June
Some advice to people in Florida when there is a hurricane including - "Do not necessarily wait to evacuate until after the announcement is made that tolls have been suspended. Tolls are often suspended in conjunction with mandatory evacuation orders which may come only after the threat of a hurricane is imminent. Consider paying the toll and leaving early when traffic is much lighter." - what a sad state Tampa Bay's 10 - "Hurricane evacuation tips".
In Massachusetts it has been suggested that tolls be scrapped and replaced with a nine cent gas tax. Not surprisingly those who currently benefit from tolls don't agree - Boston Herald - "Gov brakes drive for toll tweaks" nbsp; Metro West Daily News - "Toll removal plan gets chilly reception" Boston Globe - "Debate on fares and fairness intensifies" Boston Now - "Spreading the burden: MetroWest wants toll break".
A letter that shows the scales on many American's eyes. They complain about congestion at toll booths, but don't seem to realise that the answer is to scrap the tolls - Concord Monitor - "Tollbooth jam-up".
Other stories - Illinois / Indiana - "Border war brewing over I-PASS" New Jersey - "Cause of toll plaza crash still a mystery" Coloradao - "Consortium to lease toll road for 99 years" Texas - "183A will no longer be a free ride" Florida - "State eyeing 2 express toll lanes in each direction from Golden Glades to I-595" New York - "Queens opposes congestion fee: Poll" Pennsylvania - "Rendell: Turnpike lease would protect projects" New York - "Fight to Remove Grand Island Tolls" Connecticut - "3 projects get half of road funds" Virginia - "HOT lanes story lacked critical eye" Virginia - "Beltway Getting HOT in ‘08?" Washington State - "Tolls proposed to finance new bridge across Lake Washington" California - "Free area transit blows in as Spare the Air season begins".
"Like good sex"
We reported a couple of weeks on the toll sales drive in New York, carried out by Ken and his deputy. Today there is a report on it in the Villager. The quote at the end of the story is - “Good congestion pricing is like good sex. It all depends on what you do upfront.”. Perhaps the BBC should send in an undercover reporter to discover what really goes on at Transport for London!
"Road congestion costs European nations 1 pct of GDP"
The Eurotrolls say that road congestion is costing the equivalent of 1% of GDP. As you might guess, the answer is not better roads, it is road pricing - EU business.