MARCH 2007 NEWS
Saturday 31 March 2007
The Association of British Drivers had a conference today. The main issue was road pricing and how the ABD would fight it. The main talk was from Peter Roberts, who inspired 1.8 million people to sign his petition. Other items included NAAT talking about experience overseas - This is an expanded version of what was said.
Pro tolls council "impartially" bans ballot boxes
MP Daniel Kawczynski is campaigning against the proposed Shrewsbury Toll. The local council have now asked him to remove ballot boxes from the town hall, as they want to be "impartial"! Shropshire Star - "MP told to move charges box". One reader has commented that "If this madness goes ahead Shrewsbury will die."
USA round up 31st March
Kansas - "ĎGet in the car and goí" Virginia - "Golden silence on statewide tolls" Pennsylvania - "Firm to advise governor on raising road funds" Tennessee - "Bill would authorize TDOT to develop toll road projects" New Jersey - "Put brakes on toll hikes" Illinois / Missouri - "Business, labor leaders target Mississippi bridge standoff".
Friday 30 March 2007
Another toll to go? But one to stay?
According to the Courier the Labour Party and the Lib Dem manifestos for May's Holyrood elections will promise to scrap tolls on the Tay bridge "early in the lifetime of the next parliament". It is also reported that both parties will not scrap the Forth bridge tolls, but that they will "suspend" the tolls for vehicles with more than one occupant - Courier - "Pledge signals success in tolls campaign" Courier - "Divisive double standards tolls regime doomed" BBC - "Party moves to scrap bridge tolls".
No toll "promise"
In a remarkable development, Reading Council have said that they have no plans to introduce any form of tolls - Reading Evening Post - "No Charge!". As the Council are hoping to get money from the Government in return for promises of new tolls, this is difficult to understand. Though it appears that the Council may be looking for a way of tolling which their own electors don't have to pay!
Tougher rules are being introduced for those who don't pay fines. Apparently the main target are those who don't pay the charge - Auto Express - "Fine cheats' cars set to be seized".
The Con charge cameras are now American - Transport Briefing - "Congestion Charge ANPR firm sold to US company". This will please Ken as he is a big Americophile.
A bit more on last Friday's story about toll bills ending back with the councils - Islington Tribune - "Estates billed for C-charge fee".
USA round up 30th March
Texas - "Plan would break logjam on toll road" Washington State - "State senator unveils plan to replace viaduct, 520 bridge without toll" New Hampshire - "For whom the toll booths toll" Massachussetts - "What will it take for real reform?" Massachussetts - "Hacks lie in wait for highway robbery".
Thursday 29 March 2007
The London Mayor may think that the American Ambassador is a crook, but he seems to favour at least one American. The ex Transport and Congestion Charge boss is according to the Evening Standard now getting the equivalent of £737,000 (nearly 1.5 million dollars) a year as "consultancy fees", but says that he doesn't do much to earn it - Bloomberg - "London Mayor Defends Consultant Reported Doing Little Work". Given that the Mayor has a reputation for supporting leftwing causes, one mystery is why he has such high regard for someone who seems to come from the opposite camp - BBC - "Bob Kiley: Going Underground".
Support for road pricing
Commercial Motor, a weekly for the road transport industry, details how road pricing will restrict freedom and hit the poorest but comes down in favour of it - "Road pricing - the social cost".
USA round up 29th March
Mississippi - "Toll roads bill passes" Massachusetts - "Massachusetts Transportation Report predicts $19M shortfall" Pennsylvania - "Poll of Pa. voters supports plan to lease turnpike" Tennessee - "Bredesen favors tolls as road-funding option" Florida - "Toll could get more drivers into fast lane" DC - "If youíre rich, youíre HOT" New Hampshire - "Driverís car lands on roof after hitting tollbooth" West Virginia - "Manchin vetoes toll control for lawmakers" Nevada - "Gephardt advice includes toll roads in Nevada" Texas - "Nichols: Consider a moratorium on toll roads".
An improved version of National Street Gazetteer is now available and "has huge potential for a number of new initiatives not least the tricky question of vehicle tracking and road pricing" - GIS User - "National Street Gazetteer now available at highest level of detail".
Various successful challenges to the law - Telegraph - "Time to fight back against officialdom".
Wednesday 28 March 2007
Autostrade, the troll that controls Italian motorways has released its financial results and says that it is going to sue the Government and the regulator. It is also planning to change its name to "Atlantia" - ABC. "Atlantia" is a name that is already being used for a mythical medieval kingdom. Do the trolls want to return to the good old days of serfs? In Greek mythology, Atlantia was a huntress of unknown parentage - perhaps even more apt.
The Transport Secretary has been speaking to the faithful at an IPPR conference - Guardian - "Zero carbon cars are the future, says transport secretary". Dougie would be a suitable acolyte for any preacher as he believes that he is going to lower carbon emissions while at the same time scrapping fuel duty and replacing it with tolls.
The London Mayor has again been active on the diplomatic front - Japan Times - "London mayor likens toll snub to war stance".
More on Toronto Tolls
The Mayor of Toronto's plans - City News - "Will Drivers Stand For Road Tolls On DVP & Gardiner?".
The Dutch are to abandon plans for a vignette system. (A vignette is basically a toll designed to catch out foreign vehicles, particularly trucks.) Expatica - "No road sticker after all".
But according to Expatica - "Green parties urge for road pricing" the Greens in Flemish part of Belgium and in the Netherlands want tolls based on a "per-kilometre system". Good news for gas guzzlers that go metric!
RHA given up?
The Road Haulage Association agree that the Dartford tolls should go, but it seems that they have given up on this, and just want some of the tolls loot spent on lorry parking - TNN - "Invest Dartford Toll Revenue into Secure Parking".
USA round up 28th March
There is a LOT of money and influence behind the current tolls push in America. Here is a glimpse of where it is coming from, though most of the trolls prefer to meet politicians in private - klas TV / AP - "Nevada Lawmakers Discuss Toll Roads".
Other stories -
Massachusetts - "Report paints dire picture of transportation woes" New Jersey - "Corzine hints that toll increases could be coming" Connecticut - "Feds won't fund study of electronic toll system" Virginia - "Toll-bridge inequity in our region" Washington State - "State Senate unveils $8.1 billion budget for roads" New Jersey - "Decision on leasing toll roads expected in about a month" Texas - "Toll road options, notions" Virginia - "Artful compromise for modest road fix" Indiana - "Fresh Opportunity" New Jersey - "Man arrested in 290 toll evasions" Texas - "Letís keep Texas moving" Florida - "ROAD-PRIVATIZATION RAGE" Connecticut - "Municipal leaders push for study of highway tolls".
Tuesday 27 March 2007
USA round up 27th March
Newsday / AP report on - "Port Authority funded cultural projects in New York City". The authority is largely funded by tolls on the New Jersey turnpike. Its largesse included $3.5 million for Jazz. There is nothing novel about this, those who have control of toll funds look on them as a free pot of money to be spent on any pet projects that they have.
Other stories -
California - "Industry seeks trucking overhaul" Indiana - "Daniels won't rule out tolls on I-69 extension" Indiana - "Gas taxes may help pay for I-69 extension".
Monday 26 March 2007
There is another report about the Galileo troubles. (The Galileo satellites will be used for road pricing and London con charge.) Even better news is that Germany's Toll Collect system is also apparently in trouble - EU Referendum Blog - "Back from the brinkÖ sort of ". An earlier report from the blog - "The Airbus of space".
"Congestion charging - the final frontier"
Public money is already going directly into Galileo, but more money is now being spent via Government quangoes - Metro Evening Standard.
Trolls ready to dance again?
Autostrade and Abertis still thinking about it - Forbes / AP - "Autostrade: Clear Rules Needed for Talks".
Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry is complaining that the Government won't give the city money from the Transport Innovation Fund till the city agrees to introduce a "congestion charge" - Birmingham Post- "Anger at congestion charge 'ransom'". It is common for people to say that they want improvements first and then they will bring in tolls. But what is even odder in this case is that the Chamber is on the TIF Steering Group and therfore knows that TIF is a bribe to persuade politicians to commit suicide.
USA round up 26th March
Paul O'Connor writes about the way in which travel on Anerica's east coast roads is just a "progess" from one toll booth to another - Winston Salem Journal - "Travel on state toll roads takes toll on wallet, nerves".
Other stories - Washington State - "Do world-class bridges have trolls living below?" Pennsylvania - "Leasing The Turnpike - Slow down a bit" California - "Small tolls, huge fines" Illinois - "New Highway To Greet Drivers With High Toll" Indiana - "Indiana Commerce Connector cancelled" California - "Transponder loophole closes in San Diego County" Florida - "Bridge Lease Plan May Hit Dead End".
The Toll vultures are gathering around South Australia - Adelaide Advertiser - "Investors want state to consider road tolls".
Sunday 25 March 2007
USA round up 25th March
Marc Fisher reports on the Lexus lane variety of the great American Tolls push which he says is based on the political concept "that says let's just shove it down their throats, and they'll come to like it" - Washington Post - "Exalted HOT Lanes Leave the Average Joe in the Dust".
Other stories - Texas - "RESUME NORMAL SPEED" Texas - "DANGER AHEAD" New Hampshire - "Revolting developments?" Pennsylvania - "Billion dollar secrets" Pennsylvania - "Getting around: Onorato's budget relief may be a $1 'congestion fee'".
The Lane Cove tunnel opens today with an introductory free trial - Sydney Morning Herald - "Lane Cove Tunnel free for a month".
On Thursday, three drivers died after an explosion and fire in Melbourne's Burnley tunnel. Tolls have been suspended - Sydney Morning Herald - "Tunnel remains closed as victims identified".
Saturday 24 March 2007
Councillors and MSPs to be outed
Meetings have been held this week by anti toll campaigners in various parts of Britain. Discussions centred on how to target prospective councillors and MSPs who support tolls including so called "congestion charges" and "road pricing".
USA round up 24th March
California - Transponder fees Pennsylvania - "U.S. Attorney delays sentencing for bridge commission spokesman" Texas - "Stopping toll roads not so simple when the Legislature is involved" California - "I-15 FasTrak fee approved" Pennsylvania - "Donít privatize the turnpike" Illionois - "Some love it, others despise it" Pennsylvania - "Time for ípike commission to hit the road" Florida - "Wrong direction on Florida roads" New Hampshire - "Residents mull lawsuit over turnpike tolls" Illinois / Missouri - "information gap on bridge alternative" California - "Tolls to Buy Time, Convenience on 10-Mile-Long South Bay Expressway".
"Dartford tolls 'completely inappropriate' says FTA"
On Thursday the Freight Transport Association issued a press release detailing their opposition to the tolls on the Dartford Crossing. We welcome this, but wonder why they are otherwise keen to support tolls and road pricing.
Friday 23 March 2007
Councils against Humber Toll
The BBC say that North Lincs Council are to consider a report on trying to get rid of the tolls on economic grounds - "New push for cut in bridge tolls". Note that the BBC are also saying that there will be another toll rise on the 23rd April. This is not correct. We have pointed this out to them but it seems that they are quite happy to ignore us and leave incorrect information on their web site.
The London Toll ends up being charged to some strange places. The Islington Tribune reports how builders reclaim the con charge after adding on costs of 43 per cent - "BUILDERSí ROAD TAX". By coincidence the Roads Minister yesterday told MPs how much the Government's chauffeured cars have paid in parking and congestion charge fines since 1999 - £33,000.
Canada wants to be cool and proposes tolls for trees
We reported yesterday that Quebec greens wanted to bring in road tolls to pay for the cost of building tramways. Now the
Mayor of Toronto wants to introduce road tolls to pay for the cost of planting trees. Apparently Canada has not got enough trees to fight the threat that it may get warmer - Toronto Star - "Miller to unveil green plan".
More on Galileo delay
We reported on the 15th about the delay to Europe's satellite system intended to be used for road tolls and who knows what else. Here is a later report from BBC yesterday - "Galileo companies given deadline".
USA round up 23rd March
Connecticut - "Officials at Westport Meeting Ponder High-Tech Tolls" West Virginia - "Manchin moving to veto bills for third judge, legislative turnpike toll power?" Texas - "Bills target reliance on private toll roads" Texas - "We need bold highway funding" Pennsylvania - "Rendell pressing to lease turnpike" Florida - "I-75 toll proposal still alive, but limping" Idaho - "Highway 75 planners target rights of way" Florida - "Toll-road plan passes on party lines" New Hampshire - "Donít get connedby bridge toll promise" Texas - "Carona runs_afoul of antitoll crowd" Georgia - "Why Do Georgia Motorists Cheat On Toll Road?" Florida - "House want to allow private leases of toll roads".
A good deal
A good deal of money is what Malaysia's toll operators are getting - Sun2Surf - "Tighten the reins on concessions".
Thursday 22 March 2007
When the London Toll was introduced, they made it as difficult as possible to pay. The idea was that this would be an extra deterrent to entering the congestion charge zone. It seems that they now realise that the congestion is as bad as ever and have given up. The objective now is to make money, so they have made it easy to pay. They have revamped the TfL website and introduced a pay next day facility.
ABD Press release yesterday - "Government Does Not Want Congestion Reduced" (More on Lancaster Congestion Charge proposal).
Reaction in the Guardian (favourite paper of the Greens) to yesterday's budget - "Gas guzzlers hit hard". The Greens live in a fantasy world. They are obsessed with cars, though they account for less than 25% of fossil fuel use. They think that an increase in vehicle excise duty is an attack on gas guzzlers. They even believe that the RAC and AA are motorists organisations!
ABD Press release - "Dirty Budget Attacks Clean Euro IV cars".
USA round up 22nd March
West Virginia - "Legislature Limits Toll Roads" Maryland - "Phantom toll booth" Texas - "Toll road policy debate revs up" Florida - "Private takeover might drive up road tolls" Florida - "Authority plan takes its toll on commuters" Kansas - "Free ride could be ending" Pennsylvania - "Rendell pitches plan to tax oil firms"
Florida - "Skip election idea, make decision on I-75" Texas - "Legislation Clarifying Plate Rules Nears Passage" California - "The hefty price of toll roads" California - "Drivers call $1 fee a wrong turn" DC - "The End of the Line?" Delaware - "Avenues eyed for road funds" Florida - "Firms may build their own toll roads" Texas - "Tollway freeze bill frozen" Indiana - "Indiana hearings draw toll road opposition" Texas - "Frisco: Toll road raises questions" Pennsylvania - "Pa. Turnpike Commission pushes alternatives to privatization" Indiana - "State legislators hear Connector debate" Texas - "Gas Tax Wrangling" Colorado - "No more free E-470 rides for ambulance".
"Greens want tolls for tramway"
How do you define a Green? Someone who wants someone else to pay for public transport - "$15 billion for mass transit".
Wednesday 21 March 2007
As leaked through the BBC on Monday, Gordon Brown in today's Budget Speech has confirmed that he will raise the tax on larger-engined cars. This also shows that the Green lunatics have taken over the asylum. Raising the tax on larger engined cars will act as a perverse incentive to use the vehicle more, as the marginal cost is unchanged. If the Chancellor was sane and really wanted to encourage fuel economy, he would switch most of the vehicle excise duty to fuel duty.
PS As usual the Chancellor's speech was a con. After his speech it was revealed that as well as increasing vehicle excise duty he was increasing fuel duty by 2p a litre from October, and intends to incraese the duty each year.
USA round up 21st March
Pennsylvania - "Governor says oil companies, turnpike oppose privatization" Connecticut - "Feds endorse highway toll system" Pennsylvania - ""No way to welcome visitors"" California - "Toll-road fees cross the line" Missouri - "We need to move ahead with a bridge - guided by reality" Virginia - "HOT lane on faster track" Indiana - "Gripes aired on proposed toll road" Pennsylvania - "You may need $1 more for turnpike" Texas - "Toll roads OK; Private toll roads not"
Morecambe Today - "Congestion charge plan for Morecambe and Lancaster" ABD Press Release - "Shhh! Don't mention road pricing until after the May elections".
"Tidak" to Tolls
Some reaction to yesterday's story about Kuala Lumpur bossses wanting to do a London - Malaysia Star - "Congestion charges? No way, say city folks".
Slow sale - If you have ever wondered why they have so many toll roads in Australia, one answer is Australia's RAC. Like their British equivalent, they seem to think that their mission in life is to sell road pricing - Bus News - "Congestion choking roads and economic growth: RACQ".
Quick sale - One of the owners of the Lane Cove Tunnel has sold its share on the eve of opening - SMH - "Firm sells Lane Cove tunnel shares" Trolls often get quick profits by refinancing loans, but this may turn out be a quick loss. Since the exposure of funneling clauses, it is more difficult to make a profit on new toll roads.
Tuesday 20 March 2007
Manchester Toll - More From Manchester way
Some more reports from what looks likely to be Britain's first area to jump off the road pricing cliff - MEN 20th - "£1bn price of peace in bus wars" MEN 19th - "'M60 ready for charging'" MEN 19th - "'City 'will pilot c-charge'".
PS Last Friday the DfT issued a press release - "£13.5 million boost to tackle congestion". It seems that they are planning to make things worse as a prelude to a con scheme. They will be increasing congestion by measures such as more "Pelican crossing facilities" and "new bus priority measures".
Other Road Pricing stories
Shrewsbury is one of the areas that is due to have a pilot road pricing scheme. Traders don't seen to be very keen - Shropshire Star - "Raod charge would ruin trade".
Local MP, Daniel Kawczynski, has arranged a public meeting to discuss the plans for the pilot road pricing scheme. The meeting is at 2pm tomorrow Thursday 22nd March at the Prince Rupert Hotel, Shrewsbury.
The BBC says that we must have road pricing to force people on to buses and to provide the revenue to subsidise the buses - "Still waiting for the bus". The BBC never suggests raising taxes on the rich. Is there a lesson here?
Guardian Comment lets Transport 2000 say what they want from the Chancellor tomorrow including "road-pricing - ringfenced for measures that give people real transport choices: investment in better and cheaper public transport, and more priority measures for walking and cycling" - "Gordon the green engine?".
USA round up 20th March
Poll of 1,000 New Jersey drivers - Trentonian - "Poll finds drivers against privatizing toll roads".
It seems if you want to transport illegal drugs you should make sure that you have your tolls money handy -
New York Daily News - "Cocaine won't pay for tolls, dummies!".
Perhaps they should have taken a few tips from this story - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - "Taking a toll". Though they might be a bit alarmed by the headline to this story from the city of brotherly love - Philadelphia Weekly - "Toll Cheats To Be Hunted Down, Killed".
The shape of things to come - American Chronicle - "Freedom in a Surveillance State".
We reported yesterday on the "problem" of increasing rail use in New York. It is also reported that there is increasing use of mass transit in the Bay area mainly due to high gas prices - News 10 - "Public Transportation Ridership Up as Gas Prices Rise". In the LA Times there is a debate on "Traffic snarl: Debating L.A.'s congestion problem". The person arguing against more mass transit, instead wants more roads and more tolls.
Other stories -
Pennsylvania - "Turnpike Plans Include "Congestion Fee"" Reason Foundation (toll advocates) - "How Traffic Jams Are Made In City Hall"" Connecticut - "Tolls may return to Connecticut highways"" Pennsylvania - "Pa. turnpike lease plans 'proprietary'"" Massachusetts - "Transportation secretary supports permanent Fast Lane discount" Connecticut - "Super 7 sidelined in Hartford" Florida - "Development behind toll-road plan" Ohio - "Crossing the river" New Hampshire - "Merrimack fights battle of the tolls" Indiana - "Indiana Toll Road First Private Member of E-ZPass" Texas - "How to buy U.S." North Carolina - "It appears our driving habits are taking a toll on us".
"London: still stuck in a jam"
A view from Nico Macdonald - Spiked.
Roads for sale
Turkey is showing Europe the way with plan to privatise roads "by 2007". - Today's Zaman - "Turkish highways to be privatized by 2007".
More on Malaysian C-charge proposal
Kuala Lumpur is thinking of doing a London - Today's Zaman - "City Hall toys with congestion charges".
Private toll roads have at least one advantage - the politicians can wash their hands of any responsibility - 2gb - "Watkins defends motorway road tolls" SMH - "Decisions for transport vital but tough".
Monday 19 March 2007
It is reported on the BBC and elsewhere that "Gordon Brown is expected to radically raise the tax on larger-engined cars in Wednesday's Budget". If true this raises two questions-
Who is responsible for budget leaks? This was once taboo, but it now seems that it part of the game of "leaks" and news management.
If the aim is to discourage fuel use, them why raise a tax which is fixed, irrespective of the amount of fuel used?
According to other reports the Chancellor is being urged to go Green like the Tories and bring in more road tolls and road prcing, while cutting taxes on income and wealth.
USA round up 18th & 19th March
The case of the excessive toll fines in California has been widely reported over the weekend, including - CBS / AP - "Motorists Sue Toll Agencies Over Penalties" ktla / LA Times - "Fines for express lane violations take their toll". There is also a report on toll evasion in New Jersey - "Fighting a runaway problem"
Other stories -
Connecticut - "Lawmakers to get federal input on tolls for highways" Texas - "Overlooked Trans-Texas benefits" Texas - "March madness over tolls grips Legislature" Texas - "Toll freeze unlikely to scuttle Texas 130 deal" Texas - "Tolls: A new line on expense accounts" New Jersey - "Parkway sale or lease a bad idea for Ocean County, state" Louisiana - "Chamber pushes for road funding - Officials backing legislative plan to fund toll roads" Texas - "7 bid on highway project" Florida - "Take a poll before you take a toll".
"The Commuting Conundrum"
After many years of decline, Britain's railways are booming and can't cope with the number of passengers. Fares are perceived to be high and are rising; odd when you consider that the railways still receive massive subsidies. The story is the same in some parts of USA - New York Times.
Gas tax not toll tax
The Mayor of Manukau says that a petrol tax is a better alternative to tolls. "It's fairer because everyone contributesĒ. - Times NZ - "Consumption tax not tolls to fix roads".
Familiar story down under
Australian drivers have similar pressures to elsewhere, though they suffer more from the frustration of tolls - Herald Sun - "Road costs driving us mad".
Saturday 17 March 2007
"C-charge survey call"
Opponents of the recent extension of the Con charge zone have called for an independent survey to assess the damage to business - Wembley & Kingsbury Times.
Climate Change goes on and on
Though the British news media continue to turn a blind eye "The Great Global Warming Swindle" programme now gives over a million site hits on Google.
Only 13,000 of those hits also include tolls etc. Here is one from Canada - "Global Warming: A Convenient Lie".
The programme probably has both the political and climate establishments a bit rattled. Here is a story on the BBC, that we would not have seen if it wasn't for the programme - "'Caution urged on climate 'risks'".
The programme can currently be watched at - Google Video.
USA round up 17th March
Texas - "SH 121 plans taking their toll" Texas - "Nichols fights private roads" Texas - "Law not needed to keep focus on turnpike" Oklahoma - "Changes Made To Controversial Toll Bridge Plans" Florida - "I-75 toll proposal still alive".
St Patrick's Day Puzzle
Ireland is difficult to understand, it is one of Europe's richest countries, partly because it has received more European subsidy than any other country apart from Luxembourg. But where has all the money gone? Public spending certainly hasn't gone on public roads - Fin Facts - "Dutch/Irish Celtic Roads Group consortium selected as preferred bidder for the M7/M8 Portlaoise Motorway PPP Scheme".
"Congestion charge for Athens?"
The Trolls are selling the charge idea to Athens - Kathimerini.
Friday 16 March 2007
USA round up 16th March
Florida - "Officials debate proposal to add toll lanes to I-75" Florida - "Hall supports putting I-75 tolls to voters" Maryland - "Toll roads".
Give us a share
The consultation on the increase in the Dartford tolls ended a week ago. Today it is reported that one of the Essex councillors is saying that if the tolls are not removed then the council should get a share of the loot - icEssex - "It's our money". It would be scant comfort to the drivers who have to queue to be robbed to know that part of the loot was going to the council.
- Cambridgshire Times - "MP says no to road pricing" PC Advisor - "Reply-to-all road rage".
"Diesel duty harmonisation for trucks remains an elusive goal says FTA"
Yesterday the FTA issued a press release about the non progress towards harmonising diesel duty rates within Europe.
Thursday 15 March 2007
More on More, or, Less
Some more stories following yesterday's story about the Government report on traffic and tolls - Herald Sun - "Tunnel vision" The Age - "More of the same puts us on a road to transport disaster".
As a result of a Freedom of Information request the DfT have today published this Discussion Paper on "Transport and Land Use Interaction in the Context of Road Pricing". It doesn't come to much of a conclusion other than the obvious one that there is an effect. It is remarkably honest and says "it is unlikely that any further modelling work on the general land use impacts of road pricing would yield any additional useful information". It does however end with 46 references for those keen to learn more.
Preston Citizen - "Fines won't slow down rich drivers".
Jakarta bosses say that ERP will be introduced - Jakarta Post - "Three-in-one policy soon to be history". It is a feature of road pricing, that the people are told that it already exists elsewhere and that it is a success. The Post says that ERP is used in "Singapore, Hong Kong, England, Germany, Austria and Belgium". Only Singapore and Germany currently have ERP, and in Germany it is only for trucks on autobahns. The Singapore system has been a failure in removing congestion.
USA round up 15th March
Some people in Florida are complaining that they are paying as much as others pay for a longer trip - Orlando Sentinel - "Small trip, big toll". Officials say that "the toll problem will eventually disappear when the state one day converts to an electronic system that will charge drivers by the number of miles driven". Have they ever heard of a gas tax?
Other stories - Connecticut - "Could tolls return to state's highways?" Florida - "Fate of I-75 tolls to be debated today" Florida - "Interstate 75 widening" Florida - "5-year road agenda".
Freedom of no information
The Transport Committee of MPs is mainly members who want to toll all roads. We don't normally agree with them, but yesterday they issued a statement complaining about DfT plans to prune the information available on the web.
Europe's spy satellite system is behind - Euro2day / FT - "Plans for European GPS break down".
Wednesday 14 March 2007
Troll buys car parks
Macquarie, the Australian bank that owns toll roads round the world, including the M6 Toll, is buying National Car Parks - Times
USA round up 14th March
Kansas - "Committee nixes governor's plan for turnpike toll increase" Kansas - "More tolls may be down the road for other highways" Florida - "Commission vote clouds future of 10 lanes on I-75" Florida - "I-95 could get upgraded, tolled high-speed lanes" New Hampshire - "York I-95 toll plaza plans are delayed" West Virginia - "The Turnpike needs oversight" California - "Transit reaches record ridership" Kansas - "Governor's toll proposal hits a snag" New Jersey - "Toll-road gimmicks lead to fiscal dead end" Kansas - "More tolls may be down the road" Virginia - "Tolls won't work on I-95 HOT lanes" Maryland - "It tolls for you" Florida - "Collier commissioners having second thoughts about group that would add toll lanes to I-75" Florida - "Road fund shortfall" Texas - "Officials react to S.H. 121 toll contract" New Jersey - "Bridge ElicitsVariety of Responses from Officials" Florida - "Sit? Or Pay?" DC - "Proposed Toll Hike Raises Drivers' Ire" Indiana - "Questions about connector keep coming" Virginia - "Greenway hearing draws one".
More, or, Less
A Government report on traffic and tolls has resulted in some confusing headlines. Some reports say that they want more of Melbourne's roads tolled "as an answer to worsening traffic congestion" - Herald Sun - "Fast lane toll push" The Age - "Tolls urged to cut traffic".
On the other side of the coin Melbourne's toll road operators are being asked by the Government to lower tolls off-peak, to entice more motorists away from suburban streets. The Government say that "There might be environmental and economic benefits from doing it." - Sydney Morning Herald - "Vic govt seeks lower off-peak road tolls".
To cap it all, they are criticised by the press for not having more tolls - The Age - "Labor slams on the brakes".
Meanwhile in Sydney it seems that the tolls are packing them on to the buses. Good news for the anti car lobby, but bad news for the toll operators - Sydney Morning Herald - "Tunnel to take toll on busy bus routes".
The Guardian sticks to its green principles - "Drivers, take a hike".
Operation Sea Lion may kick into action, albeit 70 years or so late - Deutsche Telekom aims to be the provider of the planned road pricing system - IT Pro.
Mike Rutherford's column in Auto Express - "Will anyone escape the electronic cash registers?".
Here's one that we missed earlier. Three months ago! The RAC Foundation and the British Retail Consortium issued a report -
"Motoring towards 2050: Shopping and Transport Policy". The report indicates the damage that road pricing would do to the retail sector.
Perhaps not surprising that this was not reported much as the Foundation was at that time still busy helping the Government to sell road pricing. Today's story in various papers about this "new report" follows a speech from the RAC Foundation at a conference in Britain yesterday - Motoring South Africa Western Mail - "Congestion charges 'may hit the high street'".
Local MP, Daniel Kawczynski, has arranged a public meeting to discuss the plans for a pilot road pricing scheme that has been proposed for Shrewsbury. The meeting is at 2pm on Thursday 22nd March at the Prince Rupert Hotel on Butcher Row, Shrewsbury.
Tuesday 13 March 2007
Climate Change continues
Britain not only boldly sends troops to foreign "hot" spots, it is now going to advance into the shadow lands of the carbon world - BBC - "'Binding' carbon targets proposed ".
The green Guardian tells - "Green policies: how the three parties compare", while Ken pats himself on the back - Mayor's Press Release.
ABD Press Release.
Though the British news media ignored "The Great Global Warming Swindle" programme, there was interest and discussion in America, and "Great Global Warming Swindle" now gives over 400,000 hits on Google. We haven't looked at them all! Though it is certain that the programme and its makers will be either praised or vilified - this is an almost religious topic after all. Perhaps we should take a different road - we can all continue to blame man but not for producing CO2 (which sceptics say is an effect rather than a primary cause of global warming) we can instead blame - "anthropogenic water vapor".
USA round up 13th March
Florida - "I-75 Toll Roads in Question - Collier nearly pulls support of Expressway Authority" Nebraska / Iowa - "When debt's gone, Bellevue Bridge toll will remain" Indiana - "Questions about connector keep coming" New Jersey - "Burlco turnpike tolls may drop" Florida - "Expressway saga: It all started with a trespassing dog" Florida - "X-way offices fuel criticism" New Jersey - "Lawmakers target "unfair" Turnpike tolls" Indiana - "Marion County group opposes toll road" Maryland - "Thompson offers 'Roman road' solution to congestion" West Virginia - "Toll-control Parkways bill could be veto-bound" Texas - "Was 121 deal the richest?" Texas - "Texas toll-road debate still has miles to go" "Toll talk rises in Tennessee" Indiana - "Public hearings set on proposed tolled bypass around Indianapolis" Texas - "As traffic worsens, voters should remain open to solutions" Virginia - "Judge dismisses lawsuit seeking to halt Dulles Toll Road transfer".
We reported on 1st March how the tolls had gone up on the Dunham bridge without objectors being notified of the decision. After the increase had been implemented we were emailed copies of the official documents, and have now received paper copies. As usual the araguments of objectors are just buried under the tolls steamroller - Inquiry Inspector's report Minister's decision letter.
Monday 12 March 2007
"The Great Global Warming Swindle" repeat
Last week's Channel Four programme about Global Warming is being broadcast again tonight on More 4 (Freeview channel 13) at 10 PM.
Dartford toll discounts
The Dartford MP wants discounts for residents. He calls his campaign "Fair Toll for Dartford" - News Shopper - "MP calls for toll reduction". The Dartford tolls should have ended in 2003 when the debt was paid off, and most of the
congestion is caused by traffic queuing to pay the tolls, whatever price they are. So why should anyone want to keep them?
USA round up 12th March
Indiana - "MCANA fights private toll road" Florida - "Expressway kicks off toll campaign" Georgia - "Sales tax proceeds would fund multibillion-dollar spree" "Texas Toll Road Plan Stirs Grassroots Protest".
A few bits and pieces - "Road pricing for Bedfordshire rears its head" "Road pricing veers off towards wealth divide" (Preston)"City congestion charges 'inevitable'".
Daniel Kawczynski, the MP for Shrewsbury who was on the Politics Show yesterday arguing against proposed "congestion charging" for the city, has started a petition.
The journalist who did last week's programme ("Are we there yet" - Roads") for the BBC as part of the campaign to sell road pricing is today writing on Guardian Comment - "Transport has been a terrible failure - but it can be fixed".
Various pro road pricing petitions were started in an attempt to counter the Peter Roberts petition. The most succesful of them closed today. It said - "Don't Scrap the planned vehicle tracking and road pricing policy", and argured - "Having recently received an email asking me to sign the a petition to scrap the vehicle tracking policy, I'd like to propose the opposite. I strongly feel that driving is a privilege and not a right. There are simply too many cars on the road and too many people making journeys by car when they could simply walk or cycle. Thousands die every year in road accidents and many, like myself, are forced to risk our lives in trying to get to work in a sustainable manner. We are dependent of foreign oil and the wars to secure such resources will only get worse if we don't curb our driving habits. Driving started off as a freedom but as we've redesigned our land around the auto mobile, rather than the pedestrian, it's become nearly a necessity. It is, however, perfectly possible to live a successful, car-free life. I would like to advocate that this become the norm and if this law helps driving to become even less attractive than it already is, I'm all for it."
It is not evident from the content of the petition but from reports on the web it seems to have been started by a keen cyclist who supports the aims of Sustrans. His petition got just over 5,000 votes. Not a bad figure but almost invisible compared with the 1.8 million who signed the Peter Roberts petition.
The contrast between the 1.8 million and the 5 thousand, is an indication of how misleading are the claims that half or more of people support road pricing.
Sunday 11 March 2007
"Some Inconvenient Truths"
Brian Mooney, who is a member of the ABD, has just published - a "personal web article" on the con charge.
The Peter Roberts website is only a few weeks old but it has already had a revamp - Travel Tax.
We reported on Friday that the BBC had said that a survey done for them - "showed that out of the people surveyed almost 44% were in favour of road pricing". We thought this was an amazing result. The BBC have now released some - further details.
The first thing we can now see is that the survey is based on the BIG CON. People are not told that road pricing could cost £60 billion to implement, on the contrary they are instead given the impression that "all the money generated is to be spent on public transport".
The second thing is that the BBC asked people for their views whether they drove or not. It is not perhaps surprising that those who don't drive agree with a tax on drivers, particularly if they have beeen told that the tax will all go on providing them with public tranpsort.
The BBC Politics Show featured road pricing and their misleading survey in two regions this morning. One region was the West Midlands which also featured the proposed con charge for Shrewsbury.
The programme was fairly well balanced, though the three apparently "independent" virews were from the RAC who have been selling the road pricing idea, an academic who has also been selling it and a London cabbie who gains from the Con charge and is himself exempt. There were four politicians who support road pricing and then there were four people against it - Peter Roberts, Stephen Harrison from the Car Party, Daniel Kawczynski, the Tory MP for Shrewsbury, and Chris Kelly, a local businessman.
The next to best bit of the programme was probably the Mayor of Shrewsbury who described the town as "tranquil" and denied that there was any intention to introduce a congestion charge. But the very best bit is that the town has to agree to road pricing in order to get funds for a western relief scheme which will take traffic which doesn't want to go into the centre anyway!
Manchester Toll - The other region was the North West, where Manchester is expected to be the first city in Britain to trial road pricing. (London has already got a "congestion" charge, but the Manchester scheme would cover a far bigger area and probably use different technology.)
The BBC reported the usual propaganda about the success of the Stockholm scheme and trotted out (probably in ignorance) the claim that the people had voted for it. The people in the city did narrowly vote for it, but if you include the referenda that were held in the suburbs, then the majority were against.
We also of course had the Roads Minister, Doctor Ladyman, who has memorised his lines about not having road pricing if the people did not want it.
The BBC reporter did ask the $64,000 question - "Would the people of the region get a say in a referendum?" This question was not asked of the Doctor, nor was it asked of any of the Manchester politicians who are behind this. For some strange reason it seems that not a single one was available to endorse tolls. Instead the question was addressed to Manchester's most senior official. He avoided answering the question (though the interviewer didn't notice). Instead he suggested that there was no alternative to road pricing. We wonder who is running Manchester? It certainly isn't the people, and it looks as if may not even be the local politicians.
To be fair to the BBC they did allow a couple of dissenting voices - David Sumberg, Tory MEP, and Sean Corker from the Association of British Drivers.
To pedal or not to pedal
The Department for Transport have today issued some pretty posters and advice to drivers on how to cut back on CO2 emissions. Their main advice is -
* Pump up to cut down on CO2 - under-inflated tyres mean more CO2 so make sure your tyres are pumped up correctly
* Don't over rev the engine - change up a gear a little earlier when you can
* Less clutter in your car means less CO2 - the less weight you carry in your car, the easier it is for your engine and the less fuel it uses
One problem that the DfT have is that one of the best ways (apart from not using the car!) of cutting down on CO2 emissions is to anticipate when you need to slow down / stop and ease off the gas pedal. They can't say this, because it conflicts with the advice that they normally "peddle" i.e. don't go over 3rd gear in urban areas and just use the brake to slow down.
USA round up 11th March
Delaware - "Video cameras soon to be equipped to Delaware River bridges" California - "Sweet 16 and 1 Sap" Texas - "Debate on toll-road reliance in Texas still has miles to go" Florida - "'Guetzloe Files' keeps viewers glued to WKMG" Virginia - "Faster commute to come at a cost" Texas - "Cintra becoming king of the toll roads" West Virginia - "We need more toll roads, not fewer" Illinois / Missouri - "Officials hopeful for bridge funds".
The Climate goes on
BBC - "Tories plan green tax on flights" Sunday Mirror - "DON'T PANIC! IT'S JUST POLITICS".
We have ways of making you take the train
Canadians are to be forced to take trains and trams to save the planet - Tricity News - "Transit use must double to hit emissions target".
Rip off to be made painless
Malaysian tolls are infamous for corruption allegations (last year Cherie Blair was barred from representing one aggrieved party), but the good news today is that they are going to do something about the traffic jams at the tolls. Are they going to remove the tolls? No, they are to instal a system similar to Singapore with gantries over the roads debiting a prepaid card installed in each vehicle.
Saturday 10 March 2007
USA round up 10th March
Washington Post - "The Great Lane Divide" New Jersey - "Parkway Eliminating Northbound Tolls at Barnegat" Missouri - "Bills address widening interstates" Alaska - "Knik Arm Bridge public-private funding plan draws criticism" Indiana - "Illiana Tollroad: Stop the spin; let's have honest public debate"
Congestion the expensive way
There are several reports today about major congestion problems in Singapore. Here is one - Channel News Asia. Interestingly car trips rose by 23%. between 1997 and 2004 despite the road pricing system which certain people want to copy.
Friday 9 March 2007
The Day After "The Great Global Warming Swindle"
The Green State Police must have been unsure what to do about Channel Four's programme last night. Should they ignore it? Should they try and refute the claims made? They appear to have decided to mainly ignore it, and combine this with a few statements rubbishing it, without of course dealing with the claims made in the programme. Will we see a proper debate between the two sides? We think not. Will we ever again be allowed to see a programme which casts doubts on the Global Warming theory? We think not.
The few reports of the programme - Spiked Cybercast News Guardian (from a writer who didn't see the programme) Computing - Green Business News Guardian (from TV reviewer) Coolhunting.
Channel Four have risked putting a feature about the programme on their website -
"The Great Global Warming Swindle".
Lean time for Italian Trolls
Autostrade which owns the Italian motorways is being allowed to put tolls up by 0.67 per cent. They had asked for a 3.43 per cent increase. It is likely that the Government is less of an easy touch because of the takeover by Spanish company Albertis which was recently blocked by the Italian Government.
Today the "consultation" on the increase in tolls on the Dartford Crossings ended. This is our response this is ABD response BBRAG response DfT consultation documents including reports commissioned from consultants (Brown
and Root, and Jacobs Babtie).
The main points in our response -
1. We suggest that there are four reasons for this toll increase, and that they are:-
Firstly, it gives the appearance of doing something while postponing indefinitely any major spending on improving capacity.
Secondly, the Government wants higher tolls as part of a process of leapfrogging toll increases at both privately owned and publicly
owned toll crossings.
Thirdly, the Government wants drivers and hauliers to be accustomed to tolls and toll increases as part of its strategy of tolling
roads under the guise of "road pricing" or "congestion charging".
Fourthly, a toll increase may increase the tax revenue going unto Government coffers.
2. The Government appears to believe that tolls somehow improve the capacity of the Crossing, almost everyone else knows that tolls
reduce capacity and cause traffic delays.
3. It is not evident why the government say that they are increasing the capacity of the M25, and instead of matching that capacity
at the Crossing want to try and force lower income drivers off the road as they approach the Dartford Crossing.
5. It is evident to most people apart from the Government that these toll increases will have little effect on traffic at Dartford,
because of the long detours if another route is used.
11. The Government believes that tolls reduce accidents, most people believe the opposite.
China to march the opposite way to Britain?
China is the world's second biggest generator of the dreaded CO2. It currently has no taxes on fuel and instead has road tolls. It is now reported that in an aim to curb emissions, a fuel tax will be introduced, and there will be a "reform" of the system of road tolls - Bloomberg.
The BBC has had a poll done which shows that there is a small majority against road pricing - "Half 'are against road pricing'". It would be interesting to see the details of this survey, as all previous surveys have shown far bigger majorities against road pricing. Have the BBC almost succeeded in helping sell the idea of road pricing? Or were the surveyees "educated" before the question was put?
PS This story was originally headlined by the BBC as "Majority 'against road pricing'". Somebody must have been told off as the headline was later changed!
The Tories today issued a statement about the future of the railways. They assume that we are going to have road pricing and seem to be calling for more trains and lower train fares "to encourage people to use their cars less".
Congestion charging figures are no consolation for businesses
The Chief Executive of the Forum of Private Business yesterday gave FPB view on TfL saying that there had been a substantial fall in traffic following the extension of the charge zone -
"... The reduction in congestion is not proportionate to the extra costs incurred by companies in the area. They have had to suffer reduced profitability, make cut-backs or pass the costs on to the consumer. I am sure that employees will take little comfort from these figures, given that they too are either out of pocket or facing the grim prospect of public transport."
"In the long term, it will be no consolation for the local economy either, as businesses begin to relocate and employees are reluctant to travel there."
Dirctor J. Zachary Pike last year made a cartoon called "The Toll" which is still doing the rounds at film festivals - studiodaily The film is about the last troll who is still collecting tolls at bridges. Reportedly the troll says - "we trolls are really beautiful people who probably won't eat you.". Can we have that in writing?
USA round up 9th March
"Delaware Toll Cameras Turn Transponder Errors Into Felonies" Missouri - "Tolls Can't Meet Future Highway Needs" Colorado - "Oil, gas toll on roads may bring toll on trucks" Washington Post / syndicated - "Markets can fix traffic" Florida - "Lee roads face $2 billion deficit" Virginia - "Kaine takes transportation compromise idea on the road" Texas - "TxDOT has eyes on Comal loop study"
Thursday 8 March 2007
"The Great Global Warming Swindle"
Just a reminder that tonight at 9pm (GMT), Channel Four are broadcasting a programme about Global Warming - ABD Press Release.
Channel Four can be watched live online. You have to register, and in theory it is only available to UK residents.
By coincidence the Centre for Policy Studies have surprisingly allowed on to their web site a slightly sceptical view of the Global Warming orthodoxy - "CLIMATE CHANGE - A GUIDE TO THE SCIENTIFIC UNCERTAINTIES by Martin Livermore".
News from Under there
Troll union Australian Troll Transurban has got regulatory approval for its $1.25 billion bid for Sydney Roads Group - The Australian - "Transurban clears final takeover hurdle".
More funneling Brisbane is accused of negotiating a traffic funneling agreement with toll operators - Courier Mail - "Tunnel funnel claim".
Road pricing Argument in favour - Online Opinion - "Developing a market for kilometres".
About 8 o'clock tonight the Peter Roberts petition reached the 1,810,000 mark.
Guardian - "E-petitions could undermine democracy, MPs warned" Yorkshire Evening Post - "30-year gridlock" Reading Evening Post - "THE MAN BEHIND THE WHEEL: Roads are paved with our tax gold" Reading Evening Post - "Congestion costing you £450 a year".
USA round up 8th March
North Carolina - "I-95 Among Finalists for Federal Highway Improvement Program" Florida - "County seeks $4billion solution" Missouri - "Stouffer Supports Sales Tax for Interstate Renovation" "Texas Legislature Revolts Against Toll Roads" Texas - "Driver's-eye view of toll roads" Texas - "Effort to limit toll roads gains steam" Florida - "Tolls are less taxing with an E-Pass" California - "Drivers strike back at 91 toll fines" DC - "Tolls can't meet future highway needs" Virginia - "Technology key to HOT lanes" Texas - "Brake Lights - A traffic jam of opposition is facing the Trans-Texas Corridor".
Severn bridge trouble
There are major cable corrosion problems - Western Mail - "Lorries limited to one lane over Severn Bridge".
Wednesday 7 March 2007
"Toll Road Giant Buys Firm from Presidential Candidate"
Macquarie the giant Australian based Troll is buying a business from Rudy Giuliani - The newspaper.com.
Campaign against Humber Bridge tolls
There is fresh hope that something can be done about the Humber bridge tolls - the most expensive in Britain - Scunthorpe Telegraph - "TOLLS PROTEST STEPPED UP". If you can help then please contact us (see home page).
Here's one we missed earlier. A Scottish MP discovered that use of Government Cars by ministers and senior civil servants in London has increased by 20% in a year. Though this is apparently OK, because there are more "green car services". Now where did I put that paint brush? Scotsman (26 Feb) - "Ministerial cars clock up 3 million miles in a single year".
Other stories - Computing - "RFID to help European Commission cars communicate".
The Canadian trolls are also trying to sell road pricing. Their plan is the same, convince people that it not a tax - "Toll Issue deserves more rational debate".
USA round up 7th March
Pennsylvania - "Driver Accused of Evading $16,000 in Tolls" Texas - "2-year ban on toll roads sought" Texas - "Call it the Fat Chance Act of 2007" Pennsylvania - "The difference between public and private toll-roads is money " Arizona - "Pinal Partnership proposes toll-road study" New Jersey - "Majority of N.J. voters oppose Turnpike lease" Texas - "Measures take aim at toll roads" Delaware - "Police, DRBA crack down on toll evaders" Texas - "Corridor proposal looks like huge scandal waiting to happen" Massachusetts - "Tolls are something worth shouting about" California - "Conservation Group Urges CA Legislature To Use Bond Money On Congestion, Pollution Problems".
Tolls for Greenwich?
Transport Briefing - "Greenwich gauges views on local road pricing".
Tuesday 6 March 2007
BBC report on tonight's BBC Two programme - "Are we there yet? - Roads". We were asked by the BBC to supply something to be linked from this page giving what we thought the alternative was to road pricing. It seems that they may not have liked what we said. So here it is.
It seems that having come up with the brilliant idea of road pricing, the next brainwave coming off the production line is "carbon trading" for individuals, particularly car drivers - Telegraph - "'Carbon allowance' plan for drivers".
Other reports - Oxford Mail - "'Road pricing 'may help the county'" FTA - "Freight industry support for road pricing" FTA - "Night deliveries by lorry - go for it!" eGov - "road pricing proposals condemned by Councillor".
The BBC have a story about the claimed fall in traffic following extension of the "congestion charge" zone - "Traffic down in new c-charge zone". It is a pity that the London Congestion Charge experiment was not independently monitored from the start. It is probably correct that the number of vehicles entering the charge zone in a day is down, but this is no indication of the volume of traffic moving round within the zone. Many people's perception is that traffic speeds in and around the zone have not improved when compared with speeds before the charge was introduced in 2003. All that gets repported is of course the hype from Ken's spin machine.
Meanwhile the One London Party say that the charge has hit businesses and call for a survey - Mayorwatch. If TFL do the survey there seems to be little point.
Another Tale of Two Cities
The Spanish press report that Miguel SebastiŠn, the Socialist Partyís candidate for Mayor of Madrid, was in London yesterday, for a meeting with Ken Livingstone. Miguel was formerly an economics advisor to Spainís Socialist government. He told reporters that he was - "not in favour of imposing on Madrid a levy similar to the London congestion charge. It would not be efficient and would be economically unfair to poorer sections of society."
Another lesson in Public Private partnerships (in Britain this is "Private Finance Inititaive"). If the private firms are better than Government departments at negotiating contracts with construction firms etc, they will inevitably have the skills to outwit the Government on any contracts for tolled roads etc- Sydney Morning Herald - "Government's weak hand at partnership table".
USA round up 6th March
Georgia - "Private sector ready to bet billions on Georgia toll roads" Texas - "Where the roads lead us" New Jersey - "Barnegat toll plaza to get one-way toll" Pennsylvania - "Trucks cause all the damage; let them pay for it" Texas - "Toll Roads May Be In Near Future" Georgia - "Regional road measure goes right way" Arkansas - "House OKs Regional Mobility Legislation" Texas - "Toll road north of Austin now open" Massachusetts - "Boston residents get toll breaks while MetroWest battles looming hikes"
Monday 5 March 2007
The "consultation" on the planned 50 percent increase in tolls on the Dartford Crossings ends this Friday. Details on DfT web site. Responses can be emailed to here.
Story yesterday on the BBC - "Assembly considers toll charges".
The AA have just produced a report saying that there will be 20% more people buying a car in 2007 than there was in 2006. If correct, then this will be good news for the Chancellor, all that lovely money from VAT on new cars, and then there's the fuel duty etc. And the Government will continue to spend almost nothing on the roads!
The Telegraph gives some space to an article referring to the "1.8 million short-sighted, selfish, irresponsible motorists in Britain .. who used the Downing Street e-petition to protest against the threat of road pricing" - "The private car must go the way of the coach-and-four".
Some of today's other stories - IT Pro - "Road charging to fuel increase in flexible working" Shropshire Star - "Transport pledge in price plan" Kent News - "Minister supports calls for foreign truckers to be taxed" Express & Star - "Blackmail claim on C-charges".
Bank your tolls - a novel way of encouraging you to go by tram
A novel idea from Canadian trolls - road pricing tolls would be put into individual accounts for each tollpayer, and the account could only be used to pay for mass transit fares, but you have to spend it fast - Langley Times - "Refundable Taxes".
"They might never have built the bridge"
A Private Finance lesson - Sydney Morning Herald.
"Graft cry gets stronger"
An example of what happens in the Third World - The Daily Star. Though of course they learnt their lessons (sometimes forced by the World Bank) through the First World.
USA round up 5th March
Wall Street Journal - "Show on the Road" Connecticut - "DOT seeks state funds for toll study" California - "Doyle Drive reconstruction costs may reach into motorists' pockets" Texas - "Rally protests 'excessive' state control of land" Texas - "Paying as we go" Pennsylvania - "Better turnpike solution: just make it a free road" Texas - "City to vote on creation of road authority" Indiana - "Illiana on short list for 'Corridors of the Future'" Tennessee - "Toll roads for a change?" Massachusetts - "Pike board member wants to reduce Boston toll breaks to keep FastLane discounts" Virginia - "I-95 Express Tolls Could Be Highest In Nation".
Swedish Con story
Stockholm is due to reintroduce congestion charging from the 1st July. This breaks an election pledge, but then people are used to that. In the referendum that was held at the same time as the General election 51% of the people who live in Stockholm city voted for it, but if votes from the suburbs which mainly bear the charge were counted then most people were against it. The reason it is in the news today is that according to an opinion poll most people support the Government's failure to honor its election pledge. We wonder what would be the result if they had a real referendum?
"Tale of two cities in fight against congestion"
Another article comparing the way that London and Paris deal with congestion - New Zealand Herald.
Sunday 4 March 2007
London from down under
The Australian - "Green push helps Red Ken power on".
USA round up 4th March
Caveat - We give emphasis to negative stories about tolls (they are not hard to find), but we also show stories that say what a great idea it is to have toll roads or to sell roads to private operators. Many of these positive stories are supplied to the news media by a small number of "foundations". various states - "Spinning toll roads' asphalt into gold" Florida - "Beltway could mean Shands Bridge removal" Arkansas - "Business groups happy with legislative session" New Jersey - "Gov. Corzine's budget stunts just delay day of reckoning" Massachusetts- "Itís feeding season at the public trough" Pennsylvania - "If a plan really is stupid, saying so is not an outrage" Texas - "Toll roads are a key part of the solution for commuters" Virginia - "Planned tolls high in N.Va." Massachusetts - "Pike giveaway" Pennsylvania - "Highways that bite us" Pennsylvania - "Getting around: Politics still plays a big part in running the turnpike".
The Daily Mirror backed the Peter Roberts petition. But the Sunday edition gives space to the views of Richard Stott. In February he attacked those supporting the petition and said that he wanted fewer cars on the road. Today he says - "The plans to charge from 2p a mile for driving in the country to £1.34 in city centres are clearly sensible and nothing like the deliberate scare stories being put out by the road ragers.".
On Friday we reported that Doctor Ladyman had revealed to the Times that road pricing was going to be a "zonal" system. Here are some of the later reports - Sun - Saturday - "The road to ruin: Driving taxes" Telegraph - Saturday - "'Pay as you drive' schemes are in disarray" Western Mail - Saturday - "Simple Plan B could tackle road congestion in Wales" Evening Telegraph - Friday - "Road toll lite backlash" Guardian - Friday - "Minister says road zones solve privacy problem" Guardian - Friday - "Road tolls claims 'nonsense'" Daily Mirror - Friday - "TOLL TAX: THE NEW PLAN".
Saturday 3 March 2007
Road pricing is only a different way of paying for road use
Scottish news is usually on another page, but today we had Alistair Darling resassuring his fellow denizens of Auld Reekie that they have nothing to fear from road pricing - Edinburgh News - "We have to act today or it's jam tomorrow". The ex Transport Secretary says - "It is not the same as the congestion charge, which was firmly rejected by the people of Edinburgh two years ago. That was a charge deliberately designed to stop people travelling into the city. Road pricing is a different way of paying for road use." Wow, that's alright then, we can all carry on as before.
The first line of the first comment on the story almost says it all - "This is just another money-grabbing exercise from our greedy government.". Only almost, because this will cost so much to set up and run, that it could actually lose money.
The BBC reports that "Sixty British citizens are meeting ministers at 10 Downing Street to discuss government policy". The PM says "The recent 1.8 million signatures against road pricing was prompted by media coverage and headlines, not by a full appreciation of the issues involved. Once people are informed about the problems of increasing traffic congestion, they will approach the debate differently." Brainwashing 60 people is feasible, but even with the help of a lot of the news media, how are they going to "educate" the other 60 million of us?
BBC Two are doing a four part series titled "Are We There Yet?". The first part goes out on Tuesday at 7.30pm and is about - Roads. Judging by the preview it seems that the solution to congestion is not better roads but tolls.
Press release from the Association of British Drivers - "Toll Tax Zones 'a tax on city living'".
Novel congestion charge
A Human rights lawyer writing in the Washington Post suggests - "District Should Try London-Style Congestion Charge". Nothing unusual about that, except the suggested "congestion charge" is a parking charge of just one dollar (50 British pence) a day.
USA round up 3rd March
New Jersey - "Use turnpike as a credit card? State mulls options" Virginia - "Va. HOT Lanes Might Cost Hefty Price" Florida -"As toll agency turns the page, director vows 'I'm here to stay'" New Jersey - "Road deal gains would be ongoing" New York - "Bill has limits" Virginia - "Steep Prices Projected for HOT Lanes" Texas - "Trans-Texas Corridor draws public comments, outcry" Texas - "Opposition grows to toll road expansion".
Friday 2 March 2007
Humber bridge petition
The BBC report that a Humber - "Bridge petition signed by 2,000 ". This is one of about 50 petitions that are opposed to some particular toll, or congestion charge or road pricing. We wonder why the 50 people started these petitions rather than encouraging people to sign our own petition against all tolls, congestion charging and road pricing?
10 Downing Street recently gave - some facts and figures on epetitions. As of mid February they say that there were about 3,400 active petitions and that there were about 2.6 million signatures. At that point the Peter Roberts petition had about 1.5 million signatures, so the average for all other petitions was only about 300 signatures. It seems that though there were so many petitions to sign, the vast majority people had only signed one. Now which one was that?
Doctor Ladyman yesterday revealed more of what are said to be the Government's plans for road pricing. Was this in Parliament? No. Was it in a press conference? No. It was in an exclusive interview with Murdoch's "Troll" Times - "Road pricing: the plan".
The gist of what he said is that they would have a "zonal" system so that they wouldn't know exactly where you were at any time. This is nonsense - whatever system they use they can still record this information, whether it is based on "black boxes" or cameras - apart from anything else it will be needed to try and enforce the charges.
The main deception by the Government and its supporters seems to be to pretend that privacy concerns is the main reason that people signed the peition, and then pretend that everything else will be OK if they say they won't spy on people.
Other stories - Western Mail - "Road fees 'would devastate Valleys'" Gulf News - "Wealthy motorists could be clobbered by road pricing, Tony Blair has admitted." Transport News Network - "Freight Industry Support For Road Pricing".
Euractiv - "Will London be EU's 'greenest' city?".
Finland joins in Beggar my neighbour
Newsroom Finland - "Finland's Kalli would charge Russian lorries".
USA round up 2nd March
Arkansas - "highway bonds could fly with broad support" Texas - "U.S. 183A opens on Saturday" Georgia - "Rails, tunnels- or just more roads?" New York - "Republican, But Not Restrained" Texas - "TTC protest today" Michigan - "Fewer trucks use bridge" West Virginia - "Legislatorsí rush to take control of turnpike tolls needs scrutiny" Georgia - "Planes, Trains and Automobiles: Georgia Moves on Transportation" Florida - "Would you pay for a speedy I-75?"
New York - "Anti-Toll Effort Wants Funds For Billboards" New Hampshire - "Is Lynchís bonds-for-roadwork plan the right course for state?" California - "Private industry role in transportation needs scrutiny" Texas - "If tolls fall, tax may rise" New Jersey - "Corzine walks the long, double-yellow mile" Florida - "Road plan doesn't add up" Illinois / Missouri - "Dooley backs King Bridge concept, with conditions" Indiana - "Illiana Expressway debate stirring a 'lot of emotion'" Texas - "Toll hearing focused on private turnpike deals" Texas - "Hundreds of toll foes turn out for state Senate panel's hearing" New York - "How Soon Will Thruway Start Tearing Out Toll Barriers?" Texas - "Residents Swarm Capitol To Halt Texas Tollway" Texas - "Carona's take on toll road hearing" "New Jersey governor bankrupting New Jersey" Texas - "Hundreds demand toll road project's repeal"
Texas - "Toll roads more expensive for TxTags today" various states - "Toll Transponder Inaccuracy is Widespread".
"Talk about road tolls raises hackles"
South Delta Leader.
Thursday 1 March 2007
TOLLS for cars increased this morning on the privately owned bridge where the A57 crosses the River Trent at Dunham. Cars will now
pay 30 pence an increase of 20 percent. The increases follow an Inquiry held in October.
As the increase took effect there was still a mystery as to whether it had been officially approved. Once the Minister decides that a toll
increase should go ahead, he is supposed to sign an Order and write to the Company and objectors informing them of his decision. But
as of this morning neither Gerry Watt from Lincoln, who was the main objector, nor the National Alliance Against Tolls (NAAT), who assisted him, had received any official notification, and Ministry officials were unobtainable. We were later emailed tif images of what was said to be the official approval, but it is not complete.
At the very least there has been discourtesy to Gerry Watt who was acting in the interests of all those who use the bridge. Drivers just seem to be cash cows to the politicians, they want drivers to pay more and do so as soon as possible.
Richard "Hamster" Hammond yesterday interviewed the PM on road pricing. The Daily Mirror, where Richard is motoring correspondent say - "TOLL TAX - HAMMOND GRILLS THE PM". Difficult to grill any politician let alone a PM, and in this case he was given an easy ride - there was nothing about the cost of implementing and running the system and nothing about the decision to still go ahead with pilot schemes.
The official version is here - ""Hamster" tackles PM on road pricing".
The interview was widely reported, with the emphasis on the PM saying that it would be "kamikaze politics" to force through road pricing if there was mass opposition.
New Statesman - "Sign of the times" New Statesman - "London Special - Congestion" Telegraph - "Rail chief's overcrowding solution - don't travel".
Yet Another view from over there
Chicago Tribune - "London drivers bristle over fee".
I Love my car (but not tolls)
Men prefer driving to other activities according to a survey done for new TV channel Discovery Turbo - "Male Motorists 'Prefer Racing To Sex'". They also say that four per cent would be willing to pay road tolls. Is it really as many as that?
USA round up 1st March
Florida - "toll-agency 'sea change'" North Carolina - "Study It Carefully" Oregon - "George introduces bills that address toll roads, disclosure" North America - "Americans Willing to Act on Global Warming" Alaska - "Battle over a bridge".