MARCH 2008 NEWS
Monday 31 March 2008
Cyclists say vote for Ken
The powerful cycling lobby are backing Ken for Mayor (strictly it is Ken and the Greens, but the Greens have asked their supporters to back Ken) - New Statesman - "Vote Cycling on May 1st". Will David Cameron follow orders and vote for Ken rather than Boris? And will Boris throw his cycle clips away or will he trump Ken by telling cyclists that he will turn the Thames into a cycle lane?
Decision day on Bloomberg tolls, and it looks as if Bloomberg and Bush will have succeeded in turning New Yorkers into suckers - Staten Island Advance - "Congestion pricing vote very near" NY Sun - "Revisions Made To Ease Congestion Pricing Concerns" NY Daily News - "Low-income drivers would get break under a revised version of congest plan" Staten Island Advance - "Council vote on congestion pricing could come tomorrow" NY Times - "Faster, Maybe. Cheaper, No. But Driving Has Its Fans." Metro - "Poor get break on traffic fee" NY1 - "City Council Vote On Congestion Pricing Plan Could Come Monday" WNBC - "Congestion Pricing Opponents Rally Ahead Of Vote".
The "Reason" Foundation are still busy pushing tolls and roads privatization - Arizona Republic - "Private sector has the key to traffic woes in Arizona". The Foundation are funded by various organisations including other ultra right foundations and the big oil companies - Source Watch.
Other stories -
Louisiana - "Crescent City Connection investigated by state request" Colorado - "Rose wants Highway 50 expansion" Indiana - "Toll Road to hike most fees Tuesday" Pennsylvania - "Taking its toll" Maine - "I-295 closure might be way to boost turnpike revenue" letter.
Sunday 30 March 2008
BBC - "T5 cancellations set to continue". The apparent incompetence at Heathhrow, is an indication of what will happen if a Government ever tries to implement national road tolls. There is of course at least one difference, with Heathhrow most people would have wanted it to succeed. With road tolls, most people will want it to fail.
Bloomberg tolls - Newsday - "Congestion pricing would have wide-ranging effects". Meanwhile the new Governor after rushing to back the Bloomberg tolls has over the last week been revealing some of his skeletons in the cupboard - Press Connects - "Albany finding its old routine again -- unfortunately". In the world of politics these are trivial offences, as long as the car that he travels in pays the tolls!
Other stories - Texas - "Case of the altered toll check remains a mystery" Kentucky - "Finally, something lawmakers agree about".
Saturday 29 March 2008
"God" sorts out traffic in his spare time
All about the busy Flying knight who helped British Labour to push tolls - The Age - "Mr Fixit's road to success".
South Africa to toll National roads
IOL - "Now it's toll roads for the N1 and N2".
Some say "no" to Bloomberg tolls - Brooklyn Daily Eagle - "A Big ‘No’ to Congestion Pricing From Three Non-Downtown Boards". Not that this will make any difference as Bloomberg's spin machine has made sure that all the papers print is myths about the success of the London scheme and the billions of dollars profit that will be given to transit users.
Other stories - Florida - "Bayway Task Force seeks new funding" letters Colorado - "I-70 toll not hot in Glenwood" Indiana - "Toll Road rates driving up" South Carolina - "Got an extra quarter? You'll need it for the Cross Island parkway toll" New York - "Public hearing held on Thruway toll hike proposal" Colorado - "$5 tolls for I-70 given a little gas".
Another Liverpool toll
Liverpool Echo - "New bridge ‘will be Gatewayto the region’s prosperity’".
Friday 28 March 2008
Bloomberg tolls endorsed by Barack Obama - AP - "Bloomberg Still Withholding Endorsement". And more tolls pushing - NY Times - "Will Congestion Pricing Fly in New York?" NY Daily News - "Real gains, fake pains" Downtown Express - "City Council mostly supportive of traffic pricing".
City Watch (LA) - "Paying to Use Our FREEways".
Detroit News - "Bentley, and luxury cars generally, face life or death struggle".
Other stories - Colorado - "-70 toll battle heats up" New York - "Dewey's ghost haunts hearing on Thruway tolls" Colorado - "$5 tolls for I-70 given a little gas" Colorado - "Legislators kill one of two toll bills; Take our poll" California - "Tollway still 'in the planning,' OCTA chairman says" Colorado - "Senate committee OKs up to $5 toll on I-70".
West Virginia - "Tolls may not be viable in region" New York - "Thruway Toll Increase Plans" Colorado - "Panel passes measure to add toll booths on I-70" New York - "Public hearing held on Thruway toll hike proposal" Louisiana - "CCC says most of its surplus is committed" Texas - "Anti-Toll Road Rally Notification" "OOIDA official testifies against tolling of I-70 in Colorado" West Texas - "State pensions could pay for new toll roads" Colorado - "I-70 toll proposal passes, HOV measure rejected".
Yorkshire Road Pricing - Maybe
Yorkshire Evening Post - "Where can we go from here?".
North East Road Pricing - No
Evening Chronicle - "Road charging ruled out be councillors".
Humber Toll - More on - Businesses back removal
Yorkshire Post - "Business group calls for end to tolls".
Government Quango pushing tolls
Proposals include the introduction of tolls on M4 between Junction 4 (the M25) and Junction 13 and an underground relief toll motorway - Reading Evening Post - "The future of travel?".
Worcester - Bus lanes OR tolls
Worcester News - "A new bus lane on this road - or pay to drive along it".
More on - Long road to nowhere
Yesterday when the A494 / E-22 scheme was abandoned, we said - Any bets on "congestion charges"? Today we have "Having congestion charges is the best option" - Flintshire Standard - "How A494 battle was won".
The stretch of road abandoned joins the A55 as it crosses North Wales. By coincidence today there is this story in the Daily Post -
"A55 could be guinea pig for road charges".
"Transport taxes will overshadow ‘green’ incentives"
Forum for Private Business press release.
Thursday 27 March 2008
News From Nowhere
Each day this week the BBC has been reporting on "our" rubbish polluting Midway island - BBC - "Diary from the middle of nowhere". That the BBC should send a reporter to a remote island in the Pacific to report on rubbish, rather than look at the rubbish that is (or isn't) on British beaches seems to be par for the course. Also par for the course is that the BBC is greener than green while ignoring the biggest cause of most problems - over population. When William Morris wrote his Utopian novel of a green world in 1890, the world population was about 1.5 billion and the population of the area that is now the UK was about 35 million. Today the world population is 6.7 billion and the UK has nearly 61 million people.
Humber Toll - Businesses back removal
BBC - "New backing for bridge tolls cut".
Later USA stories
Colorado tolls - Rocky Mountain News - "Romer's I-70 toll bill shot down; alternative passes" Denver Post - "Committee approves I-70 tolls" Denver Post - "Senate panel backs one I-70 toll bill; kills experimental plan" Summit Daily News - "Gibbs speaks out on I-70 bills at forum" 9 News - "I-70 toll proposal passes, HOV measure rejected" News 13 - "I-70 toll bills get hearing at Capitol" Colorado - "Feds won't block I-70 toll" Colorado - "I-70 plans pull into legislature today".
Other story - Tennessee - "Romer's I-70 toll bill shot down; alternative passes" inc video link.
Ken loses one vote
AFP - "'True blue' Madonna blasts 'Red Ken'".
Long road to nowhere
The Welsh Assembly have sided with local objectors and abandoned plans for improvement to part of the A494 in North Wales - BBC - "Seven-lane highway plan abandoned". The stretch of the A494 that was to be widened is on the E-22 which starts in Siberia crosses Europe and then goes from Hull to Holyhead. By leaving this bottleneck, the Welsh Assembly are not just abandoning one scheme, they are signalling the end of any significant road building.
A Welsh Assembly Member says that they want "sensible alternative proposals to solve traffic congestion in the area". Presumably they do not mean that lorries and cars should sprout wings. Any bets on "congestion charges"?
Bloomberg tolls - Michael is ensuring his plan gets AProposed Bridge Would Connect Sumner County To Nashillevillelive.com/news/index.ssf/2008/03/analysis_congestion_pricing_ge.html">Staten Island Advance - "Congestion pricing gets Island support".
Mary selling tolls in the desert - Las Vegas Now - "Billions in Transportation Dollars May be Coming to Nevada" Review Journal - " ROAD CONSTRUCTION: Private partners proposed".
Other stories - Kentucky - "Brent Spence Bridge - say no to the toll" Pennsylvania - "Weak Economy Could Reduce Turnpike Bids, Hike Borrowing Costs" Kentucky - "Push for mega-project bill fails" New York - "DOT Leader Declines to Weigh in on Grand Island Tolls".
New Jersey - "Interchange upgrades won't bring toll booths" Florida - "Turnpike toll collector pocketed motorists' cash, authorities say" Louisiana - "OUT OF GAS" Florida - "A tax increase by another name" Virginia - "Richmond By The Numbers" California - "Toll will rebuild Doyle Drive but may set costly precedent" New York - "Rep. Higgins testifies at public hearing on proposed toll increase" New York - "Sounding Off On Toll Hikes" Florida - "Lee County still backs expressway authority".
Report on yesterday's Second reading debate on the Road Pricing Bill
Full debate in Hansard.
The Tories are now opposing the Bill, Theresa Villiers moved - (her speech in full) - "That this House declines to give a Second Reading to the Local Transport Bill [ Lords] because it encourages the introduction of Quality Contract schemes to reregulate bus networks, thus preventing free competition between bus operators, undermining service quality for passengers and jeopardising the partnerships between operators and local authorities that have helped to improve service quality; because it fails to give due weight to the importance of consultation and local consent when local congestion charging schemes are considered; and because it transfers revenue-raising powers to the National Assembly for Wales without proper constitutional justification and in doing so allows Wales to be used as a test bed for the Government’s untried, untested national road pricing scheme."
Despite this she also said "I want to pay tribute to the work done by the Campaign for Better Transport". As this is the new name for the anti roads anti drivers lobby, it seems that the Tory party still intends to join in in the war against drivers. The Tory position on local road tolls seems to be that they do not oppose them, but want the decisions on them to be taken locally and for the revenue to be spent on local transport. It seems unfortunately that when the Tories refer to "local decisions", they are not talking about people deciding but local councillors. The Tories are indeeed pressing for there to be powers to hold toll polls, but it is the councillors who would decide whether to have one, and as the councillors will know that they will lose, they will chose not to have a poll. The Tories are well aware that most of the toll income on the London scheme is spent on the cost of collection, and most of the profits comes from fines, yet it seems that the Tories have decided to turn a blind eye to this and to go along with the Labour and Lib Dem fiction that all or nearly all of the toll income is available for "good causes".
The Tories did however distance themselves from a national road tolls scheme. Theresa Villiers said - "During the passage of the Bill, we will do all we can to ensure that it cannot be used as a Trojan horse for the introduction of the Government’s untried, untested spy-in-the-sky national road pricing scheme. Our steadfast opposition to such a scheme is just one of the reasons why we shall oppose clause 115, which could make Wales a potential test bed for the Government’s national scheme by giving the Welsh Assembly power to introduce charging on all Welsh trunk roads. No such power for equivalent English roads is included in the Bill. Why should the Welsh have to put up with unpopular policies that the Government are, as yet, not quite foolhardy enough to put into practice elsewhere in the UK?". She then went on to attack in some detail the Government plans for national road tolls.
The Bill passed its Second reading and now goes to Committee where it is due to be rubber stamped by 8th May.
Yet another insurance company survey - this time on how popular the charge is. Apparently neraly half of people like it, but we are not told who these people are - Easier - "Opinion still split over Congestion Charge".
Wednesday 26 March 2008
Later USA roundup
A new anti toll site - Eradicate Tolls (North Carolina).
The fight to stop the Tacoma Narrows Bridge being renamed to honour the politician who campaigned for the tolled bridge goes on. Randy Boss is urging those who opposed the tolls to lobby the politicians to stop the renamimg.
"Don't panic" - a laughable claim that supporting the legislation that makes tolls legal does not mean that there will be tolls - Community Press (Kentucky) - "More tools are needed in the toolbox".
Star Wars Shields - News Tribune(Washington State) - "Narrows Bridge transponders will need shield in HOT lanes".
Other stories - New York - "Thruway Toll Hike Hearing Draws Mixed Response" New York - "Thruway Authority Says Toll Hikes Needed" New York - "Thruway Authority defends its request for a toll hike".
Road Pricing Bill in the Commons
The Bill has started its Second Commons reading. It gives more power to the unelected transport authorities, creates more of them, reregulates the buses and removes the existing few restraints on local road toll schemes. While in the Lords the Tories nodded it through, now that it is is the Commons it looks as if they will oppose it - 24dash - "Local authorities 'to be given control of their roads'".
More topsy turvy
Adam Holloway, the local Tory MP who has proposed a week's no tolls trial on the Dartford Crossing and is also organising a protest on Friday 25th April, has now complained about consultants' reports prepared for the Government. He says that they may not be objective, but even so he points out that the reports - "state that by removing the tolls traffic flow would improve. By increasing the toll charges, the low paid will be hit hardest and it also deters them from finding better-paid jobs further afield". The Government spin had in effect turned what the reports said on its head - Kent News - "MP angry at report on future of Dartford Crossing".
PS Bexley Times - "Toll savings ‘unfair’".
Denial of £3 "congestion" toll near airport
On the 19th we had a story in the Evening Standard about a secret proposal to charge tolls on the road round Heathrow airport. The authorities now say that this was an "old discussion paper" - Road Transport - "Heathrow congestion charge 'not an option'".
Svmer is icumen in, Lhude sing cuccu!
As we approach the season where it is safe for politicians and journalists to venture to the Arctic to show us the effects of man made CO2 emissions, the Association of British Drivers has issued this press release - "Higher Motoring Costs and Global Cooling Ahead".
Florida - "A tax increase by another name" "Toll Booths May Open In Tennessee" West Virginia - "Tolls may not be viable in region" New York - "Sounding Off On Toll Hikes" New York - "Thruway Toll Hike Hearing" North Carolina - "New parkway has steep price" Washington State - "State set to sell shield for toll transponders on Highway 167" Kentucky - "Park Hills Opposes Tolls" Massachusetts - "Turnpike lists toll options, bank withdraws bond refinance proposal" Colorado - "For whom the road tolls? It tolls for thee" Florida - "Collier commission pulls support for expressway authority" Washington State - "Gregoire signs highway budget, toll plan" Florida - "We don’t need tolls, or tollway authority" Arizona - "Senate rejects another toll-road bill" California - "Livermore toll lane moves forward" California - "Toll express lane proposed for I-580".
Tuesday 25 March 2008
London Toll boosts GDP
Evening Standard - "Tradesman sent 3,000 identical receipts for C-charge payment".
Local Labour and Tories want to drop Norwich Toll plan
Norwich Evening News - "Calls to dump congestion charge study".
Private roads deal
Despite taking £50 billion a year from drivers, the Government has okayed a private finance deal for roads in three areas - DfT press release - "£1.19bn PFI funding boost for roads in Sheffield, Hounslow and Isle of Wight". As the deal is spread over 25 years and the £1.9 bilion may include interest, inflation and profits, you wonder why the politicians bother with these devices which only benefit consultants and bankers.
Reuters - "Livingstone puts climate at core of London election" Evening Standard - "Livingstone bids to turn the election battle green" Guardian - "Livingstone puts environment at heart of campaign".
Toll roads not affected by fuel price rises?
The Age - "The oil price is no big deal for toll-roads".
Bloomberg tolls - Metro - "Voices: Congestion pricing and Big Brother" Gotham Gazette - "The Jersey Inequity" Gotham Gazette - "The Transit lock-box" Gotham Gazette - "Taking the E-Z way out
Mobilizing the Region - "The Congestion Pricing Countdown" Forbes / AP - "NYers Conditionally Back Traffic Fees".
Increased road privatization - story with comments - Jalopnik (Virginia).
Canal users back the road tolls that pay for the canal - Times Union - "Toll hike gains support", but others don't Capital News - "Thruway Authority holds public hearing on proposed toll hike".
Other stories - Tennessee - "House OKs bill to lift toll projects cap" Colorado - "Complete the beltway" California - "Toll lane proposed for eastbound Interstate 580" New York - "Public Weighs in on Proposed Toll Hike" New York - "Toll Collector Charged With Stealing Tolls" "Pennsylvania bill would fund road and bridge work without tolls, taxes".
Toll road agreed
NZ Herald - "Toll defeat opens way for tunnel".
Taiwan lowering tolls
China Post - "Legislative Yuan adopts lower freeway toll plan".
Monday 24 March 2008
Shades of green
South Africa'a "Motoring" points out some of the fallacies about "green" cars - "So, just HOW green are those eco-clean cars? ". Though it still includes one fallacy, as it says that green claims about electric powered vehicles may be correct when "One day a large share of our electricity may come from renewables". It is where the electricity at the margin comes from which counts - if say only 20% of electricity came from fossil fuels while 20% of electicity was used to power vehicles then in effect all of the use of fossil fuel to generate electricity would be because of the switch to electricity to power vehicles.
Bloomberg tolls - NY Daily News - "A boon for the boroughs" NY Sun - "Congestion Pricing Critics Fear Defeat Is Down the Road" Gotham Gazette - "Breaking the deadlock on Congestion Pricing".
A toll collector's job - Dallas Morning News - "North Texas toll takers accept change, train for new jobs".
Other stories - New York - "Grand Island Toll Fight in Full Swing" Kentucky - "New funding options needed to build bridges" New Hampshire - "Highway fund is not a loose cash source" Indiana - "Tolls on I-90 set to jump April 1" New Jersey - "Beesleys Point bridge takeover is ill-advised" Colorado - "Costs come with I-70 solutions" Pennsylvania - "Suspect study".
The good old days
The Toronto Star - "When Yonge was a toll road".
Sunday 23 March 2008
"Mike takes aim at the Chancellor and his latest round of highway robbery"
Mike Rutherford in Auto Express.
This week's report on tolls in the DC area found that the main effect would be to divert traffic on to longer and less suitable routes, but the spin goes on - Frederick News Post - "Study: Tolls would ease traffic congestion".
"Street Smart" is not a new book but is still available and is reviewed today in India - Newindpress - "Road to the future". The book pushes tolls and privatisation of roads and was published by the "Independent Institute" with a foreword by Mary Peters. Is this Mary related to George's Transportation secretary who is busy selling the Bloomberg and other tolls? With a name like "Independent" you would expect radical ideas, but according to Source Watch the sources of funds for the institute include the oil industry.
Other stories - California - "The race is on to hike tolls on the Golden Gate" Pennsylvania - "The extreme cost of fixing bridges and highways" Massachusetts - "Fairness issue takes toll on Pike panel" Virginia - "Toll increase revives discussion" Massachusetts - "Time to pay the piper" Pennsylvania - "Getting Around: Update on transportation funds" DC / Virginia - "Toll-Lane Revenue Proposal Gets a Rewrite in Richmond".
Saturday 22 March 2008
M6 Toll going nowhere
As there is not much toll news about, here is an item that we missed earlier - the traffic figures on the M6 Toll up to the end of December 2007. The last quarter was a bit lower than we expected, giving a traffic figure for the year as a whole which was 5 per cent down on 2006 - Our M6 Toll traffic page. Despite the falling traffic figures the tolls were increased in January 2008 by 12.5 per cent. This may seem odd, but it seems that most of those who use the road are not sensitive to prices, so the safest strategy for maximising income is to keep on raising prices.
New Yorkers are moving closer to being suckered into tolls as the Mayor has got the Governor to back his toll Manhattan plan - Staten Island Advance - "Congestion pricing gains support" NY Times - "Paterson Supports Congestion Pricing".
Other recent Bloomberg tolls stories - Streetsblog - "Pricing round-up: sticking-points, horse trading, public-hearing" NY Daily News - "The right thing for N.Y." NY Daily Sun - "Traffic Plan Votes Hinge On Improvements in Council Districts" NY1 - "Bloomberg Links Congestion Pricing With Promise Of Improved Transit" NY Daily News - "Assemblyman Offers Congestion Pricing Road Map" Streetsblog - "Congestion pricing bill: First impressions".
Corzine tolls - Wall Street Journal - "Corzine Hits a Speed Bump" by Paul Mulshine.
Boston Herald - "For whom do the hacks toll? You, of course".
Other stories - Georgia - "HOV lane fees could start by 2010" California - "Area leaders look for transit remedies" Arizona - "Senate rejects toll-road bill, OKs option" Florida - "Alligator Alley may be up for lease".
Texas - "Pickett said business tax could pay for road projects" Colorado - "Congested thinking" Ohio - "Ft. Mitchell Opposes Tolls".
"Tunnel takes heavy toll on its investors"
North Shore Times (Sydney).
Thursday 20 March 2008
Later USA stories
Virginia - "POLL: Proposed RMA toll increases" Arizona - "Gould: Toll Roads an Answer to Congestion" Pennsylvania - "Partnership to join group against I-80 tolls" DC area - "Transit on Thursday: The Deregulation Edition".
Road pricing by the back door
BBC - "Motorway car-share lane to open" DfT press release. Given the high cost of fuel, most drivers will already share where they can. Dedicating any part of the road to only certain vehicles is an inefficient use of space. This has been proved in America where they start as "High Occupancy Vehicle" lanes, but as they are underused they are soon changed to "High Occupancy Toll" lanes where other drivers can use the lane if they pay a toll. They are dubbed "Lexus" lanes as they are mainly used by luxury cars. This scheme will turn into road pricing introduced by the back
Security Service want to "mine" travel data
vnunet - "MI5 wants to crack open Oyster - Londoners' travel information up for grabs".
Last Friday we reported on the Tory call for a week's toll holiday on the Dartford Crossing to test the idea that removing tolls would ease congestion. Today's Kent Messenger has this editorial - "THINK of a world without the Dartford Crossing and, for most, you will be in motoring heaven.
The proposal offered by Mr Holloway and Mr Johnson of scrapping the tolls would surely meet with approval from almost all Dartford and Swanley residents, if it were not for the fact the pair have only suggested getting rid of the money machine for a week.
Most would sleep easier if they knew the tolls would disappear for good, but, unfortunately, the nightmare just won't go away. And the reason it remains?
We are told it has nothing to do with the £40 million profit it makes each year and in fact it actually serves to ease congestion -a theory which can now be easily proved by taking Mr Johnson and Mr Holloway up on their offer.""
The Tories have organised an anti tolls protest near the crossing on Friday, 25th April.
The Bloomberg tolls - Newsday - "Bloomberg begins final push for Manhattan traffic fee plan" NY Daily News - "Weiner Responds To Bloomberg".
The Trolls at Streetsblog seem to be embarrassed at pushing tolls alongside the President, and chose to cycle on in their green coma - "Two ways to tell the story of congestion pricing".
Anti toll road group - "Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom" go to court today - klbj - "Group Files Lawsuit Againist the State Transportation Planners".
Yesterday we reported on the "Super Tolls" plan for the Washington area. Before it was released it was hyped as backing tolls, though we found its conclusions were unclear. It now seems that they are not backing tolls as "every scenario tested in this study showed an increase in the number or vehicle miles traveled" - WTOP - "COG Critical of Congestion-Priced Toll Lanes" Washington Post - "Regional Panel Wary of Toll Plan".
Higher gas prices are reducing demand - Houston Chronicle - "Drivers Stay In, Gas Prices Drop _ When?".
Reversible toll lanes - Naples Daily News - "Selmon can play both ways in toll debate".
Other stories -
New York - "Your 2 cents on Thruway tolls" Virginia - "Cost of exit tolls going up, too" California - "Bridge toll hike finds some local fans" Louisiana - "Officials rebuff Causeway sale rumor" Pennsylvania - "House leader unhappy with law firm in turnpike lease" Colorado - "Unofficial Poll Overwhelmingly Pans I-70 Toll" Florida - "State lawmakers drop plans for toll hikes on Pinellas Bayway" North Carolina - "DOT secretary says toll roads are the future" Maine - "Turnpike to hold meeting on new toll plaza".
Wednesday 19 March 2008
Super Tolls plan out
The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments report proposing that DC, Virgina and Maryland are tolled is now out, though the conclusions are hard to disentangle - Washington Business Journal - "Regional transportation plan would solve congestion with tolls" Summary pdf file Full report pdf file.
Tories want any new roads to be toll roads
They also support "cost neutral" tolls for lorries on existing roads, despite the fact that such a scheme would cost more than it would generate in income from foreign lorries - Road transport - "Tories' LRUC must be cost-neutral".
No tolls in Dominica
"To speed up traffic" but unfortunately only for two days - Dominican Today - "No tolls on Dominican highways from Thursday and Friday".
"The road to ruin"
Things are looking gloomy for public private partnerships - The Age. The report also covers the possibility that because of secret agreements, compensation will have to be paid to toll road operators if public transport facilities are improved.
PS SMH - "It takes two to take responsibility".
Bush's Transportation Secretary takes a ferry ride to help sell the Bloomberg tolls - Staten Island Advance - "U.S. Transportation Secretary to visit Staten Island today" ABC - "Bloomberg pitching NYC traffic fee plan today" Crain's - "Bloomberg blasts congestion plan critics" streetsblog - "Bloomberg says there is no reason pricing shouldn't pass".
One of the most ardent lovers of the Bloomberg tolls is streetsblog who have been running a series of attacks on those local politicians who do not support the Bloomberg plan - "Assembly Member Deborah Glick: Angry fence-sitter".
Among the supporters of the Bush plan to replace gas taxes with tolls are the various shades of green including the "Environmental Defense Fund", as according to them this will "shrink carbon footprints" - Forbes - "Solutions".
Seattle Times - "Feeding the military monster warps our spending priorities".
Massachusetts "Tolls for all" plan - Boston Globe - "Turnpike managers scramble for plan B" Boston Herald - "Pike eye$ hikes, adding tolls" Metro West - "Pike board says any toll changes would be slow" Mass Live - "Senators reject return of tolls" Forbes - "Mass. seeking Turnpike toll equity".
Other stories - Washington State - "Lawmakers debate toll hike on Tacoma Narrows Bridge" Virginia - "Drivers react to toll increases" Maryland - "Eastern Panhandle residents, officials protest possibility of toll roads" Virginia - "RMA toll hikes coming in September".
Colorado - "2 proposals tackle transportation woes" Arizona - "ADOT says I-10 bypass needed, but there’s no money to fund it" Arizona - "Toll-road ideas advance in Senate" Virginia - "RMA increasing expressway tolls" Indiana - "Toll Road cash prices to nearly double" Virginia - "Toll Bill Signed" Washington State - "Judy Oke Continues Bridge-Naming Campaign" Maryland - "Jefferson County officials express displeasure with toll road plan" Pennsylvania - "Gov. Rendell’s former employer working on Turnpike lease, I-80 tolls" Massachusetts - "Pink slips down the Pike" Kentucky - "Congressman Balks At Toll Bridges" "Ohio Turnpike installing E-ZPass by next year" Colorado - "GOP wants tolls for I-70 lanes".
Ireland to expand criminal classes
Irish Independent - "'No mercy' for M50 toll dodgers as State calls in enforcers".
Tories support Reading toll?
Reading Evening Post - "More parking - but not for commuters".
More toll pushing from Europe
The European Parliament in June will vote on a proposal which includes "using funds raised through road charging schemes or parking fees" to fund public transport - Euractiv - "Interview: Extra funding needed for urban mobility".
Green Party candidate says vote for Labour Mayor
Mayor Watch - "Berry Urges Backers To Give Ken 2nd Preference Votes".
Tuesday 18 March 2008
"Woman owes $60,000 in traffic fines"
Toll road value written down to "zero"
Sydney Morning Herald - "Low traffic forces Lane Cove Tunnel's backers to write off millions".
Massacre of Acts
The Statute Law (Repeals) Bill is to be debated in the House of Lords, the law repeals many redundant acts including legislation passed after Government mounted militia massacred people in Manchester who were campaigning for parliamentary reform and repeal of the corn laws. Justice Secretary Jack Straw, who somehow manages to also be Lord Chancellor, today said that "Laws on turnpikes, workhouses, and the Peterloo Massacre are rightly of interest to historians, but there is no need to retain them on the statute book." Presumably there is no need for the turnpike laws as the Government is reintroducing them as "road pricing".
A view from America
"Campaign for London's mayor a colorful spectacle".
The recently ended strike by French ferry officers caused major disruption on English roads to the channel ports and "Operation Stack" was required. But a hastily caused conference organised by the "Channel Corridor Partnership" and others has come up with the long term answer to ferry strikes - "a comprehensive system of road pricing".
Preparing the way
Letter in Huddersfield Daily Examiner - "Speeding to our columns . . .".
Helsinki Toll views
There have been conflicting reports on whether Helsinki is going to introduce "congestion" tolls, in the meantime there has been an opinion poll in the region - Helsingin Sanomat - "No shortage of opinions about congestion charges".
More on "Let's do a Dartford"
Call for discount boundary to be extended - News Shopper - "MP pushes for crossing discount for residents".
Report on meeting of anti toll campaigners in the Liverpool area - Daily Post - "Tunnel protest planned over tolls rise" Chester Evening Leader - "Tunnel neighbours campaign for discount".
The Massachusetts Turnpike wants to toll more roads - Boston Herald - "Task force says more tolls needed to reach toll equity". One reader has added a novel suggestion that could be applied in other areas - "What we commuters need to do is pick a day and have every single car drive thru without paying. A modern day tea party, lets see how they like it when we snap the wallet shut while they try to pick our pockets. What are they going to do, arrest everybody? Besides, what jury would find you guilty...."
The tolls roads club says that toll roads are safer than untolled ones - Trucker - "Turnpike group cites studies: Toll roads safer than non-tolled roads".
Corzine tolls not dead yet - The Record - "Corzine can't bear to take toll plan off life support".
Other stories - Indiana / Kentucky - "Hoosier challenges bridge tolls" Massachusetts - "Group lays out potential means for Turnpike toll equity" DC / Maryland / Virginia - "How Do You Want to Pay?" Pennsylvania - "Turnpike study called one-sided" Pennsylvania - "5th District candidates tackle plan to toll I-80".
Louisiana / Texas - "Austin’s I-35 traffic worse" North Carolina - "Poll: NC residents support public transportation but not tolls" Nevada - "Pay as you go" Virginia - "For whom the tolls ring a bell" DC / Maryland / Virginia - "Report: tolls would reduce DC-area congestion, fund improvements".
The anti roads batallion in the Guardian including the "Campign for Better Transport" complain about the escalating cost of some road schemes - "Costs on seven road projects soar by £1.1bn". £1.1 billion is a lot of money, but it is little more than the amount that the Government takes from drivers - every week. The main reason for cost increases is lengthy delays before a scheme is approved, and one reason for that is the people who are now complaining. When road schemes are delayed or abandoned, then the major cost is to the economy which suffers from the inadequate road network.
New Tory Toll Tax?
The Troll Times urges the Tories to cut taxes and bring in more "charges" such as "congestion" charges - "Tories' needless muddle over tax".
Monday 17 March 2008
The toll gates are going up over European cities
cafebabel- "Cars and the city: the end of an era?".
Chasing tolls where few men have gone before
The Local - "Debt agency makes spacewalk seem like a cakewalk".
Poll says Boris is sprinting ahead
Evening Standard - "Boris Johnson races ahead of Livingstone in London Mayor poll".
Porsche and the Mayor don't agree about what Londoners think of the £25 toll - Guardian- "Livingstone urges Porsche to drop congestion charge challenge" Mayor's press release.
".. any politician proposing a toll should be hanged. If your state's laws are so backward as to prohibit such remedial action, however, such a public official should be impeached; if even this proves impossible, your only recourse of voting him out of office should be exercised." NewsbyUs - "Taking a Toll on the People".
Big article on the big tolls push from Bush - Washington Post - "Letting the Market Drive Transportation".
An investigation of high gas prices in Washington State finds that there is not enough gas to go round - Herald - "2 key reasons why gas is spendy in Washington". The state is currently heading towards a lot more tolls. A pity that the greenies who control the state prefer a system where the high demand for gas means that dollars are pumped out to foreign oil nations, rather than getting rid of tolls and increasing the gas tax to encourage more efficient use of fuel.
Capital tolls push for the DC / Maryland / Virginia area - Express - "Tolls: For Whom? Everyone." Washington Post - "Report Suggests New Tolls For Region". Politicians mouths will be watering at the thought of an extra $3 billion a year to be spent on mass transit. Though the idea depends on suckers aka drivers to hand over not only these billions but a lot more to pay the people and firms who who will collect the tolls.
PS Strangely it seems that drivers are not enthusiastic about the tolls plan, so the Washington Post writers have done their best to answer the complaints - "Roads and Rails".
Electronic tolls - New Hampshire - "Portsmouth police ease up on E-ZPass arrests" Florida - "Driving's not fun, but it's better".
Other stories - Kentucky - "Hill opposes tolls for Ohio River bridges" Virginia - "State files to enter I-81 suit" Colorado - "Traffic jam of ideas for I-70".
"Let's do a Dartford"
Anti toll campaigners in the Liverpool area have called for the same discounts that are due to be given on the Dartford crossing this autumn. A spokesman said - "Liverpool and the Wirral have suffered tolls for nearly 75 years, isn't it time that we got toll discounts rather than toll increases? Drivers in the North West seem to be particularly picked on, as well as the tolls on the Mersey tunnels, the Government have said that tolls will be introduced at Runcorn and the councils in Greater Manchester are being persuaded to be a guinea pig for national road tolls. The North West will become a no-go area for both people and businesses unless this tend is reversed." - BBC - "Call for discount on tunnels toll".
£3 "congestion" toll on public roads at Heathrow
The Evening Standard has discovered a secret proposal to charge tolls on the road round Heathrow airport - This is Money - "£20 to drop off passengers at Heathrow".
Toll free zone for Mercedes drivers
Mercedes is concerned about CO2 rules and taxes, but expects to gain from sales of its "Smart" models which are toll free - Motor Trader - "Mercedes boss claims carmakers will absorb C02 costs".
Sunday 16 March 2008
"Toll road chief backs city congestion tax"
"There are far too many motorists on the road anyway. Swingeing penalties would allow us to get rid of the worst of them."
The Sunday Herald which opposed the removal of Scotland's tolls has an article having a go at Jezza - "Mobile menaces deserve a rough ride".
Pennsylvania payout - Patriot News - "Rendell's former law firm gets turnpike plan work".
Shrinking world - Detroit News - "Small cars will become tiny as Europe fights climate change".
Other stories - Maryland - "Toll highways are a particularly bad idea for Eastern Panhandle" Texas - "Building of toll road fast-tracked" South Carolina - "Despite options, getting around Chester County can be a challenge" Texas - "STEVE BLOW" Pennsylvania - "Rendell left quacking".
One Minister allowed to have a British car
Telegraph - "Lord Jones beats green lobby to keep Jaguar".
Going green in the country
Observer - "Spared at the pumps - but hit in the showroom". If someone really wants to reduce their "carbon footprint", the best thing that they could do would be to move from a "small Pennine village" to the city.
Last word on Plastic bag Budget?
Times - "Motormouth: Alastair Darling’s carbon smokescreen". The writer rightly says that motorists are being "hammered", but then spoils it all by saying that - "ring fencing the funds raised by the extra taxes and ploughing them back into public transport and renewable energy" would make this alright.
One way round the congestion charge
According to the Times if a driver is using a company car, then the firm can reimburse all his toll charges tax free, even when the driver is not travelling on business - "Road pricing boost for company cars".
Saturday 15 March 2008
MTA - Details of Sunday's New York toll increases.
"Cui bono?" - Washington Post - "Bill Limits Dulles Greenway Toll Hikes". Back in 1990 Virginia agreed to the building of this prvate toll road, with the tolls limited. But as the company said that they were not making a profit, in December 2007, the State Corporation Commission agreed a new maximum level of tolls. Virgina drivers would have to be dumb to not see that they have already been treated as suckers by the politicians and that this new Bill effectively allows more tolls increases on top of those generously given away to the company 3 months ago.
Other stories - Texas - "Deadline looms for ‘corridor’ comments" California - "Variable tolls for Golden Gate Bridge OK'd" Maryland - "Trucking company cited as chronic toll violator" New York - "MTA hikes to take toll Sunday" Missouri - "Tolls are not the answer - Fuel or sales tax may be better options for road funding" California - "Bridge board OKs 'congestion' toll" "New York bridge tolls go up starting Sunday" Massachusetts - "Bill someone else for the Greenway" California - "Bridge raises tolls, denies Doyle Dr. funds" Kentucky / Ohio - "Drivers Oppose Toll on Brent Spence Bridge" Denver - "McElhany ready to take on I-70 debate" Kentucky - "Beshear: ‘I Do Not Like Tolls’" New York - "Hearing Scheduled for Toll Hikes" Arizona - "Would Arizona drivers accept them to avoid gridlock?".
Friday 14 March 2008
Kent News - "Dartford Crossing: calls for a week without tolls" Kent Online - "'Let's scrap the Dartford tolls for a week'".
And a bit more on Budget
Sun - "Eco-taxes are plain robbery".
The decision on the Bloomberg tolls or "New York congestion pricing" as its advocates call it, is due at the end of this month. Most New Yorkers have been fed the usual myths and the tolls are likely to go ahead. Some Americans have contacted us about experience in London. These are some of their questions and our answers-
Q - What are the primary goals of the London congestion charge?
A - You should probably be asking the person who was responsible for it - Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London - who interestingly enough was aided in his plans by Bob Kiley an American. There seemed to be two aims originally - to reduce congestion, and to make a big profit which was to be invested in public transport (buses and what you call "mass transit").
Q - How successfully has it met these goals?
A - If you ask the Mayor and "Transport for London" who run it, then it has been a success, and as they have a massive public relations budget they have managed to convince a lot of people. But if you look closely at the official information (which comes from the people who run the scheme) then it has been a failure. Traffic is just as slow now as it was before, and though they have made a profit it is a lot less than expected - toll zone schemes are very expensive to operate.
Q - What have been the arguments against the charge?
A - a) It is unfair as drivers in Britain already pay very high taxes to use the road, including gas taxes that are several times higher than in America (currently the tax is the equivalent of about $1.30 per gallon).
b) It hurts retail businesses in the charge zone.
c) Tolls hit poorer drivers the most, effectively an attempt is made to drive them off the road to make room for richer drivers.
d) Paying tolls is a nuisance, and if you miss paying there are massive penalties, which can run into the equivalent of many hundreds of dollars.
e) Some of the congestion and most of the air pollution is caused by buses, taxis and trucks - but buses and taxis are exempted from the toll and a large truck pays the same as a small car.
f) Congestion in British cities is mainly caused by the authorities who reduce road space and introduce various restrictions to impede traffic and slow it down.
g) It is very expensive to run. Nearly all the eight pound ($16) toll is used up in the expense of collecting and trying to enforces it. The profit comes from the draconian penalties levied on those who forget to pay.
h) All vehicles are filmed and the tapes kept for some time and are available to police and security services. Some people accept this as OK but others are very strongly opposed to a surveillance society.
i) Lastly, it does not have the effect that was claimed, traffic in the toll zone is just as painfully slow as it was before the toll was introduced.
Q - How popular is the charge in London currently?
A - Some people love it, some hate it (and the Mayor).
Q - What do you think of the New York congestion pricing plan proposed by Mayor Bloomberg?
A - The scheme is crazy and appears to have partly been sold on the basis of misinformation from London and elsewhere. We have been surprised as to how gullible Americans seem to be. You will see why we think so from the answers to the other questions.
Q - In what ways is it most different from the London congestion charge?
A - This answer is based on the scheme details at - NYC DoT. The current version of the scheme is based on the recommendations of the Commission which reviewed the original proposals, considered various alternatives and reported at the end of January.
Where: Congestion charging zone in Manhattan south of 60th Street (originally it was further north - at 86th Street). Cars and trucks that stay on the West Side Highway and the FDR would not be charged.
When: 6:00am-6:00pm Monday-Friday, weekends, evenings and early mornings are free.
What: $8 daily auto charge entering or leaving the zone, $4 daily charge within the zone, $21 daily truck charge entering or leaving the zone, $5.50 daily charge within the zone.
Why: All revenue generated through this program would go directly back into improving our transportation system.
Exemptions - Drivers with handicapped plates and tags, Emergency vehicles, Buses, Yellow taxis and livery cabs.
Discounts - E-ZPass users would receive rebates for tolls paid while driving to or from Manhattan up to $8 for drivers or $21 for trucks. Trucks that install certain clean-air retrofits.
The main differences seem to be -
London charge is twice the price (eight pounds = $16).
London charge applies whether you are entering / leaving or just moving within the zone. The New York scheme is a toll cordon one with the toll only being due if you cross the cordon inbound; it is not payable for moving round within the zone or for crossing the cordon outward bound.
As the New York Toll is only a cordon one, it will be less expensive to administer, but as the charge is also a lot less and there are discounts it will still run at a loss unless there are big fines for late payment.
As the New York Toll is only a cordon one and the toll charge is less, it will be less effective at reducing traffic. Given that the London toll has not improved traffic speeds and the New York toll will be less effective, it is likely to have no noticeable effect on congestion.
London charge is the same for all vehicles (with similar exemptions to those proposed for NY), so both cars and trucks pay eight pounds.
NYC is rebating the tolls paid on the bridges, all the London bridges were already toll free and still are unless they are within the charge zone.
London had a very substantial (90 percent) discount for drivers whose home was within the charge zone.
Q - In what ways is the New York City plan better or worse than London's?
A - They are both daft ideas. At a toll of $8 or $4 for cars, and with bridge tolls being refunded, most of the New York toll income will be wasted in paying whoever runs the scheme.
Q - Which charge has been more opposed in your opinion?
A - From what we have seen the New York Mayor has most of the establishment and the news media on his side and there is little opposition. In London when the Mayor announced his plans there was a lot of opposition, but he has unfettered powers and could do what ever he wanted (at least until the next election came along). Since the London charge was introduced the opposition has declined (though it is still there). It has declined because a lot of the British news is controlled by spin machines that are run by the authorities including the Mayor and Transport for London. It has also declined because there tends to be a lot of apathy, and a feeling that the charge like "death and taxes" is "inevitable".
Q - Do you think the opposition to the New York charge will override Bloomberg's plan?
A - As he seems to have the news media backing him, and the opposition seems to be weak, badly organised and ill informed, we imagine that Mike will get what he (and the interests who are behind his plan) wants.
Q - Many proponents of the scheme say that there are environmental, as well as health, benefits."
A - Though there is less traffic entering the London toll zone, in our view any environmental benefits are negligible. Firstly traffic not entering the zone may instead circle around it and travel a longer distance. Secondly though there are fewer vehicles in the toll zone, they are the vehicles that travel the most within the zone, so overall traffic is not reduced that much and in fact the traffic is as slow as it was before. Thirdly those who advocate the London tolls say that air quality has improved. These claims about improved air quality are not correct. The claims are based on theoretical estimates. The actual measurements of air quality show that it is no better or possibly worse (this may seem strange but the worst air pollution such as PM10s comes from buses and taxis and these don't pay the toll).
Q - "What do you think the future of congestion tolls, in London and elsewhere, is?"
A - In London, they are stuck with it for the indefinite future because there are various contracts that it would be difficult to get out of, and none of the main political parties are committed to removing the tolls. Outside London there are proposed schemes at various stages - but none have started, and there is a strong chance that none will. The one area that was given the choice was Edinburgh and the people there rejected it - Edinburgh.
USA roundup part one
"Congestion" tolls for Golden Gate - Press Democrat - "Golden Gate Bridge tolls may rise during peak hours" SF Chronicle - "Golden Gate Bridge pursuing variable tolls" Marin I Journal - "Golden Gate Bridge panels OKs congestion toll" SF Chronicle - "Golden Gate Bridge pursuing variable tolls".
Other stories - Indiana - "Hill: No tolls on Ohio River bridges" New York - "HELD UP WITHOUT A GUN".
Missouri - "Opinions differ on road toll for large trucks" Colorado - "GOP lawmaker offers I-70 toll plan" Kentucky - "House OKs bill that could allow bridge tolls" New York - "Paterson Refuses to Rule Out New York Tax Boost as Growth Slows" Pennsylvania - "Toll road lease inspections run up bill" Texas - "Spanish firm using loan from U.S. to build segments of Texas toll road" "West Virginia Legislature OKs public-private partnerships for new roads" Kentucky - "House approves plan allowing tolling for 'mega-project' financing" New York - "Toll on Verrazano, other city spans, to go up this Sunday".
No Tolls day
China Post - "Freeway motorists will pay no tolls on election day".
Gravy train gets up steam
FT - "Groups to tender for trials on road pricing".
The Tolls Bill - Second Reading
The "Let's make it easier to bring in road tolls" aka Local Transport Bill is due to have its Second Reading in the Commons on Wednesday 26 March. The Bill is currently going through without any opposition. If you are not happy about this, then please contact MPs.
Fuel for greens
BBC - "The Great Green Fuel Gamble?". The real problem is not whether using bio fuels affects the amount of CO2. The real problem is that with increasing population there will not be enough food to eat, never mind burning it as fuel.
Thursday 13 March 2008
The Governor of New York was described as "congestion pricing’s biggest fan - after Michael Bloomberg, of course". The Governor's resignation over stories involving a "high-end prostitution service that charged up to $30,000 a night" and the use of "$5,000-an-hour call girls" adds an "X" factor to the question of whether the State will approve the Bloomberg tolls plan at the end of this month. If nothing else this story shows that there are two groups - politicians and call girls - that won't be too worried about the cost of tolls. Two of over 10,000 stories - NY Times - "Felled by Scandal, Spitzer Says Focus Is on His Family" Daily News - "Following Eliot Spitzer to the end of the road".
Florida - "Planners Consider Idea Of Extending Toll Roads Into Brevard County" Colorado - "Summit reps frown on Interstate 70 tolls" Colorado - "Draft bill on I-70 toll broadsided" New York - "What’s blocking Alan Gerson on backing congestion pricing?" New Jersey - "HUDSON TO CORZ: TAKE A HIKE!" Louisiana - "Residents look at plan for Lafayette toll road" Missouri - "Truck-lane toll roads worth study" "Washington State Legislature OKs tolling bills" Pennsylvania - "Route 93 truck crash a harbinger?".
"Congestion tax cuts traffic jams"
Bosses propose a congestion charge
Bosses organisation "London First" in the Troll Times complain that "drivers across the capital spend more and more time stuck in stop-start traffic", their solution is a "local road pricing scheme". As they probably never have to drive themselves, perhaps the bosses have not noticed that there already is one, it's called the "London Congestion Charge" - "Transport deadlock".
A bit more on Barmy Bust Budget
A target="_blank" href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/motoring/main.jhtml?xml=/motoring/2008/03/13/mfbudg113.xml">Telegraph - "Budget analysis: Buy now while stocks last"
Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem leader, in his reply to the Chancellor's Budget speech said that the Chancellor had not been green enough and the budget was "a great green cop out". Later, John Thurso MP, said that the Lib Dems wanted fuel duty replaced with road tolls.
Daily Telegraph - "Budget 2008: MPs avoid motoring penalties". This story says that MPs can not claim for tolls and "congestion charges", that is correct but they can claim large amounts with no receipts.
Other reports - Crash - "Boris attacks the Budget" ABD Press release - "Darling Spends on National Road Pricing Technology" Daily Mail - "Green tax is just another way to fleece us" Transport Briefing - "National road pricing tender results by 2009".
Wednesday 12 March 2008
Barmy Bust Budget
Chancellors of whichever party are to some extent forced to mislead, otherwise people would take fright. Britain and the world face an increasingly dog eat dog future due to an increasing population vying for space, fuel, food and raw materials. In addition Britain has particular problems because the Government has allowed the house price bubble to grow to a size where it can't afford it to burst or even deflate slowly. Britain also has a massive trade deficit with the rest of the world.
So what did we get today? There was the usual boasting of how well the Government are doing and there was the usual tinkering with taxes.
It was announced that the Government will find some way of backing the one third of housing mortages that are financed through secondary financial markets, and that it will try in other ways to bring mortgage rates down - both measures to ensure that the housing prices inflate further (as most MPs own at least two homes they will no doubt welcome this). And of course there was a speech about the dire effects of climate change that "most people believe in" (this qualification was not in the written speech) and therefore there will be more taxes mainly aimed at car drivers-
There will be penal rates of annual tax on cars which produce more CO2 with particularly penal rates in the year that the car is purchased. There will also be a reintroduction of the vehicle fuel price escalator, initially set at 0.5% above inflation. Though oddly the 2 pence increase due in April is being deferred for 6 months.
Separately from the climate tax changes the Chancellor also announced that the Government still intended to go ahead with a national road toll scheme. He referred to last weeks' announcement from the Transport Secretary of more funds for local road toll schemes and also said that more money would go into trials of the technology to be used in national road tolls. - BBC - "Darling puts car and drink tax up" BBC - Budget in full (pdf file) FT - Budget in full (html) Auto Industry - "Budget 2008 adds new VED bands, delays fuel duty surcharge to 1st October" Guardian - "Gas-guzzlers hit with higher taxes" Times - "Gas guzzlers take brunt of motorists' tax hikes" Business Car - "BUDGET 2008: Road pricing is back".
Some later reports BBC - "Gas guzzlers set to face £950 tax" Autocar - "Budget 2008 Analysis" Telegraph - "Budget 2008: Motorists suffer tax hits in 'green' budget" Sun - "On the road with Budget '08".
The futher push towards national road tolls from Alistair Darling was a bit of a surprise but should not have been. He is an MP for Edinburgh where the council first created congestion by reducing road space, and then tried and failed to bring in road tolls. He was also the Transport Secretary in 2004 when the idea for national road tolls was launched. On the other hand you need to look at what "national" means, as oddly it seems to exclude the Chancellor's own home in Scotland. Both the SNP and the Scottish Tories are firmly against any form of tolls, and the Local Transport aka Road Tolls Bill (which is currently sailing through Parliament unopposed by English Tories) will not apply in Scotland.
For some reason this quote from an AA patrolman slipped through the Guardian's green net - "It would be far better if it put the extra tax on petrol. At the moment I pay the same in road tax whether I drive 5,000 or 25,000 miles a year - which, to me, makes no sense." - "Case study: car owners".
Cyclists and walkers of the world unite
Guardian Comment - "Pedestrians and pedallers unite!". The reality in Britain seems to be that while drivers are forced into smaller and smaller areas, and pedestrians are generally ignored, the cyclists are taking over. This story includes - "advance stop lines at traffic lights, which allow a space for cyclists in front of vehicles, also make streets safer for pedestrians. They give them more time to cross safely and help make sure that lorry drivers are aware of any pedestrians crossing in front of them." The reality is that the main effect of advance stop lines is to reduce the number of vehicles that can safely get through the lights before they change. The only ones to benefit from this are those that want to create more congestion.
Last night Channel Four showed the third and final part of "The Woman who stops traffic". Her target this week was Durham. She was shown trying to persuade the Council to change the phasing of traffic lights for a day to deliberately cause more congestion. Perhaps because it was on camera the Council did not agree, so she then tried to recruit students and school children to keep pressing the buttons at pedestrian crossings to stop the traffic as much as possible. The aim of encouraging people not to use cars for short journeys is laudable but the Government and the local councils are already creating much of the congestion, we don't need television programmes encouraging amateurs to cause further delays.
"Road toll proposed for Lausanne"
Islington Gazette - "'Hostile' road no place for art gallery".
Cambridge Toll party squabble
The parties in Cambridgeshire are arguing about traffic figures - CEN - "Tories 'holding dodgy congestion dossier'". This is a bit like someone who is being forced to walk the plank discussing what wood it is made of. Whatever the traffic figures really are this scheme will be a disaster for people and businesses in the area.
Portsmouth Herald News (NH) - "York residents fight losing homes to I-95 tolls". Toll roads take up more space than an integrated free road system, apart from the space occupied by toll plazas, there has to be a lot more space for lanes leading to and going away from the tolls. The tolling of a road will also tend to throw more traffic on to other local roads which will cause a nuisance to those who live on that road.
Other stories -
New York - "Queens Councilmembers Lead Opposition To Mayor's Congest Plan" North Carolina - "Commissioners voice toll bridge opposition again".
Florida - "Toll: 35 cents to $7.25?" California - "Congestion-toll weighed for Golden Gate Bridge" Colorado - "Romer's I-70 plan eyes tolls" Colorado - "What will it take to fix I-70?" Florida - "Bayway toll plan aired tonight" Pennsylvania - "Ex-Rendell firm bills Pa. $1.8M: report" Pennsylvania - "State paid law firms $111 million for advice" Missouri - "You May Pay to Improve Missouri Roads" Connecticut - "Talking Transportation: Value Pricing Our Highways" Kentucky - "No To Tolls".
A fairy tale of two cities
Supply Chain Review - "Trucking fears congestion charging in national framework".
Liverpool Toll - call for discount for "locals"
Wirral News - "Wirral tunnel users campaign for resident tolls".
Tuesday 11 March 2008
Europe says YES to tolls
European Parliament - "Congestion charges and road-pricing supported by the European Parliament".
Mayor's reply to Porsche
press release. Porsche's response is that they will now "file for judicial review" - Porsche's judicial review site.
More on the Mayor's Vision
The Times this morning said that the Mayor omitted from yesterday's document a plan for more toll zones - "Livingstone’s secret plan to extend congestion charging". This afternoon's Evening Standard carries a denial from the Mayor - "Mayor denies 'secret plan' to extend C-charge".
Xmas tolls push
A report that we missed, it is from the Institute of Economic Affairs and was published just before Xmas extolling tolling - "The Costs and Benefits of Road Pricing" pdf file.
A tale of how "congestion pricing .... can dramatically increase the number of vehicles carried by a roadway" - Seattle Times - "Blame me if you're getting antsy about congestion pricing". If you charge a toll there will be less vehicles using the road (the reduction depending on high the toll is perceived to be and what the alternatives are). Less traffic means faster traffic unless some other factor intervenes. Faster speeds will encourage more traffic to use the road, but if the traffic gets back to the volume that it was before then there will be the same congestion. (In fact it is likely to be worse because of the delays caused by toll collection and increased lane switching). The idea that tolls increase the capacity of a road belongs in the Homer Simpson book of brainwaves.
Drivers don't like high gas prices but - Pittsburgh Post Gazette - "Truckers' group backs higher fuel tax, not tolls".
Other stories -
Pennsylvania - "Hanna supports bill for tax-free, toll-free plan to fix roads and bridges" Pennsylvania - "Peterson blasts tolling plan, those who support it"
Illinois - "Want to move through traffic?" Virginia - "Area lawmakers support sales tax increase for roads" West Virginia - "W.Va. toll proposal angers residents" Florida - "Double Toll Booths Create Confusion".
Monday 10 March 2008
The Mayor's Vision
Mayor Watch - "Livingstone Launches Transport Vision" Evening Standard - "Ken: I'm the man to deliver better transport". The "vision" includes the automatic debiting of tolls to bank accounts. That or something similar was possible years ago. It was presumably rejected because it greatly reduces any deterrent effect of the toll. Does the Mayor adopting it mean that he realises that the charge has failed to improve traffic speeds?
Another tolls push from Europe
European Parliament - "MEPs to debate greener transport".
b>A fairy tale of two cities
The Age - "Victoria: the garden state or greenhouse capital?" Courier Mail - "Flexing the smart cards".
And a little bit of road shrinking to encourage drivers off the roads or on into the tolls - Daily Telegraph - "Nowhere to go but into tunnel".
Bloomberg tolls - NY Daily News - "Mayor Bloomberg rallies support for his traffic congestion pricing plan".
Corzine tolls - NJ Biz - "Lower Toll Hikes Eyed" Home News Tribune - "Public comes down hard on toll road proposal, Corzine" Newsday - "Poll: Public doesn't like Corzine budget plan".
Other stories - California - "Golden Gate officials take up toll pricing"
California - "Back-seat Driver: Can toll lanes get I-80 out of its jam?" California - "New price schemes considered for Golden Gate" Pennsylvania - "Transportation funding for turnpike becomes ball of confusion" West Virginia - "Bill might take a toll on Eastern Panhandle" West Virginia - "Transportation act receives OK" New York - "Staten Island pols hoping to spark Port Authority reform" California - "Tolls Proposed to Pay for Otay Mesa Border Crossing".
More non sense expected
Independent - "Budget to target cars with new taxes" Sun - "£1,000 tax on gas-guzzlers".
One view of the Con
Independent - "How the congestion charge lost its principles".
Malaysian toll burden
Malaysia Star - "We'll address the toll rates".
Sunday 9 March 2008
Sense and non sense
Sun - "I want to pay more for petrol".
The non sense -
Alistair Darling answering a question in today's Sunday People in advance of the Budget - "The Government is looking at the potential of moving away from the current system of motoring taxation, and towards a national system of road-pricing. It could cut congestion and speed up journey times. But the technology is still unproven. However, at this stage we have made no decisions about this." Or in the Observer - "Budget will target high-carbon cars".
Petrol is already too expensive, but the point is that fuel tax is for many reasons the best way of charging for roads use. Those who instead argue for tolls, higher parking charges and higher annual road duty costs are crazy - or worse.
The Tolls Bill
The "Let's make it easier to bring in road tolls" Bill is going through Parliament without a whimper from the members of any party. You can check on its "progress" at - "Local Transport Bill [HL] 2007-08". You might also wish to ask your MP why they are not opposing this undemocratic Bill.
PS These are the "Keeling" schedules which show what the existing road tolling powers will look like when the Bill becomes law - in England and Wales (pdf file) road tolls part starts at clause 163 on page 52 and goes on to clause 198 in London (pdf file) all of the schedule relates to road tolls.
Sounds familiar -
Daily Telegraph - "Pay as you go roads plan".
Verdict of the Yellow shirts
Bike Radar - "Boris 'must try harder' on transport say London cyclists".
An upside down view
But also a more balanced view than the usual guff provided by TfL to hacks round the world - NZ Herald - "Taking toll of fight against traffic chaos".
Corzine tolls - Newsday - "Poll: N.J. recognizes debt woes, but likes neither Corzine nor his plan" Daily Record - "Governor, back off - N.J.'s problem is what it spends, not revenue" Press of Atlantic City - "Poll: Rebate cuts or toll hikes? Just cut spending" Courier Post - "Poll: Toll plan a dud, Corzine rating down".
Other stories - Kentucky - "Lawmaker wants state road fund to pay for half the cost of bridges project" Washington State - "The Evergreen State in more than name" Florida - "Bayway plans take a toll" Pennsylvania - "Don’t be driven by hyped fears" West Virginia - "Senators seek veto power in public-private roads" California - "Who will pay the way?" Pennsylvania - "Flat Pa. gasoline tax revenues may take toll on state finances".
Saturday 8 March 2008
"Do you think Singaporeans will change their driving habits if you increase ERP charges? Congestion will still happen despite that."
Electric New Paper - "Do we REALLY know psyche of S'pore driver?".
London Toll zone extended to Derbyshire
A report that makes you wonder how reliable the toll camera system is - BBC - "Farm tractor gets congestion fine".
Liverpool Toll Bonanza
The organisation that runs the road tunnels at Liverpool is increasing tolls from April. In the meantime it seems that they are not short of money. They spent seventy million pounds on a tram schme before it had to be canelled. More recently they are cutting up a U boat - Liverpool Echo - "U-don’t know how hard it is to take away a German sub", buying a Beatles museum - Liverpool Echo - "Merseytravel buys The Beatles Story", and planting flowers - Wirral Globe - "Tunnel flower boxes 'disgrace'" letter. Oh and by the way they already have a space museum!
Progress reports on the Mayoral thing
Guardian Comment - "Tories quietly pleased as mayoral race progresses".
A view from America - CBS - "Controversial London Mayor On Way Out?".
Perhaps the winner so far in this election are the Greens. Their irrational views seem to influence the three main candidates. And their own candidate appears with the other three at press conferences etc. Yet at the last election in 2004, the Greens came seventh - after the three main parties and UKIP, Respect and the BNP.
Now you see it - now you don't
press release - "AA Questions Government on "Missing" Transport Funds".
Corzine tolls - Asbury Park Press - "Corzine advocacy group identifies donors" Philadelphia Inquirer - "Corzine won't veto plan to use bridge tolls for soccer stadium" Star Ledger - "Group supporting Corzine's plan has raised $1 million".
Bloomberg tolls - New York - "Traffic Plan Needs Votes on Council, Survey Finds".
Toll income on the Massachusetts Turnpike is rising and the boss says "get out there and keep driving" - Metro West - "Pike collects $5 million more in tolls".
Other stories - West Virginia - "Tolls bill yields for OK" Virginia - "Raise Virginia gas tax by a nickel now" letter Washington State - "Tolls take shape" Washington State - "Double tax on roads projects questioned" "Kentucky lawmakers considering bills to create toll authority".
Friday 7 March 2008
Apparently a 1% tax on New York millionaires is being considered as a possible alternative to the Bloomberg toll scheme. - Financial Director - "New York millionaires face tax hike". You could probably forget the millionaires and just have a Bloomberg 1% tax that would produce more than the net income from a congestion toll scam.
Other Bloomberg toll stories - NY Daily News - "Fidler says corp. pushing congest pricing shouldn't get government funds" NY Sun - "The Future of Commuting" Newsday - "For Bloomberg, it's all downhill from here" Downtown Express - "Silver open to traffic pricing as C.B. 1 gives tepid support".
Corzine tolls - Newsday - "Corzine's toll plan going nowhere but not going way" phillyburbs - "Turnpike plan spurs petition drive in Bordentown" Sentinel - "Council sends governor message on highway tolls".
Other stories - West Virginia - "Say what?" Florida - "S.R. 408 motorists will pay toll once, drive through booths twice" Missouri - "Toll roads may be answer" Virginia - "Local summit set on roads plan" Washington State - "Senate, House approve tolls bill" "Rhode Island bills address toll bridges, revenue" Kentucky - "Erlanger against tolls for Brent Spence project" Virginia - "U.S. Rep from Virginia calls for toll freeze on Dulles Greenway".
"Tolls up in Sydney, but a free ride in Melbourne"
Sydney Morning Herald.
Leopards changing spots?
According to the BBC, some of the organisations that collaborated with the Government in its plans for national road tolls are complaining about "poorly-configured road building programmes" and the scheduled increase in fuel duty - "UK's highways 'on road to ruin'". UK drivers are being milked on a massive scale while the road system is stifled of funds and deliberately crippled. But the biggest problem may be that the news media suffer from the delusion that the AA and RAC represent motorists - no wonder the Government gets the wrong message - though drivers best hope may be changes at the AA and RAC so that though they can never represent drivers they do at least reflect what drivers really think.
PS "RAC Foundation press release and link to "“What Went Wrong? British Highway Development before the Motorways”".
"National Road Pricing on Back Burner"
The ABD - the only members organisation for drivers - has issued this press release -
The recent announcement by Ruth Kelly that a National pay-as-you-go road pricing scheme is on the back burner is welcome, but her speech shows she still doesn't get why charging people to drive simply won't work.
She said that there was a "sterile debate" between those who regarded road pricing as the answer to everything and those who were opposed to it in principle on the grounds of fairness and privacy. But she is still encouraging local authorities to implement local schemes and suggesting "pay to drive" lanes on motorways.
The M6 Toll fiasco shows how pricing reduces the efficiency with which roads are used. Whilst the toll road is empty and struggling to pay its way, the "free alternative" M6 near Birmingham is top of the list for a hard shoulder running scheme!
"Road capacity is to be increased on one motorway whilst the alternative route is running empty - that's the nonsense of road pricing," said ABD Policy Advisor Nigel Humphries.
In urban areas, London's experience of road pricing has suggested that journey time gains have been minimal, and all that has really happened is that drivers have been charged for the privilege of driving in congestion.
This backs ABD's argument that, instead of spending millions on trying to promote its lost cause, the government should instead invest the money in road improvements to alleviate known bottenecks.
For the economists amongst our readers, basic economic theory also casts doubt on the validity of road pricing as a solution to the cost of congestion.
"Congestion regulates traffic based on time delays, which costs the economy an estimated £26bn (CBI). Since time and money are related, any attempt to achieve the same level of traffic regulation by a price mechanism will cost the economy at least as much as the congestion did in the first place," continued Humphries. "This is why the ABD has always placed the argument that road pricing will not work ahead of the very valid fairness and privacy issues."
Data for sale
The Government selling Registered owner details to private firms seems to be on the increase. One new use is supermarkets, including Sainsburys and Tesco, through their agents using ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) cameras to monitor how long vehicles are in their car park and then sending "Penalty charge notices" to those who stay too long. The system only works because the Government sells the information to them - ico - "Use and discloure of vehicle information" (pdf file). Two drivers have started petitions to the PM - (expires 6 March 2009) (expires 21 May 2008).
"Darling fudges PFI rules to hide assets"
It was the Tories that invented the PFI scam, but Gordon Brown who used it on a massive scale to enable him to boast how much the Government was spending on new schools, hospitals etc while keeping the proportion of national income going on public expenditure down. The Tories could not unmask him, as either they did not understand what was going on or they wanted to be able to use the trick when they came back into power. The trick was in any case supposed to be coming to an end because of a tightening of accounting rules. This would have made schemes like the M6 Toll less likely but it seems that the Government will be able to evade the new rules - Accountancy Age - "Darling fudges PFI rules to hide assets".
Another of the Mayor's friends
Japan Times - "London duns embassy for £1 million in congestion fees".
What will happen if Ken loses the Mayoral election and a new Mayor reduces the size of the toll zone? Brian Mooney the leading campaigner against the con has pointed out this question (268/2007) raised by Damian Hockney, a London Assembly member and Mayoral candidate for the One London party - "Does the new contract with IBM allow for the fact that a different Mayor may wish to abolish the Congestion Charge? Are there any exit charges written into the contract and if so what are they?".
The written answer from the Mayor on the 5th December was -
"The contract with IBM contains provisions for the Termination of the Congestion Charging Scheme. In these circumstances, IBM is entitled to compensation in a number of defined categories, the value of which will vary depending on the phase of the contract.
There are three categories of termination compensation:
1. Costs, expenses and liabilities associated with the termination of sub-contracts and personnel engaged to deliver the services.
2. Costs and expenses incurred in the design, build, and implementation of the services which have not already been recovered through payments by TfL, for example committed software licence costs, equipment and hardware already purchased, and resource effort already completed.
3. If the termination takes place after IBM has assumed control of the operations, a component of lost profit no greater than an amount equal to 12 months worth of IBM profit on this contract as recorded in the contractual financial model.
In all instances IBM would be required to produce evidence in support of all costs and to make efforts to reduce the costs of termination.
It is not possible to provide a specific value on this as the costs vary depending on exactly when such a termination applies. Any estimates of such costs are commercially sensitive and would be for negotiation at that termination point.
Mayor Bloomberg is keen to charge a toll for entering lower Manhattan, but at the same time his office has issued 142,000 free parking passes - Wired Blog - "Privileged Parking Provokes an Outcry in New York. Watch It Spread".
Other stories - New York - "Holiday Inn loses its lunch over bridge tolls".
Thursday 6 March 2008
Another tolls scam - putting the tolls money on the horses - Register Herald - "Horse park added to turnpike bill".
Other stories - Washington State - "State urged to increase Tacoma Narrows bridge tolls to $4 this summer" New York - "Thruway Toll Worker Accused of Stealing Money" Virginia - "Wolf Urges Va. to Freeze Dulles Greenway Tolls" Kentucky - "House budget committee approves bill that could mean bridge tolls" California - "Plans afoot to stop toll cheats" West Virginia - "Funding plan raises toll issue" Illinois - "Cintra Chicago Skyway Feb traffic down 4.63 pct yr-on-yr" New York - "Hi tech may put end to MTA tollbooths" Pennsylvania - "Pa. legislative Democrats’ I-80 report worthless" California - "BAY AREA CHP has eye on scofflaws at toll plazas" New Jersey - "Bad business" letter.
Kentucky - "Toll authority bill advances - WOULD FINANCE BIG TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS" West Virginia - "Toll roads considered as part of legislation" Pennsylvania - "Officials tackle how to finish toll roads" Florida - "SunPass finally easing traffic flow at Florida toll plazas" California - "Mortgage Crisis Could Mean Higher Bridge Tolls" Washington State - "Legislative change eases toll process".
Bit more on Montreal tolls
The Gazette - "Highway, bridge tolls a bad idea: off-island mayors".
No polls here
Yesterday's vote against a referenda on the EU treaty, gives fair warning that the chances of people being properly consulted on the introduction of local toll taxes is absolute zero - Spiked - "Brown’s ‘Manchurian’ attack on democracy - Last night’s debate on the Lisbon Treaty finally exposed the New Labour government’s deep-seated fear of consulting the public".
"Trials of road pricing technology for bikes to go ahead"
Motorcycle News. That bikers may pay tolls is not a surprise, but who are these 1,000 volunteer drivers and bikers?
"Mitsubishi joins anti congestion charge gang"
More on the Tolls ball kicked out of the stadium
Birmingham Mail - "Road pricing a non-starter in the Midlands".
"Tories must get up to speed on transport fiasco"
Yorkshire Post. The danger is that the Tories getting "up to speed" may mean that they sell off the roads.
"Making fuel from CO2 - does this man have the answers?"
Yorkshire Post. The oil companies are unlikely to be quaking in their boots over this, but there could be a lot of money made from the greens - as "green" is a synonym for "gullible".
More on the Government announcement
The Government get support from the Campaign for Better Transport - Guardian Comment - "On the right track".
The support from a prominent anti-roads organisation tells it all - The Government will continue to spend next to nothing on the roads, the local councils will continue to reduce road space and create congestion, local road toll schemes will be brought in though local people don't want them, and when they think that the public have been properly "conditioned" we will have naTories must get up to speed on transport fiascotional road tolls.
Some letters in the Telegraph - "Short-changing motorists".
From the Independent - "The retreat from road pricing is a classic case of a necessary policy killed by cowardice".
Wednesday 5 March 2008
A little bit more on yesterday's spin from Ruth Kelly
John Lettice in the Register suggests that the plans for conversion of hard shoulders and for "advanced .. traffic management" is just a Trojan horse for national road tolls - "Road charging, the sequel - Kelly unveils 'wired m-way' plans".
Peter Roberts of that petition and - Travel Tax, sent this message out yesterday to opponents of road tolls-
"It has been widely reported the governments national road pricing policy has been abandoned. This is not the case.
The DfT are extending their funding or bribes for local authorities to continue developing local schemes and these will be extended into a national scheme as soon as the government believe it is politically expedient. They have spent tens of millions of pounds of taxpayers' money already and there is no justification to spend yet more.
It is also very telling who has been involved in the DfT's discussions and consultations. Ruth Kelly said:-
"I'm very grateful for the contribution that CFiT, the Motorists Forum and the ATM Study Group have already made to the debate - and I look forward to working with you to develop a congestion-beating strategy that we can all support."
CFiT is the Commission For integrated Transport. A government funded quango who are 100% in support of road pricing. Take a look at - their website.
The so called "Motorists" Forum is part of the CFiT.
The ATM Study Group is looking at Automated Traffic Management such as the M42. Hardly a group representing drivers.
As you can see, the collaborators with the DfT are government quangos spending taxpayers money and hardly likely to voice an opinion disputing the governments preferred policy.
Isn't it about time we had a serious group representing the public; the driver; the people who actually use the transport system? We need representation at the highest level to help government understand the real concerns and wishes of the public.
The announcement was more about the upcoming local elections in May. Road pricing is a significant electoral liability and will damage Labour's electoral credibility if it remains an open issue. The only acceptable way for local congestion charges or road pricing to proceed is following a referendum of the local people. If the question in the referendum is fair, and the public decision is to proceed with a charge, then I see no problem. The people of Greater Manchester and Cambridge must be given a referendum and the decision must be binding on the local authorities. Isn't it time we reclaimed our democracy?
Tolls ball kicked out of the stadium
The West Midlands councils have realised what people want and rejected proposed road tolls scheme - BBC - "Road pricing proposals rejected" BBC - "Toll rejection is blow to ministers".
"The Woman who stops traffic" - part two
Last night Channel Four showed the second programme in the series about a woman who is encouraging people to use their cars less. This second programme was in Boston, Lincolnshire. She succeeded in getting most parents at one school to stop using their cars for a day, but otherwise largely failed. Her aim of getting people to use their cars less for short journeys is a very good one, but in areas like Boston is likely to have little effect on congestion. The reason is that the town has the A16 and A52 going through its streets - they need a bypass or a ring road. As happens all around Britain the council seemed to do nothing, so "Boston Bypass Independents" stood for council vacancies and now control the council with 23 out of 32 seats. There are also two pressure groups - BBPG BBEG. The people of Boston have demonstrated a determination which Channel Four turned a blind eye to, though while we have Governments that take £50 billion from drivers and give virtually nothing back, the people in Boston and around Britain will continue to suffer.
Engineers want CO2 rating marked on tickets, and of course more road tolls
Some time ago we had the Institution of Electrical Engineers pushing tolls, now it is the turn of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers - The Engineer - "The strain of the train" Guardian - "Transport tickets should show carbon footprint, says report". We wonder why engineers want to reduce CO2 emissions through tolls rather than encouraging use of more efficient engines, or is the idea just to force poorer people off the roads in every which way?
Corzine tolls -
Star Ledger - "Corzine listens to tolls proposal" Asbury Park Press - "Corzine dislikes gas tax hike, but open to considering it" The Record - "Commercial developers offer grim outlook" Herald - "Legislators, independent study critical of state finances" Sentinel - "If it looks like a tax hike, and smells like a hike…".
Bloomberg tolls- New York Times - "Council Members Urge Congestion Pricing Changes" NY Daily News - "Congestion Pricing Congested At Council?".
With all the paid interests pushing tolls, it's nice to see a story where tolls are recognised for what they are - Charlottte Observer - "Toll trolls are making inroads".
Other stories - Maine - "New York toll plaza could displace eight homes" Virginia - "Defendants request dismissal in I-81 lawsuit" Washington State - "Is The Battle To Tax Automobiles Good For Seattle Real Estate?" California - "Paying the price for congestion" Washington State - "Pull over and consider this: The traffic could get even worse" Colorado - "Don't clog those lanes" Pennsylvania - "Private bidders sought to finish toll roads" Pennsylvania - "Trucking officials say Pennsylvania Turnpike study has hidden agenda" Alabama - "Alabama bills seek tolls to ease road funding crunch" Washington State - "ON THE ROAD TO CONGESTION PRICING".
More on yesterday's spin from Ruth Kelly
Reaction in the Daily Telegraph - "Ruth Kelly gives the cold shoulder" "Plan would see motorists pay to drive fast". The paper has its usual claim that it opposed road pricing. The fact is that it supported road tolls until it saw the success of the Peter Roberts petition.
Reaction in other papers - Computing - "Road pricing technology trials to go ahead" Guardian- "Motorway hard shoulders to be used by traffic in roads U-turn" Guardian- "PAY TO DRIVE IN THE FAST LANE" Independent - "The green betrayal" Yorkshire Post - "Ministers heading for the hard shoulder in bid to curb congestion" Journal (Newcastle) - "North motorists get the cold shoulder".
Yesterday's Commons debate.
Cambridge Toll - it's what the doctor ordered
Repeat of the spurious claim that "tolls save lives" (see 28th Feb) - CEN - "'Health benefit' of road charge".
Another report on likely death of West Midlands toll plan"
BBC - "Congestion charge to be rejected".
"Red" Ken loses one fan
(See comment from Havana) - Hendon & Finchley Times - "Mayor: innocent of all charges".
More tolls and fewer roads?
Bus and coach - "NTC calls for a ‘new beginning for transport’".
Tuesday 4 March 2008
More on Government "plans" - which are just confused spin
We nearly fell off our chair when tonight's "PM" programme on BBC not only had this as the main news story, but also did not have one of their usual "motoring organisation" spokesmen. Instead they had Peter Roberts of road pricing petition to the PM fame speaking on behalf of drivers. He welcomed the news but said that it was probably just a pre election stunt and that we "need to keep up our guard".
The BBC then had the ex Roads Minister (who now works for a firm that may benefit if road pricing is introduced - ("Ex-transport minister takes job at road pricing firm") speaking as if on behalf of the Government. He gave the usual guff about those who oppose road tolls being irrational and using "spurious arguments". He also made the incredible claim that the planned road tolls were "not an additional charge". The most ominous thing that he said was about a "tipping point" where congestion would get so bad that people would demand road tolls be introduced. This was not intended as a warning to drivers, but it is, the Government will continue to spend next to nothing on roads, introduce measures that slow traffic and put it into a strait jacket - and then when they have almost brought the country to a halt they will give us road tolls!!
This is the official text of what Ruth Kelly was scripted to say at today's news conference - "Delivering choice and reliability".
Having not mentioned road pricing in her announcement this morning, Ruth Kelly must have found the missing part of her script and later gave a bit of spin via the BBC who changed their earlier "Extra lane 'to ease congestion'" story to "Road charging 'many years away'" and then to - "Road charging plan 'in tatters'". The latest version of the story has the Tories saying on raod tolls that the Government - "should now rule this option out completely". The story still includes the Lib Dems saying that they want national road tolls asap. As usual the so called "motoring organisations" (i.e. the AA and RAC insurance companies) are said to welcome the announcement. The AA reaction included that they "support the tolling of extra capacity lanes"
Despite the Government spin, Business Green had the story as - "Government proposals back car sharing and road pricing". While the Guardian quotes from the AA and anti motorist groups such as the Commission for Integrated Transport and Campaign for Better Transport and comes up with the headline - "Road pricing scheme stalled".
This was our press release following the announcement -
"The national road tolls idea is one of the daftest that any Government has ever come up with. The scheme would cost tens of billions of pounds each year to administer and have no benefit. The toll tax should be buried with a stake through its heart so that it can not raise again."
"It is a bad sign that the Government is proceeding with the idea of pilot schemes in Manchester, Cambridge and other cities. The people of Edinburgh voted three to one against such a scheme in 2005. Will people in English cities also be given the chance to vote on this issue? Or will the Government refuse a vote as they know that they would lose?"
"Making better use of motorway hard shoulders is a good idea, but the introduction of tolls on some motorway lanes will cause confusion and accidents as drivers decide whether and when to switch between lanes. It will also mean that most drivers and hauliers will still suffer from congestion. That this will happen has been clearly demonstrated with the M6 Toll where the extra road capacity is almost empty while other roads are clogged."
"Each year the Government collects from drivers and businesses in fuel and road taxes about £50 billion, which is about seven times more than is spent on the roads system. The Government should give drivers and businesses what they are already paying for and not introduce a two class system."
Despite earlier reports, the official press release is a damp squib. The Government may have abandoned plans for national road tolls, but they are not admitting it - The Government press release - "Better managed motorways and more funding to tackle urban congestion".
Ruth Kelly's statement to MPs Latest TIF pump priming guidance Advanced motorway signalling and traffic management feasibility study (includes suggestion for tolled lanes).
Earlier reports - The story in yesterday's Birmingham Post implied that congestion charges and road pricing are dead. There is not yet any announcement, but some of the papers anticipate one which will say that though road pricing is being put into cold storage, the plans for "congestion charging" in Manchester, Cambridge and elsewhere will go ahead and there will also be some motorway tolls - Daily Mail - "Busy motorways to get pay-as-you-drive 'Lexus lanes' to tackle congestion" Telegraph - "Pay-as-you-drive motorway lanes unveiled" Guardian - "Kelly to unveil scheme for pay as you drive motorway lanes" Mirror - "Right road on toll tax".
"End of road for toll plan"
Nice headline, a pity that it only refers to the proposals for a congestion toll in the West Midlands - Express & Star.
No Melbourne Toll
The Age - "Pallas rules out toll on city drivers".
Nottingham parking tax
The cost of drawing up a parking tax scheme as the basis of an East Midlands TIF submission is now over one million pounds - Evening Post - "£1M-PLUS COST OF BACKING NOTTINGHAM PARK-AT-WORK TAX". The story gives the impression that the opposition Tories want road tolls, which is strange as Derby is part of the same TIF submission and the Tories there are firmly opposed to road tolls.
Not so friendly
BBC - "LPG cars lose C-charge discount". The intention to phase out the Alternative Fuel Discount was in fact in the detail of the announcement made on 12th February.
More on Montreal tolls
The Gazette - "Bridge tolls? Why not? Road tolls? No way" The Gazette - "Tolls the wrong way to go - A higher gas tax would be a far fairer method of taxation" The Gazette - "Laval mayor chimes in on road tolls" CBC - "Tolls can pay for Quebec road costs, new report says".
More toll confusion as hybrids join other vehicles in the HOV / HOT lanes - Denver Post - "Traffic breaks for hybrid cars aren't too far down the road".
Corzine tolls -
Star Ledger - "Corzine welcomes debate on tolls for Routes 78, 80" WNBC - "N.J. State Sen. Predicts 45 Percent Toll Boost, Gas Tax Hike" Star Ledger - "Corzine takes toll plan to developers who back tolling free roads" Courier Post - "Pro-Corzine group delays donor listing" Paul Mulshine in NJ Voices - "Corzine's big lie about small towns".
Pennsylvania, twixt the devil and the deep blue sea - Times Tribune - "Leased turnpike tolls may increase" Philadelphia Inquirer - "Rendell's plan to lease turnpike unwise, study says" Post Gazette - "Report opposes turnpike lease plan - Study for House Democrats favors making I-80 a toll road" Standard Speaker - "Study: Turnpike lease would mean higher tolls" Herald Standard - "I-80 tolls target of questions" wfmz - "House Democratic Study Criticizes Turnpike Lease" Times Leader - "House Democratic Study Criticizes Idea Of Leasing Pa. Turnpike".
Other stories - Washington State - "Traffic's so bad, we might actually be willing to pay a toll" Texas - "Feds' OK paves the way for project" Louisiana - "3 GOP hopefuls wary of loop" New York - "Silver Driving a Hard Bargain on Traffic Tax" .
"PPP Road Tolls, No Way"
Scoop - Press release from From Citizens Against Privatisation.
More on Boris's plans
There was some doubt yesterday on the Tory candidate's plans for the congestion charge, as it was not mentioned at all in yesterday's press release, but his full plans (pdf file) are now available.
This morning the Troll Times backs the London Congestion charge - "This was a bold and professional job. The mechanics have worked smoothly, the charge is now popular, and has become a model for other places." - "Ken Livingstone's Record".
Monday 3 March 2008
A story in today's Birmingham Post implies that congestion charges and road pricing are dead, but the Government have not yet got round to the Last rites - "Byrne pledge on transport".
It has been reported that the Tory candidate for Mayor says that he will consult residents about the removal of the western extension and scrap the planned £25 toll. Some reports say that though he intends to keep the original zone, he plans a complete revamp to the way that the scheme operates - Evening Standard - "Boris plans late Tube at weekend" Guardian - "Johnson promises 'less stick, more carrot' for London commuters". Boris should already know that Ken carried out a consultation before confirming his western extension plan. People and businesses did not want it, but he went ahead anyway. Will Boris pay any more attention to what is said? In fact what did Boris say? The Press release (pdf file) that went out makes no mention of the London Toll zone, though it does mention the Dartford toll, where he wants the tolls not to be increased. Other Tories are saying that the Dartford tolls should be scrapped - why doesn't Boris agree?
York toll bridges
York City officers are pushing tolls - The Press - "Bridge tolls ‘a reality by 2021’".
More space and more hot air
The government says that it will convert more hard shoulders into traffic lanes - BBC - "Extra lane scheme to be widened". We wonder why the BBC links on this story include the AA, which is an insurance company which frequently gets these adverts. The only organisation that they quote is "Campaign for Better Transport" better known as Transport 2000 an anti roads organisation.
The Tory candidate for Mayor will keep the London Toll, but says that he will consult residents about the removal of the western extension and scrap the planned £25 toll - Evening Standard - "Boris plans late Tube at weekend". Boris should already know that Ken carried out a consultation before confirming his western extension plan. People and businesses did not want it, but he went ahead anyway. Will Boris pay any more attention to what is said?
"Congestion charge not on horizon"
While the south of the island is heading towards more tolls, the north seems to be staying free - for now - Belfast Telegraph.
"Tax on sick" to be removed - but not yet
BBC - "NHS parking in Wales 'to be free'".
Tales from trolls
Those who want to keep and expand the tolls system have been spreading a lot of disinformation about the effect of removing tolls in Scotland - Western Mail - "Warning over scrapping Severn crossing tolls". Recent requests made by NAAT about traffic measurements on the bridges have not been answered, but we believe that there has been no significant increase in traffic. The removal of tolls should therefore have increased speeds due to the removal of queues to pay the tolls. To a large extent this has not happened because the authorities have severely restricted traffic movement over the bridges. We hope that these restrictions are only temporary while toll booths are removed etc, but there is a risk that the trolls will do their best to create congestion.
Bloomberg tolls - another report from the fanatically pro tolls Streetsblog attacking an opponent of tolls - "Assemblyman Denny Farrell: Less traffic and pollution? No thanks.".
Other stories - Pennsylvania - "House Democrats criticize turnpike leasing proposal" New York - "FERRY FIRM BIDDING TO CASH IN ON TOLL HIKES" Illinois - "Skeptical about 'congestion pricing'" Louisiana / Texas - "BR group to eye Texas loops"
New York - "Staten Islanders grumble about PA toll hike".
More Canadian tolls pushing
As a change from Toronto, this time it's Montreal - The Gazette - "Highway TOLLS in view".
"New toll system could ruin express roads across Poland"
Brief report on traffic diverting on to non toll roads - Warsaw Business Journal.
Sunday 2 March 2008
DfT round up
Some of the Department for Transport press releases over the last few weeks -
28th Feb "Councils told to make parking fairer, clearer and more open".
21st Feb "Kelly announces review of indirect impacts of biofuel production".
14th Feb "Road Tax evasion figures" The figures (pdf file).
Though it has been agreed that the new Mississippi bridge will be toll free, troll interests including the so called "Reason Foundation" are still plugging away - Belleville News Democrat - "Bridge to start out toll-free, but ...".
Other stories - New York - "How to stop fare hikes" Kentucky - "Bridge toll seems to be foundering" Massachusetts - "Transportation running on empty" Washington State - "Doyle Drive toll simply unfair" Pennsylvania - "Congressional candidates talk I-80 tolling, family wealth" Pennsylvania - "Bridge panel lobbyist gets 27 months for fraud" Pennsylvania - "Bridge panel lobbyist gets 27 months for fraud".
The Sunday Times economics editor does his bit to sell tolls, congestion charges and road pricing - "If transport does not work, businesses struggle".
Saturday 1 March 2008
Corzine tolls -
Star Ledger - "Bush official praises Corzine toll 'courage'" New York Times - "Bush Aide Lends Support to Corzine’s Plan for Tolls".
Courier Post - "Corzine looks at critic's debt plan" Courier Post - "Corzine takes budget woes to friendly crowd" New York Times - "Corzine Leans Closer and Gets an Earful" Asbury Park Press - "Do Corzine state budget cuts go far enough?".
EZ come -
New York Times - "E-ZPass Was Just the Beginning".
Other stories -
Oregon - "Bridge funding in question" Kentucky - "Project funding agency sought" Virginia - "Court ruling may be fatal for HRTA" Washington State - "520 drivers could see tolls in ’09" "N.Y., N.J. toll hikes take effect Sunday" New Jersey / New York - "Port Authority tolls, train fares to rise this weekend".
No taxation without representation
Guardian - "Now cough up, your excellency: embassies owe £10m in parking fines and charges".
From Citizens Against Privatisation
Scoop - "Sus Transport Update NZ Transport Strategy 08".