MAY 2007 NEWS
Thursday 31 May 2007
End of tolls - Yes? No? Yes!
Main event today was the debate in the Scottish Parliament on ending the remaining tolls. Watching the debate on TV, it was a question of which opposition spokesperson could find the most excuses for delay. Though in the end they voted for ending tolls by 120 votes for to none against with two abstentions. The question now is how long we will have to wait. For more details see our Scotland news page.
Wednesday 30 May 2007
Political leaders are apparently very worried about climate change and road congestion. Their answer to these problems seems to be beating drivers up and taking all their money. We frequently point out how these leaders all ignore the root cause of most problems - population growth. But now we have another worry!
In last week's New Scientist, David Cohen pointed out that we are running out of many rare metals which are needed for modern "essentials" from LCD TVs through catalytic converters for cars to fuel cells. Minerals where the supply from ores may be practically exhausted over the next 200 years or so include - indium (10 years), silver (20), antimomy (20), lead (30), tin (30), zinc (40), gold (40), copper (50), uranium (50), tantalum (70), nickel (70), chrome (100), platinum (150) and phosphorus (200 years) - New Scientist graph. Other important metals believed to be in short supply but no figures are available are - hafnium, germaniun, rhodium, terbium and gallium. It looks as if one half of the world will be busy as carbon traders while the other half is sweeping the streets and bins for all that essential dust and scrap.
USA round up 30th May
Toll lobby sued - Courier Post - "Suit asks $2.6m from lobbyists".
Other stories - Washington State - "$6 tolls proposed, each way, for new 520 Bridge" New Jersey - "With Financial Tactic, Corzine Would Keep Turnpike Public, Toll Increases and All" Virginia - "Va. governor defends toll levels" New York - (Streetsblog)"Congestion pricing".
TRL (Britain's Transport Reserach Laboratory before it was privatised) have won a contract for "research into the accuracy and reliability of satellite based road user charging systems" - TRL press release.
Tolls "save you money"
Toll operators say that tolls save money for drivers!!! Daily Telegraph - "Toll saving study fuels debate".
No delay to school starts
Having just ruled out more tolls, the Victorian Premier also rules out delaying school starting time to ease congestion - The Age - "Bracks overrules Kosky's school of thought".
No tolls, No fuel duty?
The New Zealand First Party oppose tolls. This riles the Trolls, who are saying that the party would scrap both tolls and fuel taxes - NZ Herald - "Peters the man to end fuel tax". The fact is that the party does think that fuel prices are too high, but the only tax on fuel that they suggested should be removed was the GST which like Britain's VAT being added to fuel duty is "a tax on a tax".
Tuesday 29 May 2007
Tolls for Trams
Transport bosses in the Liverpool area spent millions of tolls money on an tram scheme that was aborted. Now "Prezzer" the hero who killed the British roads building programme in 1997 is pushing more tolls as a way of bringing the scheme back from the dead- Daily Post - "Prescott hints congestion levy could help revive Merseytram".
USA round up 29th May
The New York Sun reports that the Governor will back the Mayor's "congestion" charge, providing that he gets a say in how the $31 billion loot is spent - "Spitzer Open to a Deal on Traffic Tax".
Other stories - West Virginia - "Tolls? Public, not private" Pennsylvania - "Transportation funding faces difficulties in state, nationally".
The Guardian has another of those stories that shows the wonderful logic of tolls advocates - "Multi-billion rail plans aimed at tackling congestion". Though spending any money on roads is not allowed as it may encouarge people to drive - "The government will unveil a multi-billion pound rebuilding programme for the British rail network this summer to ease congestion on the most crowded lines." The toll advocates oppose train fare increases, "particularly if road pricing is delayed and people are forced off crowded roads on to trains". So what will happen when they do introduce road pricing? Will the trains empty, as people flock to pay this new tax? And will they then increase train fares?
More Troll logic
Some New Zealand greens used to oppose tolls, but it seems that the greens have now accepted the logic of their British cousins. They want tolls and are opposing a proposed increase in fuel tax. Their aim is to reduce "pollution and greenhouse gas emissions" - NZ Herald - "The Greens' challenge in climate-changed politics".
For and Against
For - Star Phoenix - "Transportation solutions don't have to encourage driving".
Against - Gazette - "Whom did pollsters poll?".
Adlaide Now says that tolls are the "only answer" to the need for new roads, as there are bigger priorities for tax spending - "The toll of ignoring the inevitable". Odd the way that toll advocates think that tolls fall out of the sky, and ignore the fact that tolls are an inefficient way of getting the money once it has been decided that the road should be built.
A Government adviser is worried that "fringe dwellers languish and suffer from rising petrol prices". The answer? Yes, you guessed right, the answer is tolls, to give them a bit more incentive not to drive. Though it seems they need some people to keep on driving as the tolls will pay for the cost of trains - "Build new train lines, state urged".
PS Premier says no - "Bracks stands firm".
Monday 28 May 2007
Third World View
A piece published today suggests that tolls are too expensive to implement in the third world, but at the same time something needs to be done to discourage use of cars. The Bogota system of only allowing cars used on alternate days (depending on registration number) is praised but the writer plumps for a "congestion charge" - paid annually in advance! The International News - "A congestion charge". The writer has as he says certainly been thinking "outside the box", but not far enough. A Bogota style system favours the better off who may have more than one vehicle (or at least more than one registration plate!). The proposed charge does of course nothing to discourage use of the vehicle for those who can afford the annual charge, all it does is drive less well off drivers off the road completely. The best and fairest charge is a gas tax.
Why is the effect of population growth on congestion not considered? According to US Census Bureau figures, the population of Pakistan in 1950 was 39 million, it is now 169 million and in 2050 is predicted to be 295 million.
USA round up 28th May
New Jersey - "Corzine: Gas tax may rise - someday" Indiana - "Start of electronic tolling awaits deal with Illinois".
Sunday 27 May 2007
USA round up 27th May
Over last few days there have been various reports about the New Jersey Turnpike suing YouTube and various other websites for showing a video of the recent fatal crash at the toll booth. The Turnpike authority say that the video is their private property. But one Jersey blogger says - "In this day and age, it's absurd that high-speed traffic is forced into these deathtrap roadbocks. I can't count how many near-misses I see on the Parkway and Turnpike from people trying to get to an EZ Pass or less-crowded lane, or who are just confused by the sudden roadblock. Other states got rid of these toll both death trap hazards (usually after an accident with horrific loss of life). Is NJ going to wait until a tractor-trailer plows into a toll booth and kills 20 people before it does the same? I can't believe that in all the discussion on this tragic video, no one is talking about the elephant in the room - the hazard of the toll booths themselves." - Jersey Blogs - "Should You Be Watching this Video?".
In theory the US is a Union, but the reality is that in many states, tolls are used as a border tax. In some cases it is to keep out people from what in terms of jobs is the "wrong side of the tracks". In other cases it is just a case of coining money from "out of towners" - Delaware News Journal - "Legislators lack backbone to raise taxes". Why are all interstates not funded from the Federal gas tax?
A contrary view from Ohio is that gas taxes are too high - "It's time to consider tolls on federal roads. Those who use them most should help pay for their maintenance." - News Herald - "Officials can relieve pain at the pump". Logic was never a strong point with those who advocate tolls.
Not everyone has fallen for the trolls siren - see this letter in today's Dallas News from Brenton Chapin of The Colony - "Cintra and the NTTA have had their say about the State Highway 121 toll road. Isn't someone going to speak up about using the gas tax? Multiplying about 5 million people in Dallas, Tarrant, Collin and Denton counties by the average usage of 500 gallons of gasoline a year would yield $25 million in new revenue per year per penny added to the gas tax. Nine cents added to the gas tax in those four counties yields $3.75 billion in 15 years. That's way better than paying outrageous tolls for the next 50 years. And, it's better than tolls at rewarding people for good fuel economy.".
Two letters on North Carolina's I540 tolls -
"Tolls and Taxes" "Questions on tolls".
Other stories - New York - "Drive seeks end to bridge tolls" New Jersey - "Double dippers now in office exempt from reform bill" Massachusetts - "Debt clouds Pike's future" Pennsylvania - "Leasing the Turnpike Where are we going?" Texas - "Toll roads bill goes to Perry" Massachusetts - "Does MetroWest matter?" Texas - "Yellow on toll roads" Florida - "Collier not on board with idea to use property taxes to widen I-75" Texas - "House Sends Transportation Compromise To Governor" Georgia - "Big-rig lobby wants to slam brakes on mandatory toll use".
Saturday 26 May 2007
Upside down congestion
It seems that Australia has a problem with congestion on the trains, as the number of users has shot up. Sound familar? So will the possible "solution" - road user charging - The Age - "Gridlock choking life out of city" The Age - "Transport changes needed for a city barely on the move".
USA round up 26th May
A story about electronic toll problems is not new. But this one gave us a good laugh as it says - "The point of the E-ZPass system is to save time and gas, expedite traffic, reduce pollution and make visiting New Hampshire a more pleasant experience." If any of those reasons was the point would they not instead get rid of the E-Z pass and the tolls? - Nashua Telegraph - " State should go easy on most toll offenders".
To cap this story, today a California paper lists the top 25 inventions, coming in at number 14 is "Electronic tolls", which apparently started in Dallas in 1989. Suprisingly some equally useful inventions didn't make the top 25 such as the Guillotine and weapons (nuclear, biological, machine guns, landmines, etc). Though "Karaoke" made it at number 25.
Other stories -
Alaska - "Bridge authority kills plan for public relations firm" California - "SANDAG to study transit focus" Connecticut - "GOP targets state gas tax".
More Democracy British style
Today's Times has a piece by Matthew Parris - "The trouble with democracy is that you just can’t trust it". Appropriately for a writer in the Trolls paper, Matthew says - "My final problem with democracy is rooted in the possibility that through ignorance or folly, the public may simply be wrong.... Sometimes people refuse to accept the inevitable, such as electronic road pricing.".
Friday 25 May 2007
Manchester Toll - Democracy British style
Two of us from the "Manchester Against Road Tolls" campaign were at Manchester Town Hall today to hear all about their toll plans, which were leaked to BBC and local papers yesterday. As you might guess we were now allowed in. We will be revealing more of what is going on when we have time to write it up!
Strange how the news media knew what the plans were when the council leaders who approved these plans did not officially see them till 10 this morning - BBC - "City congestion fee plan unveiled" Motorcycle News - "Bikes to be hit by road pricing" Guardian - "'£5 charge to enter city' plan" Guardian - "'£5 charge to enter city' plan" Reuters - "Manchester plans 5-pound congestion charge" Daily Mail - "Rush-hour motorists face £5 charge to drive into Manchester" MEN - "Bosses split over c-charge plans" Manchester Confidential - "Congestion charging to hit the city" Daily Express - "'£5 CHARGE TO ENTER CITY' PLAN" MEN - "C-charge details revealed" MEN - "Referendum call on congestion charges" MEN - "Countdown to charging".
If you can help us to fight these plans then email us at - Manchester.
We have issued this press release -
PRESS RELEASE - MANCHESTER TOLL PLANS - TROJAN HORSE
A bleak future for British Drivers was unveiled today (Friday) in Manchester.
Plans had already been leaked but at a press conference at Manchester Town Hall it was confirmed that the ten Councils in the
Manchester area would promise to introduce road tolls. In return they are hoping to be given billions of pounds of taxpayers money.
For phase one of the scheme, the charge would be £5 for a car driver coming from outside Manchester into the city centre between
&:00 and 9:30 am and then leaving between 4:00 and 6:30 pm. At other times and for other journeys there would be no charge or a
lower charge. Commercial vehicles would pay more, but no figures have been quoted.
Under the umbrella of the Association of British Drivers and the National Alliance Against Tolls, a Manchester group has been formed
to oppose the plans. A spokesman for Manchester Against Road Tolls said -
"This is a bad day for drivers all over Britain, we might as well be living is Stalinist Russia. There is a complete lack of
democracy and information is being kept from the public. We are not surprised that after their failure in Edinburgh there will not
be referendum. Instead there will be a sham token consultation following a massive spin exercise."
"Some Manchester people may be breathing a sigh of relief that instead of charges of up to £1.34 a mile as announced by the
Government, the daily charge for cars is a maximum of £5, and may not apply to many people. The reality is that this is a Trojan
horse. Once the system is in place they can do what they like. In fact the details that have been revealed today only apply to what
is called Phase 1. Ken Livingstone has already demonstrated in London what will happen - he increased the £5 charge to £8 and has
doubled the size of the charge zone."
"When this system is rolled out nationally there will have to be substantial charges just to cover the costs. The government
themselves have said that the implementation costs could be up to £62 billion with many billions more each year for running costs."
"People may at least feel reassured that the system will be a tag and beacon and not spying on motorists. The truth however is that
to try and enforce any system there will have to be cameras which will identify and record vehicle details. It is the only way that
those who deliberately or inadvertently don't pay can be traced and fined and prosecuted."
"Road pricing is just another poll tax and will hit less well off drivers the hardest. The intention can only be to try and force
them off the road. All drivers rich or poor are already contributing £50 billion a year in taxes on road use. Drivers do not want
even more taxes that will be wasted on an army of bureaucrats, bailiffs and snoopers.".
"Rent controls and road tolls"
One for the economists - Financial Post.
USA round up 25th May
Texas - "Freeze on private toll roads ready for vote" New Jersey - "IN CASE YOU MISSED IT ... STATE ASSETS SIMPLY CAN'T BE REPLACED" New York - "Senecas vote to charge toll on cars in dispute with state" New York - "MAYOR MIKE'S PARKING PERKS" New York - "Your 'right' to free parking is being curbed" Illinois / Missouri - "Illinois officials optimistic on bridge" Illinois - "Tollway oases could soon house hotels" New Jersey - "Delaware Memorial Bridge tolls could rise" Ilinois - "County losing thousands of dollars in unpaid tolls" Texas - "Lawmakers say accord reached on roads bill" New York - "City Poll Shows Divide In Support for Drive Tax" Pennsylvania - "Rendell cautioned over turnpike lease" New York - "Bloomberg crackdown on gridlock" Texas - "Lawmakers make headway on transportation bill
" New York - "Another Way Manhattan Differs From the Rest of NYC" New York - "Tax big rigs and not cars, pol says - Weiner criticizes mayor’s ‘congestion pricing’" New York - "Groups Dispute Quinnipiac Poll Findings on Congestion Pricing" New Jersey - "Corzine Toll Hike An Insult to Taxpayers" Florida - "Public meetings set for I-95 toll lanes project".
A consultant's life is a happy one
The Times City Diary yesterday had a snippet about the Commons Transport Select Committee meeting recently to consider Manchester’s bid for a con charge - "Representing Manchester was Lewis Atter, now a consultant at KPMG. The bid requires £1 billion of funding from the Government’s Transport Innovation Fund ... this just happens to have been set up by one Lewis Atter, in an earlier life a heavy-hitter at the Treasury .." Well we have said before that the only ones bound to benefit from this process are the consultants. Most of whom no doubt can pay a con charge a million times over and not notice it.
More on Canadian toll proposals
News 1130 - "Taxpayers federation opposes BC road tolls".
Thursday 24 May 2007
Manchester Toll - More reports
More on the Manchester plans. The BBC say - "Congestion charge plans revealed". They also have a video report at - (see video link at top right). This confirms what we suspected, the spin doctors behind this scheme are driving a coach and horses through the rules about Access to Information, by keeping the plans from the public till they have a news conference. Other Manchester stories are - Birmingham Post - "Manchester ahead on road pricing" Rochdale Council - "Chance to have your say on congestion charges" Middleton Guardian - "Transport Bill fails to regulate firms" 24dash - "Road pricing schemes for Birmingham and Manchester 'by 2012'" Bury Times - "Drivers to face pay zone charges".
More reaction to Road Pricing plans
The Forum of Private Business are one of the few organisations that have consistently opposed "congestion charging" and road pricing - Press release.
Other reports - Cambridge Evening News - "Road pricing 'unfair'" Materials Handling World - "Road pricing - support from freight industry (FTA)" Yorkshire Evening Post - "Road tolls could cost jobs say small firms" Express & Star - "Lagging behind on road pricing" Road Transport - "RHA told to forget about road pricing" Newcastle Journal - "Drivers facing local congestion charges" Express & Star - "Pay as you drive: on the way" Cambridge Evening News - "Road pricing is on city leaders' green agenda" ic Coventry - "Leader targets buses" Yorkshire Post - "Toll taxes face a bumpy road" Motorcycle News - "Road pricing for bikes a step closer" Motor Trader - "RMIF calls for government cooperation on road pricing".
End of tolls
Scotland's First Minister yesterday announced that it would be a priority to the end of the tolls north of the border. This policy already had the backing of the Scottish Tories, and based on statements last night it seems that it also has the backing of Scottish Labour - Scotland tolls news page.
The Government is getting ready for trials of road pricing technology - Guardian - "Spring trial run for road pricing" Telegraph - "Road pricing trials could start next year" Computing - "DfT sets off on road pricing technology journey" Transport Briefing - "Technology suppliers receive road pricing invite".
Just published on DfT website - "Road Pricing Demonstrations Project" "Exploring road pricing systems and technology".
It is also reported that Capita who have made a fortune from the London Con scheme and from privatisations are set to have a large slice of the mega billion road pricing pie - Guardian - "Capita leading contender to run road pricing schemes".
"London "CO2" charge hit by delay"
It seems that there will be a delay to Ken's Hot Air tax plans - Autocar.
PS A later report in the Register by Jason Scrutton (who worked on the introdiction of the London Con scheme) gives a fuller analysis - "Mayor Ken's Low Emission Zone - a load of hot air?".
"Blackwall tunnel is 'road to hell'"
Even some MPs are concerned about the congestion caused by the London Mayor stopping tidal flow system in the Blackwall Tunnel - Bexley Times. What we don't understand is what makes anyone think that Ken or any Government Minister has any concern about drivers other than to get as much money as possible from them.
USA round up 24th May
On NY1, the headline says "Poll: Manhattan Voters Support Congestion Pricing Plan". As you may have guessed this headline is a bit misleading - the survey result was that the majority of voters (including those who use mass transit rather than cars) in four out of 5 boroughs said that they opposed the charge. From another story in Streetsblog it seems that Mayor Bloomberg must have borrowed some of the London Mayor's spin doctors. The facts for Stockholm are that though the people in the equivalent of the Manhattan area were narrowly in favour of the charge (many of then would be within the toll cordon and not have to pay), those in the outer areas voted against it in the referendum. As for London the people of course have never had a vote on this issue, and the result of the statutory consultations was that most people were opposed to the charge and to the extension of the zone.
Other Stories - New Jersey - "N.J. may hike tolls annually" New Jersey - "N.J. may hike tolls annually" Delaware / New Jersey - "Toll may rise on Delaware Memorial Bridge" Pennsylvania - "Turnpike deal looks lucrative, but caution urged" Washington State - "STATE REACTS TO COMPLAINTS LOW-KEY up HIGH" New York - "E-Z COME, E-Z GO: PA'S NEW TOLL STRATEGY" Massachusetts - More tolls to pay for transit Kansas - "Turnpike to raise toll fees to pay for new bridges"
Illinois / Missouri - "Missouri won't insist on tolls for new bridge" Oregon - "Oregon bills limiting toll roads die" Maine - "More bonds OK’d for Maine Turnpike Authority; other bills of note" New Jersey - "New Jersey weighs toll hikes to earn $15B for debt" Colorado - "Jefferson County toll road is wrong answer" Florida - "Road would slice from state's interior to Gulf".
More on Canadian toll proposals
Toronto Sun - "Who's been cheering for green taxes?" Ottawa Citizen - "Road tolls could be the cure for a congested city" Globe and Mail - "City's new 'revenue tools' sail past the populist furies" Vancouver Sun - "Road tolls and fees good idea, chamber says" Toronto Star - "City urged to limit downtown deliveries".
Wednesday 23 May 2007
End of tolls?
It is reported this morning that Scotland's First Minister is to announce the end of the tolls north of the border - Scotsman - "SNP's Holyrood battles commence with move to abolish bridge tolls" BBC - "Salmond plans to end bridge tolls".
More pushing tolls
Tolls will apparently not only force some drivers off Canada's roads they can also be varied to encourage the use of "small, fuel-efficient vehicles". How come these toll advocates have never heard of gas taxes? "Cities driving to toll zones".
USA round up 23rd May
New Jersey - "Readers reflect on response to wildfire in Pinelands" New York - "Congestion plan is right route: brass" Washington State - "No freebies over bridge, residents say" Connecticut - "Norwich Turnpike first toll road to be finished" In 1792!! Kansas - "Bridge closures are coming down pike" Texas - "City officials hold off on opinion of NTTA proposal" Virginia - "HOT lanes projects make advances" Tennessee - "Toll road bills advance in Tennessee" "Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association Statement on Turnpike Leasing Financial Report".
Real view of business
There has been a debate in Birmingham which may have been intended to show that businesses support road pricing. It is true that the business establishment support road pricing, but real businesses do not as is shown by this report - Birmingham Post - "Congestion charge should be a last resort".
A one sided view
The BBC report - "Rivers toll scheme is considered". Part of our alliance in "North East Against Tolls", but the BBC only have a link to "People in Motion" - funded by the Government and local authorities in the area with a view to having a pilot scheme for road pricing.
More on Local Transport Bill
There have been reports in papers local to the ten or so possible pilot areas, including from Tyne and Wear area - Newcastle Journal - "Ministers clear way for tolls". Comments in other papers include the boss of Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority - "It looks likely that we will finally have the powers to give local people reliable, affordable bus services that take them where they want to go." and one of the Manchester area's Lib Dem leaders - "We are being railroaded into this."
Reports this morning on yesterday's draft bill, many quote comments from "motoring organisations" or specifically say the AA or the RAC Foundation. These organisations have been helping to promote road pricing. Do the journalists who write these stories realise this? Some of the stories - Transport Briefing - "Local Transport Bill: road pricing framework fine-tuned" Guardian - "Road-pricing backlash being shifted to councils, critics claim" Telegraph - "Road pricing will hit 4x4s hardest" Metro UK - "Road-pricing tests given green light".
This is what we released to the press yesterday -
"Roads users have already made it very clear that they do not want more road taxes, particularly a tax that will cost many billions to administer and require a major surveillance system to enforce it. They will be disappointed but not surprised that despite this opposition the Government are now seeking more road charging powers."
"In the urban areas that are likely to be the first ones to suffer road pricing, the new Bill will make it legal for Passenger Transport Authorities (PTAs) to join in charging schemes with one or more local authorities. PTAs are not democratically elected and tend to be dominated by officers in Passenger Transport Executives (PTEs) whose main aim seems to be to push drivers off the road and on to public transport. The set up for Passenger Transport Authorities and Passenger Transport Executives is one of the most opaque areas of Government in
Britain, and is a hangover from when they were set up to run municipally owned bus services."
"If the politicians are to persist in trying to inflict these new taxes on roads users then there must be more democracy not less. It is frightening that undemocratic organisations are now to be given an almost unfettered say on the introduction of road charging schemes in English cities. What we need is more democracy not less. Why are people in England apparently to be denied a referendum such as they had in Edinburgh when the authorities wanted to introduce charges there?"
"It is disturbing that road pricing plans appear to have all party support. It is even more disturbing that politicians from all parties are misleading the public by giving the impression that road pricing will merely mean a switch from existing taxes. Even if it were true that it was not intended to increase net taxes, there is the cost of collection. Two years ago the Government revealed that their own consultants had estimated that the cost of implementation could be up to £62 billion. Who is to pay for this? The tooth fairy?"
"The impression had been given that this new bill will enable road pricing, but existing legislation already does that. In fact we already have road pricing! (existing legislation)). These existing powers are by no means puny. They do currently require that there is consultation but, fortunately for Ken Livingstone, they do not require that anybody pays any attention to it. They also have draconian enforcement powers which makes refusal to pay the charge a criminal offence."
Tuesday 22 May 2007
An odd item today on a farmers website - fwi.co.uk. It is a story about a "mozzarella cheese plant at Newcastle Emlyn" which has gone bust, owing £1.7 million. Newcastle Emlyn is in West Wales, but despite this their debts include
"a London congestion charge bill of £178,000".
We never realised that Ken was so generous in letting charge payers run up bills. Is it that he likes cheese or the Welsh? Or is it that TfL couldn't figure out where Newcastle Emlyn was?
The Government press release (and associated documents) from late this morning - "Draft Bill to improve public transport and tackle congestion" and here is the Draft Local Transport Bill.
The authorities already have extensive road charging powers, but the Bill has numerous clauses varying the existing legislation. The main change is that there is to be less democratic control over charging. The Minister is giving up the power to require that there is public consultation, and charging authorities will no longer need approval of the Minister before introducing a charging scheme.
In the urban areas that are likely to be the first ones to suffer road pricing, it will make it legal for Passenger Transport Authorities (PTAs) to join in charging schemes with one or more local authorities. PTAs are not democratically elected and tend to be dominated by officers in Passenger Transport Executives (PTEs) whose main aim seems to be to push drivers off the road and on to public transport. In practice it seems to be PTAs and PTEs who are already the ones promoting these pilot road pricing schemes. Possibly because they don't have to worry about being reelected! Other parts of the Bill include provisions for sharing data and tighter rules on penalties for interfering with charge recording equipment.
More details of the clauses in Local Transport bill relating to road user charging (and workplace parking levy) at sections 64 to 82: -
Clauses 64 to 67 - Charging schemes may now include Passenger Transport Authorities acting with one or more local authorities.
Clauses 68 to 69 - Ditto for London.
Clause 70 - Schedule 4 Minor changes because of PTAs.
Clause 71 - Adds requirement, when considering whether to introduce a charging scheme, to consider effect on "level of emissions".
Clause 72 - English charging schemes will no longer need approval of Minister (Welsh schemes will continue to need approval of a Welsh minister).
Clause 73 - Removes power of English Minister to require that there is consultation before a charging scheme is introduced. (Welsh power remains.)
Clause 74 - Adds power to vary the amount of the charge according to different ways of "recording, administering, collecting or paying the charge".
Clause 75 - Adds power for the Minister to make regulations as the ways in which charges may be paid.
Clause 76 - Widens the definition of interfering with charge equipment, which is already an offence.
Clause 77 - Adds power for the Minister to regulate the manner in which tolls equipment is used.
Clause 78 - Adds power for the Minister to require information from charging authorities.
Clause 79 - Widens the extent to which information may be legally disclosed by Government departments and local authorities to the charging authorities.
Clause 80 - Power to charge for supplying certain information in Scotland.
Clause 81 - Removes the need for London charging authority to have plans for how any net proceeds from charging schemes are spent.
Clause 82 - Schedule 5 Various minor changes.
Some reports after publication of the Bill -
Telegraph - "Road pricing could be Labour's poll tax" Transport Briefing Guardian - "Pay-as-you-drive trial rules laid down" Daily Mail - "Government defies two million motorists with pay-as-you-drive Bill" 24dash - "Pay-as-you-go road pricing to be trialled" Reuters - "Road pricing plans meet stiff opposition".
The Tory reaction immediately after the bill was published (and possibly before they had a chance to read it) - "A Trojan Horse for National Road Pricing". They may be right about the Trojan Horse, but their words about local decisions are meaningless. The Bill makes it more of a local decision than it was before. The point is who is making the decision. Issues like this should only be decided by local referendums - something which we hope that the Tories will eventually push for.
The tollophiles at the Freight Transport Association are in ecstacy over the prospect of their members paying more tolls. Perhaps the sniffer dogs should be called in - FTA Press release.
We are not sure whether this is news or just regurgitated. The British Retail Consortium, with the help of the road pricing champions aka RAC Foundation say that - "Road tax must go to public transport to avoid tumbleweed town centres". This is disinformation, as it ignores the gigantic cost of collecting and policing road tolls.
Paul Smith of SafeSpeed who is also a campaigner against road tolls, said: "Road pricing is hugely expensive to install and operate, and it won't even cut congestion. To see Labour pushing for a tax intended to price the poor off the roads is simply astonishing. Pricing the poor off the roads will leave more space for the rich who will immediately take advantage, thus restoring congestion levels. The only people who would benefit from road pricing are the technology suppliers - perhaps ministers need to be far more careful about just who they are listening to? "1.8 million people said no. No means no.".
What the PM's spokesman told the press before the bill was published - Morning press briefing.
Some reports prior to publication of the Bill. - BBC - "Road pricing bill before Commons" Times - "Congested cities compete to pioneer pay-per-mile trials" Guardian / PA - "Bill lays down road pricing rules".
The spokesman for the Lib Dems said before the bill was published - "Labour must be honest about road pricing". He also says "They must commit to a system which does not mean motorists as a whole paying more, but just paying differently.". As road pricing will cost MANY billions more to run, who is it that is not being honest?
USA round up 22nd May
A report on road funding has just been published by the American Transportation Research Institute. The report says that fuel taxes are a better system than tolls, and lists various faults of different tolling systems - Executive summary of report. (Hardback copies of full report can be requested from ATRI). So far we have only seen one news report of this. We wonder why? Today's Truckin - "Better fuel taxes than tolls".
In the world of tolls, common sense does not apply. The people of Pennsylvania are being told that they can get $18 billion for nothing, well almost nothing, they just have to hand over the Turnpike - Pittsburgh Post Gazette - "Turnpike lease looks good on paper".
Another report on last Friday's meeting about NY's "congestion pricing" plans. There were a lot of questions addressed to Ken's deputy. It would be interesting to know what the answers are - DMI Blog - "Talking about Congestion Pricing". One question was "Speed limit in NYC is 30mph. Vehicles regularly go 40 and 50 mph on side-streets and on avenues. What are speed limits in London and do the cameras have an impact on illegal speeding?" NY has a problem with speeding and they want to introduce "congestion pricing"???
Other stories -
Pennsylvania - "Leasing turnpike could bring $18 billion" Pennsylvania - "Needs of mass transit, roads and bridges are too big for Legislature to duck" North Carolina - "'Turnpike' too gritty, but calling it 'TriEx'?" Pennsylvania - "Turnpike lease plan sent to Pa. legislature" Florida - "SunPass overcharges: It happens every day" New Jersey - "N.J. owns stock in 2 toll-road firms" Pennsylvania - "Rendell presses case to lease Pa. turnpike"
Prof pushes tolls
Part of the growing toll lobby in Canada, only dispute seems to be what should they spend all this "free" money on - Times Colonist.
"The Singapore solution"
Pondering on whether Australia (largely empty) should do a Singapore (city state) and in particular ration cars - On line opinion.
Monday 21 May 2007
The West London Residents Association have had another demonstration against the London charge. They say it has badly affected businesses. Transport for London of course deny this - BBC - "Traders rally against charge zone". Whatever TfL may think, most surveys of retail traders and restaurants within the zone indicate that they believe that the charge has hit them. If TfL don't accept this then perhaps traders could be balloted on whether the charge should stay!
The Yorkshire Post attacks a suggestion that businesses should pay more taxes to fund road and rail improvements - "Transport poser".
The Guardian reports that a new Government "Road Transport" Bill will "give local authorities the power to introduce road pricing in towns and cities". In fact the authorities already have the power under existing legislation. The new Bill will no doubt contain more powers, but they already have very wide powers - they can ignore public opinion and they can send people to gaol if they don't pay the toll. "Draft bill starts Britain down the road to pay as you drive".
USA round up 21st May
New Hampshire - "State should go easy on most toll offenders" Florida - "Toll revenue paves roads less traveled" New Jersey - "Anyone want to buy a highway?" Texas - "State lawmakers refine corridor plan" Texas - "EZ Tag offenses can take big toll" Oklahoma - "New toll road hype in Oklahoma" North Carolina - "As the pike turns" New Jersey - "Indiana Toll Road lease holds lessons for N.J." New York - "Train to JFK May Lose to Second Avenue Line" New York - "Train to JFK May Lose to Second Avenue Line"
Sunday 20 May 2007
USA round up 20th May
The power of the trolls in America is shown by this widely syndicated story - Newsday - "Frozen Gas Tax Leads to Toll Roads". The story says that -"Self-service regular now tops $3 a gallon. There is concern the price will reach a price at which people will get serious about cutting back on driving.". Given the reliance on imported oil, which is a finite resource, using less fuel can only be a good thing. US gas taxes are amongst the lowest in the world, and there is room for modest increases. But this won't happen as there are too many interests that aim to profit from both road tolls and gas sales.
The New York Post says - "Intended to funnel drivers' dollars into public coffers, tolls have the side effect of choking traffic at critical junctures like roads and bridges." Now that the Port Authority is to introduce electronic tolls, the Post says that all will be wonderful. Really? "E-ZING TRAFFIC".
The Texas Tolls Freedom fighters - My SA - "Toll road foe a powerful force".
Other stories -
Texas - "More facts needed on Highway 121 deal" Texas - "Debating my Yankee friend took its toll" Colorado - "Loop would require a busload of cooperation" Pennsylvania - "Turnpike privatization proposal has truckers worried"
Taiwan is to start prosecuting people who have not paid the new electronic tolls. The tolls by British or US standards are low - 40 Taiwanese Dollars ($1.20 or 60 pence). But with a fine of 3,000 Taiwanese Dollars (90 US dollars 45 British pounds) they must have been taking a leaf out of Ken livingstone's book. Taipei Times - "Motorists skipping out on tolls could face fines".
Meanwhile, Japan is installing cameras to catch those not paying tolls. The cameras are a snip at only 10 million yen ($83,000 or £42,000) for one - Daily Yomiuri - "Cameras deter drivers dodging ETC tolls".
Another report that the Government may be offering another carrot to councils that agee to road pricing - Telegraph - "Bus firms fight council control".
Saturday 19 May 2007
Using a short spoon
We often say the world of tolls is bizarre, but it's hard to beat the idea of London's Mayor who hangs out with the fashionable left and calls the US Ambassador a crook, coming to the help of his New York counterpart. By now Ken has probably winged his way home but he has had his deputy with him to spread the TfL gospel - "London mayor has lessons for NYC on congestion pricing".
USA round up 19th May
Carl Paladino who was part of the successful fight to remove Buffalo tolls is now targetting the Grand Island tolls -
Amherst Times - "OPEN LETTER TO GOV. SPITZER ON GRAND ISLAND TOLLS" Buffalo News - "Paladino presses a new toll campaign".
Other stories -
Illinois - "Officials to listen to input on toll bridge project" New Jersey - "New toll-road plan just fiscal trick, not a fix" New Jersey - "New toll-road plan just fiscal trick, not a fix" National - "The 99-year taxpayer boondoggle" Maryland - (2 letters) Virginia - "Congressman urges Kaine's intervention on toll increases"
More tax from roads use
The Telegraph reports that the Government are thinking of reducing the amount that drivers can claim for business use of cars. The Tories attack the idea, though Dave and his chums have their own plans for ripping off drivers - "Tax threat to drivers using own cars for work".
Montreal Tolls "economic suicide"
The Mayors from the areas surrounding Montreal oppose toll plans - The Gazette - "Detour toll plan - off-island mayors". This is a common situation as many "congestion charges" and tolls are designed to act as a barrier to people from outside.
There are of course influential people who want tolls - The Gazette - "Tremblay should get moving on most of transport plan right away".
Friday 18 May 2007
MPs vote for secrecy
Britain's MPs have forced through a Bill that will partly exempt them from Freedom of Information rules. The Bill had been talked out several weeks ago and should have been dead. Given our experience of the Freedom of Information Act, we wonder why the MPs are changing the rules, if any public organisation has a secret to hide then the FoI Act is next to useless - BBC - "Brown will not block secrecy bid".
The EU is telling the countries that they must give more money for the Galileo road pricing satellites - Silicon - "Road-pricing satellites need more cash".
More Tolls pushing
The Gazette wants Montreal to go down the tolls road - "Paying for privilege of driving through city makes a lot of sense for public transit". By coincidence the Transit is going on strike - "Expect a mess, MTC says".
On the west coast the Vancouver Sun is doing the same. It says that Trans Link should be financed from "revenue sources that distribute costs among those who consume services". As you might guess this doesn't mean transit users it means roads users - "HOT lanes have the best chance of being adopted".
Summer is on the way
Norwich's Evening News says there will be a "Summer approval for road pricing trial". In our opinion the chances of most of the 10 schemes going ahead this summer is zero. Though no doubt the consultants will be ready to spend more of our money on "plans".
USA round up 18th May
Free Roads for the rich - the US Environmental Protection Agency has ruled which cars can use HOV lanes without paying a toll even though they only have a single occupant. These lanes are sometimes called Lexus lanes as when single occupant vehicles pay a toll only the rich use them. Bizarrely the list of cars that will now not have to pay the toll includes some Lexus models - EPA Press release List of toll exempt models.
Today's most widely syndicated story is about tolls on the warpath - New York - "Senecas vote to charge toll on cars in dispute with NY".
Other stories -
New Jersey - "Put question to the voters" New Jersey - "Mass transit plan would trump cashless tolls" New Jersey - "Turnpike plan still a gimmick" National - "Infrastructure Repair Just Isn't a DIY Job" New Hampshire - "DOT extends deadline to contest toll fines" Texas - "New proposal would pour billions into toll roads" Virginia - "Build 'Em If You Got 'Em" New York - "Senecas vote to charge toll on cars in dispute with NY" Massachusetts - "The next big thing: Carpooling by Web"
The Good and the Bad
The good news recently has been that most people in New Zealand reject tolls and prefer higher gas taxes. The bad news is that most of the new tax is to be spent on trains and - building a toll road! NZ Herald - "New fuel tax expected to bite in July 2008".
TIF between friends
This news is two weeks old, but didn't seem to be in the papers at the time. The Commons Transport Committee have published the Government reaction to various criticsms made by the Committee - 2006 Session - Seventh Special report. Most of the report is not about road pricing, but in the bits that are, as expected the majority of the Committee are pro tolls fanatics. Perhaps unexpectedly, the Government denies that it has any firm plans for national road pricing or that it is trying to force local authorities to adopt pilot schemes. (Though it is in fact trying bribery and blackmail through the Transport Innovation Fund.)
Thursday 17 May 2007
More on Ken and other City leaders saving the planet
Is there no limit to what the London Mayor will say? IPS say he told other city leaders meeting in New York that "In one year, the congestion charge brought about a 38-percent drop in private cars entering London" -
Inter Press Service News Agency - "Cities Get Serious About CO2 Emissions".
With the gullible American and British news media it is refreshing to see that a Canadian journalist, John Barber, didn't fall for the New York love fest between the pseudo lefties like Ken and the big business interests that want new ways to con a buck - Globe and Mail - "An affront to blind ideology and partisanship".
USA round up 17th May
New York - "Senecas to charge a dollar a car on Thruway" New Hampshire - "State delays E-ZPass fine deadline" Florida - "Roads, Growth And the Governor" Florida - "Roads, Growth And the Governor" Massachusetts - "Patrick continues quest to control turnpike" North Carolina - "Wake leaders approve toll road" DC - "I-95/395 Toll Lanes, Wider I-66 Approved" Delaware - "Road fund solutions sought: Lawmakers deal with $1.5B DelDOT shortfall" New York - "In The Future, Commuters Enjoy A Smooth Ride Through Lincoln Tunnel" National - "ACLU Scorns Real ID Act on the Heels of National Rebellion Against Harmful Driver’s License Law" New Jersey - "Public Interest Pledge for Toll Road Monetization and Petition Drive" Delaware - "Toll hike planned for Delaware Memorial Bridge" Texas - "Impasse on the toll roads"
RHA against Road Pricing
Yesterday on Politics.co.uk we had British politicians vying with each other in their keenness to extract more money from roads users. Just after those items there was one from the Road Haulage Association. They seem to have come off the fence and are firmly opposed to road pricing, and this time they don't suggest that we have more toll roads- "We need to change the debate".
Police not happy with the new Dubai toll system
It is almost never that officials oppose tolls, so it is even more remarkable that UAE Police say that the new Salik toll system "will clog traffic rather than ease it" - Arabian Business - "Dubai police criticise road toll plans".
Two from North of the Border
According to an official report, the removal of tolls on the Skye bridge has boosted the local economy and benefitted the people - BBC - "Bridge study claims £100m boost" Herald - "Skye bridge traffic increases by 50% since tolls scrapped" (includes comment from Tom McAlister one of the SKAT campaigners) Herald - (later report) Scotsman - "Axed Skye tolls bring £100m boost and halt exodus of young".
Yesterday, the SNP formed a minority administration. Their manifesto said that the remaining bridge tolls would be gone within 100 days. We believe that they meant this, but the next 100 days will tell.
Itis not necessarily as it seems
A survey published by a traffic data firm called "Keepmoving" has been published including on the BBC - "M8 named as worst commuter route". The reports say "The debate over road pricing becomes even more pressing if you consider the amount of time and money drivers waste in traffic." It may be a coincidence that a road in Scotland should be highlighted as the worst when the new Scottish Government has declared that it is opposed to bridge and road tolls. But why do the reports not mention that the firm is part of ITIS Holdings who may benefit if road pricing is introduced?
Twixt the Devil and the deep Irish Sea
An Irish Group has come up with the idea of in effect rationing petrol. All these carbon trading schemes are scams designed to benefit the rich and create a new useless occupation of carbon traders. A former British Tory Shadow Transport Secretary uses this as a chance to push road pricing - "Should petrol supplies be limited?".
New Way to Share the Loot
The Indian Government is planning to share in future profits. This will replace the present system of "negative grants" for toll roads - Livemint India - "Govt wants share in toll road spoils".
Wednesday 16 May 2007
All parties want more tolls
Politics.co.uk has a feature today on road pricing and the views of the politicians. As might be expected Labour and the Lib Dems want more tolls, but the Tories seem to have slid off the fence and on to the tolls side. The Tory Shadow transport secretary says "I want to make one point clear. There is general acceptance across the political spectrum that there will be some road charging in Britain in the future... We already use road charges to pay for improvements - such as the M6 toll road and the Dartford Bridge. We will need to do more of that in the future. It's not unreasonable to ask motorists to pay for something that makes their journey much easier." - "Road pricing: A workable transport solution?". It seems that roads users who are already paying 50 billion pounds a year in taxes are going to be further ripped off whoever they vote for.
PS The Tory policy of tolls is confirmed by another story today, in the Cambridge Evening News, both the new and the old Tory council leader are backing "congestion charging" - "Nightmare of 'super-estates'" "Jelly-nailer supreme seeks new challenge".
PPS In what is most unlikely to be a coincidence Politics.co.uk also has a piece today from another big tolls fan -the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce - "There are no easy answers". Congestion in the West Midlands would dramatically be improved if the tolls were removed from the M6 Toll. Strange the way that politicians and certain interests apparently don't see this.
More on City leaders saving the planet
Mayorwatch - "Livingstone at C40 Large Cities Climate Summit" NY Post - "MIKE JOINS DIPLOMATIC FEE-FOR-ALL" Edmonton Journal (Canada) - "Big-city mayors call for action on global warming" Reuters - "Livingstone tells NY to ignore car charge critics" NY Metro - "London calling" Environment News - "Big City Mayors Strategize to Beat Global Warming" NY Observer - "In Mayor’s World, Climate is Warming to Bloomberg ’08" Daily Telegraph (Australia) - "Clover backs congestion tax" Earth Times - "New York battles climate change to become 'Green Apple'" Earth Times - "New York battles climate change to become 'Green Apple'" Ken's own press agency Streets blog - "The first step to a greater greener New York".
USA round up 16th May
People in New Jersey and New York are taken for suckers by the tolls operators. After years of holding them up at the toll booths, the Port Authority now propose to get rid of the booths. Would it not be better to get rid of the tolls?
Gothamist - "Port Authority Considers Phantom Tollbooths" NY1 - "How much, if anything, should EZ Pass customers save at "cashless" tolls?" Staten Island Advance - "Turning tolls into a snap to ease traffic" New York Post - "BELL MAY TOLL FOR BOOTHS ON HUDSON" Metro News - "Is this a thing of the past?" Newsday - "Cashless tolls considered on bridges, tunnels between NYC and NJ" New York Times - "Agency Might Replace Bridge and Tunnel Tollbooths With Cashless System" NY 1 - "Port Authority Wants To Study Cashless Tolls" Newsday - "Cashless tolls considered on bridges, tunnels between NYC and NJ".
Other stories -
Florida - "County looks at tolls as best option to finance port tunnel" New Hampshire - "Drivers complain of errors with E-ZPass warnings" North Carolina - "Toll proposed for new span of I-540" New York - "Seneca's Want Toll Booths" Massachusetts - "Big Dig Price Tag Inches Up" Georgia - "Gas likely to hit $4, (Mary Peters) says" New Jersey - "A heavy toll for fund swap?" New Jersey - "Privatizing toll roads unlikely, senator says" Michigan - "Free parking? Maybe not for much longer" New Jersey - "Senator backs toll road partnerships" North Carolina - "Apex Residents Speak Out On I-540 Plan" North Carolina - "Man Takes Fight Over I-540 Toll Roads to Web" Florida - "Proposed express lanes on I-95 could cost as much as $6 per trip" Pennsylvania - "Rendell Continues Push for Turnpike Lease" New York - "Move The #($*%&@ Over, Buddy!" National - "Benchmarking U.S. Toll Roads" Alaska - "Charm offensive built for bridge" Maine - "Panel demands study of toll plaza"
"In China, It’s Not Always Clear for Whom the Booth Tolls"
An American view of the Chinese toll roads. They are not popular except with gas guzzlers as the Chinese have tolls but no gas tax - New York Times.
Planned measures WILL curb traffic
We reported yesterday that a secret Netherlands Government survey said that road pricing would have little effect on traffic. Today this was contradicted from an odd quarter - the Dutch organisation that apparently represents motorists - or as with the AA and RAC is this just a fiction? Dutch News - "Road pricing will cut jams, says car lobby".
Halifax - No. Big business - Yes
The Mayor of Halifax says no to tolls - Chronicle Herald - "Commuter options a priority, but not toll roads".
At the same time a right wing think tank recommends tolls - CNW Telbec - "A Solution for Highway Woes? Consider Road Tolls".
More on Blackwall Tunnel
TfL deny that Greenwich Council knew in advance of the decision to stop tidal flow - Ic South London - "'I axed the tidal flow scheme'". What a strange world where they think it's best to deny that there was consultation. And if TfL really think that a long tunnel under the Alps is similar to a short tunnel under the Thames, then they should hand over responsibility to someone who will really look after the interests of roads users.
Another report on the problems of the toll satellites - Times - "Galileo loses way as contractors jostle for position".
Tuesday 15 May 2007
City leaders to save planet Earth
The Toronto Star reports on a New York summit on global warming. Our Ken Livingstone is to tell them "how to institute a congestion charge on cars coming downtown - and still get elected". Perhaps he is going to lend them the people who do his PR and write all those reports on how successful it is! "Mayors unite in carbon gas fight". Now wouldn't it be nice, if they helped to reduce CO2 by not taking return flights to their various cities and instead stayed in America. Are there any vacancies at Sing Sing?
"Planned measures will not curb traffic"
A "confidential" Government survey says that traffic problems will increase despite road pricing - Expatica Netherlands.
"Save the planet, but not on my dime"
Another report on Canadians not wanting tolls - National Post.
A later report in the National Post - "Canadians cool to tolls of climate change".
USA round up 15th May
Texas - "Senate avoids Perry veto, OKs compromise bill on toll roads" Massachusetts - "Riding the Pike" Pennsylvania / New Jersey - "Private 'pikes, increasing tolls" Florida - "Free ride from Cape to get test" Florida - "Proposed express lanes on I-95 will speed you up, but for a price" Pennsylvania - "Forces build against leasing turnpike" New York - "Bloomberg Makes His State Pitch"
The UAE have set up a website to explain the new Dubai toll system - Xpress - "Decongesting Traffic: Toll Tales".
Monday 14 May 2007
Global warming, dams and roads
Christian Aid, which is based in Britain, has today issued a report which has been in the news all round the world. The report says that - "At least one billion people will be forced from their homes between now and 2050 as the effects of climate change deepen.". The report also complains about many millions more people being forced from their homes because of development; it particularly mentions the building of "dams and roads" - Brief summary and download links.
According to the US Census Bureau World Population Information, the world population is currently estimated as 6,600 million and in 2050 it will be 9,400 million. An increase of 2,800 million. Now why is it that "global warming" and building of "dams and roads" are serious problems, but the feeding, water, housing, fuel etc etc needs of an extra 2,800 million people don't get a mention?
"Blackwall Tunnel protest grows"
Further report about the removal of tidal flow - East London Advertiser - "Tidal flow row escalates".
USA round up 14th May
Texas - "Toll road compromise reached" New York - "Weiner has truck plan to counter Bloomberg" New York - "New York's Cheapest Rent - a Street" Illinois - "Toll road extension just 6 months away"
Today's Daily Telegraph gives space to someone from Deloitte to attack Tony Blair's record. The criticism includes his failure to introduce "road pricing". Is this a message to Gordon of what he needs to do to keep the establishment from sinking his ship?
The RAC Foundation is also again pushing road pricing. It suggests that the only solutions to traffic problems are staying at home or road pricing. Apprently there is no point in improving roads, after all one of the worst congestion areas is the West Midlands "despite the expensive construction of a toll road to ease congestion" - Guardian - "Work at home, drivers told".
Sunday 13 May 2007
"User fees not seen as solution to gridlock"
Canadians don't like road congestion, but neither do they like tolls - Edmonton Journal.
Despite this the establishment are pushing for tolls - Tri City News - "Not easy to implement" Tri City News - "Road toll talk returns in Greater Vancouver".
USA round up 13th May
Massachusetts - "Inequity on the Pike" Pennsylvania - "Website shows how pols would have you pay for roads" New Hampshire - "Having E-ZPass panic? Don't, officials say" West Virginia - "Pricey"
Saturday 12 May 2007
USA round up 12th May
A view from Britain on road sales -
Telegraph - "Yes, they have all come to look for America and make a fast-lane buck".
Other stories -
Florida - ""Congestion pricing" could lower Sanibel tolls" Texas - "Lawmakers near deal on transportation bill"
Friday 11 May 2007
"Learn to love the tolls"
Lisa Pryor in the Brisbane Times wants the Government to force people to stop driving through "exorbitant metered parking" increased petrol prices and congestion charges - "Government must drive better bargain over cars".
USA round up 11th May
The claimed benefits of alternative fuel cars are refuted by Neil Winton from England. Though when it comes to being "green", the first requirement seems to be that you are gullible - Det News - "Rash claims, poor fuel efficiency likely to stymie ethanol in Europe".
Other stories -
Virginia - "Williamsburg council votes to join transportation panel" West Virginia - "Authority approves paying consultant" Pennsylvania - "Group Submits Plan For Sale Of Mon-Fayette Expressway" New Jersey - "One person dead in crash at Parkway toll plaza"
Thursday 10 May 2007
"Motorists ripped off"
A Queensland toll operator charges electronic tolls too early - Courier Mail. This seems to be just another electronic tolls glitch. The real rip off is having tolls at all.
..... and Statistics
As a real treat, there are two sets of figures today -
The condition of roads is a lot better than it was, apparently - National Road Maintenance Condition Survey: 2006.
Latest traffic figures, though they are probably not reliable. About a year ago the Government reduced the previously reported figures for previous years, thus increasing the apparent recent increase in traffic - Traffic Quarter 1 2007 (note there are links at top right to "download" details).
Peering through the murk
Another report about the removal of tidal flow in the Blackwall tunnel. The local council have claimed that they knew nothing about this, but a TFL letter has turned up which refers to discussions in January - News Shopper - "Tidal flow row escalates".
High charge zone approved
Plan for "Low Emission" charge zone has been approved. It will apply to lorries over 12 tonnes from July 2008 and to lighter lorries, and buses etc from July 2008 - Mayor Watch press release.
RHA reaction to the approval of the new charge zone - press release - "Another Industry Blow as Low Emission Zone Gets Green Light".
Other ways of reducing roads use - 1
A Sri Lankan official suggests leaving roads in a poor state of repair to discourage vehicles use and reduce excessive speeding. He also suggests that fuel taxes should be raised. At the moment there is no tax at all on diesel fuel, though diesel cars are driven by wealthier drivers, and diesel lorries cause the roads damage - Lanka Business Online - "Sri Lankan official suggests unorthodox way to solve traffic problem".
Other ways of reducing roads use - 2
Get on Your Bike!! Times of India - "SOTTO VOCE: Green Drive".
Other ways of reducing roads use - 3
Close the schools!!! Standard (Hong Kong)- "Radical options to be considered for bad air days".
USA round up 10th May
Here is a driver who through his choice of car, various tweaks and driving techniques is achieving 73 miles per gallon. But what would happen if gas taxes were removed and replaced with tolls? Daily Southtown - "Every drop of gas counts when 'hypermilers' drive".
Other stories -
Texas - "No jolly holiday here" (proposal to suspend gas tax) California - "Toll road could go either way" Florida - "Toll road may cut at heart of nature" Florida - "I-75 toll proposal could go on 2008 primary ballot" DC - "HOT Lanes' Allure" Illinois - "CTA cited in report on U.S. transportation infrastructure"
More pressure for Vancouver tolls- The News - "Committee recommends forum on road pricing".
Wednesday 9 May 2007
A report about a petition against the London Mayor removing tidal flow on Blackwall tunnel, with the probable aim of introducing tolls because of the resulting congestion - East London Advertiser - "Protest grows at scrapping tunnel contra-flow".
The website and petition.
Italian troll in trouble
Autostrada is being investigated for abuse of its position by refusal to give back credits on electronic tolls - Hemscott - "Autostrade probed by Italy's antitrust body on Viacard market abuse UPDATE".
USA round up 9th May
You could guess that Washington State was the home of Microsoft by the sort of publicity that has dominated local papers over recent weeks. They are trying to get people to sign up to use electronic toll transponders, but you would think from the hype that users would cross the bridge toll free! Daily Index.
One of the early military think tanks is to lend a hand in promoting more tolls. It has set up a "Supply Chain Policy Center" - Research Topics.
Other stories -
NY - "Biofuels, Bus Lanes and Beer" NY - "Residential Permit Parking ‘Held Hostage’ by Congestion Pricing Plan" Florida - "Council officially opposes bridge tolls"
"G-Wiz alert as the electric car fails safety tests"
Being green is not necessarily being safe - Evening Standard. As the cars can't go without batteries, why do they ignore their weight? And how did they work out that cars weighing nearly half a ton can do up to 600 miles per gallon? A later report in Autocar.
We want tolls!
Here is one community that is apparently begging for the opportunity to pay tolls (albeit with a little Government subsidy thrown in) - Scoop - "Government Should Back Residents' Support".
Tuesday 8 May 2007
Ken plans to charge more for what someone guesses to be the most "polluting" vehicles - excluding the worst offenders - older buses and taxis - Guardian - "Livingstone to charge older, dirtier lorries £200 a day".
Correction According to this latest report though Ken is leaving his taxis alone, the charge will apply to buses with the worst ones then being moved to other areas - Standard - "Pollution charge zone for lorries set to win go-ahead".
Irish toll protest today
Early report - Irish Examiner - "M50 protest set to cause major delays". Later report - Evening Echo - "Traffic warning amid lorries protest".
USA round up 8th May
Realtor's view - "Will "Congestion Pricing" Come To Your City?".
Other stories -
Virginia - "Toll Road Tickets Innocent Toll Payers" DC - "Should D.C. Adopt London-Style Congestion Tax?" New York - "Will the Critics Kill Congestion Pricing?" Michigan - "Anger builds over bridge" Washington Post - Readers views on proposed DC border toll New York - "Small Businesses Cry Foul Over Proposed Driving Restrictions" Washington State - "State on target for transponder sign ups" New York - "Sadik-Khan and Congestion Pricing"
"Tollway shares plunge"
Brisbane's North South Bypass tollway tunnel faces some problems - Courier Mail.
Monday 7 May 2007
"Highway tolls won't work"
The Canadian Automobile Association say that putting tolls on busy roads would just move the congestion to other roads - AM900 CHML.
PS There are two sides to everything and an academic says that the survey shows that tolls would have the desired effect and that the support for tolls was a remarkable thumbs up to a new tax - Toronto Star - "Majority don't like road tax: Survey".
Oil Company Paradise
China is the Trolls favourite country - there are no gas taxes and instead they have road tolls. Last year it was reported that they were going to reverse this policy with the aim of trying to limit the increase in CO2 emissions. But that aim must have been abandoned as they are now bringing in electronic tolls - Shangai Daily - "Automatic toll charge on the way".
USA round up 7th May
Florida is overflowing with toll roads, toll authorities and tolls monies. So what does it matter if one toll authority spends $24 million on new offices? Orlando Sentinel - "X-way's role as landlord may shrink".
Other stories - Pennsylvania - "Wrestling to control turnpike" Georgia - "We need roads - and money" Texas - "Road building becomes much more convoluted" Texas - "Citizens' toll road worries snubbed"
Sunday 6 May 2007
"Road toll talk returns"
Vancouver officials want to introduce road pricing. In part they use the excuse of the effect that a new tolled bridge will have on traffic diverting to other roads - Vancouver Leader.
USA round up 6th May
A tale of the Texans being so in love with tolls that they went to "war" with Oklahoma to delay use of a free bridge -Dallas Morning News - "Conflict took a toll as bridge dispute turned to war".
Other stories - Georgia - "We need roads - and money" California - "Tollway merger revival means I was right" Minnesota - "Tolls on Hwy. 35W might be worth a try" Florida - "You have to be there to represent the people"
Saturday 5 May 2007
USA round up 5th May
Illinois - "Huntley backs Bolz toll bridge" New Hampshire - "Drivers' E-Z solution: Pay up" New York - "Congestion Pricing Debate" Texas - "Controversial corridor faces new hurdle"
Paying for roads
Ulf Schoefisch argues that cost of roads and other infrastructure should be met by borrowing rather than coming out of current taxes - Stuff - "Infrastructure an unfair burden on today's taxpayer".
Friday 4 May 2007
"New York drivers oppose mayor's $8 fee"
A Reuters report on the NY con charge, which seems to have only been published in Australia. It gives a glimpse of the way pollsters try and influence results to get people to support tolls - Brisbane Times.
PS This story eventually reached some NY papers - NY Observer - "Drivers Oppose Eight-Dollar Fee by 61 to 35 Percent".
More on Irish toll protest
Hauliers are extending their protest to Dublin Port - RTE - "Haulier protest to disrupt the M50".
USA round up 4th May
NAFTA - "Superhighway has Guiliani as key player" Idaho - "More minuses than pluses for Highway 75 toll road" Pennsylvania - "Mystery letter disavowed by Pa. Turnpike Commission" DC - "Unlike Barry, commuters pay their 'fair share'" Florida - "Toll roads could get pricier" California - "Toll Road to Ruin" Florida - "Senate passes bill to privatize toll roads, raise tolls"
New Zealand National party promise toll roads - NZ Herald - "Nats: We will allow more toll roads".
View from the Southern continent
For a change there is someone overseas who isn't repeating the TfL myths - Online opinion - "Trafficking in illusions".
Thursday 3 May 2007
Manchester Toll - Fancy that
It seems that some people have already bought into the idea of a wonderful new public transport system - to be paid for by motorists - South Manchester Reporter - "Bigger bang plan".
"Congestion Charge Revenue Wasted"
The Forum for Private Business reveal how congestion charge income is wasted on useless schemes - Press Release. Though the biggest waste is of course the cost of collecting and enforcing the charge!!
Mayor to stand
Cuddly Ken has confirmed that Londoners are to be given a chance to vote him in for a third term as London Leiter Reuters.
PS - Black and pale black boxes
Some comment on yesterday's story - The Register - "Researchers, spooks favour satnav-based road pricing".
USA round up 3rd May
When there is an emergency, the American authorities, unlike their counterparts in Britain, will temporarily remove tolls to ease traffic flow. But when the problem will last months rather than days, rather than remove tolls, they just draft in more police - Detroit News - "'Chaos' in Grosse Ile over bridge closure; Riverview declares emergency". Here is another example of how the trolls don't give a damn about the congestion that tolls cause - Tech News - "This article almost didn’t happen".
DC Toll Border - Read Express - "Poll Center: Toll Booths at the District Line?" Washington Post - "District Floats Toll Ideas" Washington Post - "U.S. Funds Sought for D.C. Traffic Study" Washington Times - "Tollbooths just an attempt to pick our pockets" Wonkette - "Marion Barry's delightful new crack-money scheme revealed".
Other stories -
New York - "Boro reps protest mayor's new commuter tax " California - "Suggestions for the SANDAG ax" Maine - "Turnpike tolls: What's fair?" Washington State - "A burden for the county, a freebie for the state" Colorado - "Tolls Might Return To Boulder Turnpike" California - "Toll road merger proposed" Georgia - "How About Toll Lanes on I-85?"
Desert Congestion charge
Dubai in the Emirates is introducing road tolls with a cap of 24 UAR Dirhams ($6.50 or £3.25) a day - Xpress - "Decongesting Traffic: Toll Tales". This will do nothing to deter traffic and is just a money spinnner, what do they do with all the oil money?
Wednesday 2 May 2007
Hauliers want to give tolls a heave-ho
Irish hauliers are again demonstrating against tolls - RTE - "Hauliers to protest against M50 tolls". In a separate story on the elections it is reported that Sinn Féin say that they would scrap all road tolls if in government.
USA round up 1st and 2nd May
NY toll - Brooklyn Daily Eagle - "Brooklyn Broadside: Congestion Pricing" NY Sun - "Scramble On for Traffic Dollars" NY 1 - "Lawmaker: Mayor's Congestion Plan Regressive"
Some comments on the Business Week article (see 27th April) - Huffington Post Mother Jones.
Other stories -
Texas - "Private toll road moratorium sent to governor" DC - "Council Members Explore Tolls at D.C. Borders" DC - "DC Considering Commuter Toll Booths" DC - "Marion, D.C. Tolls Not For Thee" DC - "D.C. may hit commuters with tolls" New Jersey - "P.A. official denies 2-way tolling report" Georgia - "Toll lanes propsed for I-85" Colorado - "U.S. 36 group does turnaround on tolls - Long opposition dropped in bid to get federal funds" Washington State - "Sims sees money in every mile" Virginia - "Vote for roads authority: Not so fast" DC - "Barry urges worker tolls" Nevada - "Toll talk falters in Nevada" Georgia - "Toll-payers may join car-poolers in HOV lane" North Carolina - "On Jacking Up the Car Tax" Pennsylvania - "The times they are a changin'" Pennsylvania - "A private-sector solution for our roads" New Jersey - "Can tolls ease traffic in NJ?" Washington State - "Commission advises few bridge toll exemptions" Florida - "Dade toll-setting roadway authority survives -- for now" Florida - "Think of toll as a tax" California - "Anti-sprawl laws get tepid review".
Black and pale black boxes
"Experts" say that "Road charging in UK 'inevitable'". While Government scientists propose using modified sat nav for road pricing - Reuters - "British motorists face spy in sky monitoring" Intranetics Motoring - "Government 'could use sat-nav technology for road charging'".
Manchester Toll update
There seems to be a determined effort in Manchester to mislead the public on the so called "congestion charge" proposals and to sell the scheme on the promise of a BIG pot of gold. Will voters be fooled tomorrow? Salford Advertiser today - "Who's going to pay - you or them?" MEN Blog Monday - "Highly charged" MEN Monday - "C-charge 'still too high a cost'" MEN Monday - "C-charge 'will fund transport revolution'".
A Rose by any other name (still depends on CO2 to exist)
Ken and his fellow brains are planning to replace the so called "congestion charge" with a toll based on CO2 emissions. We wonder what name the PR brains will come up with - "The Save the Planet Contribution"? Autocar - "Congestion charge to become CO2 Tax".
Tory opposes "congestion charging" - a bit
George Osborne, Tory Shadow Chancellor, today gave his views on congestion charging to the Yorkshire Post - "I'm against congestion charging if it's simply a way of raising revenue. I'm also against it if the government bullies the local council and says: "You're not going to get any support for local transport unless you go ahead with charging." It should only be done with the support of the local community and be done to tackle the very specific problem of congestion, and not as an additional stealth tax.". This is certainly better than nothing, but as he represents a constituency close to Manchester why does he not mention holding a referendum?