MAY 2008 NEWS
Saturday 31 May 2008
Pennsylvania - "Opponents rally against proposal to lease turnpike" Virginia - "MTA VDOT seeks industry partners for projects" New Jersey - "Lautenberg, Andrews clash over toll plan" California - "GG Bridge tolls could top $7" Florida - "Bridge users could pay new toll".
More people, more tolls
A Government quango for Yorkshire is saying that "local transport authorities must make demand management - road pricing and congestion charging - their top priority". They are also ordering that another 440,000 homes be built. Yorkshire Post - "Planners set out vision for region" Yorkshire Post - Plans for 440,000 homes threaten green belt".
With all the moves in recent years to discourage the use of tobacco, it is forgotten that Governments and MPs over most of the last 50 years have been more concerned about protecting tobacco tax revenue, company profits and tobacco workers jobs than they have been about deaths related to smoking. Bills to ban all forms of tobacco advertising were either put into the bottom drawer by Governments or talked out by MPs. It was not until 2002 that a Bill requiring a complete ban on all forms of advertising was passed. This week it was revealed that Governments had been turning a blind eye to tobacco risks since at least 1956 - AP - "UK Cabinet had warning of cancer-smoking link" Medical News Today - "National Archives Reveals British Cabinet's First Discussion On Lung Cancer And Smoking".
Friday 30 May 2008
End of the road for free toll passes - Buffalo News - "No more free ride for Thruway big shots" Newsday - "MTA rescinds free travel perks for board members" NY Times - "M.T.A. Does About-Face on Free E-ZPass Travel".
IBM have produced a report on traffic congestion. As you would expect their solution includes electronic tolls - IBM - "Feeling the pain" (pdf file).
Other stories - Pennsylvania - "Swami Rendell's turnpike magic" letter Florida - "Plan to lease Alligator Alley runs into resistance" Oregon / Columbia State - "Tempers calmer at latest Interstate 5 bridge hearing" New York - "Lawmakers OK bill to end terms of Thruway board" New Jersey - "GOP presents a budget reply to the governor" Florida - "For Lease: 78 Miles Of Road, Complete With Tolls" Florida - "Economy taking toll on Florida's Turnpike" Oregon - "Tolls May Be Future Source Of Revenue For Roads" Oregon / Washington State - "$4.2 Billion Bridge Based on Projection of Cheap(er) Oil" "Texas Transportation Commission Affirms Toll Road Building Principles" Florida - "Expressway Authority To Link With State Database To Prevent Problems" West Virgina - "Toll road ripoff!".
Cambridge toll- effect on hospital
Cambridge Evening News - "Addenbrooke's congestion charge fury".
And another one bites the dust
Independent - "NHS records project is thrown into confusion". What are the chances that a national road pricing IT system would work?
Court protects electronic toll equipment users from patent claims
PR Inside - "Court Dismisses TransCore Lawsuit against ETC Corporation".
More on Salik tolls
Gulf News - "I have a bone to pick with the RTA".
As in America, high fuel prices mean that people are crowding on to public transport - St George Leader - "Petrol crisis fuels bus, train crush".
Thursday 29 May 2008
More on Selling Hot Air
The Register - "Are you ready for WW2-style energy rationing?".
Cambridge toll- Opponent accused of bullying
Cambridge Evening News - "Bullying 'will not influence council'".
More on Salik tolls - "create congestion"
Gulf News editorial - "Salik takes its toll on Dubai drivers" 7 Days - "New tolls aren’t popular - but they do have one fan".
More on - Area road pricing proposed for KL city
Today - "Plans for ARP system for roads in Malaysia". One of the common features of stories about congestion overseas is how fast the traffic is compared with London. Kuala Lumpur without a charge is said to have an average traffic speed of 25kph, which is 15.5 miles per hour. In London the official figures show that with the charge the average "speed" is less than 9 mph.
Canada ready to declare War
The Gazette - "Is Montreal is too car friendly?".
Various reports over recent weeks indicate that the increased cost of fuel has resulted in less driving, more use of buses and trains, hauliers considering giving up, and less tolls revenue.
The NY Metropolitan Transportation Authority is planning to go to court over its free toll passes for board members - NY Daily News editorial - "Dumb duh dumb dumb" Newsday - "NY attorney general: E-ZPass perks 'illegal'".
Boston police are to target cab drivers who pay their tolls by cash and force them to use electronic tolls - Boston Herald - "Cabbies better find Fastlane".
An increasingly common tale is that drivers are beginning to realise that their electronic tolls are not reliable - WESH (Florida) - "Innocent Drivers Slapped With Toll Violations".
Other stories - Virginia - "Tunnel toll? Try two dollars each way" "New Jersey lies deep in the heart of 'Taxes'" letter Virginia - "Kaine boosts his roads proposal" Oregon / Washington State - "Crossing critics show up in force" Oregon / Washington State - "For whom the tolls bell" Georgia - "Twists and turns on the road to transportation solutions" New York - "Thruway toll hike has politicians up in arms" Georgia - "DOT chief: Toll roads a tough sell" Florida - "Brent Batten: Calculating the toll of leasing I-75" "Virginia Republicans want public-private road money considered".
Wednesday 28 May 2008
Later USA News
Florida - "Drivers Avoiding Tolls May Actually Pay More" West Virginia - "Officials considering alternative funding to get U.S. 35 construction rolling".
More on still selling a dead horse
The new head of the RAC Foundation is selling tolls again, this time in the Yorkshire Post - "Stephen Glaister: The route needed to get us out of this costly jam". Could this be a sign that the Government are about to announce another tolls push?
More on fuel protest
BBC - "Brown to meet oil industry chiefs" BBC - "Fuel demo adds to road taxes row".
A Government announcement is expected soon on the road toll proposals for Manchester and Cambridge. Despite the current fuel and road tax protests, it is still possible that Gordon will be persuaded to tie on the headband with the rising sun, drink his sake and fly into oblivion.
Cambridge toll- "Campaign launched to fight charge"
Cambridge Evening News.
More on the NY Metropolitan Transportation Authority handing out free toll passes to board members. It is now reported that this practice breaks the law - NY Daily News - "For whom the tolls toll".
Town Hall - "Risk in Foreign Ownership of Transportation Infrastructure".
- Pennsylvania - "Turnpike lease numbers are too good to be true" Pennsylvania - "Lawmakers stay cool to turnpike plan" Florida - "Collier residents protest Alley privatization" Pennsylvania - "Top Republican in Senate offers his plan to fund transportation" Massachusetts - "Pike tolls down for holiday weekend" Pennsylvania - "Congressman says agency 'stalling' I-80 plan" Florida - "DOT easing fears of Alley lease" Massachusetts - "Editorial: 37 ways tolls are inequitable" Oregon / Washington State - "Metro councilors likes tolls, but not a new bridge" DC - "Toll Lane Debate Heats up in Montgomery County" New York - "Battle Over Removing Thruway Authority Members".
"Toll on two-wheelers revs up protests"
"Area road pricing proposed for KL city"
New Straits Times.
More Salik tolls
7 Days - "Two new tolls". One consolation in the Gulf states is that apart from Salik there are no tolls, and the price of fuel (though it varies widely) is about $2 per gallon or about 20 pence per litre!
Tuesday 27 May 2008
Still selling a dead horse
Today's "You and Yours" programme on the BBC was on congestion. The main speaker was from one of the main road pricing advocates - the RAC Foundation - described by the BBC as an "independent charity". Their speaker told listeners that the Foundation proposal was to "replace all the fuel duty and other extra taxes with road pricing" and that it would be "a matter of policy and decision whether the total revenue from that is more or less than existing taxes" and that there was an "option to use the revenue to help the poorer person by improving public transport" and that it could be "revenue neutral, the total tax take stays the same because they reduce fuel duty". "Listen Again".
Most listeners will not have been aware from this hour long programme that the Government's own experts had estimated that a national toll scheme would cost between £10 billion and £62 billion to implement, with annual running costs of another £5 billion. Averaging this over ten years means that the cost of collecting this new tax would be the same as addng another 20 pence to the price of a litre of fuel. We would have hoped that by now the toll advocates and their allies would have stopped trying to sell this dead horse.
Hauliers' tax protest
BBC - "Hauliers protesting at fuel cost". Among those backing this protest are the Telegraph news paper, the AA and the RAC Foundation. Strange as they all appear to back things such as motorway tolls and "congestion charges".
Some Labour MPs are also calling for the planned tax increases to be dropped - BBC - "Speculation over road tax rethink" Guardian - "Brown faces rebellion over 'green' road tax".
PS President Sarkozy of France has proposed a fuel tax cut, but the EU have already warned against this - AFP - "Sarkozy calls for tax cut as fuel protests spread across Europe".
New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority has been handing out free toll passes to board members. One former chairman has 8 of the life time passes - "Set free to kill" (scroll down to "On E-Z Street").
Rendell tolls - Philadeplhia Inquirer - "Hidden costs will make Turnpike deal a bad one" Express Times - "Slam-dunk or an air ball?".
"The toll is secondary, although people don't like paying tolls, of course. But it's the delay that people find pretty much intolerable." Nice quote, particularly as it comes from a toll operator - Richmond Times Dispatch - "Powhite's new toll plazas prompt plea".
Proposal that instead of building a new bridge they should toll the old one - The Oregonian - "New I-5 span? Idea calls for toll first".
Other stories - Virginia - "Transportation plan might take a toll on you" California - "Diamond lanes for the rich".
Monday 26 May 2008
Poorest hit hardest by hot air tax
BBC - "Poorer drivers 'hit hard' by tax". This story shows how much politicians and the news media have entered into a world of fantasy. Drivers of older cars are to be hit because their cars are "more polluting", despite the fact that what they call "pollution" is the gas that is essential to plant life.
Selling Hot Air - 1
The MPs on the "Environmental Audit Committee" have today issued a report recommending a system of "personal carbon trading" to be run by the private sector. The aim is to "reduce our national carbon footprint" - BBC - "MPs back personal carbon credits". Report - html version Report - pdf version.
The MPs not only accept Global warming as Gospel, it seems that they also believe that their proposed solution would not result in corruption, evasion and waste, that the Government would do this instead of using "green" taxes, and that the Tooth Fairy really does exist.
Selling Hot Air - 2
Last night Britain's Channel Four broadcast "The 11th Hour", a Hollywood documentary released last August (it could hardly have been in the winter, could it?). The film was made by Leonardo DiCaprio, who says "Global warming is not only the number one environmental challenge we face today, but one of the most important issues facing all of humanity". But not to worry, population growth can continue to be ignored and American consumption can continue - all that is needed is the application of existing "green" technologies.
Earlier this year, ten trolls came together to form the "Alliance for Toll Interoperability". The idea is to make it easier to extract tolls and to chase those who don't pay. They now have a website.
Other stories - Florida - "Our position: Road authorities need a lesson in customer service" Virginia - "GOP lawmakers say leasing HRBT might be an option" Florida - "Workshop set Thursday on leasing of Alligator Alley" "Maryland considers adding tolls on I-270, Beltway".
Sunday 25 May 2008
Fuel tax to be replaced with - "fuel-based road user charge"
The Australian - "Axe petrol tax, raise funds for roads".
the newspaper.com - "Tolling Troubles Multiply Worldwide".
Rendell tolls - Reading Eagle - "Editorials : Turnpike shouldn’t be leased to firms" Times Leader - "Kicking the tires of Pa.'s Turnpike lease deal" Times Leader - "Turnpike deal has feel of a shell game" Altoona Mirror - "Quick lump sum not long-term fix" Patriot News - "For drivers, it's just like a tax" Pittsburgh Tribune Review - "Turnpike lease no easy sell" Courier Express - "Another plan to avoid tolling I-80".
Other stories - Ohio - "Protect pike funds"
California - "Dick Spotswood" Massachusetts - "Carpooling is gaining in popularity" California - "A bumpy stretch for Orange County toll roads" Connecticut - "Politics drives plan to cut state's gas tax" Texas - "TxDOT tries to bridge rifts with Texans in Congress" New York - "2 Senators Call For 'Driver Relief'".
"Hauliers to drive message home with fuel protest over rising cost"
"Should all new roads have tolls to ease congestion?"
At noon on Tuesday, the "You and Yours" programme will include tolls issue - BBC.
Saturday 24 May 2008
"Road goods vehicles travelling to mainland Europe - 2007"
The latest figures were released on Thursday. They show that over 80% of the vehicles travelling to and from Britain are foreign - DfT press release DfT bulletin (pdf file) Tables (Excel file).
New chairwoman for Transport Cttee
On Wednesday Louise Ellman, the Liverpool Riverside MP, replaced Gwyneth Dunwoody as chair of the Commons Transport Committee. She is likely to be anti drivers and pro tolls having supported the 2004 Act to increase tolls on the Mersey Tunnels and use the profits to fund transport schemes.
The other members of the committee are - David Clelland (Labour, Tyne Bridge), Clive Efford (Labour, Eltham), Philip Hollobone (Tory, Kettering), John Leech (Lib Dem, Manchester Withington), Eric Martlew (Labour,Carlisle), Lee Scott (Tory, Ilford North), David Simpson (DUP, Upper Bann), Graham Stringer (Labour, Manchester Blackley) and David Wilshire
(Tory, Spelthorne). There is one Labour vacancy.
- Florida - "After flap about accidental offenders, toll agencies look for ways to be customer friendly" Ohio - "Latest bill prevents turnpike from helping fund jobs plan" Indiana - "Move over ‘Super 70’-this one is really big" West Virginia - "Editorial: Turnpike tolls should be used for improvements to that road".
Friday 23 May 2008
More on Rendell tolls - Pittsburgh Post Gazette - "Many Rendell allies oppose his plan to lease turnpike" Patriot News - "Gas prices threaten road work" Pittsburgh Tribune Review - "Scarnati, Logan deride turnpike lease plan" Pittsburgh Tribune Review - "Alternative plan for highway money would shift costs from drivers" Pittsburgh Tribune Review - "Turnpike lease benefits exaggerated, local lawmaker claims".
More tolls pushing - Logistics Management - "‘P3’ backers push appeal for higher transport, infrastructure spending-but with higher costs". The most laughable of the arguments for more tolls and "congestion pricing" are because drivers are using the roads less and are using more fuel efficient vehicles - Portland Business Journal - "Leaders look to dump gas tax - Stagnant revenue prompts new look at several alternatives" or are switching to already crowded mass transit - Newsday - "Bloomberg: Congestion plan would have helped transit crunch".
Problems with toll collection in Florida - Orlando Sentinel - "How to avoid toll problems" Orlando Sentinel - "Batteries yield license troubles?" Orlando Sentinel - "Penalties for unpaid tolls could lessen in Florida".
Another call for tolls for out of staters - News & Observer (North Carolina)- "'Just going through-ers' take their toll".
Other stories - West Virginia - "A Study Shows Route-9 Not Viable For A Toll Road" "Massive Pike - Business as usual along Massachusetts’ Main Street" Texas - "NTTA toll booths soon to be a thing of the past" California - "Of, By and For the People?".
Malaysia is considering lowering off peak tolls to reduce congestion - though it is mainly caused by traffic queuing at the tolls! The Star - "Government mulls over move to ease LDP congestion".
Bangkok considers Con charge
Bangkok Post - "Zone-fee plan under study to reduce road congestion".
Singapore tags can't take the heat
Today - "One stop, to deal with ERP payment woes".
Out of the frying pan?
Last night's by election result confirms that there is a strong chance that the next Government will be Tory - BBC - "Cameron hails 'end of New Labour'". Based on their track record when in power there is every indication that drivers will continue to be treated as cash cows and that there will be even more road tolls.
Thursday 22 May 2008
No tolls for a "few" - Boston Globe - "Turnpike reviews who gets a free pass at tolls".
Even the trolls realise that sometimes tolls have to be lifted to speed the traffic, but there are exceptions - Press of Atlantic City - "The big storm" letters. Perhaps what we should really ask is how did Americans become so cowed that they will wait for hours in a toll queue?
Other stories - West Virginia - "Turnpike Audit Shows Costs Could Be Cut" New York - "High gas prices help boost LIRR ridership" Utah - "Rush hour in cross hairs" Washington State - "Tough times could ease holiday driving crunch" Massachusetts - "Pike commuters don’t need equity, just reparations" Washington State - "Why go through a public comment phase when new tolls won’t change?" Maryland - "Hanson floats toll idea for congestion".
Winners and Losers over Rendell tolls
It seems that the Central banks must have turned the handle and printed off enough cheap money to enable the sale of the Pennsylvania Turnpike sale to go ahead. The winners in this case are the Spanish toll operator - Abertis, the Spanish bank - Criteria CaixaCorp, and American bank - Citigroup, who if the deal is sealed will make $160 billion from tolls over the life of the deal.
There will be at least two groups of losers. Firstly there are the future generations who will lose as assets are sold off to foreign countries while every week their own country pours billions down the drain of the Iraqi civil war. Secondly there are the drivers who will have to pay even more to use the roads.
It is not clear what will happen with Rendell's alternate device to toll the Interstate 80. Some of the support for the sale of the Turnpike will come from those in the area of the Interstate on the assumption (right or wrong) that they will escape the tolls threat.
Stories Thursday - Lebananon Daily News - "Just slam it" Express - "Hanna pleased with turnpike lease bid" Citizens Voice - "Leasing turnpike is the way to go" Guardian (UK) - "Pennsylvania gained by going extra mile on road deal" WTAJ - "Truckers React to Turnpike Plans".
Stories Wednesday 21st - New York Times - "The Great Government Sell-Off" Patriot News - "Pennsylvania plan to toll I-80 hits rough patch" Morning Call - "Tough call: Turnpike lease or I-80 tolls?" Philadelphia Inquirer - "Editorial: Leasing the Turnpike" Chambersburg Public Opinion - "Our view: Turnpike plan brings bucks, but it's not the only option" Pittsburgh Post Gazette - "State bid to toll I-80 is in the slow lane" Vindicator (Ohio) - "Selling long-term assets doesn’t show fiscal discipline" Patriot News - "Leasing the turnpike appears to be most realistic funding idea" Sun Gazette - "Area lawmakers sound off on turnpike lease plan" Pittsburgh Tribune Review - "The turnpike lease: It's a real no-brainer" Pittsburgh Tribune Review - "Editorial - The turnpike bid: Whoa! Slow down!" Pittsburgh Tribune Review - "Leasing turnpike frowned on, poll finds" The Derrick - "Clarion leaders keeping up tolling opposition" The Australian - "$13bn bid to control US toll road".
Stories Tuesday 20th -
69 News - "Nader Opposes Plan to Privatize PA Turnpike" Bond Buyer - "Rendell Announces Turnpike Bid Winners" Guardian (UK) / Reuters - "Abertis U.S. deal makes sense but costly-analysts" Central Penn Business Journal - "Turnpike lease deal hinges on Legislature" The Bulletin - "Rendell Tabs Citibank, Spanish Firm For Turnpike Lease" Courier Times - "$12.8B bid wins turnpike lease" Morning Call - "Turnpike bid 'a slam dunk' for state, Rendell says" York Daily Record - "Local lawmakers skeptical of leasing state turnpike" Conde Nast - "The Cheap Pennsylvania Turnpike" Fox - "Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association (PMTA) President Responds to $12.8 Billion Abertis-Citigroup Bid to Lease the Turnpike" Philadelphia Inquirer - "Spanish firm submits highest turnpike bid" Reuters - "Abertis preferred for biggest U.S. toll road deal" Pocono Record - "Tolling roads, leasing turnpikes" Pittsburgh Post Gazette - "Spanish group bids $12.8 billion for turnpike lease" Pittsburgh Post Gazette - "Inside the consortium looking to lease the turnpike" Standard Speaker - "Spanish firm bids $12.8B for turnpike" Patriot News - "House Republicans rally around plan, but others resist" Patriot News - "NO EASY PASS" Pittsburgh Tribune Review - "$12.8 billion high bid to lease turnpike".
Stories Monday 19th, when the story broke there were a large number of reports here are just a few - Republican Herald - " Gov. Rendell announces winning bid for 75-year PA Turnpike lease " Land Line Magazine - "Spanish-American consortium bids $12.8 billion for Pennsylvania Turnpike" Bloomberg - "Pennsylvania Gets Turnpike Bid From Abertis, Citi" Forbes / Reuters - "Abertis preferred for biggest U.S. toll road deal" ABC - "Highway for Sale: A State's Route to Billions" NY Times - "Investors Offer $12.8 Billion to Run Penn. Turnpike" Philadelphia Inquirer - "Spanish firm offers $12.8 billion to lease Pa. Turnpike".
BBC - "Oil soars to new record over $135". The Prime Minister wants the oil producers to increase supply, but the root cause is that the world is overpopulated, and whatever happens in the short term over oil prices, the outlook is bleak.
More on Comedy
The toll campaigners who are happy to pay providing that it is with plastic - Western Mail - "Flexibility over plastic at the toll bridge". Amazingly one MP - Nia Griffiths, Labour MP for Llanelli - suggested removing tolls - Swansea Evening Post - "GOVERNMENT URGED TO LET SEVERN BRIDGE DRIVERS USE CREDIT CARDS".
More on Tag problems
The Star - "Motorists plagued by errors at ERP gantries".
Boris's first question time
Guardian - "A laugh a minute as Boris's one-man show comes to City Hall".
Government Quango to push toll on Yorkshire roads as population increases
Yorkshire Post on Wednesday - "Region forced to squeeze in 400,000 extra homes".
Cambridgeshire's lonely toll
CEN on Wednesday - "Congestion charge backlash is growing".
"Greens vow to tax commuters for 'not using' public transport"
Irish Independent on Wednesday. Drivers also face this - Irish Independent on Tuesday - "City could have congestion charge and car ban by 2010".
"Privatisation opponents' warning on tunnels"
NZ Herald on Wednesday.
"British lessons for Wisconsin"
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Tuesday.
Satellite tolls nearer
EE Times on Tuesday - "NXP Siemens cooperation aims at road toll systems - and more".
"Road policy oil assumptions attacked"
The Government has been assuming lower oil prices, not that it makes much difference to the usual toll advocates - Guardian on Tuesday.
"Cutting private car use generally means civic leaders being prepared to risk a few brave decisions"
More of the usual saving the planet via the BBC on Tuesday - "Time to leave the comfort zone".
No to Norwich Toll
Norwich Evening News on Monday - "Congestion charge plans scrapped". Now that there will be no tolls, the anti car campaigners want to slow the traffic down - Norwich Evening News on Tuesday - "Council urged to reconsider 20mph plans".
"The road to ruin"
Sydney Morning Herald on Monday. Depite what this story says, the trolls are so influential that Governments and the Central banks will make sure that they again have cheap money by the trillion - Herald Sun on Tuesday - "New recipe for PPP pudding" Herald Sun on Tuesday - "Motorists face rise in toll roads".
"Fuel prices 'keep cars off road'"
The official figures are said to have shown that car use has fallen by 2% year on year - BBC on Monday.
Sunday 18 May 2008
The Ozzies are coming
An Australian toll operator are tying up with an American bank to bid for the Pennsylvania Turnpike - The Age - "Transurban among bidders for US turnpike". Given the effect of the rising price of gas and the effect of the sub prime collapse, that this deal is going ahead at all means that indirectly it may be the Federal Reserve Bank that is putting up the cash to screw road users.
Toll pushing in Carolina - North and South - News Record - " Tolls: Stop-and-pay is a thing of the past" Charlotte Observer - "Road funds fall short". On the other hand - Star News - "Leland town council votes to oppose tolls on bypass".
Other stories - Ohio - "Finkbeiner pushes cities to resist shift in turnpike funds" Oregon / Washington State - "THE $4 BILLION COLUMBIA RIVER CROSSING".
New technology means that it will be possible to charge bikers using the latest toll road - Herald Sun - "Biker anger on EastLink tolls".
No Swiss road tolls
The Swiss Transport Minister - Moritz Leuenberger - in the Sonntags Zeitung paper says that there will be no "road pricing" system to replace the use of fuel taxes to finance road infrastructure projects.
Saturday 17 May 2008
Road Pricing skulduggery
The Association of British Drivers has issued this press release-
Fifteen UK councils are implicated with an EU funded organisation which advocates underhand and undemocratic means to railroad through road pricing schemes in the face of massive public opposition.
CURACAO (Coordination of urban road-user charging organizational issues) states that its aim is "to create the conditions for reaching the tipping point for the widespread adoption of road pricing in European Urban Cities,". It names Bristol City Council as one of their key partners, with Notts, Derbys, Leics, and their Three Cities, Tyne and Wear, Durham, Cambridgeshire, Cardiff, Plymouth, Shropshire, Belfast and Transport for London as all involved. CURACAO labels opposition to Road Pricing as 'Irrational' and warns of civil disobedience over the loss of 'personal mobility'
CURACAO advises councils to use various tricks to push through road pricing schemes, including:
- Promising low charges then rapidly increasing them once the scheme is in place.
- False "trial periods" to make people think the scheme will be re-evaluated when there is no such intention.
- Avoiding referenda (like the one in Edinburgh) at all costs.
- Using a psychological trick called "Dissonance Theory" to make people believe that road pricing is inevitable and that "resistance is futile". This also induces effects like less anger, less resistance, weaker intentions to protect their freedoms. In other words their minds should be manipulated.
ABD East Midlands Congestion Charge Coordinator Keith Peat says: 'If council officials are involved in a covert mind bending exercise to manipulate public and politicians alike into accepting congestion charging then it is an extremely worrying development'. ABD Chairman Brian Gregory added: 'Perhaps the CURACAO advice should be entitled "How to Defeat Democracy"'.
The ABD is against road pricing in all its forms because it:
- is a regressive tax which is unfair on low earners. This is now acknowledged by CURACAO officials too.
- cannot work at reducing congestion without punitive charges which will harm the economy.
- will incur huge collection costs which will have to be paid on top of existing motoring taxes.
- uses infrastructure inefficiently as the M6 Toll shows.
- involves keeping detailed records of people's movements.
- distracts attention from the need to improve transport infrastructure and to plan for less need to travel in the economy.
There have been many earlier European toll pushing efforts, some of which are difficult to trace on the web including "PRESS" and "PRIcing Measures Acceptance". This link brings together some of those that have not yet disappeared - Urban Transport Pricing in Europe. Here is another troll push which has no website, but some of the publications may still be on the web- Concert publications - 1996 to 1998.
More on Friendship bridge
Bulgaria's Transport Minister is in favour of removing tolls - Focus.
New petition to PM protesting against VED changes.
ABD Press release on 16th- Increase in Vehicle Excise Duty
In a recent debate between Angela Eagle and the Shadow Treasury Minister Justine Greening, Angela Eagle responded to an accusation that the new VED (car tax) regime was hitting families with the following:
"Drivers of 24 of the 30 most popular cars in the UK will pay less, or no more VED, as a result of these changes. Popular versions of cars that will pay less include the Ford Focus, the Renault Clio, the Vauxhall Astra and the Citroen Xsara Picasso. This is not an attack on the family car."
According to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders:
All models of Citroen Xsara Picasso except the 1.6 diesel face huge hikes in VED. All petrol manual models rise from a current £170 to £260. All automatic models (a popular model for some disabled drivers) rise from £210 to a whopping £300. The 2.0 diesel remains unchanged at £120. The ONLY model to go down is the 1.6 diesel from £120 to £110, a negligible drop. All petrol Ford Focuses face higher VED. All Diesel Focuses stay the same. (Note: Where two figures are given it is due to model variations): The 1.4 petrol goes from £145 to £150/£175. The 1.6 petrol goes from £145/£170 to £150/£175. The 1.8 from £170 to £175/£260 and 2.0 from £170/£210 to £175/£300. Petrol automatics rise from £210 to £260 or £300 (ST performance model not included in calculations)
ABD spokesman Nigel Humphries said: "..The question now has to be whether HM Treasury knew that older family cars would be affected and hoped nobody would notice, or they have made a 'mistake' even more incredible that the 10p tax debacle and hadn't even realised that older car emissions data is different to new car data. .."
ABD Chairman Brian Gregory said: "These are not even large family cars. The rises for real family cars such as Mondeos, Lagunas, Galaxies, Zafiras and Vectras are even worse. We haven't even touched upon the 4x4s that many drivers own, and for many road users 4x4 models are essential, to navigate either rural roadways or pot-holed urban roads. Government ministers must inhabit a different world where everybody chooses a brand new car every few years and doesn't have to consider the resale value. They either haven't thought about the implications for the older car owner or they simply don't care".
ABD Press release on 14th- Backdating of increase in Vehicle Excise Duty
Chancellor Alistair Darling backdated VED increases to 2001 in his March budget. Shadow Transport Minister Justine Greening has obtained documents from the Treasury showing that the overall vehicle emission reduction of the VED changes is expected to be just one tenth of one percent.
Even this miniscule saving in emissions from the changes will come almost entirely from the purchasing decisions of new car buyers and the backdating element is likely to increase overall CO2 output. The backdating is clearly a tax raising scam dressed up in green foliage that will have the opposite effect to that claimed. Even within the government's unjustified framework where plant food gas is seen as evil this cannot make sense. Surely even the few left who believe the man made global warming myth cannot think this is a good idea.
ABD spokesman Nigel Humphries explains: "The new rates impact owners of less efficient vehicles built since 2001. Owners of such cars face a choice: Either they sell their car at a drastically reduced price, sometimes scrap value for older, high mileage cars that nobody will want to pay £270 - £440 pa to tax, or they keep them and pay the higher taxes. If they keep the car then there is no impact on emissions. However many drivers may choose to sell. Ultimately and inevitably this will lead to such cars being scrapped far sooner than under the old VED regime, often when they are still perfectly serviceable. Now, clearly as inefficient cars get older they are very unlikely to be used by high mileage drivers who choose more efficient models. They tend to be in the hands of low mileage drivers. Therefore inefficient old vehicles are rarely great emitters. But encouraging their replacement with newer stock means CO2 is produced in production of the new vehicle. Put simply, the replacement of the cars affected that generally do low mileages with new cars will produce more CO2 than it saves."
Reading Eagle (Pa.) - "Technology raises Big Brother specter".
Other stories - New Hampshire - "Why no tolls planned for new airport road?" Pennsylvania - "Two teams said to have bid on Pa. Turnpike".
Friday 16 May 2008
USA Roundup later stories
People prefer tolls - according to the Toll operators association - Hawaii Reporter - "Public Prefers Tolling to New Taxes, Study Finds".
Illinois drivers are complaining about signs on the tollway with the Governors name on them - Chicago Sun Times - "House to gov: Take your name off signs" - Sounds like a good idea that drivers should know who takes the "credit" for tolls.
Other stories - Massachussetts - "Daily traffic jams on Pike the price of saving cash" Nevada - "Toll road plan OK'd" New Jersey - "GOP Senate candidate joins debate on state toll hikes" California - "$7 toll to cross bridge is too much" Chicago - "The $153 million traffic jam".
East of England Toll
The Government Office for the East of England on Monday published a new plan. It says that "Demand management measures for highway use should be pursued to tackle congestion .. Road pricing may be considered as part of an integrated approach to managing the region’s road network"
- Hertfordshire Mercury - "East of England Plan under fire".
Mary Peters, of all people, dedicates completion of final span on new untolled bridge across the Potomac - Examiner (DC) - "Dignitaries dedicate new Woodrow Wilson Bridge span".
Other stories - California - "GG Bridge tolls could top $7" Maine - "Turnpike Authority Takes A Second Look At York Tolls" Massachusetts - "Pike tollpayer subsidy of Rose Kennedy Greenway dropped from bill".
More "Congestion" charges on parking
This time it is South Korea with a charge of 4,000 won ($US4 or £GB2) - Donga - "Congestion Charges on Dept. Stores ".
Thursday 15 May 2008
"Finland buries HGV road pricing plans"
Finland is not proceeding with a toll that would mainly have affected Russian truckers - Newsroom Finland.
Pittsburgh Post Gazette - "$2.1 million for lease advice goes to firm tied to Rendell".
Florida Times Union - "Property tax issues block beltway plans".
One we missed from Sunday - Star Ledger (NJ) - "Turnpike tolls seem certain to rise in'09 - Drop in traffic cuts revenue, endangering bond contracts".
An arguments that Trolls use is that tolls are needed because, drivers are using less gas. So their latest brainwave is lower tolls for cars that use less gas - Hudson Valley Press (NY) - "Discounts For Certain E-Z Pass Holders".
More on invisible tolls - Scientific American - "Drive-Through Tolls Creep Higher Faster".
Other stories - New Hampshire - "Highway money: Keep it where it belongs" Bond Buyer - "N. Carolina Goes for Tolls" California - "710 tunnel issues" South Carolina - "$22 billion shortfall seen for roads" Texas - "Design/build team selected for U.S. Highway 281 toll project" New York - "Senator Griffo wants state to examine efficiency of state government authorities" Washington State - "Portland hearing divided on I-5 bridge project" Virginia - "Needs are clear, revenue cluttered" Pennsylvania - "Are turnpike bids tweeners?".
Roads for sale
The Financial Post - "P3 boom".
"SmartTag not so smart"
Wednesday 14 May 2008
As reported yesterday, higher gas prices have caused many drivers to abandon their cars causing crowding on mass transit. The response of the New York Trolls is that this is all the fault of those who opposed "congestion pricing" and thus lost the city a $354 million Federal bribe - NY Daily News - "The price of folly". Trolls are not renowned for their intellect, but has it ever crossed their minds that if they succeed in getting most people out of their cars onto mass transit, not only would there be mega congestion on the mass transit there would also be few people left to subsidise them and the army of toll administrators with their hands out.
Other stories - Virginia - "To be fair, charge tolls for roads" Utah - "Gas-tax hike, tolls during rush hour may be in future" Minnesota - "A gas-tax holiday? Bad idea. Retirement? Oh, yeah" Illinois - "Taking on the Tollway" California - "For Whom the Bridge Tolls" Land Line Mag - "Florida bill dies that sought to increase turnpike tolls, among other things" Land Line Mag - "Truckers upset as New York governor bans trash haulers from back roads".
Melbourne leads the way to tagged and taxed future
Follow up in The Age to yesterday's story about the "Congestion" charge on parking - "Drivers may pay to use busy roads".
Global warmimg threat
Top Gear - "Worse than a Land Cruiser".
Norwich Toll - Off?
We reported on the 18th April, that it looked as if Norwich was not going to proceed with proposals for a congestion charge. One reason was that like the London "Congestion charge", the toll would only "wipe its face" - Norwich Evening News - "Congestion charging to be discussed". Now the "Norwich and Norfolk Transport Action Group" want the toll plans put back on the table - Norfolk Eastern Daily Press - "Congestion charge: re-think urged" . The group mainly seem to oppose the building of a bypass to the north of Norwich, and are made up of the usual anti-road activists - NNTAG - "Who we are".
East Midlands Toll
More on Parking levy - Telegraph - "Commuters face £185 tax to drive to work". Best bit of this story is the quote from the AA - ""It just goes to show that the Sheriff of Nottingham is alive and well. This is nothing more than a tax on work.". Very strange as the AA are one of the main advocates of toll taxes.
More on Parking levy et al - Daily Mail - "Workers slapped with £185 a year tax... just for driving to work".
Report in Transport Briefing - "East Midlands TIF bid flounders as Nottingham pulls out".
Diesel - less "global warming" gas, but more particulates and NOX
Guardian - "Engines of change".
Isle of Tolls
Ireland's Economic and Social Research Institute wants "congestion charges" all over the country - Irish Independent - "Motorists to face congestion fees".
Tuesday 13 May 2008
"Congestion" charge on parking
The Age - "'Congestion' tax raises $100m". The annual tax of $Aus 820, is the same as $770 in US or £400 in Britain. We didn't know that space was so short in Australia.
Another No - We reported on the 28th April about the "Cambridge Network" pushing tolls, now their members who attended a debate don't seem to like the idea - "Road user pricing gets thumbs down - just!".
Road Pricing Action Group - CEN - "City congestion charge could be 'bad as London'".
East Midlands Toll
Other options - Leicester Mercury - "JAM-BUSTERS GO BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD".
More on - Bosses still rooting for tolls -Derby Evening Telegraph - "WORKPLACE PARKING LEVY? IT'S WORSE THAN CONGESTION CHARGE!".
Same old solutions
The Greeks are concerned about air pollution, so the solution of course includes increases in vehicle duty, road tolls and "congestion charges" - but no increases in vehicle fuel taxes and no charges or taxes on anything but road vehicles - Athens News Agency - "Measures to combat air pollution".
"Bridge tycoon crosses governments"
A new border bridge or two - Edmonton Journal.
More indications that rising gas prices are resulting in fewer car miles - NY Daily News - "With gas prices up, MTA ridership goes through roof while roads catch a brake".
Though bizarrely this may be an excuse for more road tolls to pay for a mass transit system, some of which are run by bloated bureaucracies - NY Post - "TO TAME THE PA - PERILS OF THE PORT AUTHORITY".
New York to force trucks back on to the tolled routes. They say that truckers who don't comply "will pay such a fine that they will wish they paid the tolls" - Syracuse Post Standard - "Governor: Big rigs will stay out of villages" Auburn Citizen - "Paterson directs DOT to get large trucks off local roads".
"Most who plan on using the proposed toll road linking Jackson with the airport in Rankin County would probably OK the death penalty for evading tolls if it meant having the road in four years rather than 15" - Clarion Ledger (Mississippi) - "Parkway: Four-year plan for toll road is ideal".
Pike sale - Philadelphia Inquirer - "Turnpike bidding goes into overtime" Post Gazette - "At least 2 bidders interested in turnpike lease" Pocono Record - "Governor says there's no need for a gas-tax holiday" Patriot News - "Turnpike lease deadline extended" Pittsburgh Tribune Review - "Last, best turnpike offers solicited" Land Line Mag - "‘Multiple’ bids received for Pennsylvania Turnpike".
Proposal to spend all road taxes on roads - Times (North Carolina) - "Governor proposes phasing out tranfer of money from highway program".
Other stories - "DOT encourages private investment in Michigan roads" Illinois - "Good idea on transportation funding" North Carolina - "540 tolls not 'your grandfather's toll road'".
Monday 12 May 2008
Stay at home!
On the 15th - VNU Net - "UK prepares for Work from Home Day".
East Midlands Toll - Bosses still rooting for tolls
BBC - "Firms may challenge parking levy".
Road Tolls Bill nearly law
The Road Tolls aka Local Transport Bill last week completed its Committee stage at the Commons - Parliament's "Local Transport Bill [HL] 2007-08" Page (click on "Commons" "Comm" for the links to debates (each debate is on more then one page and you will need to click on "continue" at the bottom of each page)). To go more directly to the Committee last week discussing road tolls click here and scroll down to Column number: 347 (the discussion is on more then one page and you will need to click on "continue" at the bottom of each page).
It is becoming increasingly clear that the Government has pulled a fast one, and that road tolls will be introduced whatever the local people or even the local authorities want. In the big cities there are already unelected Passenger Transport Authorities. These are now to be created in smaller cities and are all to be renamed as "Integrated Transport Authorities". The road tolls part of the Bill allows them to join in a road tolls scheme with the "local traffic authority". Based on the road tolls part of the Bill it is implied that the agreement of the affected local traffic authority would be needed before road tolls could be introduced. But the ITA part of the Bill gives the minister the power to make an Order transferring to the ITA any powers that the local authority has- (a) as highway authority by virtue of section 1 of the Highways Act 1980 (c. 66), or (b) as traffic authority by virtue of section 121A of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 (c. 27)." This seems to mean that the unelected ITAs will be able to impose road tolls in any area even if the local authority does not agree.
The Commons Committee has had ten sittings on the Bill, but it was only part way through the tenth session (last Thursday afternoon) that they discussed the road toll provisions and that the import of the Bill has become clear. A sign of how important the members think road tolling is?
Summary of Thursday's debate on road tolls-
It appears that both those who enthusiastically support the Bill (Labour) and those who are partly opposed (Tories and Lib Dems), all support the principle of road charging and suffer from similar delusions. They believe that the London Congestion Charge is effective and popular, they believe that there is a difference between "road user charging" and "congestion charging" (legally there is no such thing as the latter), they believe that though these charges are very expensive to collect that they can by some miracle have "cost-neutral charging schemes", they believe that it would be a good idea to replace the fuel tax (or a large part of it) with road tolls. One of the few differences is that the Tories want "local validation" - a phrase that seems to mean virtually nothing, though on this basis the Tories moved that the main clause on road tolls (96) be struck out, but they were defeated by Labour and the one Lib Dem.
Graham Stringer, a Manchester Labour MP then moved an amendment that would have required a referendum before tolls were introduced. He referred to the Government "twisting arms" to get the Manchester authorities to introduce road tolls and that "to introduce a tax on top of other taxes at the present time is, quite frankly, bonkers". He also said that "when the Manchester TIF bid was put in the consultation was a sham" and his Freedom of Information request to see the submission was refused, though he was then allowed to see it on the basis that he kept it secret.
The Tories supported the amendment - sort of, as one of them effectively killed it by voicing what everyone knew - "the amendment would wreck the ability of local authorities ever to introduce congestion charges". The Tories also suggested bringing in the road tolls first and then having a referendum after.
Then we had the odd spectacle of Graham Stringer having made a very strong argument for his referendum amendment, then voting against it. Only the Tories and the Lib Dem voted for it.
Graham Stringer then move amendments that where all or the majority of councils in the area are against the scheme then it will not proceed. On the face of it strange amendments, but it has now become clear that this is not so (as explained above - the road toll schemes can be introduced even if none of the authorities want it, because the Minister can make an Order giving the unelected ITA power over the roads and traffic. After hearing what the Minister had to say Graham Stringer withdrew the amendment!
Stephen Hammond, a Tory MP, then moved an amendment that would require that "the proceeds of such a scheme, if any, are to be reinvested in the achievement of local transport policies..". (This implies that it is alright to waste as much as you like in collection.) The committee at the same time considered several similar amendments. Stephen Hammond reiterated the Tory support for road tolls and went so far as to say that "Some provisions in the Bill on local road pricing are broadly to be welcomed". Again after hearing what the Minister had to say Stephen Hammond withdrew the amendment!
After the Committee agreed a series of clauses without debate, Stephen Hammond raised the issue of consultation and again said that there should be "local validation". There was then a vote on the clause - "Abolition of power to require consultation or inquiries for English schemes". The Tories and Lib Dem voted against the clause, but it was carried by Labour votes.
The next clause dealt with power for the Minister to make regulations as to the details of the "local" schemes. One Tory MP, Greg Knight, apparently wanted a national scheme as he asked about a motorist who travelled around the country - "Will there be provision .. to be able to apply to a single point to prepay, let us say a year ahead, rather than have to make daily payments?" But Stephen Hammond said almost the opposite - "the Secretary of State, despite giving local authorities the chance to put a scheme in place, is ensuring that she has the power to micro-manage road schemes. That prompts the question whether this whole part of the Bill is just a chance to introduce a national road pricing scheme by the back door." The Minister replied that the aim was to have a scheme such as Greg Knight wanted. The clause was then agreed without dissent.
The next clause dealt with power to suspend charges. Greg Knight moved an amendment designed to exempt those classic or vintage cars that were taking part in a rally. After hearing what the Minister had to say he withdrew the amendment.
Another series of clauses were agreed without debate.
The next clause gave power to the "national authority to require information from charging authorities". Stephen Hammond suggested that the authorities should be able to charge the Government for supplying this inforamtion. The Minister said no, and the clause was agreed without further debate. No one raised the question of what this information would be used for.
The Next clause referred to Wales only. Stephen Hammond complained that the clause gave Welsh Ministers the power to bring in road tolls on all Welsh trunk roads and he thought this was a tax raising power and constitutionally should not be introduced via this Bill. Mrs Siân James, a Labour MP, said that road tolls were not taxes. Greg Knight said that "Wales is a guinea pig for a potential Britain-wide scheme. What message does it send to people who live in England but enjoy holidaying in Wales? The message is, “Don’t come to Wales: we’ll be taking more tax off you.”". After the Minister gave her views there was a vote with the Tories defeated by Labour and the Lib Dem.
The Next clause was - "Disclosure of information relating to foreign-registered vehicles". Greg Knight asked how this was to be enforced. The Minister responded that they hoped that they could collect from some of them and the clause was agreed without further debate.
Another series of clauses and schedules were either agreed without debate or were insignificant. There were then various new clauses moved, those on road tolls were-.
John Leech, the one Lib Dem MP, moved a clause to give power to airport operators to levy road tolls. After the Minister gave her views the clause was withdrawn.
Stephen Hammond moved a clause to allow Severn Bridge tolls to be paid by debit or credit card. John Leech backed the idea and praised the M6 toll. Greg Knight also backed it and wanted more automated tolls. After the Minister gave her views the clause was withdrawn.
The Bill as amended (or not) was then unanimously agreed
The members of the Committee were: Labour - Clive Betts, Sian James, David Kidney, Bob Laxton, Kerry McCarthy, Angela Smith, Ian Stewart, Graham Stringer, Dave Watts, Rosie Winterton. Tory - Douglas Carswell, Stephen Hammond, Greg Knight, Lee Scott, Jeremy Wright. Lib Dem - Norman Baker, John Leech.
The way not to go - the newspaper.com - "UK Motorist Group Hires Anti-Motorist Activist".
To bus or not to bus in California - LA Times - "Altadena commuter trades in bus pass for car keys".
Other stories - Pennsylvania - "Bids for Pa. turnpike lease come in close" Pennsylvania - "Turnpike lease bidding goes into overtime" Wyoming - "State studies I-80 trucker tolls" Michigan - "Debate on river crossings resumes" California - "Feds in the dark about taking GG Bridge tolls" Michigan - "Chicago roads may undergo bumpy transition to bus-only lanes" Missisippi - "Airport parkway bill may be considered" Florida - "Miles to go before it’s done, but Alley lease takes next step".
More on - Labour "lieway" to open
The Age - "EastLink free - just till you're hooked".
Sunday 11 May 2008
"Congestion pricing" in California - Press Telegram - "A cure for congestion" Examiner - "Talk of a third toll for bridge lingers" SF Chronicle - "Golden Gate Bridge toll hike heads for hearing"
Cashless but not free
Live News - "Cashless future for tolls on Harbour Bridge".
Labour "lieway" to open
The road that was promised to be free will be - for 4 weeks - The Age - "EastLink tollway to open months early".
More on - East Midlands Toll - GONE
Leicester Mercury - "END OF ROAD FOR CITY'S CONGESTION CHARGE PLAN" Derby Evening Telegraph - "CHARGING FIRMS COULD GET US OUT OF A JAM".
Saturday 10 May 2008
"Congestion pricing" in California - Pasadena Star News - "Toll lanes roadblock" Marin Journal - "Hearing set on $7 bridge toll" SGV Tribune - "Car-pool issue a classic bait and switch" ABC - "Public to weigh in on Golden Gate Bridge toll".
More on falls in traffic - OC Register (California) - "Economy's ills zap toll-road use".
Trolls lose round two - Orlando Sentinel - "Sanford judge turns down state's request to reconsider toll ticket order".
Other stories - Massachusetts - "Turnpike addresses toll abuse" Pennsylvania - "Turnpike lease would produce windfall, study finds" Massachusetts - "Mass. Officials Expand Crackdown on Turnpike Toll Cheaters".
East Midlands Toll - GONE
BBC - "Congestion charge sunk by council".
Cambridge Toll - Anti charge candidate fails to win leadership contest
Cambridge News - "New leader for county council".
Independent - "In the heat of the battle, nobody is talking about climate change".
Carbon Tax proposal
National Post - "Dion’s risky carbon gambit".
Friday 9 May 2008
"Congestion pricing" in California - City Watch - "Of, By and For the People?" City Watch - "Rand Answer: ‘Toll Booths on All LA Freeways’" Press Democrat - "Golden Gate Bridge toll could $7 at peak times during day" SF Chronicle - "Golden Gate Bridge unveils peak-hour toll plan" SFBG - "Tolls going up at Golden Gate".
While the trolls plan to toll those on lower incomes off the road, it seems that the increases in gas prices are already having that effect (though an increase in gas price does not also line the pockets of all those with their hands out) - Contra Costa Times - "Bridge traffic down, carpools up".
The Record (New Jersey) - "Tax water, don't hike tolls, lawmakers say".
Other stories - New Jersey - "Members of both parties concerned over toll hikes" Florida - "One or two way tolls to Cape Coral?" New Jersey - "More talk of possible toll hikes from NJ governor" Tennessee - "Knox Co. Commission opposes toll road".
Guardian Comment - "Legally Blond".
Mr B meets Mr B
Guardian - "New York mayor visits City Hall to greet Johnson" Londonist - "Today City Hall, Tomorrow.. The West Wing?".
East Midlands Toll - Going, going, gone?
Nottingham Evening Post - "END OF ROAD FOR NOTTINGHAM CONGESTION CHARGE" Derby Evening Telegraph - "LABOUR U-TURN ON CITY CONGESTION CHARGE".
Later stoty Leicester Mercury - "KEY TALKS HELD ON CONGESTION CHARGING".
As is the situation in some other parts of Britain the bosses and bureaucrats who run the "Chamber of Commerce" are still pushing tolls - "Breakdown in tackling congestion".
"Bad for the planet"
PR Inside - "UN's chief climate scientist regrets Livingstone's loss in London mayoral race".
More toll opposition
IOL - "Chamber Proposed toll roads 'would burden commuters'".
Toll tunnel woes
The Australian - "Tunnel operator hit by low traffic" The Australian - "Tunnel operator hit by low traffic" Live News - "Lane Cove Tunnel failure won't affect taxpayer: Roozendaal".
Troll Times blames Labour for jams
Times - "Drivers in worse jam as traffic plan fails".
Green or not?
Guardian - "How green are we? New figures show Britons back recycling" Times - "Driving and cheap flights lay waste to recycling campaign".
Latest PC idea
BBC - "Ramsay orders seasonal-only menu". PC people seem to inhabit a different dimension. They complain about out of season food being inmported, but the reality is that Britain is overpopulated. We have to import food, not just for variety, but to avoid hunger.
Thursday 8 May 2008
Cambridge Toll - Labour criticise "consultation"
CEN - "Call to 'think again' over road toll plans".
One thing that you can rely on from the trolls is that they will come up with some intriguing logic. Apparently converting the carpool lanes into tolled Lexus lanes will - "get drivers to consider public transit and vanpools" - Daily Breeze - "A freeway decongestant".
Some contrary views - Pasadena Star-News - "A ruse for funding" Press-Telegram - "Bait-and-switch freeways".
Other stories - California - "Proposal for Golden Gate toll change" Colorado - "Two seen as keys to transit solution" Virginia - "Two seen as keys to transit solution" California - "Commissioners face deadline on regional transportation plan" Illinois - "Progress on toll notices; more to be done" Tennessee - "Toll vote a victory, foes say" "Oklahoma's toll roads" New Jersey - "Top Senate Dems want N.J. toll hike estimate justified".
Wednesday 7 May 2008
Be careful who your friends are
Telegraph - "It's time to lay off drivers". Like the Times, the Telegraph poses as the champion of its readers but says - "If ministers decide to proceed with road pricing, there should be a concomitant reduction in existing taxes that affect the motorist." The Telegraph has presumably remembered that on the 20th February last year it said that -"A blueprint drawn up by the Department for Transport showed (road pricing) could cost £62 billion to set up and £8.6 billion a year to run.". Is that why they use the word "concomitant" which may mislead readers by giving the impression that they will pay the same as now, but in fact it only means "occurring at the same time", such as when you give Dick Turpin your possessions and he says "ta very much".
NY Today Online - "ERP woes: What's to blame - CashCard, IU or gantry?".
newspaper.com - "Texas: Toll Road Spends Half-Million For Employee Perks".
Tampa Tribune - "Gas Prices Fuel Interest In Ride Boards".
Other stories - North Carolina - "Some spans to become toll bridges" New Jersey - "Top Senate Dems want NJ toll hike estimate justified" Illinois - "Half the violations believed not intentional" Florida - "'Gator Alley lease proposal sells toll soul".
More speculation on an end to road toll plans
Business Car - "Government congestion charge plans falter" Birmingham Mail - "Right decision in road charges row".
Ken gone, but legends live on
Toronto Star - "Lessons for big cities from London's congestion charge" Northern Courier - "When is a rebuttal not a rebuttal?".
Independent predicts Tory tolls
"So what would Cameron do?".
Tuesday 6 May 2008
Cambridge says NO and YES to tolls
On the 2nd, the Cambridge Evening News reported the result of its survey showing that 60% opposed the tolls plan. Today we have the results of an official survey. These surveys usually use carefully designed sets of questions and educate the interviewees to get the required response. One of the biggest deceptions is that the interviewess are usually given no idea that tolls are very expensive to collect and are led to believe that "all revenues raised are used to improve transport" - CEN - "Majority oppose congestion charge" and BBC - "Majority oppose congestion charge", or if you prefer - Hunts Post - "60% 'would support congestion charge' - new research".
Cambridgeshire County Council - Survey results.
As well as the various surveys (in home, road shows and online) there was consultation with various groups. This did not include a single one that represents motorists though it did include the hauliers (RHA). Amongst the interested parties was the British Antractic Survey, who are based in Cambridge. We don't know if they are worried about congestion, tolls or the ice melting if Cambridge does not have road tolls.
USA Roundup later news
Users of the new Lexus lanes apparently saved an average of 2 minutes - an insignificant payback for such a major scheme. The carpoolers who used the Lexus lanes when they should not were fined $124 each - so that's the real payback! Seattle Times - "90 cars stopped for lane violations in mostly smooth debut for HOT lane".
Other stories - New York - "Bloomberg Still Not Quite Over Congestion Pricing
" New Jersey - "Key NJ senators say toll road agency should boost tolls" Michigan - "US. secretary of transportation in town to encourage state to allow use of use of private dollars for I-94 improvements".
"Greenhouse officials look at cutting speed limit"
From one of the Bloomberg toll advocates - NY Daily News - "New York City still needs a plan to cut air pollution and reduce traffic". Strange that a city with so much wealth can not afford to buy buses without a road tolls scheme - one of the most inefficient way of collecting taxes that there is.
The Times (Seattle this time) still tolls pushing - "Morning drive time aboard the HOT lane" "Smooth drive for HOT lane debut". A slightly different view, though from another advocate of tolls - "Drivers need to warm up to lanes - First test of HOT experiment yields confusion, gripes" "HOT lanes: Changing tolls - what gives?".
Other stories - Michigan - "U.S. secretary of transportation in town to encourage state to allow use of use of private dollars for I-94 improvements" Michigan - "I-94 May Get Federal Help" New Jersey / Pennsylvania - "DRPA board finds common ground, charts new course" Pennsylvania - "Bonanza from lease of turnpike not so big?" Florida - "New Tampa Toll road unlikely" "New Jersey toll decision called unlikely before November" Philadelphia Inquirer - "Transportation chief: Gas tax holiday would risk key projects".
Bin the Bin tax
An unnamed senior Minister suggests that - "People have already reached their limit on what they are prepared to take in terms of taxation, whether it's the congestion charge or bin taxes," - Evening Standard - "Ministers warn Brown 'voters have reached their limit on stealth taxes'".
Not the newts after all
According to an Ipsos Mori poll it was not his newts that caused the downfall of Ken, they say that "the congestion charge topped the list of reasons for dissatisfaction with Mr Livingstone" - politics.co.uk - "Johnson faces long to-do list as London mayor". Oddly an American news source today reports that the congestion charge zone is to be extended by Boris. We assume that this is a mistake though there is also a rumour that Boris's party colleagues will persuade him to go for a massive road pricing system on the lines of Singapore.
From the Star-Phoenix in Saskatoon "Paying more at gas pump actually a good thing", but "road pricing" and "tolls" would be even better.
The Register - "Is the earth getting warmer, or cooler?". Oddly most news sources have not blamed the Burmese cyclone on Global warming, though the disaster was taken as an opportunity for the BBC to remind listeners to the Today programme that man made Global warming had now been "proved beyond doubt". As usual the Earth's biggest problem is not mentioned anywhere - Burma over the last 50 years has gone from 20 million to 48 million people.
Cambridge Toll - change at top?
CEN - "Six seek top spot".
Manchester Tolls boss's election defeat
Times - "Manchester polls deal blow to congestion charge expansion".
Monday 5 May 2008
More on - Plan for higher truck tolls
EU Business - "EU eyes pollution tolls for truckers".
There must be something about "Times" in the title that makes a paper pro tolls, we had this with the London Times, then the New York Times and now the LA Times. Since the decision to convert car pool lanes to Lexus lanes, almost all the stories and comments have backed the idea. The latest says - ..This is where the toll comes into play. Officials say the fees .. would discourage some people from using the carpool lane during rush hour and thus improve speeds.." - "How long is your commute?". Perhaps one day Americans will remember that democracy is not spelt p - l- u - t - o - c - r - a - c - y.
Washington State has fallen for tolls in a big way including the latest HOT lanes with tolls "which are recalculated every three minutes" - Kndo - "Commuters test HOT lane between Auburn and Renton". Though somehow this post by "RationalThought" got onto SeattlePi who had reported - "Traffic is moving smoothly in the car pool lane of Highway 167 between Auburn and Renton"-
"That's funny. The traffic reports this morning say that motorists appear confused by the new arrangement and that State Patrol enforcement of the HOT lane has so fouled up SR 167 that I-5 is recommended as a faster alternative.
Rich people in their single occupancy trucks and SUVs get to pay to play in the HOV lane. Poor people who are too broke from filling up their tank before getting on the highway are relegated to being stuck in traffic while the haves whiz by the have-nots.
It won't be too much longer now before the people drag out the guillotine as the gap between the rich and poor widens, and the privileges extended to the rich but not the poor grow more numerous day by day."
The "Climate Action" committee is to try and unseat those who voted against the Bloomberg tolls - New York Times - "Reading Between the Lines of a Questionnaire".
Converting car pool lanes to Lexus lanes apparently speeds things up - LA Times - "San Gabriel Valley needs to speed things up". Will car poolers agree?
Other stories -
California - "New Toll Roll Fails to Fuel Business in Chula Vista" Florida - "Plans To Ease Gridlock In North Tampa Stalled" California - "Tollway is meeting officials' expectations" Virginia - "Lawmakers rev up for session on transportation".
Sunday 4 May 2008
Toronto Sun - "Ontario objects highway toll fees: poll" 680 News - "Ontario objects highway toll fees: poll".
Despite voter's expectations there is a chance that the new Mayor will do little on the C-charge. He will be under pressure both from the far right of his own party and from his officials. The Tory press are largely turning a blind eye to the promises made on the C-charge, and the leftish Independent says that the "pledge to water down the capital's congestion charge scheme .. threatens to clash with the central theme of Mr Cameron's blueprint for power: the environment". The paper also says that David Cameron even wants to keep the planned £25 charge. Though on the other hand, Boris will be under pressure from Conservative councillors and boroughs to do what he said in his manifesto.
Florida - "DOT Asks Judge To Reconsider Tickets Ruling" Pennsylvania - "Passage of turnpike bill urged" California - "RIGONOMICS:
Toll road to cost millions more for us" Washington State - "Bridge project creates divides" Florida - "Leasing toll roads is wrong fix for state money woes".
To encourage fuel economy, Japan like China is edging away from road tolls to fuel taxes. But like China, the toll interests in Japan are powerful, and any changes will only be a token - Daily Yomiuri - "Govt focus to shift to gas revenue bill".
Saturday 3 May 2008
East Midlands Toll - Gets backing from Bosses
The Chamber of Commerce says that "congestion charging" is the lesser of two evils (the other is a workplace parking levy) - Nottingham Evening Post - "COUNCIL TRAFFIC PLANS 'A MESS'".
"Johnson wins London mayoral race".
Ken is to go, but in our view, most voters did not so much vote for anything as against. Against the Government, against a third term for Ken, and against the congestion charge. Despite that the "Kengestion Charge" is likely to remain in some form or other and the myths Ken created about the effects of the congestion charge will have long term effects on many cities.
Given that the Tory Telegraph and the Tory Times backed the Labour Mayor because of the toll, we will have to see if the new Mayor will have the nerve to disband the PR machine that spun and spread the myths about the charge and to honour his promise to remove the western extension of the zone if that is what the people want.
"Congestion pricing" pushing in LA Times - "Highway toll lanes: the way to go" "Heated anti-HOT lane arguments don't add up".
"Steps needed to reduce oil consumption". As you may have guessed this does not involve the use of gas taxes, instead the answer is "an excise tax on all fuel-inefficient vehicles ... (and) high tolls".
"Deadly cocktail: Only you can prevent air pollution". The solution is a variety of measures, but they do not involve the use of gas taxes, instead we have - "Freeway tolls and congestion pricing".
Friday 2 May 2008
New Tolls kid on the Block
A new tolls pusher has surfaced, it is called "Intellect" and had been formed by companies such as IBM (the firm who are to take over the London "congestion charge") and others including firms specialising in electronic monitoring. They have a story today in Computing - "Road Pricing - driving the debate forward". They are fairly frank as to what is in store for Manchester - "Manchester City Council is currently looking at the Tag and Beacon system, Automatic Number Plate Recognition and Global Navigation Satellite Systems. The Council is working towards a planned introduction date of 2013.".
Here come the clowns
London SE1 - "Clowns against Congestion Charge demo at City Hall".
Cambridge says NO to tolls, but will anyone listen?
CEN - "60% oppose road tolls".
Roger, over and out
One ward in yesterday's elections where the tolls issue was clear cut was Irlam in Salford where the Transport boss who is the figurehead for the Manchester tolls plan was standing. He went from first place to third -
Salford Advertiser - "Shocks in Salford as Jones is out" Manchester Evening News - "Transport boss loses seat" Manchester Evening News - "Setbacks for Labour in Salford".
The national picture - BBC - "Labour suffers big council losses".
London Mayoral election??
The results will not be known till this evening. If Boris has beaten Ken it will be despite what has appeared in much of the so called Tory press, who have praised Ken and the "congestion charge". The Telegraph was at it again this morning, though at least it is now too late to affect the outcome.
In April, according to Durrants the media analysts, Ken got 128 favourable mentions in Congestion charge and transport stories compared with only 69 for Boris.
A Tale of two Cities
- New York Sun - "As Goes London ...". Boris, a New Yorker????
More on "Public transport expert to lead motorists' lobby group"
On Friday 25th April we reported that the RAC Foundation which is usually mistakenly referred to as a "motorists' lobby group" had appointed a road tolls advocate as their new director. Here is a later report from the Auto Express - "RAC hires Red Ken’s boot boy".
Toll fine loophole - Herald News (Illinois) - "Plainfield woman finds quick detour around I-Pass fines".
New York Post - "POLS GET FREE RIDE - PERSONAL TRAVEL ON YOUR DIME".
More on "congestion pricing" in LA - City Watch - "Congestion Pricing: The Sad Truth".
Meanwhile, somehow the Terminator's plan for private roads was zapped - Fleet Owner - "California assembly nixes public-private infrastructure bill".
More on nobody bidding for the Pennsylvania Turnpike (the deadline has now been extended) - Philadelpia Inquirer - "Sluggish economy hinders turnpike-leasing plan" Land Line Mag - "Pennsylvania Turnpike bid deadline postponed".
Bloomberg and Silver allies again - in criticizing a gas tax holiday proposal - New York Daily News - "Bloomberg Praises Silver (Sorta) And Obama, Slams McCain, Clinton".
In the debate about gas tax v. tolls, it is generally assumed that the gas tax is not sufficient to cover roads spending. The official figures are of course fairly obscure but for what they are worth they are here - DOR Highway Statistics. However much of this "roads" spending is not on roads, and Richard has pointed out some stories from thenewspaper.com-
"Gas Tax Money Not Spent on New Roads" "Report Documents Impact of Earmarks on Transportation Funding" "Texas Legislature Continues to Divert Gas Tax Funds" "Texas: Gas Tax Dollars Spent to Build Park" "Federal Gas Tax Money Fuels Ticket Quotas Nationwide".
Other stories - Oregon - "A new Columbia River bridge cuts traffic, adds $3 toll" Texas - "No to tolls: Free bridge should remain free" Washington State - "Car pool lane tolls set to go on Valley Freeway" Washington State - "A new day in toll collecting Saturday".
Thursday 1 May 2008
Update on London Mayoral election
Evening Standard - "Democracy is alive and well and voting early on a scooter" Guardian - "What the voters are saying". Today's Times seems to have been torn between its anti Labour instincts and its Troll instincts - "Livingstone, whose introduction of the congestion charge was little short of heroic".
In an odd twist - LA Times - "High traffic, high toll". An alternate view of the LA Toll plans - Pasadena Weekly - "Riding the poor".
More tolls pushing from the right in LA, including the usual delusions that the London scheme reduced congestion - LA Times - "High traffic, high toll". An alternate view of the LA Toll plans - Pasadena Weekly - "Riding the poor".
The favourite type of tolls in the "Union" - Star Ledger - "Rts. 78/80 tolls would be collected only at Pa. border".
Tolls pushing from the Goldwater Institute, not exactly a surprise - Phoenix Business Journal - "Goldwater Institute pans sales tax for transportation, promotes toll roads instead".
Private trolls partly depend on getting cheap money. At the moment the banks are cautious so there was not one bidder for the Pennsylvania turnpike (though it may be that this admission was made by mistake). No doubt the trolls will soon get their way with barrowloads of cheap money coming to them - Post Gazette - "Plan to name top bidder for turnpike lease delayed" Pittsburgh Tribune Review - "Pike lease draws no bids".
While Mayor Bloomberg was planning to toll Manhattan streets it was revealed that over 100,000 of the Mayor's employees got free car parking. There is now a cutback - NY1 - "Mayor Slashes Number Of Parking Placards For City Employees".
Though those who opposed the Bloomberg tolls are still under attack, here is one defence - Grand Street News - "Sinners Pay Up".
More on Chicago's "congestion pricing" - Chi Town Daily News - "City's plan to combat congestion draws mixed reviews".
The favourite type of tolls in the "Union" - Star Ledger - "Rts. 78/80 tolls would be collected only at Pa. border".
Other stories - Pennsylvania - "PennDOT gets $229.2 million infusion from turnpike" Kentucky - "State can't cover road needs" New Jersey - "Toll hike option doubly troubling" New Jersey - "Codey: Forget tolls on 78 and 80" DC area - "U.S. approves a Metro link to Dulles" Florida - "Editorial: Ready to pay more at toll booths?" Texas - "Rental car companies are skipping out on paying toll road fees" Florida - "Lawmakers Consider Turnpike Toll Hikes".
More on - "London congestion charge did not improve air quality"
Daily Mail - "Congestion charge has had no effect on reducing London's pollution, finds study".
Bit More on Friday's Dartford toll protest
Kent on Line - "Deadline looms at bridge over very troubled waters. Businesses reeling from £20m fees and traffic jams".
Global Warming continues even though Earth is getting colder
German scientists have come up with a new theory to account for the Earth's cooling and reassure doubters - BBC - "Next decade 'may see no warming'". Will it still be getting warmer when the current inter-glacial period ends and most of Europe is covered in ice?
Local Election Day
Voters in England and Wales can vote today on who runs the local district councils, though with the odd system of councillors being elected for 4 years but only one third standing for election each year (the 4th year there is no election) there are unlikely to be dramatic changes, particularly as 4 years ago was also bad for Labour due to the war on Iraq - BBC - "Voting begins in local elections".
In areas where there are tolls, they are generally not an issue, partly because nearly all the local politicians claim to oppose tolls (though they do nothing to get them removed). The two areas of the most interest are London and Manchester.
In London the supporters of Ken Livingstone have almost made the Mayoral election a referendum on the "congestion" charge as their battle cry has been "Vote for Ken - the man who was brave enough to introduce the Congestion charge which cities all round the world are copying".
In Manchester (which is divided into ten independent councils) the road tolls plan is a big issue, though voters will be confused on which party stands for what, as there is little consistency within the parties and those parties that support tolls generally deny that the tolls will affect their own district. An example of this is Bolton, where the Tories have tried to highlight that they oppose the tolls while the other parties support them, with the other parties claiming that though they voted for tolls they will not affect the district.
One area in Manchester where it is more clear cut is in Salford, where the Transport boss is standing against at least two candidates who oppose his road toll plans, though he may scrape back in because of the split in the anti tolls vote.
"Motoring taxes now need a radical rethink"
Amazingly the Troll Times publishes some letters suggesting that road taxes be switched to tax on fuel.
"Drivers get roughest ride"
This story seems to have been inspired by Tuesday's press release from the ABD (see - "Another regressive tax change - OR - Let them eat cake") but as usual the journalists go along to one of the organisations that does not really represent drivers (this time the AA) for a quote - Sun.
"Toll project needs more govt money"
"Evening herald spearheads M50 tolls campaign"