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SEPTEMBER 2004 NEWS

30 September 2004
teeth Double pain for USA motorists
Motorists in USA are generally regarded as lucky, as they have some of the lowest "gas" taxes of any developed country. But this means that when crude oil prices increase, the Americans notice it most. But they have been doubly hit this year, as there has been a flood of stories about new tolls and massive increases in existing tolls.
This cartoon from today's Illinois Northern Star shows some Americans hoping that the Tooth Fairy will come so they can afford to pay the tolls.

24 September 2004
North America swings both ways
The good swing is that the Premier of Ontario has "flashed the red light" to talk of more tolls on Toronto highways. Many of the Toronto city politicians want tolls to discourage people from using cars to come in to Toronto, and to produce income for spending elsewhere. Sound familiar? What the politicians want is not the same as the people:- 70% reject tolls used to fund public transport
The bad swing is the massive increase in tolls that some Americans face and the adverse effect on businesses:-   Transponder fees go through the roof

16 September 2004
Scottish Council against tolls
West Lothian Council is opposed to the proposed congestion scheme for Edinburgh and now plans its own referendum. Council leader Graeme Morrice said today: "We believe it is vitally important to let our own residents have their say about city road tolls. We believe that the proposed two-cordon scheme is an unfair tax on people living outside Edinburgh. In our view it is inequitable and flawed. "
Council takes poll position on road tolls

The Good News and the Bad News
The good news is that the hurricanes have passed over Florida. The bad news is that tolls are back. Average toll suspensions were 3 days for Charley, 9 days for Frances and 6 for Ivan.

Believe it or not
A US study published today concludes that Virginia motorists will try to avoid tolls!
The team of financial experts based their predictions on driver behaviour in other parts of the USA and local observations that showed many drivers shun tolls at any opportunity.
The study looked at a dozen proposed projects and calculated the effect of tolling them. The effect of tolls meant that traffic volumes on the new roads would fall between 47% and 87%. The combined effect for all 12 schemes was that without tolls there would be 900,000 vehicles a day, but with tolls 550,000 vehicles would use other roads:-   Report finds commuters would try to escape tolls

14 September 2004
Good idea Gordon?
If the governor of Massachusetts agrees to the bill, then residents of the state will be able to claim tolls (over $150) as an expense on their tax returns. Will our Chancellor copy this radical idea?   Pike users may get break via tax deduction

13 September 2004
One way better than two
We don't like tolls, but where they exist it is better for motorists if they are only collected one way, so that traffic can flow freely in at least one direction. In USA some tolls are being converted to one way:-  Bell tolls for two-way collection at 2 parkway barriers

10 September 2004
Florida Tolls still suspended
With Hurricane Ivan expected, Florida state officials have said that they "need to maintain the road toll free to speed traffic". Well, what do you know!

Satellite tolling "a failure in reality"
An article today in the Frankfurter Allgemeine says that the consortium contracted to implement automatic tolling for German trucks using satellites is expected to lose money.
The previous day, an article in Mercury News said that the German government was to seek compensation of 4.5 billion euros from the consortium.

8 September 2004
National Boycott
The boycott that we called for takes place today. In most cases, people have virtually no choice other than to use the road and pay the toll. But we hope that the boycott will have drawn attention to the issue:-  Drivers urged to avoid toll roads
This press release was issued:-

Campaigners are calling for motorists to join an anti-toll boycott on Wednesday 8th September.

The boycott, called by the National Alliance Against Tolls (NAAT), is aimed at high-cost crossings that it labels a blight on the economy of areas affected. The tolled crossings targeted include the Severn Bridge, Skye Bridge, Mersey Tunnels, Dartford Tunnel, Forth Bridge,Tyne Tunnel and Humber Bridge.

To show their support drivers are being urged to take alternative routes, to use public transport or to simply avoid making trips over the tolled crossings on September 8th.

John Warman of the Campaign Against Severn Tolls said:
"The tolls of 4.60 for cars and 13.90 for lorries is a very considerable tax on vehicles entering Wales.
They represent a huge burden on economic growth in Wales - which is why we am calling on haulage operators and private motorists on both sides of the Severn to show their total support for the campaign by boycotting the bridges.
Tolls on bridges and tunnels all over Britain are unfair because they depend on where you live rather than ability to pay.
They hinder the economies in the area immediately around the toll roads and cause some drivers to choose routes which increase fuel consumption and add to congestion on non-toll roads."

Dave Loudon, Chairman of the Mersey Tunnels Users Association said:-
"Road users already pay well over 40bn a year in taxes and do not want a situation like that in France where toll roads are often deserted while non- toll roads are congested.
There is a very strong argument being put forward for a second Runcorn Bridge. But there is also a very significant risk that if the Government approve it they will want that crossing tolled, like the Mersey tunnels. If that happens it will be a huge blow to the economy of the North West and further divide our region.
And if the Runcorn Bridge is tolled traffic will be forced onto Thelwall viaduct and that will add to congestion and fuel consumption because of the extra miles travelled by drivers avoiding the toll.
On Wednesday we want motorists to show the authorities how strongly they are opposed to tolls and toll increases.
People should vote with their feet - and their wheels -to show the strength of feeling on this issue."
News from Oz
Australia has a lot of toll roads, but in one area the Federal government has been trying to ensure that a new road is toll free. Believe it or not, but the state government in Victoria wants the road to be tolled. Perhaps we could send them some of our tolled roads!!    Freeway offer a stunt

Florida Tolls suspended
Over the last week due to Hurricane Frances many of the tolls on Florida roads have been suspended. Wouldn't it be a good idea if traffic could flow freely all the time?:-  Tolls Suspended On Area Highways

6 September 2004
Extending zone is bad economics
Various organisations say that extending the zone will have high costs, produce little or no profit and hit more firms:-   Evening Standard - C-charge figures 'don't add up'


3 September 2004
More Toll Barriers
Toll barriers have been intoduced on the Cleddau toll bridge in south west Wales. Whatever other effect they have, they will tend to lead to longer queues:-  Abuse plea over toll collectors

1 September 2004
Increase in London Congestion Charge?
The charge is currently 5, but they may be increasing it, as the profit is less than was expected:-  BBC - Road toll to rise says Mayor


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