SEPTEMBER 2008 NEWS
Tuesday 30 September 2008
Irish drivers do their bit for the economy by paying tolls when they did not use the road
Herald - "Commuters still being charged M50 tolls for journeys they don't make".
Bit more on Deep Blue Sea
Transport Briefing gives a slightly different spin to the transport announcements at yesterday's Tory conference. They say Theresa Villiers said that the party would - "dismantle the government's £2bn Transport Innovation Fund, which was set up to encourage local authorities to adopt road pricing policies. The money would be redistributed to councils, allowing them to spend the cash on bus and cycling projects. However, it leaves Manchester's plans for a congestion charge facing uncertainty should the Conservatives win the next General Election".
PS This report from The Journal (North East) gives a similar account - "No more 'blackmail' over transport cash".
Also today, David Cameron in a BBC interview said that the Government uses Transport Innovation Fund money "to bribe councils" to introduce congestion charging and that a future Tory Government would keep TIF but not use it in that way.
In favour of Reading border toll
Reading Evening Post - "In favour of road pricing".
More on Nottingham parking toll plan
Nottingham is selling the parking tax idea to other councils, despite opposition in its own area - Daily Mail - "Workers face £180-a-year tax for driving to work under plans to charge businesses for parking spaces" Leicester Mercury - "Parking tax 'is on the way'" Fenland Citizen - "Charging firms for staff parking 'would boost economy'".
PS There was also this yesterday on BBC, with Professor Begg a veteran pro tolls camapigner backing the idea - "Expert view on city's congestion ".
Evening Standard - "Reduce C-charge to four hours a day, say traders". "London First" are not "traders" they are a business establishment group who consistently supported Red Ken's London tolls. Most retail "traders" want to see the charges removed altogether. We hope that this story is not a sign that the new Mayor intends to ignore the current consultation and keep the western extension.
Yesterday the US House of Reps rejected the $700 billion banks bail out package - BBC - "House votes down bail-out package". It seems that the Congressmen did not accept the usual line that the big bankers can't be allowed to lose because the world will come to an end. Though it is likely that after minor changes, the bail out will proceed.
One effect of the bail out package is that it will keep the private turnpike show on the road in America and around the world. These devices rely on guarantees (usually secret) from Governments that there will be traffic "funneling" and no competition. They assume that there will be traffic growth encouraged by Governments constraining fuel prices (and cutting gas taxes where necessary) and not constraining population growth. But private turnpikes also rely on cheap money pushed into the system by central banks.
California goes from HOV to HOT - ABC - "Solo drivers take carpool lane at a cost".
No tolls for toll collectors - Express Times (New Jersey / Pennsylvania) - "Bridge Commission to continue providing employees with E-ZPass".
Other stories - New Jersey / New York - "1,087 unpaid tolls? That’s no record" New Jersey - "Another hearing set for toll increases" New Jersey / New York - "Weehawken driver owes $33G for tolls" Massachusetts - "Editorial: Opting for more toll inequity" Canada / New York - "Maziarz fires new salvo at Bridge Commission" California - "Governor vetoes fix for confidential plate problems" Washington State - "Initiative 985, pro and con" California - "Toll fees cut on 91 Freeway".
Bit More on Humber Tolls
Scunthorpe Telegraph - "Car-sharers join bridge campaign".
Private roads not wanted
Scoop - "Stop SH20 PPP & Tolls: Public Meeting Oct 8".
Monday 29 September 2008
Deep Blue Sea
The lack of electoral choice facing drivers was highlighted again at today's Tory Party Conference. It was announced that there would be major spending on new rail lines. It was said that this additional spending would be financed from "existing Government rail budgets". This sounds like a Gordon Brown trick, where he used to announce lots of "new" spending and gave the impression that because he was so clever it would cost nothing. The worry is that the Tories plan to use drivers as a cash cow to finance spending and tax cuts in other areas. It seems that the greenies also think this, because the Tories were today being praised by Greenpeace and the anti roads group now known as "Campaign for Better Transport".
It seems that the Tory Shadow Secretary also told a Manchester reporter that if the Manchester Toll scheme is agreed than the Tories will honor the bribe of £3 billion of public spending.
British Government take on £30 billion of dodgy debts
PS to this story - It has emerged that the financial guarantee scheme will bear the cost of any bad debts. That in effect means that those banks and building societies that are still solvent will have to pay. This could have a domino effect with no banks left standing at the end. It seems that everyone is going to be a loser, except that is for those who have gained massive amounts from the asset inflation over last 15 years. It seems that they got all the gains but inflation will be stoked up to make sure that they don't lose now.
BBC - "B&B nationalisation is confirmed" BBC - "Official Treasury statement on B&B". The Government are today to take on £50 billion of debts that no one wants, but will get £20 billion back by selling the savings and bank branches to the Spanish. The real effect of this seems to be that the Spanish will administer all £50 billion of mortgage debt, but the Government will give them the £30 billion that is not backed by savings and will bear the bad debts.
On Friday the Bank of England also pumped another $80 billion into the general banking system. The most likely outcome will be stagflation, so the optimum course for individuals and businesses is to go on a spending and borrowing spree. This will probably lead to a crisis in a year or two, which will make the present one look like nothing.
Bit more on Reading border toll
Reading Evening Post - "I hear the dreaded words".
New Jersey heroine - Philadelphia Inquirer - "Driver racks up almost $33,000 in toll booth fees".
Raiding tolls for mass transit is OK as it has been done before - Daily Record (New Jersey) - "Toll plan has precedence".
Universal tagging now available - Transcore press release.
Other stories - New Jersey - "The Case Of The Remarkable Toll Hike Coincidence Haines: "What About The Sunshine Law"" California - "91 Express Lanes to reduce some tolls".
Massachusetts - "GOP state rep hopeful wants Pike board, tolls removed" Massachusetts - "Motorists fuming over looming toll hikes" Pennsylvania - "I-80 toll ban may reduce road projects".
US Government $700 billion giveaway to banks nearly agreed
BBC - "US lawmakers publish rescue deal".
Bit More on Humber Toll Increase
Scunthorpe Telegraph - "Bridge toll burden to students".
Private finance - public money
Mondaq - "Australia: Public Private Partnerships - The Supported Debt Model". Now that the banks have no money, it seems that the idea is to have the usual scam, but most of the refinancing will be public.
Sunday 28 September 2008
- New Jersey - "Fight toll hikes in the courts" Florida - "Alligator Alley: Great deal, or great give-away?" New York - "State eyes feds, users to share span's cost" Massachusetts - "Pike pushes wider use of Fast Lane" Illinois - "Ethics loophole needs to be closed" Massachusetts - "Drivers don't like proposed toll hike" Connecticut - "Toll roads study on schedule for legislative debate in '09".
Massachusetts - "State rep candidate wants to close turnpike authority" Massachusetts - "Call made for Big Dig burden to be shared" Utah - "To toll or not to toll: UDOT looks at options" Florida - "Senators lead fight against Alligator Alley lease" Washington State - "Complaint over city's viaduct actions" New Jersey - "Eliminate toll roads; raise the gasoline tax" letter .
The Herald (Plymouth) - "Tamar crossing tolls up 50 per cent". With this and other planned toll rises, it is increasingly clear that the Government and the authorities are planning that all crossings which currently have a toll of less than £1.50 will have that as the new minimum toll. Maybe it will help offset 0.00001 per cent of the trillions that the Government is pumping into the mortgage system.
Bit More on Humber Toll Increase
BBC - "Councils unite against toll rise" Grimsby Telegraph - "Businesses object to bridge toll price plan" Scunthorpe Telegraph - "Bridge tolls keeping tourists away".
More on less Singapore tolls
Straits Times - "Only 1 ERP to be built" Today Online - "ERP rates lowered, five slated gantries to be scrapped".
One down ..
Some of the many reports - The Province - "Truckers, businesses ecstatic after Coquihalla tolls dropped" CTV - "Positive reaction to removal of highway toll" CBC - "Reaction Hauliers threaten legal action over M50 tollsto end of Coquihalla tolls called `immediate and positive'" Vancouver Sun - "Bell tolls for charges on Coquihalla Highway".
Globe and Mail - "Campbell quashes tolls on Coquihalla Highway" Canadian Press - "B.C. premier announces end to highway toll amid carbon tax revolt" BC Local - "Locals win with loss of $10 toll" BC Local - "Toll booth employees in shock".
.. but more to come?
The Star (Toronto) - "Metrolinx considering road tolls".
Hauliers still complaining
HGV Ireland - "Hauliers threaten legal action over M50 tolls".
Friday 26 September 2008
More on one toll business still coining it
Sydney Morning Herald - "The bleeping price we paid to drive".
Bit more on Reading border toll
BBC - "Funding bid to tackle congestion".
The Brookings Institute have just published a summary of what they say are the views of the - "Candidates on Transportation". Though on the issue of tolls and road sales, they appear to have no views.
One person opposed to tolls - Capitol Hill Blue - "Toll Roads: Do we really need them?".
Troll Awards - Austin American Statesman - "Perry an "innovator in action," Libertarian group says".
Other stories - Massachusetts - "Drivers give thumbs-down to turnpike toll hike proposals
" Florida - "Alligator Alley privatization records demanded" New Jersey - "Kean Uses OPRA To Ask For Information On Corzine Toll Hike Plan" Massachusetts - "Pike won’t reinstate western tolls" Massachusetts - "Big hike in tolls for Pike looming" Colorado - "Effort steers oil-tax funds to roads" California - "Bridge toll tickets draw fire chief's ire" Pennsylvania - "Rendell to revive turnpike lease in '09" New York - "Budget Woes Beget Talk of Commuter Tax" Oregon / Washington State - "Odds get worse for Columbia River I-5 bridge money" Canada / New York - "NIAGARA FALLS: Maziarz tries to bridge a secretive gap" Illinois - "Outgoing tollway chief sees need for higher tolls" Florida - "Senators to force disclosure of Alligator Alley privatization plans" Massachusetts - "Momentum increases for substantial toll hike".
Connexion France - "Congestion charges for towns scrapped".
Back to Go
Singapore has shelved part of its planned extra tolls and is reducing a few existing ones as drivers are using the roads less - Straits Times - "5 gantries won't be built".
More on New Forest toll proposal
Dorset Echo - "Fury over forest pricing proposal" Southern Daily Echo - "‘Join us if you care about Forest’".
"Beat the tolls, traffic - take a plane to work"
news.com. Australia's Flying knight and toll advocate may have mixed views on using planes to avoid tolls.
Bit More on Humber Tolls
Scunthorpe Telegraph - "Bridge tolls strain on firms' costs".
Irish Times - "€4,500 levy on city parking spots urged in climate report".
Thursday 25 September 2008
New York - "Cop, fire, emergency vehicles to be charged tolls by MTA" New Jersey - "Traffic is light at Expressway toll hearing in Atlantic City
" Florida - "Even tolls facing a toll: High gas, fewer jobs cause revenue to slide 6 months" New York - "MTA votes to revoke free E-ZPasses from public agencies" New York - "$10 Million Extra in Tolls, but What Price in Ill Will?" New Jersey - "N.J. Turnpike, Parkway Tolls Could Double By 2012" New York - "Thruway toll hike brings on the truckin' blues".
Business opposition to Nottingham Parking toll plan
Telegraph - "Commuters could be taxed to park cars at work".
New Forest toll proposal
Southern Daily Echo - "Motorists face tolls just to drive through New Forest".
More on Reading border toll
Reading Chronicle - "Congestion charge timescale announced" Reading Evening Post - "Outsiders face charge to drive".
One toll business still coining it
The Age - "For whom the roads toll - at $1m a day".
Bit more on Transport Secretary going
Today's FT says that "The most burning issue in the bulging in-tray that will greet Ruth Kelly’s successor as transport secretary is likely to be road congestion. A general policy consensus suggests that the way forward is a national system of pay-as-you-go road pricing....". If the rest of the financial sector are as deluded as this, how long before they get us into another financial mess?
Cambridge Congestion boss
Cambridge Evening News - "City seeks new transport head".
More on Humber Tolls
Grimsby Telegraph - "Smaller firms start to build bridges" Scunthorpe Telegraph - "Chamber joins bridge toll campaign" Road Transport - "Humber councils join forces to fight bridge tolls" Hull Daily News - "Businesses object to bridge toll rises".
For and against
The Star (Toronto) - "Cambridge councillor wants 401 tolls".
Metro News (Halifax) - "Boyd wants bridge tolls slashed".
Wednesday 24 September 2008
Road Transport - "Silence is golden for hauliers".
Transport Secretary goes
BBC - "Kelly to step down from cabinet" Guardian - "Big decisions await Ruth Kelly's successor".
The Tory Telegraph says that her "legacy is surprisingly good" and that "even some influential Tories support the idea" of road pricing - "Ruth Kelly's departure is a blow for transport policy".
By coincidence, yesterday Ruth Kelly was saying that the Manchester road toll scheme may not go ahead even if people are persuaded to vote for it in the local poll - BBC - "Road charge vote 'not final say'". Given the unpopularity of road tolls, the actions of the next Secretary of State will give some idea of whether the Government will try and win the next General election.
PS Part of Ruth Kelly's farewell speech at today's Labour Party Conference - "We must always be the party prepared to take the tough decisions, to do what is right, not just what is popular. To be the radicals in politics. So I congratulate Sir Richard Leese and the Greater Manchester authorities for their ambition. Recognising the problems that congestion causes. And, being prepared to argue for a congestion charge backed by a step-change in public transport to ensure that Manchester remains a world-class place to live and work."
Bloomberg's turn to pay - NY Times - "M.T.A. Votes to Charge City for E-ZPass Use".
New Jersey toll increase hearing - Press of Atlantic City - "Officials get earful on parkway, expressway toll-hike proposals" Gloucester County Times - "Projects required toll road hikes, drivers told" Courier Post - "200 drivers part ways over toll increases" Philadelphia Inquirer - "N.J. toll-hike hearing draws a divided crowd" Star Ledger - "Hearing on toll-hike plan stirs anger and anxiety".
Other stories - "Some drivers using Florida's Turnpike experience expensive toll glitch" Pennsylvania - "Turnpike lease lacks support, Teamsters told" "New Jersey GOP pursues halt to toll hikes; public hearings continue" Texas - "New LBJ will be a freeway and a tollway".
No tolls, for now
Toronto Sun - "Tolls left out in the cold".
Tuesday 23 September 2008
More on Humber Tolls
BBC - "New calls to abolish bridge toll" Scunthorpe Telegraph - "Momentum building against tolls".
Bit we missed on Tracking
The Register on 16th - "DfT rounds up Road-Pricing 2.0 contractors - Car-tagging pork barrel opened for early nibbles".
"What's the cost of global warming?"
Some silly stuff
Guardian Blog - "Why Labour needs to woo Mr and Mrs Mondeo".
BBC - "Rally opposes new motorway plans". The campaigners are correct in saying that the new road would do little to reduce congestion, but the reason for that is that the Welsh Assembly intend to toll it.
Drink a pinta
China is exempting vehicles that carry milk from road tolls. Given that thousands of vehicles already use false military plates to avoid tolls, will all lorries now have a milk churn on the back?
A Texan who is in favour of gas tax - TXCN - "Sen.: Gas tax goes up or prepare to pay the toll". Odd that Texans don't complain that only half of the existing gas tax is spent on roads, and yet they are faced with more and more toll roads.
It is safe to assume that most people oppose increases in gas taxes - Massachusetts - "Gas tax? They must be kidding". There is waste on roads spending, but this complaint applies even more to toll operations.
Other stories - New Jersey - "Toll-hike scheme double-bills Shore residents" "Time arrives to talk about New Jersey highway toll-increase plan" Pennsylvania - "I-80 toll opponents want law repealed".
Monday 22 September 2008
"Doing nothing is not an option"
Last night the BBC broadcast the last programme in their series "Earth: The Climate Wars". The series was the latest attempt to convince people that there is anthropogenic global warming and that doubters are eccentric nutcases. The subliminal message was that cars were responsible for this impending disaster and the last programme ended with the mantra of those who sell tolls - "Doing nothing is not an option".
In the past the BBC fought to broadcast tobacco sponsored snooker etc, so perhaps its role in selling global warming and its similar role in ignoring the population explosion may be lesser sins.
Bristol Congestion charge?
Builder & Engineer - "Bristol to go for congestion charge".
New Jersey - "Toll cheats on Atlantic City Expressway turn criminal for some" New Jersey - "Corzine to skip latest round of toll hike debate" Indiana - "Taxpayers Shouldn't Have to Reimburse Foreign Company for Toll Road Use" Florida - "Making sense of I-95 'express' lanes" Washington State - "WA governor's debate is big on transportation" New Jersey - "Poll: NJ residents oppose new toll hike plan" New Jersey - "Corzine's toll plan a big loser in new poll" Pennsylvania - "Lawmakers: Turnpike lease issue might not be dead" Rhode Island - "E-ZPass triggers criticism" Massachusetts - "Lawmakers want a gas tax".
Last week the Transport Committee of the European Parliament apparently met to discuss tolls. We can't find any report on that, but here are the reports from two weeks ago when EU Ministers discussed them - Euractiv -"Transport ministers back optional road tolls".
IOL - "Toll highway plans may have flouted the law".
Bit more on Humber Toll increase
From Scunthorpe Telegraph - "'Popular support needed to beat tolls'".
Opposition party says that it would remove tolls
Daily Yomiuri - "Ozawa talks big, but can he deliver?". As Japan is virtually a one party state this may not mean much, though the Goverment itself has just reduced the tolls.
Hauliers still complaining
HGV Ireland - "IRHA calls for meeting with Junior Minister".
Saturday 20 September 2008
The possible sale of I-80 - AP / Forbes - "Pa. Senate leaders say turnpike lease dead for '08".
Cape May County Herald (NJ) - "Anti-Toll Group: 'Tolls Are Most Inefficient of All Taxes'".
Other stories - "Mounting debt bring looming layoffs for Massachusetts toll collectors" Pennsylvania - "Rendell considers increase in gas tax for roads" Massachusetts - "Editorial: End of the road for toll takers" Kansas - "Mileage tax coming?" DC/ Virginia - "HOT Lanes Contract Negotiations Continue" New Jersey - "GOP seeks veto to halt toll hikes".
Bit more on Humber Toll increase
From Scunthorpe Telegraph - "'Get on board to back the tolls battle'".
New toll road in Toll Land
Straits Times - "Relief at last, as KPE opens" Straits Times - "KPE an engineering feat: PM". Strange that the ERP charges which are designed to discourage roads use are being applied to a brand new road. Also strange that after 10 years of ERP discouraging roads use "each car is making more trips".
Bit more on the "Cure" for 76 years of congestion
Independent Weekly - "Costly for the tagless to pass through".
Congestion charge census
Dorset Echo - "Drivers have to come to their census".
Rougher side of tolls
New Nation - "Transport leaders demand security".
Friday 19 September 2008
Massachusetts - "Layoffs at Turnpike to save $10 million" New Jersey / Pennsylvania - "DRPA Finally On Record About Funds" New Jersey - "Tolls hikes won't do all they say" New Hampshire - "GOP rival: Pignatelli broke vow on tolls" Florida - "Come Monday, new toll lanes may cause confusion" California - "Metro Reveals Their Priorities for HOT Lanes Funding" Texas - "Question: Is North Texas asking too much of NTTA, and of tolling in general?" Paul Mulshine in NJ Voices - "Corzine's tunnel plan is in deep trouble".
No tolls, please
Telegraph Journal - "Weston wants bridge debt forgiven, Zed says federal Tories won't listen". It may seem strange that a 40 year old bridge has remaining debt that is greater than the original cost, but in the world of the trolls that is the norm.
More on Humber Toll increase
From Scunthorpe Telegraph - "Tolls forcing woman out of job" "Patients join bridge tolls campaign" "Objections voiced to Parliament".
The Hankyoreh - "Beholden to the beast".
Thursday 18 September 2008
It seems to have been ruled in New Jersey that the Turnpike can have a road toll increase to fund a new rail tunnel, even though the same ruling says that to then use the money to fund the tunnel would be illegal - Daily Record - "Arbiter puts crimp in effort to halt toll hike" Star Ledger - "GOP and Democrats wrangle over veto power on toll hikes". As usual there are a lot of people who think that making road users pay for a $8 billion rail tunnel is a good idea - Jersey Journal - "Tolls will go up, but how else to pay for repairs, tunnel?".
The perennial problem of trucks using unsuitable roads to avoid tolls - Daily Gazette (New York) - "Editorial: Get trucks off back roads".
Other stories - Land Line Mag - "Wyoming lawmaker pursues tolling for Interstate 80"
New Jersey - "Editorial: Best outcome without I-80 tolls Markosek's mission"
New Jersey / Pennsylvania - "Motorcyclists say they deserve toll break"
New Jersey / Pennsylvania - "Fatter bridge tolls soon to be spent"
Pennsylvania - "Roadblock to funding highways"
Florida - "Lee County to decide on I-75 funding"
Massachusetts - "Gov eyes ax for toll takers"
Florida - "Plan for Alligator Alley seems more a fleecing than a leasing"
Texas - "Toll Taxes mean: $1,600-2,000/yr average tax to drive in & out of Bulverde"
Texas - "Bulverde City Council needs to stand up against new toll taxes on residents"
Pennsylvania - "Problems Loom for Turnpike Lease"
New Jersey - "Local leaders express concern over planned toll hike".
Tory against C-charge
Evening Standard - "Boris must scrap this unjust charge".
Evening Standard - "Tighten your seatbelts: the big spending days are over".
We reported on the 10th that Nigeria was to reintroduce its corrupt tolls system, it seems that entrepreneurs have beaten them to it - allAfrica - "Nigeria: Touts Take Over Otukpo-Enugu Road Maintenance".
New bridge will not be tolled
When the last tolls were removed in Scotland the Government said that any new Forth Crossing would not be tolled. That statement was ignored by the trolls in the Scottish establishment who said that tolling was still a possibility. The Government have now made it clear that tolls will not make a comeback - Press & Journal - "Minister guarantees no toll charges on Forth crossing".
While Scotland is toll free, its Celtic neighbour is proving what fun it is when Governments perpetuate a toll system that has dubious origins - Independent - "Drivers charged tolls for 'phantom' M50 trips".
Toll satellites progress
Transport Briefing -"Galileo opens first transport sat-nav data centre".
Another view on Salik tolls "success"
Yesterday the tolls bosses were saying how great the new system was. Gulf News today gives its view - "Problems persist on Dubai roads".
Brisbane Times - "Charge for congestion, says expert".
"Man in upside down cost protest"
Wednesday 17 September 2008
The authorities seem to have no money to pay for roads and bridges, but today the Federal Government gave $85 billion to bail out just one firm (AIG) which had in effect bet more than its own assets when selling loan guarantees on risks that turned out to be real. Is who gets the cash a sign of who rules?
Yesterday we reported on the reluctance of the Indiana Governor to call for the temporary waiving of tolls on the privatized Indiana Toll Road which has three mile queues at the toll gates. In the event it was decided late yesterday that the tolls would be waived. In Texas some of the tolls are still suspended.
Bloomberg does not like the idea of tolling two of the free bridges - presumably beacause he wants even more tolls - NY Daily News - "Bridges not for sale: Mike Bloomberg".
Other stories - Pennsylvania - "Scarnati's no-I-80-tolls road plan" Florida - "Alley lease hearing tonight".
"Delaware Bridge cops want toll cheats' money, or their cars" Florida - "Residents critical of Alligator Alley lease" New York - "MTA wants on-duty Bravest and Finest to pay up as irate city cries foul" Georgia - "Plan puts tolls on interstate HOV lanes".
"Cure" for 76 years of congestion
Daily Telegraph - "No more cash on Harbour Bridge". The bridge opened in 1932, and the current toll system is that they only have to be paid one way but with the complication that which side of the bridge that you pay the toll depends on which of the eight lanes you are in, with the added complication that there is tidal flow on three of the lanes. The story of the tolls on the bridge demonstrates the patience of Australian drivers and the greed of the trolls.
More on Humber Toll increase
From Scunthorpe Telegraph - "Bridge charge increase is A Toll Too Far" "'It's outrageous the sick pay tolls'" "Tolls are a barrier to business". From Grimsby Telegraph - "Join Telegraph campaign to halt bridge toll increase". From Nafferton Today - "High bridge tolls are damaging the region" letter to Ruth Kelly from the chairman of the local Leaders group.
Salik tolls "a success"
Gulf News - "RTA claims success with Salik gates".
Tuesday 16 September 2008
Cambridge Toll Sell
Hunts Post - "Cambridgeshire congestion will cost £700 per worker each year". What this story does not make clear is that the development agency who are pushing Cambridge "congestion charging" is in effect the Government, and the consultants - Steer, Davies, Gleave - in our opinion are the firm to pick if you want backing for tolls.
From the anti road party
The Lib Dem conference is today expected to support a plan to substantially increase vehicle excise duty on bigger cars and to toll all main roads with some reduction in fuel duty and abolition of vehicle excise duty - original Lib Dem press release (at least it was but they have removed the webpage) Lib Dem policy paper (pdf).
An interesting idea to increase VED and then abolish it! It is also interesting that they say they will reduce fuel duty, but those who are worried that the Lib Dems are no longer green will be reassured that yesterday the Lib Dem Finance spokesman Vince Cable appeared to suggest that fuel taxes should be increased by 20 pence or so - Daily Mail - "LibDems want a 20p hike in fuel duty (so much for tax cuts then!)". Perhaps the 20 pence increase is to pay for the billions it would cost to implement and run a road pricing system!!!
PS Later items - replacement Lib Dem press release Guardian - "Lib Dems back road-pricing despite fears of 'poll tax on wheels' accusations" ePolitiX - "Lib Dem MP blasts ‘poll tax on wheels’".
Singapore tolls fantasy
Straits Times - "ERP gives commuters a choice". The best bit is probably the Minister saying that the tolls had "a positive effect" on retail sales in the tolled areas.
If there is any one group that is responsible for the mess of the world's economy it is accountants and auditors who have created and certified as sound the house of cards which is our economic system. Their talents are now being increasingly turned to the promotion of tolls - Market Watch - "Deloitte Study Recommends a Better Approach to Dealing With Congested Roadways in the United States" Deloitte press release etc.
During the recent storms there were the usual suspensions of some tolls to speed up traffic of evacuees in Florida and elsewhere. One novelty was a call to suspend tolls on the privatised Indiana Tollway and the privatised Chicago Skyway in neighbouring Illinois. One Indiana State Representative asked the Indiana Governor to get tolls suspended as queues at the toll gates where several miles long due to traffic diverting from untolled routes which were flooded. The answer was that the queues were not bad enough.
Other stories - New York - "Ex-transit big sez MTA should buy bridges for $1; idea would raise millions, help congestion" New York - "Bridging mta's gap - toll & commuter-tax ideas" Pennsylvania - "PennDOT considering alternative fund options" New Jersey - "Questioning the size of proposed toll increases" New Jersey - "GOP lawmakers maneuver to block highway toll hikes" Florida - "Editorial: State must keep Alligator Alley" New York - "Congestion Pricing Is Popular Among Ideas To Boost MTA" Land Line Mag - "Pennsylvania bill would fund road and bridge work without tolls, taxes" New Jersey - "Lawmakers could veto toll hikes under GOP move".
Athens considers toll
Kathimerini - "Congestion charge mulled again".
More on Humber Toll increase
BBC - "Anger over bridge toll rise" video Hull Daily Mail - "Call to oppose Humber Bridge toll hike" Yorkshire Post - "Call to block Humber Bridge tolls increase".
Bit more on Tracking
FT - "Road pricing plan gathers speed".
Monday 15 September 2008
USA Roundup - Later stories
New Jersey - "Business Accepts Toll Hikes" "Tolls Rise To Travel From NJ To Philly" Delaware - "Toll violators' vehicles can now be impounded" New Jersey - "Former transit chief testified toll funds would only be used for N.J.'s toll roads".
Reading Evening Post - "‘Liar’ row over congestion charge claim". If people from Reading and "Greater Reading" will not have to pay the toll, then who exactly are these people who are causing the congestion? Day trippers from Birmingham?
Daily Mail - "Police cameras to track 50million cars a DAY - and keep details for up to five years" Telegraph - "Drivers could face being charged for even shortest journeys".
In the country
Western Morning News - "Pay-to-drive 'a double blow'". The report issued by the Commission for Rural Communities - "Thinking about rural transport - The potential impacts of road pricing on rural areas".
Another broken promise?
Herald Sun - "Roads take bigger toll".
More Irish fun
Herald - "More headaches for M50 toll road users as fines sent in error".
In the modern capitalist system, the big gains go not to the owners of capital but to the people who "manage" the enterprises. The managers take (i.e. ignore) risks that in the short term will usually give the enterprise bigger returns and result in bigger salaries for managers. They do this even though they may effectively be betting the whole enterprise. In many cases managers ignore the risks because they have not got the intellect to understand them, but even where they do understand they take the risk anyway because it is not their money that is being risked. If all goes well then the potential bad outcomes will not happen. But when they do then either the firm goes bust or it is bailed out by the taxpayer. The latest firm where things have turned our bad is Lehman Brothers - BBC - "Lehman Bros files for bankruptcy".
Recently the investment bank was part of one of the groups bidding to buy Alligator Alley in Florida. The chances are that there will be more sales of toll roads to soak up some of the money that is being spewn out by central banks, but that there will be even bigger guarantees from the suckers (everyone who is not a "manager") to minimise the risks to bonuses of managers. Drivers will increasingly be herded on to tolled roads and milked dry.
Interstate 80 - the FHWA press release has now appeared on their site - "Federal Highway Administration Does Not Approve Pennsylvania’s Plans to Toll Interstate 80". Other stories and comment - Patriot News - "Turnpike lease plan might fizzle" Morning Call - "Point/Counterpoint: Should drivers on Interstate 80 pay tolls?" Times Tribune - "I-80 toll rejection boosts ’pike lease" Daily Item - "Freeway? Tollway? Another way?" Philadelphia Inquirer - "Editorial: I-80 Tolls - Don't take the turnpike" The Sentinel - "Turnpike lease has inside track" Altoona Mirror - "Rev up debate on transportation" Market Watch - "Americans for a Strong National Highway Network Applauds FHWA Decision to Reject I-80 Toll Application".
Other stories - New Jersey - "Turnpike toll hike" Florida - "Privatizing roads like Alligator Alley at odds with long-term public interest" letter New Jersey - "Kolluri did 180 on tolls for tunnel" New Jersey - "Lawmakers, drivers vent over Garden State Parkway, Atlantic City Expressway toll hikes" Florida - "Crist leasing Alligatory Alley sells us short for decades" New Jersey- "Toll-increase rationale has some holes" "Wyoming considers tolls on I-80".
Saturday 13 September 2008
A few of the continuing stories on the (non) tolling of Interstate 80 - The Herald - "With I-80 tolls dead, search for road-repair money begins" Times Leader - "Execs praise I-80 decision" Land Line Mag - "One down, one to go in Pennsylvania".
Freight bosses back urban road tolls
On Thursday the Freight Transport Association (which has members in both road haulage and rail industries) gave some backing to the Government plans for road pricing trials - FTA press release FTA guide to "Road pricing schemes in England" pdf file.
Jeux Sans Frontières
Guardian -"Caught in holiday traffic".
Bit more on Tracking trials
Telegraph - "Drivers could face being charged for even shortest journeys".
Friday 12 September 2008
Chinese tolls enjoy a long life
China was to replace its toll system with a gas tax, but there seems little hope of that as many people will benefit from the tolls or the embezzlement of the sale proceeds when the roads are sold to private companies - Economic Observer - "Weaknesses Remain in New Rules for China's Toll Roads".
More on the tolling of Interstate 80 - Market Watch - "Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association (PMTA) President Responds to Federal Government's Decision to Reject Application to Toll I-80" Courier Express - "What happens now that I-80 toll plan has been voted down?".
The FHWA have rejected tolling of Interstate 80. It is not clear whether this suprise move is to protect drivers or to ensure that the sale of the Pennsylvania Turnpike goes ahead. Some of the reports - Philadelphia Inquirer - "U.S. rejects Pa.'s request for I-80 tolls" Altoona Mirror - "Feds reject tolls on I-80" Daily Item - "Valley leaders celebrate" Financial News (Britain) - "Record US Infrastructure deal moves closer" Pittsburgh Tribune Review - "Tolling of I-80 rejected by feds" Oil City Derrick - "Clarion chamber director: 'It's Christmas in September'" Bloomberg - "Pennsylvania I-80 Toll Rejected By Federal Government (Update2)" Philadelphia Inquirer / AP - "US Transportation Dept. rejects I-80 toll proposal" Land Line Mag - "SPECIAL REPORT: FHWA denies Pennsylvania’s application to toll I-80".
More on New Jersey toll increases - Asbury Park Press - "Toll hike plan takes toll on readers' patience" Daily Record - "Legislators want more Turnpike toll hearings" Press of Atlantic City - "Lawmakers say toll-hike hearings not fair to locals" Scarlet Scuttlebutt - "Higher tolls one more road to government waste".
Other stories - Colorado - "Discount planned for E-470 drivers with transponders" .
New Swiss toll
World Radio Switzerland - "Zurich officials eye congestion charge". How high would the tolls have to be to deter the Gnomes?
Something new in the upside down trolls world
New toll road developer, BrisConnections, is trading at less than its declared dividend - Business Spectator - "For whom the bell tolls".
Case for higher gas tax
Raise the Hammer - "Bring on the Gas Tax". Note that the various taxes on gas currently make up about 32 Canadian cents a litre. In Britain that converts to about 17 pence and compares with British fuel duty and sales (VAT) tax which at current pump prices total about 68 pence a litre.
Thursday 11 September 2008
Radio Netherlands - "Paid to leave the car at home".
Official - it's still hot
The British establishment are the world's leading proselytizers for the Global Warming faith. Most people in Britain will think that they have just experienced one of their most miserable summers ever. But the Met Office always looks on the warm side. It's official summary of UK weather for August says - "Average daily maximum temperatures ranged from about 1 °C below average .. to about 1 °C above average .. Average daily minimum temperatures were generally 1 to 2 °C above average across the UK.". To reinforce the faith the BBC has started a series - "Earth: The Climate Wars" which "uncovers the great unsung heroes of climate change science". It seems as if the series is intended to "prove" that there is anthropogenic global warming using simplistic demonstrations and debunking what it says are the arguments of the cynics. How long before not believing in all this will become a crime?
Lancaster is one of Britain's smallest cities, despite that consultants have come up with a new wheeze - a charge at the motorway exits - Lancashire Evening Post - "Lancaster's congestion charge vision".
More on New Jersey toll increases - Asbury Park Press - "Toll plan would hit wallets hard" Asbury Park Press - "Don't railroad toll hike plan" Daily Journal - "Senator: Is toll-hike proposal even legal?" Packet - "Turnpike eyes massive toll increase - Florence, Bordentown officials weigh in" Gloucester County Times - "Let Dems, GOP debate toll plan" Gloucester County Times - "Let Dems, GOP debate toll plan".
Other stories - Pennsylvania / New Jersey - "Some seniors question E-ZPass discounts" California - "MTA presents car-pool lane toll plan" Pennsylvania - "Chamber plans toll booth protest" Pennsylvania - "Lawmakers expect word on tolls soon" Florida - "Input called for on leasing Alligator Alley; Senator sets up public meeting".
Macedonia to cut itself off from rest of Europe
South East Times - "Foreign contractors eager to build Macedonian tollways".
Wednesday 10 September 2008
Sheldon Silver, the New York Assembly Speaker, in yesterday's Democratic primary beat off a challenge to unseat him. He had been blamed for the defeat of the Bloomberg tolls scam, and there has been a big campaign to select someone else for his seat. The campaign came from the usual interests and from most of the New York papers who support the Bloomberg tolls.
Rangers on manhunt - CBS - "NTTA Tracking Down Out-Of-State Tollway Violators".
New Jersey tolls are to be substantially increased - Press of Atlantic City - "Expressway wants to hear from you on planned toll hikes" Daily Record - "No toll increase
The governor should consider alternatives" Philadelphia Inquirer - "Public gets say on plan to increase tolls in N.J." Star Ledger - "Foes begin to rev up opposition while 'Toll Hike II' gains traction".
Other stories - "Tolls on Florida's Turnpike suspended for Ike set to resume today" "Massachusetts Turnpike Logs 6.75 Percent Usage Decline" "High gas prices take its toll on Mass. Pike" "High gas prices take its toll on Mass. Pike" "Fitch Puts Massachusetts Turnpike Authority's Metro Highway System Revs on Watch Negative".
Tolls gone, but little change in traffic
The Courier - "Small rise in traffic using bridge". Since the Tay bridge tolls were removed on the 11th February the traffic southbound has increased by 4.5% but the northbound traffic has seen little change. The tolls were only payable southbound so it seems that some of the traffic must have been taking long detours to avoid the tolls. We predicted that though traffic might increase the congestion would reduce as it was caused by traffic queuing to pay the toll. Unfortunately since the tolls were removed there seem to have been permanent roadworks and lane closures on the bridge.
Cambridge Toll update
Cambridge Evening News - "Congestion charging on hold, admits council".
Humber Toll increase
Hull Daily Mail - "Consultation on Humber Bridge tolls".
Thai toll protest
Bangok Post - "Labour union wants board thrown out over toll row".
Attempt to beat new tolls causes congestion
The National - "Tolls prove a bitter pill in Dubai" Gulf News - "For whom the Salik tolls" 7Days - "New Salik gates spell chaos for motorists" The National - "Roads clogged across Dubai" Gulf News - "Traffic at a standstill as new Salik gates come into effect".
Nigeria to bring back toll roads
Nigeria abandoned toll roads, partly due to the discovery that over half the money collected disappeared before reaching the authorities, but roads are now to be privatised and tolls to be reintroduced - The Sun - "Planned return of toll gates" Sunday Tribune - "Babel as FG reintroduces toll gates".
Radio Netherlands - "Is Amsterdam unfriendly to cars".
NI - out of the frying pan?
BBC - "Road tolls find business support".
SOME STORIES WE MISSED OVER LAST WEEK:-
9th Virginia - "Higher tolls jolt some; others test alternate routes" 9th New Jersey - "Toll hikes will help pay for tunnel" 9th New Jersey - "Toll hikes will help pay for tunnel" 8th New Jersey / New York - "Port Authority salary highest in area, report says" 7th Florida - "Private plan for Alligator Alley is advancing" 7th New Jersey - "Fight back on toll hikes" 7th Maryland / Virginia - "Driven away?" 7th Texas - "Privatizing What the Public Paid For" 6th Pennsylvania - "Plan to toll Interstate 80 opposed by state farmers"
5th Washington State - "Washington Think Tank Gives Thumbs Up to Traffic Reduction Measure" 5th DC / Virginia - "New Toll Lanes On Powhite Open" 5th - "N.J. highway plan would double tolls by 2023" 5th - "A plan to raise N.J. tolls ... Take two" 4th New Jersey / New York - "Man accused of making license plate 'disappear'" 4th New Jersey / New York - "Ghetto Disappearing License Plate Hack Rigged to Avoid Tolls"
3rd National - "Transportation Secretary Proposes Tolls On All Major Roadways" 3rd National - "Transportation Secretary Proposes Tolls On All Major Roadways" 3rd Texas - "HOV lanes and HOT lanes for SOVs" 3rd Utah - "No-toll chorus gets louder" 3rd Massachusetts - "The phantom tollbooth"
2nd California - "It now costs $6 to cross the Golden Gate Bridge" 2nd California - "California Legislature Pushes Toll Roads"   2nd Tennessee - "Experience shows toll roads are bad idea" 1st Utah - "Opposition to west-side toll road grows
9th Herald Sun - "RACV calls for $3.2b road spending in Melbourne's outer suburbs" 7th newspaper.com - "650 Bogus Toll Road Photo Tickets Refunded" 3rd Daily Telegraph - "Lane Cove Tunnel bungle as thousands fined" 2nd Daily Telegraph - "Inequities of untolled elite".
7th Edmonton Sun - "Pollution-fighting toll roads study canned" 7th Ottawa Sun - "Feds shelve traffic toll study" 6th National - "Transport Canada study on road tolls cancelled".
8th Evening Standard - "It’s time to turn your attention to TfL, Boris".
8th NZ Herald - "Case for private role in tunnels gets boost".
6th Straits Times - "All at one go in Nov? Maybe not" 4th Straits Times - "Small cars COE down 30%".
4th Telegraph - "Postcode road pricing is just unfair" 4th Evening Standard - "Motorists from rich areas could be charged more for road tolls in new 'pay-as-you-drive' postcode lottery" 4th Evening Standard - "Motorists from rich areas could be charged more for road tolls in new 'pay-as-you-drive' postcode lottery" over 100 comments 3rd Telegraph - "Drivers face postcode lottery under pay-as-you-drive scheme".
4th Roadtransport.com - "Five years of the M6 toll road".
4th Euro weekly - "Electronic licence plates for all motor vehicles" 3rd Typically Spanish - "Motorway tolls increase in Cataluña for drivers without passengers".
Express India - "Expressway still clogged, toll collection drops".
3rd EurActiv - "Transport ministers back optional road tolls".
3rd Independent - "People power needed to sort M50 chaos" 3rd HGV Ireland - "IRHA won't be drawn on tolls row".
Monday 1 September 2008
Western extension consultation starts
Evening Standard - "London debates western c-charge" BBC - "London debates western c-charge" Mayor's press release.
the Newspaper.com - "Virginia Tolls Pay Australian Toll CEO Salary".
Other stories -
California - "Golden Gate Bridge toll climbs to $6 Tuesday" New Jersey / Pennsylvania - "Tolls not ruled out for bridge" Oregon / Washington State - "Use federal money, not driver tolls, to build I-5 bridge" letter
New Hampshire - "Licenses not lost for E-ZPass violations, but some challenges still remain" California - "Golden Gate Bridge tolls rise $1" "CROSSROADS: Deficits may take toll on Florida" New York - "Thruway traffic decline hits agency's bottom line" Louisiana - "Official seeks better use of CCC tolls" Maryland - "Tolls lifted, Then Brought Back, at Bridge" California - "Congestion pricing details begin to emerge" Pennsylvania - "Groups fight I-80 toll plan" Pennsylvania - "Trucking Coalition Fights I-80 Tolls" Texas - "U.S. 281 tollway is seen as a road to $2.1 billion" Utah - "HERALD POLL: Let the roads stay free".
More on M50 toll including threats to pursue UK drivers
Herald - "M50 traffic’s moving well - but not freely" BBC - "Tolls, traffic jams and tags" Irish Times - "Barrier-free M50 'performing beautifully'" Irish Times - "Barrier-free M50 faces its first major test today" Independent - "Bell tolls for M50 barrier maidens as electronic upgrade signals end of road" Guardian - "UK drivers can't dodge M50 tolls" RTE - "Govt can't commit to abolishing tolls - Ahern" Independent - "Confusion reigns over removal of toll-plaza" Irish Times - "Retailers may add surcharge to M50 toll payments" HGV Ireland - "SFA criticises government over toll changes".
The Troll Times thinks that the switch to electronic tolls is one giant leap for man - "The bell tolls for the M50's 'hated' barriers".
Irish hauliers say that they are thinking about refusing to pay - HGV Ireland - "IRHA to consider toll options at September meeting".
Free toll bills
Globes - "Road 6 can't charge for detailed invoices".