AUGUST 2008 NEWS
Saturday 30 August 2008
New Scientist proves anthropogenic global warming doubters wrong
New Scientist - "Climate myths: Global warming stopped in 1998" New Scientist - "Climate change: A guide for the perplexed". Judging by the large number of comments there are still some who do not accept the assertions of the believers.
Friday 29 August 2008
More on Traffic down
This is the Trafficmaster / RAC Foundation report that was released earlier this week (pdf).
WHDH (Massachussets) - "Van crashes into toll plaza on Tobin Bridge".
McCain's Toll mate? Paul Mulshine in NJ Voices - "Who's Tim Pawlenty? A Corzine clone on tolls and bonds".
Other stories - New Jersey / Pennsylvania - "Green light for toll hike" New Jersey / Pennsylvania - "Corzine won't veto toll hikes on 4 Delaware River crossings" New York - "Studies show fewer hit road this season" Indiana - "Road-lease highway isn't so lonely anymore" Pennsylvania - "Pike-lease backers issue poster, video" Texas - "State Highway 121 to open Sunday" Land Line Mag - "Several California toll bills advance".
M50 toll appealing
Irish Times - "Appeals system for toll disputes outlined".
Thursday 28 August 2008
Design News - "Electronics Module Could Bring Tolling to All Roads".
More about the congestion tolls pandemic, though the reality is that about the only places with significant schemes are Singapore and London, and in both of those cities there is strong opposition - Mobilizing the Region (New York) - "Congestion Pricing’s World Tour".
Labor Day tolls present from Turner Network Television on some toll roads - Market Watch - "TNT Springs for Tolls in Atlanta, Orlando, Philadelphia and Chicago".
More on privatization of roads - New York Times - "Cities Debate Privatizing Public Infrastructure".
Reds on the Street - Streetsblog - "Is NYC’s “Sustainable Streets” Plan a Communist Plot?". Given that the main person selling tolls is Bloomberg, the reality is that there is an unholy alliance of the left and the right. The only thing that they have in common is that their plans will force poorer drivers off the road.
Other stories - Texas - "Newest segment of SH 121 to open Sunday" New York - "Thruway fuel prices facing state audit" Pennsylvania - "Pa. turnpike commission called hub of patronage" West Virginia - "Toll road plan is scrapped" Pennsylvania - "Grass-roots group says alternates to tolling I-80 exist"
Pennsylvania - "Turnpike 'stealth' maneuver planned" Land Line Mag - "Utah lawmakers consider tolls to ease road funding crunch" Pennsylvania - "Private consortium lobbies to operate Turnpike".
Lib Dems or the men from another planet
The Lib Dems are concerned that people are not walking enough, their solution is tolls on inter city roads - Lib Dems PR - "Walking becoming a minority pursuit" .
Bit more on NZ Toll plans
Stuff - "Tolls on the way says John Banks".
Bit more on M50 tolls
Herald - "Regular Westlink users will pay almost €1,000" Independent - "No barrier means no jobs for 120 toll-bridge staff".
Latest DfT Stats
National Travel Survey 2007 - Survey (pdf) Data tables - first part (Excel) Data tables - second part (Excel).
Road Freight Statistics 2007 - main page (links to full report and individual sections are at top right).
Road goods vehicles travelling to mainland Europe - Q1 & Q2 2008 - main page (links to bulletin and data tables are at top right).
Singapore drivers not behaving
Singapore is one of the most tightly controlled countries in the "free" world. Drivers have to bid in auctions for the right to have a car and are subject to the most comprehensive road toll system anywhere in the world. Despite all this and despite very high fuel prices it seems that there are more cars on the road (though other reports say that fuel use is down - Straits Times - "Car numbers up despite driving costs".
From the upside down continent
Drivers want more tolls - Herald Sun - "Push to tax cars on how far they travel". And where they go - Sydney Morning Herald - "Loose lips, loose change".
Wednesday 27 August 2008
New York Times - "Running Out of Money, Cities Are Debating the Privatization of Public Infrastructure". Could this be the start of the next big financial bust?
Wall Street Journal on the sale of the Pennsylvania Turnpike and other roads - "Leasing of Landmark Turnpike Puts State at Policy Crossroads".
Another revolution? "Tea party on wheels".
Other stories - California - "Deadline nears on proposed L.A. County toll lanes" California - "Proposed toll-lane plan has driving opposition" Florida - "Alley draft agreement out but tolls, other details forthcoming" New York - "Road work cut as Thruway travel plummets" DC / Virginia - "What happens when HOT lanes can't deliver?"
DC / Virginia - "Money Spent vs. Time Saved Debated for HOT Lanes" Land Line Mag - "North Carolina committee tackles transportation funding" Pennsylvania - "Markosek says he'll keep turnpike lease bill in committee" Massachusetts - "A toll hike is a toll hike" Massachusetts - "Squeezing commuters" Colorado - "Drivers will be able to pay toll road by mail" Oregon / Washington State - "Taking a toll: Debate heats up over charging to cross Columbia River".
"Australian Toll Road Company Losing Millions"
Congestion charge for people?
Eurostat forecasts that Britain will have an extra 16 million people by 2060 - BBC - "UK population 'will be top in EU'".
Mirror - "Pricey fuel drives people out of traffic jams" BBC - "Credit crunch eases traffic jams".
Two class roads
Sunday Telegraph - "Motorway toll plan moves closer to reality" Sunday Times - "Motorways could soon have £5 VIP lanes".
Looking on the bright side
Sydney Morning Herald - "ConnectEast on road to profit".
Alex Salmond to "look" at Skye tolls document
The Herald - "Salmond volunteers to examine Skye Bridge tolls document" with comments from wisnaeme Scotsman (Tuesday) - "Campaigners to seek public inquiry into bridge tolls".
New "simple" Irish tolls system on M50
Independent - "Pay-as-you-go shopkeepers warned against extra charge" Independent - "How the cash from your toll fee is distributed" Independent - "M50 tags to arrive just in time, claims NRA" Irish Times - "No penalty for those who don't get tags on time - NRA" Irish Times - "Q & A" HGV Ireland - "For whom the toll tolls" Herald - "'Teething problems' have NRA on guard - TAGGING: Motorway tolling will inevitably cause problems" RTE - "Hauliers in threat over new toll system" Independent - "Revealed: how tolls will cost €50 a week" Independent - "Paying to use roads just another form of taxation" Independent - "Road to nowhere" Irish Times - "Most motorists who ordered M50 toll tags still waiting" Herald - "Truckers planning to boycott M50 toll" Irish Times - "Playing tag with the tolls" Irish Times - "Angry truckers oppose M50 barrier-free toll plan" HGV Ireland - "M50 chaos set to continue".
Surrey with the tolls on top
News 1130 - "Surrey business leaders upset with toll bridges".
Toll plans slip out and relaese a storm of protest
National Business Review - "Waterview toll decision by November" NZ Herald - "Road toll admission offers vague idea of Nats' agenda" Stuff - "Transmission Gully gap may be closed" Stuff - "Labour plans $2 tolls to finance motorway" NZ Herald - "Toll looks likely on Waterview link" NZ Herald - "Long road ahead for Tauranga's Route K" Stuff - "Toll row reaches Parliament " Scoop - "Nats plans to toll existing Akld Harbour Bridge" NZ Herald - "Motorway tolls move a step closer" Scoop - "Road toll idiocy should be rejected outright"
NZ Herald - "Nats do fast u-turn over road-tolls gaffe" NZ Herald- "MP's honesty puts National on the spot" NZ Herald- "Road tolls a hot potato since the harbour bridge" Stuff - "Nats in damage mode over tolls" TV NZ - "Williamson in trouble over tolls" 3 News - "Nats in damage control after road toll slip" Stuff - "National does U-turn on toll charges" Scoop - "National's road toll policy would punish the poor" Scoop - "Gordon Campbell on National’s plans for roads" TV NZ - "National could introduce toll roads" NZ Herald - "National's user-pay plan for city roads" Stuff - "PM attacks Nats' roading plans" Dominion Post - "National's plan tips 4 or 5 big toll roads" Otago Times - "National pushes road tolls policy".
Threat from Europe
Guardian - "Mayor urged to act on London pollution to avoid EU fines".
Tougher penalties for tolls evasion
Xinhua - "China to amend penalties for fraud involving military license plates".
More threats to Australian drivers
Herald Sun - "Trucks face toll threat on old roads" The Age - "Parking tax stays despite doubts on effectiveness" The Age - "Review suggests Melbourne congestion tax" The Age - "Tolls and taxes on roads agenda".
Saturday 23 August 2008
Humber Bridge - board apply for toll increase
The people, businesses and councils in the area of the Humber are trying to get the bridge tolls scrapped, in the meantime the Board are seeking to increase what are already the most expensive tolls in Britain - BBC - "Increase in Humber Bridge tolls" Grimsby Telegraph - "BRIDGE TOLLS TO RISE BY END OF OCTOBER " Board press release.
But not a drop to drink
Spiked - "There’s another word for ‘water neutrality’: death". An interesting article, though it misses the point that problems with water and almost everything else are linked to population growth and will not be cured by - "super-ambitious, large-scale industrial projects: dams, reservoirs, dykes, canals, manmade rivers and lakes, sewage systems, more investment in GM crops that can grow even in arid conditions.".
More on the new E toll
Irish Times - "Isme calls for scrapping of M50 tolls" Herald - "Motorist slams M50's 'de facto' toll hike as VAT is not deducted".
Public Service - "Can we develop transport systems that are both economically and environmentally viable?".
Malaysian toll burden
The Star - "Gobind: Reduce the Puchong toll rates".
Thursday 21 August 2008
More of the usual myths such as that London has "30% less congestion" due to charges. This time the myths are from the San Franciso County Transportation Authority who are selling "congestion pricing" - Examiner - "Opinions sought on downtown congestion driving tolls".
One of the Texas Toll Party's favourite people is now selling tolls in Utah - KCPW - "Texas Lawmaker Talks Toll Roads with Utah Legislature".
Other stories - Pennsylvania - "Peterson 'nervous' about tolls" New Jersey / Pennsylvania - "Higher bridge tolls, PATCO fares approved" Utah - "Peak-travel driving fee may ease congestion" Utah - "Fee-way: Utah sets sights on toll roads" Pennsylvania - "Turnpike offers big incentive to finish Mon-Fay" California - "91 Freeway toll roads could roll into Riverside County".
Lib Dems step up their Silly season campaign
BBC - "Clegg unveils green energy vision ".
Good news from Tolls group
Live News - "MIG reports 55% profit slide".
Tory MP attacks Tracking trials
Essex Echo - "Pay-as-you-go road tax trial". James Duddridge says "Adding to fuel tax, as the Government have been doing, is a pretty direct tax on the motorist. There is simply no need to add any more on top of that." Let us hope that David Cameron is listening.
Straits Times - "Motorists change driving habits". The crazy thing is that they want people to believe that fuel use is down because of tolls.
Scientists says it is getting a lot hotter
New Scientist - "Summer scorchers outpace global warming". This will no doubt reassure the believers, but sceptics may be investing in warm clothing rather than suntan lotion.
Wednesday 20 August 2008
UCLA News Room - "Joint UCLA–USC study shows that toll roads are more fair than taxes" LA Times Blog - "Study finds congestion pricing doesn't hurt the poor". Tolls are a corrupt inefficient system that takes no account of ability to pay and which does not distinguish between someone driving a small car or a big limousine. So who are the people who are crazy enough to believe that tolls are fairer to the poor than taxes are? Here is one group that aren't - College on the Record - "UCLA and USC Make "Discovery"".
Naples Daily News - "Some tolls have been reinstated on Florida roads".
Other stories - Massachusetts - "Officials again rule out I-93 tolls" Florida - "Use of Miami-Dade toll roads dips this year amid poor economic conditions" New Hampshire - "Toll hike keeps NH's revenue up" New Jersey / Pennsylvania - "Editorial: DRPA's Toll Hikes" Pennsylvania - "Turnpike officials seeking partnership" Texas - "Feds, state officials say private sector could speed up I-35 improvements" Pennsylvania - "Private builder a quick option for Mon-Fayette" Colorado - "E-470 getting rid of toll booths".
"Green" no longer fashionable?
Times (on 7th) - "Suddenly being green is not cool any more".
Lib Dems on Tracking trials
Press release - "Road pricing scheme could leave motorists paying twice over - Baker". The Lib Dems seem to occupy an alternate reality where they believe that they can advocate motorway tolls, congestion charges and road pricing and yet drivers will be on their side. They also appear to be so ignorant that they believe these charges cost nothing to collect and that they are "greener" than fuel taxes.
Cheshire driver and Two grand con bill
Winsford Guardian - "Minibus Driver Stunned Over £2,000 Road Fine". If the number plates were cloned, how come the fines over a two year period were not a lot more? And is this a sign that it can take two years for TfL to act?
Welcome to Ireland but don't forget to pay your toll bill
Independent - "Flights 'no excuse' to forget tolls".
Tuesday 19 August 2008
Poles have not disappeared yet
The Register - "Arctic ice refuses to melt as ordered". Most people in Britain have been experiencing a miserable "summer". One group that is not affected is the Met Office who always seem to look on the warm side, their assessments for the last 3 months were -
May - "Mean temperatures generally 2 to 3 deg C above average", June - "temperatures generally close to average", July - Mean temperatures ranged from close to average .. to over 1 deg C above average" 2008 Monthly summary.
TfL claims that London Low Emission Zone is working
press release (from last Wednesday) - "Initial Low Emission Zone results prove positive". According to TfL the press release is based on this recent monitoring report and appendices.
E toll problems
Herald - "Motorists see red as M50's eFlow toll site gets jammed".
Utah - "UDOT to gauge tolls electronically".
More "charges" to force people out of cars
Telegraph - "Motorists should pay more to park in town centres, says Government minister".
The Singapore Government has been defending itself from complaints about more "ERP charges" (road tolls). It has been saying that though road tolls have doubled in the last 8 years ($80 million in 2000 and $160 million this year), total taxes related to road use have almost halved in the same period ($6.1 billion in 2000 and $3.4 billion this year) and that even with the increases the road tolls still only make up less than 5 per cent of the total road taxes - Straits Times - "Car owners not losing out". Despite this businesses are complaining - Straits Times - "Chinatown ERP review".
Bit more on Tracking trials
Computer Weekly - "Road tax satellite tracking system trials planned" and this though it comes from a group who have done work for the DfT - Computer Weekly Blog - "The spy in the sky?" - the idea that daa would be wiped from the system when it is not needed, relies on trust and also raises the question as to when it is not needed.
Monday 18 August 2008
New Driver's organisation
Peter Roberts has launched a new members organisation for motorists - Drivers' Alliance.
Fay has led to the usual suspension of tolls to improve traffic flow - WPBF - "Tolls Suspended On Florida's Turnpike As Fay Approaches".
Paul Mulshine's view on the campaign to replace gas tax with tolls - NJ Voices - "State GOP pushes toll-road propaganda".
Other stories - New York - "Koon favors no-toll rush hours on Thruway" California - "Doyle Drive impasse may be closer to a solution" Florida - "Time to throw the brakes on Alligator Alley lease plan" Texas - "Toll road battle continues" letter New York- "The toll of tolls".
Daily Mail - "Coming soon: Pay-as-you-go road tax" Telegraph - "The road to inequity" Telegraph - "'Spy-in-the-sky' paves way for road pricing".
PS Views in the Register - "Road Pricing 2.0 is two years away - Spy in the cab comes out of the lab". As usual the Comments link is worth reading.
Bit more on VAT problem
Independent - "Roads Authority accused of operating M50 toll rip-off".
Western Mail - "Dishonest drivers use disabled badges to dodge Severn tolls".
PM defends tolls
Straits Times - "ERP changes not made in isolation".
Scoop - "Expert challenges National over toll roads". The answer to question two - whether Macquarie will be given toll contracts - would be very interesting.
More UAE tolls on the way
Arabian Business - "70% don't want Salik to be expanded".
Saturday 16 August 2008
Old will still pay less - New Jersey / Pennsylvania - "DRPA eases senior hikes".
More toll roads to increase "pipe" from Mexico - California - "Schwarzenegger hopes to speed border crossings".
Other stories - Pennsylvania - "Toll lobbying battle fails to sway public" Massachusetts - "Turnpike Authority can't afford grants" New Jersey / Pennsylvania - "Bridge toll increases advance" "Indiana Toll Road collectors reject contract offer" Pennsylvania - "Tolling I-80 will hurt local and state economy" letter New York - "Toll removal is just "a matter of time" New Jersey / Pennsylvania - "DRPA committee unanimously passes toll hike".
Yonder comes a sucker
Irish drivers seem to be quite happy to pay what is likely to be increasing West-link tolls as long as there are no toll booths - Independent - "Hated plaza hits road" Independent - "Traffic rose to to 100,000 a day over 18 years" Herald - "Back to school M50 mayhem as the toll plaza comes down". The private firm that was given the right to erect this part of the road and build the booths spent about 40 million euros, and got back in tolls and the sale of the concession nearly one billion euros - so there is one Irishman somewhere who is certainly no fool.
Not paying the electronic tolls will be a criminal offence punishable by up to six months in prison, though it is expected that most drivers will only face civil fines - The Kerryman - "Jobs boost for north Kerry".
European "Green" Tolls
Politics.co - "'Greening' – good idea or just another excuse to tax road transport?".
Friday 15 August 2008
New York - "Victor may ask Thruway officials for no tolls between exits 44, 45" Pennsylvania - "Senators Express Opposition to Resubmitted I-80 Toll Plan" Land Line mag - "California toll lane bill dies; other tolling efforts advance".
Tolls to keep Les Prolos out
Independent - "A bridge too far? Trouble on paradise island".
Thursday 14 August 2008
Public Net - "Smarter Stronger Cities: Uk Urban Policy Innovations And Lessons For The Us". Not sure which is the bigger delusion - is it that the London Con has improved traffic or is it that urban sprawl in America is due to a lack of a British style planning policy rather than to population growth? In 1950 the US population was 152 million, today it is 304,868,728 (that's right there are twice as many people) and the latest projection is that by 2050 there will 439 million - press release today from the Census Bureau - "An Older and More Diverse Nation by Midcentury".
Land Line mag - "Northeast governors slam federal transportation policy".
Other stories - Florida - "A private Alligator Alley?" Pennsylvania - "Moody's: Gas Cost Might Drive Toll Hikes" Texas - "Drivers to get briefing on Katy Fwy. toll lanes" Pennsylvania - "Baker, other senators, voice opposition to I-80 tolls" New York / New Jersey - "The Port Authority's free rides / Outrageous perk" Utah - "Herriman opposes freeway tolls" Ohio - "High gas prices spur motorists to cut back on driving".
Florida - "State panel to review Alley lease bidders" Washington State - "What say you about bridge tolling?" "Calif. Senate rejects toll lane bill" New York - "Victor toll proposal not received well" Pennsylvania - "Montour Commissioners: I-80 tolls 'unjust' and 'ill-conceived'".
Herald - "Car-hire firms slam 'taxes by stealth' in M50 toll changeover".
Another Portugese Con Charge plan
Portugal News Online - "Congestion charges approved".
Tolled bypass a failure
Euro weekly - "Alicante bypass too expensive and does nothing to ease traffic".
No tolls "promise"
The Age - "M4 toll to be abolished in 2010: Iemma". Such promises have been broken before, let us hope that this one is kept.
BBC - "Bridge toll u-turn driver crashes".
Wednesday 13 August 2008
Stupid politicians or stupid voters?
The Register - "Windfall taxing big oil: how to make the gas crisis worse".
And ever more shall be?
A curious little piece from the FT Westminster correspondent - "The big Tory idea for road tolls which we never saw". Michael Howard may have ordered this idea killed, but he failed to check that a stake had been driven through its heart. It is clear that the idea has been actively worked on by various Tory "thinkers" over recent years - is it about to surface?
A woman has spent nearly a year in jail because she believes that she has the right to drive without registering - Herald Sun - "Jailed driver says God's on her side". She is being backed by "UPMART" which started life as an anti tolls organisation - "United People Movement Against Road Tolls" but is now mainly a human rights organisation.
ABD - "TfL Admits Livingstone Regime Deliberately Obstructed Traffic Flows".
Another tale illustrating how patient and weak American drivers are - Delmarva (Maryland) - "Authorities handled bridge accident aftermath badly".
Virginia Gazette - "Tolls overrated for fixing roads".
Other stories - Pennsylvania - "Is the turnpike lease proposal dead?" New Jersey / New York - "Port Authority too easy" California - "No Congestion Toll For Golden Gate Bridge" Texas - "TxDOT turns to tolls on 290 East" "N.J. scraps toll-hike plan" California - "GG Bridge Peak Toll Plan Shifts To Parking Meters".
Tuesday 12 August 2008
New Jersey tolls "are now 'istory! 'Off the twig! 'Kicked the bucket, shuffled off this mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile!!" Daily Record - "NJ treasurer: Toll road plan is 'dead,' blames media".
Though the Governor is still trying to sell this particular dead parrot as it seems that he wants to encourage less efficient vehicles and the waste of fuel by switching from gas tax to tolls - Courier Post - "Corzine rejects gas tax hike".
Step back - San Francisco Chronicle - "Golden Gate Bridge congestion toll plan dies".
More on hacking - the newspaper.com - "Toll Road Transponder Security Hacked".
Pennsylvania's idea of tolling the Interstate-80 in such a way that most local drivers can avoid the toll points may be illegal - Courier Express - "Our opinion: Illegal and dumb to exempt locals from I-80 tolls".
Other stories - West Virginia - "The Turnpike needs a general" Pennsylvania - "Opposition to toll remains strong" Pennsylvania - "Plan: I-80 will be ‘open road toll’" Massachusetts - "Agencies agree to aid T, Turnpike" New Jersey / New York - "End Port Authority perk" New Jersey / New York - "More E-Z riders on public dime" Land Line mag - "Economy affecting Florida toll road traffic" Pennsylvania - "I-80 Tolling Debate Continues" New York - "Congestion Pricing, Permit Parking Aren’t Dead Yet" .
Hammersmith & Fulham Council poll - Mayor watch - "Hammersmith Residents ‘Want C-Charge Axed’".
The London region of the Association of British Drivers are starting a campaign to scrap the western extension, you can contact them via - this web page.
The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry has given the new Mayor a "B+" based on his first 100 days in office. Their assessment included - "we are pleased that he looks set to put the congestion charge's western extension to a referendum".
"Highway robbery during emergency"
Pedal power to the people
Sofia Echo - "Bicycle protest against Danube bridge tolls for vehicles.
Saving the planet
The Register - "Aussies: Eat roos, save the planet". As most of Australia is desert or semi arid, a better way of saving their own country might be to discourage population growth.
Monday 11 August 2008
Massachusetts - "Eternal robbery" letter Florida - "95 Express lanes designed to make driving more difficult, expensive" New York - "Pregnant flaws for Bridge & Tunnel cop" Florida - "SunPass' new Mini stickers won't work on motorcycles" Pennsylvania - "I-80 tolling request under review" New Jersey / New York - "With tolls rising, Port Authority employees still get a free ride" Kentucky - "Lunsford Promises N. Ky. Crowd "No Tolls" On New Bridge" Massachusetts - "Turnpike takes its meetings on the road" Massachusetts - "With toll plaza jams, ride home not EZ" Pennsylvania - "Trucker reps have alternative" "Oregon, Washington at odds over toll on new I-5 bridge".
While we were fighting to end tolls in Scotland one major issue was the question of a new Forth road bridge. Our alliance was not part of the campaign for a new Forth road bridge. The trolls of course were oppposed to a new bridge, but then about 2005 there was a remarkable turn around, they said that a new bridge was needed to cope with rising traffic (though by the time that they said this it was not rising) and that the old bridge was about to fall down (it was not clear that it was, and an independent repport said that it should be OK if remedial work was carried out). All of this seemed to be a ploy to add to the excuses for keeping tolls. But then we had an SNP Government, who first removed all the tolls, and then agreed to build a new untolled bridge. So now it seems that those who campaigned for tolls are saying that a new bridge is not needed after all!! The Herald - "Boost for critics of second Forth crossing" Sunday Herald - "Question mark over need for new Forth road bridge". We are not joining the trolls and saying that a new bridge should not be built, but if it does go ahead then we hope that a better deal can be found than the four billion pounds which is being quoted as the estimated cost.
Drop in the ocean
Vancouver Sun - "Coquihalla toll collector ripped off motorists".
Selling tolls a long way away
Gisborne Herald - "National sees ways to fund roading". Trolls like to give the impression that what they propose (in this case the building of new privately operated toll roads) is common elsewhere. The countries that are given as examples are - "Ireland, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Canada". German car drivers would be a bit surprised to raed that the country has any tolls, and the other countries only have about one privately built and operated toll road each. So why did the National Party not cite Australia - the only developed country where this has become athe standard way of providing new roads?
Singapore relaxes censorship
The people of Singapore are some of the most regulated in the "free" world, but the film censors have allowed through scenes wheere the tolls are attacked - Straits Times - "Gantries dumped into sea? Censor says OK".
Saturday 9 August 2008
"NRA official admits that tolls are bad"
Herald. The official who said this represents the unions on the tolls board and says that "we could do without tolls in this country, but they are a fact of life". They certainly are where the political system is suspect and drivers are blind to the way that they are ripped off.
An example of the tolls sell that is taking place in California - Desert Sun - "A way for local governments to finance transportation projects". "A more equitable fee-for-service model" translates as charging tolls on roads users in order to subsidize mass transit systems.
Another example of the tolls propaganda and myths like the London Con charge "increased traffic speed by 37 percent", this time courtesy of the Christian Science Monitor - "Do city ‘congestion taxes’ really help the environment?". It seems that tolls are not only Christian but also "inevitable".
Letter in the Grand Rapids Press reacting to the idea of toll roads for Michigan - ".. This idea is wrongheaded on so many counts that it is hard to know where to begin. Adding toll roads will cost millions to widen roadways at toll collection sites and install equipment. People must be hired to operate the booths, maintain machines, collect money, and process I-Passes. Then there is the waste of millions of gallons of gas, increased air pollution and lost man-hours as people slow down, sometimes in lines several miles long, crawling along waiting to pay their 75 cents. There are new traffic problems created elsewhere as people seek alternative routes to avoid the tolls...
A toll system is one of the most wasteful, inefficient, and counterproductive means of taxation ever devised. According to the Fraser Institute a sales tax is the most efficient kind of tax, and so the simplest and most effective way to solve the problem is to work within the existing system and increase the tax on gasoline...."
wftv (Florida) - "Man Says E-PASS Fines Came After License Plate Was Stolen".
Other stories - Massachusetts - "Official says he opposes hike in tolls on turnpike" California - "One-day reprieve for Golden Gate toll increase" New York - "With congestion pricing out, Mayor Bloomberg likes tolls on bridges" Oregon / Washington State - "I-5 bridge tolls divide Portland, Vancouver".
Bit more on - South Fraser Perimeter Road
Delta Optimist - "Tolls not planned for new highway".
"UK biofuel probably made of starvation, rainforests"
Friday 8 August 2008
Bit more on - How the new toll road is faring
Sidney Morning Herald - "Vic tollways will still be built: govt".
More on transponder hack - Yahoo Tech - "California's FasTrak system completely insecure".
Other stories - California - "San Francisco may charge drivers during peak hours" Pennsylvania - "I-80 toll plaza will be free for local drivers with E-ZPass" West Virginia - "Turnpike may consider selling land, gas, oil" Pennsylvania - "Grassroots protest could stall tolling plan" Pennsylvania - "Grassroots protest could stall tolling plan".
"Vehicle leasing firms fear toll fines"
No tolls to ease summer peak congestion
Portugal News Online - "No bridge tolls till end of month".
Thursday 7 August 2008
The DfT have issued the latest (March to June) quarterly traffic and congestion figures - "Road Traffic and Congestion in Great Britain: Quarter 2 2008" (note that there are links to the bulletin and data tables at top right). The figures have been issued without any fanfare possibly because they show that traffic is down, in particular car traffic is down 2 per cent compared with a year ago. The figures for congestion give delays of 1.25 minutes per 10 miles for all journeys, though the DfT highlights the figures for the worst 10 per cent of journeys - which is nearly 4 minutes per 10 miles - "Journey Time Reliability On The Strategic Road Network - Csr07 Psa 5 Indicator 2: Baseline Figures And Methodology" pdf.
How the new toll road is faring
The Age - "ConnectEast idles in the breakdown lane"
-shares-plunge-20080807-3rjg.html">The Age - "Eastlink operator's shares plunge".
PS Report on another toll road with low traffic problem - Nine MSN - "No plan to raise Lane Cove Tunnel tolls".
PPS Later reports on Eastlink toll - The Australian - "Slump in tollway traffic hits stock" Herald Sun - "Melbourne drivers steer clear of EastLink tolls".
the newspaper.com - "London Admits Congestion Charge Failure".
Some ideas for HOT lane variants - Palm Beach Post - "Pay extra just to drive 55?".
Cheaper than alimony? USA Today blog - "A catch to cashless tolls".
Toll road debt ratings are still generally high as it is assumed that demand is inelastic and any fall in traffic can be offest by increasing toll prices - Bond Buyer - "Moody's: Gas Prices May Lead to Toll Increases".
Other stories - Texas - "Toll plans continue to put special interests over public good" Pennsylvania - "Civic group leary of tolls" Pennsylvania - "Carbon, Monroe would see I-80 tolls" Pennsylvania - "Plan for I-80: No tolls for short runs" Pennsylvania - "PhillyDeals: In Pa., the roadway ruckus rambles on" Pennsylvania - "New technology to take toll on I-80" Pennsylvania - "Public urged to speak out about I-80 toll issue" Oregon / Washington State - "I-5 toll bridge project makes federal priority list" Tennessee - "Public influence keeps Knoxville Parkway toll free" Land Line mag - "South Carolina may consider tolls, privatization for road funding".
The Register - "Hack ushers in the insatiable toll booth - The FasTrak to fraud and empty accounts" SC Magazine - "BLACK HAT: Highway toll systems flawed" CNET - "Hacking electronic-toll systems".
Some view on yesterday's Con story
Wednesday 6 August 2008
Costa Rican tolls to only apply off peak to reduce congestion
Inside Costa Rica - "Toll Booths Closed Daily To Avoid Congestion".
Con report back as is the congestion
Earlier today we had "Now you see it, now you don't", as the Sixth annual monitoring report on "Central London Congestion Charging" had disappeared from the TfL website. It has now reappeared - report (pdf) along with this story - BBC - "Congestion up in C-charge zones".
Report in the Guardian - "London gridlock at pre-congestion charge levels". Not surpisingly Professor Glaister, who now heads the RAC Foundation defends the charge.
PS Evening Standard - "TfL 'losing its Traffic congestion as bad as it was before C-chargeagainst congestion'" TfL press release.
"Congestion pricing" is moving back on to the agenda in New York - perhaps not surprising given the influence that the trolls have. One reason for the revival is that higher gas prices have encouraged a lot of people out of their cars on to mass transit. It seems that the solution to the overcrowding on the subway is to force more people out of cars. This may not seem logical, but in the world of the troll there is no logic, only the overriding imperative to bleed roads users - NY Daily News - "Git along, little dogies". This other pro tolls story gives a small glimpse as to the real problem - "We're going to have an extra million people living in New York City in the next decade" - NY Daily News - "Gov. Paterson wheely wants congestion-price plan to roll". Perhaps the ultimate plan is that people will live, eat, and go to school on the subway trains.
Other stories - Pennsylvania - "Officials: EZ-Pass would allow most drivers to avoid I-80 tolls" Pennsylvania - "I-80 toll plazas selected to minimize use of adjacent roads" Land Line Mag - "Poll shows Pennsylvanians disapprove of I-80 tolls, Turnpike lease" Illinois - "Report: City's Congestion Costs $7.3 Billion Annually" Illinois - "Congestion costs area motorists billions, study finds" Pennsylvania - "New plan would let more I-80 drivers avoid tolls".
"Government VED Confusion and Misinformation Must End Now"
ABD Press release.
Tuesday 5 August 2008
M6 Toll owners debt downgraded
Creditman - "Macquarie Motorways Group Debt Ratings Cut To 'BBB-', Outlook To Neg On Lower Traffic Revenues".
Slovenian six monthly "toll"
Southeast European Times - "Croatians seek to offset Slovenian highway tolls".
Latest official Con report
Dated July, but seems to have only just appeared - TfL - Sixth annual monitoring report on "Central London Congestion Charging" (pdf).
Planned M4 Toll another M6 Toll "success"?
Western Mail - "M4 drivers ‘will be watching as the wealthy pass them’".
Fall to "only" 5,600 Con fines a day
Evening Standard - "Fall in fines for C-charge dodgers after paying is made easier".
Yesterday we suggested that McCain might favour tolls and road sales, but that Obama's views on this were not clear. It has since been pointed out that Obama also favours tolls and privatization as there was a story in March about him co-sponsoring a "New Deal" bill which would finance tolls roads and was said to be partly based on the London Con charge - the newspapaer.com - "Presidential Candidates Endorse Toll Road Bank".
USA Today - "New toll lanes make drivers pay to avoid congestion" LA Times Blog - "Congestion pricing and American driving habits".
Other stories - Texas - "Toll plans continue to put special interests over public good" Pennsylvania - "Poll says voters disapprove of Rendell's budget, turnpike, I-80 plans" Pennsylvania - "Turnpike officials seek local planning input on I-80 tolling" Pennsylvania - "I-80 proposed tolling plan detailed" Texas - "TDOT nixes toll for parkway" Virginia - "Toll Troubles Nearing End" Land Line Mag - "California bill could result in more toll roads" Land Line Mag - "U.S. representative says I-80 tolls will hurt Pennsylvania’s economy" Florida - "Drop In Toll Road Drivers May Mean Expressway Authority Budget Cuts".
Cambridge Congestion questionnaire
Cambridge Network - "New survey seeks employee views on congestion charging". Interesting that three out of the four possible answers on congestion charging are "yes" including "Yes, if all the revenue is spent on improving public transport" which ignores the massive costs of administering con charges.
Monday 4 August 2008
Vote McCain for tolls?
MCain recently said that his favourite book was "For Whom the Bell Tolls", it could be that he has a liking for the hero who fought for the Republican Government side against the right wing army, or maybe he likes the title. A better guide to his toll views may be that one of his advisers is recommending the privatization of American roads so that "lean private companies rather than inefficient and corrupt bureaucracies will manage our roads" - Bloomberg - "`Highways to Hell' Should Go on Auction Block: Kevin Hassett".
At least we have some idea of where McCain stands, Obama's views on tolls are not known as he has the knack of reflecting back the views of his audience without giving real answers.
Google joins tolls boycott
search engine roundtable - "Google Maps Adds Printable Street Views and Avoid Tolls".
British Columbians complain about toll bridges
Globe and Mail - "Third toll bridge will cause traffic nightmare, NDP says".
Delay to Federal roads bill - kpbs - "Highway Funding Stalled By Partisan Politics".
the newspaper.com - "Federal Taxpayers Bankrolling San Francisco Congestion Tax Push".
More thoughts on Mary's plan to replace gas tax with tolls and road sales - Baltimore Sun - "Finding funds in tolls and taxes".
Other stories - California - "San Francisco considers fee for drivers entering downtown" New York - "No redo of congestion pricing plan, says Sheldon Silver" Texas - "Toll Lanes for Mopac Could be Decided by 2009" Florida - "Review deal for 'Alley'" Maryland - "Montgomery Co. council president Knapp touts HOT lanes to ease traffic woes"
Not bad enough
Britain's MPs again showed their amazing grasp of logic when they criticised the increase in vehicle excise duty - BBC - "MPs sceptical over car tax rise". The MPs are concerned that the Government hid what it was doing and at the same time say that it didn't go far enough - they want bigger increases in duty. The report (pdf). One interesting bit in the report is that Professor Glaister, a leading toll advocate, told the committee of the benefits of "road pricing in some form, where essentially you get rid of fuel duty and VED and replace that with a carbon
charge on the fuel".
Knowing who your friends are
A column in today's Times attacks the new London Mayor as a bumbler and particularly criticises his stopping the planned 25 pounds a day "gas-guzzler charge" and his review of the western extension of the congestion charging zone.
Sunday 3 August 2008
Times - "Glasgow 'tolls' to cut vehicle pollution". Prius drivers are to be exempt from parking charges, the greens certainly seem to have lots of novel ways of making the rich richer.
DC / Virginia - "Project Begins For HOT Lanes On the Beltway" New Jersey / Pennsylvania - "N.J. Toll Agencies Expect Toll Increases" Florida - "New push against Alligator Alley Privatization" New York - "M.T.A. Shortfall Renews Talk of Congestion Pricing as Revenue Source".
The Bangkok Post reports that a woman handed over 14,510 baht ($430 or 220 ay a 30-baht ($1 or 50 pence) toll and then drove off. The police traced the woman. They said that she had recently refused any medication or treatment for a mental problem and that "this might have caused her unusual behaviour".
Saturday 2 August 2008
Truckers prefer more gas taxes to more tolls - Altoona Mirror (Pa.) - "Truckers favoring gas tax increase".
Sun Sentinel (Florida) - "Sunpass transponders are a joke — on us" letter.
Bloomberg is still selling his tolls plan - NY Daily News - "Congestion Pricing Drumbeat Continues". As well as promoting tolls in New York, the Mayor has been traveling round the country even sharing platforms with toll advocates from the Democratic party.
Other stories - Massachusetts - "Despite financial rescue, rough road still ahead for Pike" "Collection system for Texas tollways still has some kinks" Pennsylvania - "State rep. wants I-80 toll in the fast lane" Land Line Mag - "West Virginia officials fret over road dollars" "Paying to drive through California" Florida - "Transportation Secretary Supports I-95 Express Lanes".
Another turn of the screw
Telegraph - "Charge drivers more to go to the shops, minister tells local councils ".
The trolls are usually keen to put tolled lanes on freeways. Now the tables are turned with this suggestion - Surrey Leader - "Free lane urged for toll bridges".
Two from Ireland
Independent - "Drivers who pay up late face punitive fines" HGV Ireland - "Dublin congestion charging not on agenda ".
Friday 1 August 2008
Woai (Texas) - ""Thuggish" Toll Collection Practices Worry Local Toll Opponents".
The Toll Boys aka the Reason Foundation have published their annual report on congestion - "17th Annual Report on the Performance of State Highway Systems" (with links to full report etc). It is a pleasant surprise to see that this is not just another attempt to promote tolls and privatization of roads. One of the press reports - Asbury Park Press - "N.J. tops the nation in per-mile spending on roads".
Other stories - Pennsylvania - "Both sides on I-80 tolls issue stay busy" Georgia - "Ga. 316 likely won't become toll road with new formula" West Virginia - "’Pike manager: Parkways can’t toll other roads" West Virginia - "Authority mulls toll system upgrade".
New toll bridge
Vancouver Sun - "TransLink pitches new, tolled Pattullo".
Irish involuntary road toll for trucks
Herald - "M50 toll hike 'will push up cost of goods'".
Doubts over infrastructure finance
Sydney Morning Herald - "Macquarie model has one foot in the grave, the other foot on a banana skin".