DECEMBER 2007 NEWS
Monday 31 December 2007
Severn Toll - Lib Dem Assembly Member calls for abolition
BBC - "Bridge paid for twice, claims AM".
Cambridge Toll - Discount
Cambridge City Council says that if the County's charge plans go ahead then its residents must get a substantial discount - CEN - "Residents 'must get road toll discount'".
New Jersey - "Corzine schedules first public meeting on toll plan" "Tolls may be needed to pay for 2008 Alabama road plans".
Sunday 30 December 2007
The San Francisco Sentinel on the 28th reported on road charges in Britain - "British Cities Shun London's Wasteful Car Tax". A fair report, but isn't it odd that the RAC Foundation is pictured as an opponent of road charges, rather than an advocate?
"New York Can Do Better Than London"
- NY Sun 26th.
"Hwy. 407 raising tolls again"
- Toronto Star 29th.
"One of Galileo's main uses in the UK is likely to be the provision of satellite coverage for the government's proposed road pricing scheme." But it looks as if the Russians may beat the Euro trolls to it - ZDNet - "Russian satellite launch boosts Galileo competition".
Czech Truck tolling plans
- Cecu 28th - "The Ministry of Transport signed an amendment agreement".
Cambridge Toll - Xmas presents
More on Council getting views on its £500 million plans, but nothing about where this money is coming from - BBC 27th - "Plea for more views on transport".
Tory Councillor wants toll road
A Buckinghamshire councillor advocates that a proposed road to be built to divert traffic from around Stonehenge should be tolled - Salisbury Journal 27th - "Toll road could pay for new A303 improvements".
Tolls promotion, but rejected by Greens
- Mercury 27th - "Call for Tassie tolls rejected" Mercury 27th - "No avoiding at all costs".
TCPalm (Florida) - "Toll roads are a bad idea, but it’s even worse to sell them".
Other Stories - 30th - Massachusetts - "Speeding frenzy" Maine - "2007 Turnpike use numbers increased at moderate rate".
29th - New York / New Jersey - "Port Authority to Vote Friday on Proposal to Increase Tolls and Fares" California - "Bay Bridge: No toll-free sign for motorcyclists" Florida - "Citigroup offers bridge game" South Carolina - "Tourism officials consider the addition of more tolls" Florida - "DOT To Study Polk Portion Of Heartland Parkway".
28th - California - "A year of almost-broken promises for SANDAG" Florida - "Citigroup offers bridge game" Texas - "I-69 Corridor is not for competitive U.S. trade" (letter) California - "91 Express lane can cost as much as $10" Rhode Island - "Lawmakers unite in opposition to bridge tolls" New Hampshire - "Clegg may oppose bridge bill he backed" Pennsylvania - "Senate leader hatching new plan for transportation funding".
26th - Texas - "Like cars in traffic, gas tax doesn't budge".
Monday 24 December 2007
Road Pricing and More Power for Transport Quangos Bill aka "Local Transport"
Last Monday (17th) and Tuesday there were due to be two more days of the Committee stage of the Bill in the Lords, though they seem to have squeezed it into one "day" - Monday. So far it seems that the Lords will do little to protect ordinary drivers. There will be clones of the existing unelected Passenger Transport quangos in all cities, except that they will now be called "Integrated Transport Authorities" (ITAs). This is more than just a name, the effect will be that most of the paltry amount that is currently spent on the roads will be diverted to schemes that are aimed at slowing traffic and forcing drivers off the road. It has also been suggested that the ITAs will also be able to force road pricing schemes on to what are now the local authorities responsible for highways. When the Bill gets to the Commons, it will be interesting to see if the Tories will bother to put up even a token resistance.
Progress of the Bill(if you scroll down then you can see the latest amended version of the Bill, and the Bill as it was introduced on the 8th November, which is also different to the Bill that was consulted on earlier in the year).
Message from Peter Roberts of Traveltax
In the tolls world the most significant event of 2007 was probably the petition started by Peter Roberts of Shropshire against road pricing. His petition got a mammoth 1.8 million signatures and he has sent out this year end message-
"This year saw the government's new Road Pricing policy exposed as a cynical attempt to introduce yet another new form of stealth tax against the hard pressed driver. We already pay enough in VED, fuel tax and VAT on fuel tax. Another additional tax which also tracks and records the details of your every journey is simply not an option.
With government's total disregard for our personal and private details, just imagine what could happen with a road pricing database involving every journey you make. Every time you take a regular trip and leave your home, the Road Pricing system records this onto a database which if lost or insecure would allow criminals the information they need to target your premises whilst you are away.We must never allow this to happen. The only truly secure database is one where the information is not collected in the first place.
Following the petition in February, Road Pricing has become quite a political liability with several local schemes designed to introduce the national policy being thrown out. Only Manchester and Cambridge have so far bid for taxpayer's money to introduce local congestion charges and both these schemes are being fought effectively.
2008 will see further attempts by the defunct and useless DfT to tax us more for our personal freedoms and make our journeys ever more difficult with lower speed limits, more traffic lights and reduced road widths. Congestion is caused by the governments anti car policies and their complete lack of understanding about how fast and efficient personal transport is essential to the well-being of the economy.
In 2008 we will continue to campaign for better government and sensible transport policies.".
Letters - OpEdNews (Pa.) - "Privatizing the Public road system" Herald Tribune (Florida) - "Privatization is for profit, not service".
Other stories - New York - "Taking its toll" California - "Toll takers a vanishing breed?" New York - "Pols, stop force-feeding N.Y. huge ideas" Carolina - "Want to go to a S.C. beach? You might have to pay a toll".
Too HOT for Oz
Though Australia is to surround America's capital with a ring of toll lanes, there are no plans to copy this back home - Herald Sun - "No plans for US-style express HOT roads".
Bikers go free
Bikers seems to be almost as powerful as cyclists and taxi drivers. From next year bikers will cross the Itchen Bridge for free while the suckers continue to pay - MCN - "Bikers to go free over Southampton bridge on their motorcycles".
Saturday 22 December 2007
Texas - "Agreement keeps Highway 161 toll plan moving" New York - "Congestion pricing hits Queens hardest" New York - "Truckers may steer clear of Thruway if tolls are raised" "Connecticut Transportation Strategy Board to Study Congestion Pricing" DC / Virginia - "Transurban in the hot lane" DC / Virginia - "Major changes in store for the Beltway".
More on Irish tolls
The Irish Government just turns a deaf air to what road users think of tolls - Dublin People - "Toll bridge hike slammed".
Bus & Tram Stats
According to the latest official stats (for July to September 2007), the use of buses and trams is growing, mainly due to London where numbers are up 49 per cent compared with 6 years earlier (2000/01). Outside London, the numbers are down 4 per cent compared with 6 years earlier (2000/01), but at the same level as 3 years ago (2003/04) - Stats (pdf file) Press Release.
Friday 21 December 2007
A writer in the Guardian lambasts the Government for being too car friendly - "Stop sniffing the petrol". The Guardian must be living in an alternate reality if it believes that the Government is car friendly.
Cash handout to foreign operated tolls - Virginia Business Magazine - "HOT lane construction to begin in spring" Washington Business Journal - "Feds put up $1.2B for HOT lanes" The Australian - "Transurban in the US fast lane" Washington Post - "Deals Clinched on HOT Lanes" Examiner - "State, contractors sign deal to build new toll lanes".
Other stories - "Congress Imposes Moratorium on Texas Toll Roads" Pennsylvania - "Hanna seeks alternatives to I-80 tolls" Massachusetts - "Pike ponders how to increase life in the FastLane" New Jersey - "We dislike them, but we need those toll hikes" New Jersey - "We're used to insults from road agencies"
New York - "Can The Toll Hikes Be Stopped?" New York - "Thruway Authority arrogant about raising tolls" Illinois - "Tollway looks toward next big project" Pennsylvania - "E-Z Pass Tax credit" New York - "Assembly Republican Minority Leader Tedisco responds to Toll issue" Rhode Island - "Legislators vow to fight Mt. Hope Bridge tolls" New York - "Borough leaders vow to fight tolls".
Herald Sun - "The end of the road?".
Thursday 20 December 2007
East Midlands Toll - More on Tory opposition
Derby Evening Telegraph - "TORIES SAY CAR CHARGE IS A NO-NO" BBC - "Daggers drawn over traffic charge".
Two BIG steps forward
The Scottish Parliament have passed (at 4.30 this afternoon) their first Bill - to abolish the last two of Scotland's tolls - on the Forth and Tay bridges. The voting was 122 for, 3 against, and 1 abstention. The Bill now awaits the Royal Assent with the tolls expected to go at the end of January. (More about this on our Scotland News page.)
Yesterday the Scottish Government agreed to build a new Forth crossing. We have no view on whether there should be a new crossing or what form it should take but we warmly welcome the decision that it will not be tolled - BBC - "New bridge to be built over Forth" Courier - "‘Iconic’ new bridge the answer to Forth crisis" (there are links to three other stories on the left) Scotsman - "A £4bn bridge it is - now let's get on with it".
More on Clean air toll
The Standard in Hong Kong argues for road pricing to clean the air - "Smoke and mirrors on pollution". As usual it is not explained why tolls are preferred to fuel taxes, and there is the usual repeating of myths about the effects of the London and Singapore tolls.
New York Toll - Queens Chronicle - "Congestion Group Mulls Queensboro Br. Toll Plan" Streetsblog - "The One carbon tax that couldn't" Brooklyn Daily Eagle - "Ghost of Meade Esposito Derails Workable Congestion Pricing Here".
Clarion News (Pa.) - "We The Pigeons".
Other stories -
New Jersey - "Corzine confident as he drives toll plan toward 2008" Texas - "Toll Road Project Faces Major Deadline" Pennsylvania - "Leaders get earful about I-80" New York - "MTA cheered and jeered but mostly jeered" Pennsylvania - "Turnpike Commission Hired Lobbyist To Oppose Leasing" Michigan - "Decision on Mackinac Bridge tolls expected" New York - "Thruway Authority OKs toll hike amid protests".
Florida - "Toll-bridge traffic declining while free bridges get busier " Washington State - "Is an Australian Bank Fleecing Greenway Drivers?".
"Numbed acceptance gets us nowhere"
From a letter in today's Irish Independent - ".. You asked why Dublin people are unique in their toleration of the city's traffic chaos. I wish to correct you if I may be so bold. It is not toleration, it is numbed acceptance.
Why would anybody in possession of their senses willingly sit in stalled traffic every day upon the M50 motorway and pay for the privilege of doing so?
If every driver in the city had the courage to boycott the senseless toll bridge, it would not be long before the barriers were lifted in the cause of production. Instead, we put our money in the slot every day and turn a blind eye to the madness.".
Going "Green" the London way
Ormskirk Advertiser - "Green Lexus - driving luxury without guilt".
Wednesday 19 December 2007
A year or more ago, China was supposed to be replacing its road toll system with a fuel tax. That plan would have helped to clean up China's air and reduce its oil bill, but it appeared to be filed away in the bottom drawer. It has now re-emerged - Shanghai Daily - "Resource tax on crude due 'soon'". The Chinese should not hold their breath waiting for this to happen - there are powerful interests who benefit from either road toll "administration" or oil sales.
USA Later stories
New York - "Thruway Authority refuses to cancel toll hike planned for 2009" New York - "Thruway Authority edges closer to more toll hikes" New York - "Commissioners Weprin, Others Bash East River Tolls Idea " Pennsylvania - "Commissioners oppose tolls on Interstate 80" New Jersey - "Truckers: Toll hike will hurt economy".
More gold rings
More and higher tolls for Norway's capital - Aftenposten - "Capital motorists may get more tolls". For background on Norway's toll rings see - our views on road pricing in Norway.
Chancellor v Greens
Germany's Chancellor and most European car makers are opposing European plans to fine makers of bigger cars - BBC - "German ire at EU fine on car CO2". It seems that in most countries the greens have taken over. The greens are unconcerned about the effect of population growth and the fact that fuel will become an increasingly scarce resource. Instead the greens are obsessed with measures such as this European one and penal vehicle excise duty for larger cars. These measures are related neither to the fuel used nor to the number of miles driven. Will the next green initiatives be free distribution of cilice belts?
The Mayor is for turning back
It is rumoured that the Mayor is to bin the plan to exempt low emission cars from the London Toll - Evening Standard - "C-charge reward for small cars is stalled". As traffic in the toll zone is now slower than before the charge was introduced, we wonder why the Mayor thinks that exempting small cars will make much difference?
More on Poll
The One London Party comment on the Mayor's Poll (see yesterday's story)- East London Advertiser - "Livingstone's car toll poll is full of leading questions".
Conservation groups in Virginia are opposing both the expansion of I-81 and possible tolling - News Virginian - "I-81 growth sparks schism - Conservation groups say proposal hits Valley hardest" WAVY / AP - "Suit would block I-81 widening".
Courier Post (New Jersey) - "Turnpike drops suit against dead drivers".
Smart Money - "The Invisible Hand - HOT Lanes Won't Solve Transportation Woes". Includes - "London's leftist mayor has made the British capital's congestion charge the centerpiece of his revived political career. And because road charges bring the day of a fully privatized highway network that much closer, fiscal conservatives haven't minded the company they're keeping on this ride."
Other stories -
Connecticut - "Tolls top meeting agenda" Pennsylvania - "INTERSTATE-80: Officials to urge U.S. Department of Transportation to reject measure" New York - "Democrats Target Volker in Toll Debate" New York - "Driving Over East River Bridges? Arguments for Tolls Are Growing" Colorado - "Grant would ease U.S. 36 congestion".
Tyne Toll Xmas present
From the Government, but not giftwrapped - Shields Gazette - "Tunnel tolls price rise".
Tuesday 18 December 2007
When it suits him such as with the original Toll Zone, and then with the Western Extension, the Mayor ignores the results of consultation. He has however now issued a press release about one poll which went his way - "Poll shows strong support for higher charges for the most polluting cars". The unfortunate truth is that if you ask people if they support a tax which they believe others will pay and not them, then the answer will mostly be "Yes". Though even if they are not concerned about fairness, it is surprising that more people don't realise that the next time round it may be them who are the target.
East Midlands Toll - Two stories
Congestion Charge tickets - Derby Evening Telegraph - "TORIES' MOCK PARKING NOTICES CONDEMNED AS 'A CHEAP SHOT'" Mock tickets are a good demonstration of what could happen.
The Derby Tories are currently highlighting this issue on - their website.
The wide reach of a workplace parking levy - Nottingham Evening Post - "DECISION SET ON HOSPITAL PARKING TAX".
Humber Toll - Petition
Scunthorpe Telegraph - "TIME RUNNING OUT ON BRIDGE PROTEST". .
- Land Line - "Spending bill would block funds for Mexican trucks".
Other stories - Pennsylvania - "Geist favors tolling several of state's highways" Rhode Island - "Portsmouth official backs toll for new bridge" New York - "Assemblyman: Lobby against toll hike" New York - "Mike open to options on Congestion pricing" New York - "Transit Know-nothings".
Pennsylvania - "Don't replace bad toll idea with bad leasing idea" Pennsylvania - "Lawmaker says state should consider alternatives to tolls on I-80" Pennsylvania - "Parkway East express lane revived" Washington State - "Upcoming Narrows Bridge Talks Could Eliminate Toll Discounts" New York - "MTA Fare Hike Plan Gets Green Light From Finance Committee" New York - "Alternatives To Congestion Pricing Emerging" New York - "Will Silver defer to City Council on Congestion Pricing?".
Monday 17 December 2007
Later USA stories
The one that got away - a former tolled bridge today reopened as a toll free one - Edwardsville Intelligencer - "McKinley Bridge re-opens".
Other stories - New York - "Lawmakers Protest Tolls For East River Bridge Crossings" New York - "New spin - save the Mayors congestion plan by modifying it" New York - "Traffic Panel Meets Again".
A USA contractor employed by the Driving Standards Agency has lost the details of 3 million Driving Test applicants - BBC - "Millions of L-driver details lost" BBC - "New data blow for ministers". What does this tell us about the "privacy" of road pricing data? We already realised that the police and other public agencies would probably officially get the data. And it was a cert that private interests would also try and tap into the data, but now it seems that human error will also have a major impact.
A rare report
Americans are usually fed myths about the success of London's Toll zone scheme. How many will see this story from the other side on newspaper.com? "UK: London Congestion Charge Increases Congestion". The story include a link to this - London Tories briefing note (pdf file). (Though one London Tory who appears not to be "briefed" is Boris who supports the toll.)
Collapsing or not?
The Daily Telegraph reports that - "Road pricing scheme 'on verge of collapse'". If this is so, then it will partly be because of the opposition of "Manchester Against Road Tolls" and others. If it is not so, then despite any impression the Telegraph would like to give it will not be because of the Government, this house of cards will still be standing because "The Conservatives support locally-run congestion-charging and road pricing schemes".
"Active Traffic Management"
A piece in Road Transport.com.
There are several worries with this scheme - 1. Apparently "the initial results from the M42 scheme have shown ... actual journey times haven't fallen much". ATM seems to be another excuse for not providing adequate road space. 2. Once they have all this technology in place their next step will be to put tolls on some or all lanes. 3. The story says that the DfT are "to earmark a further £150m to .. ATM and extend the scheme to the 'Birmingham Box', including the M6 Toll and the M6, by 2011." This seems to be another ploy to "encourage" drivers onto the empty M6 Toll road.
The Democrat chairman of Pennsylvania's Transportation Committee defends tolls and road sales - Morning Call - "Tolls on I-80 will fix roads, bridges without taxes".
Build toll roads and "save tomorrow" - Hawaii Reporter - "Honolulu's Future Is Too Serious A Matter To Be Left To Transportation 'Experts'".
Double tolls and make mass transit free - NY Mag - "Fare Enough - Is it finally time for free subways?".
Other stories - New York - "SPAN-PLAN CRY: IN'TOLL'ERABLE!" Pennsylvania - "Coming up short on I-80 tolls: Some answers, please" New York - "A historic perspective on the Thruway" New York - "State panel looks at tolls for East River bridges".
Clean air toll
People in Hong Kong ("most" according to Reuters or 40 per cent according to SMH) support road pricing to clean the air - Reuters - "Hong Kong public in call to fight bad air" Sydney Morning Herald - "Hong Kong residents want cleaner city". As apparently the vast bulk of the pollution is from factories and power stations this does not seem logical, though maybe not as illogical as the idea of using road tolls to clean the air while at the same time not taxing fuel.
Sunday 16 December 2007
Driver's champion no more
Paul Smith the founder of "Safe Speed" and who also campaigned against road pricing died at his home in Scotland on Thursday night. The Association of British Drivers says -
"Paul joined the ABD in May 2001, and founded his SafeSpeed website less than a month later, a rapid development that highlighted the effort that Paul would put into campaigning over the next 6 1/2 years....Paul recently proposed a 100 word highway code: -
* Drive on the left. Make sure you can see and be seen. Keep a constant look out all around. Be aware of signs and regulations and why they are there. Be predictable.
* Recognise and anticipate danger and keep clear space from it. Always ensure that you can stop within the distance that you know is clear. Develop your skills.
* Give courtesy, co-operation and space to others. Don't obstruct them.
* Never take risks, drive unfit or compete with others.
* Safety is paramount and far more important than priority. Take personal responsibility for your safety and the safety of those nearby.
Brian Gregory, Chairman of the Association of British Drivers, said: "Everyone in the ABD who knew Paul would like to offer their sincere condolences to his partner and family."
What your MP does for you
As a test of what MPs are busy doing on the issue of tolls, we have searched Hansard for December on "tolls". This is a small sample but shows that MPs are doing next to nothing. In that two weeks we have two MPs (a Welsh Tory and a Lib Dem Tory) who put down questions to the effect "Please Sir, Can we pay the toll to enter Wales by card?". The only other search result was a Labour MP asking whatever happened to the Government promise given on TV (you can't get more solemn than that) that the "constituents" of the Labour constituencies near the Dartford crossing would be given a 90 per cent discount on the toll. At least one of the Labour Mps who is calling for this discrimination was at one time demanding that the tolls be removed. But apparently the MPs now don't care that the tolls cause delays and accidents, nor that a ten per cent toll would not cover the cost of collecting it.
PS What their Lordships do for you - On Wednesday they sat as a committee for the second time to consider the Bill to make it easier for local authorities to introduce road tolls no matter what their residents or anybodyelse thought. This is what they had to say about this ...... (nothing). Perhaps when they next consider it (this Monday) there may be more to report.
Newsday - "Decision nears on NYC congestion pricing plan".
The EZ way to get people to accept tolls is apparently to let them charge it to taxes. We doubt that the people of Pennsylvania will be suckered into this one - Times Leader - "E-Z Pass tax credit may lessen impact of I-80 toll" Penn Live - "REFUND FOLLY: PLAN TO TAKE STING OUT OF I-80 TOLLING IS FLAWED".
New York Times - "East River Bridges and Tolls".
Seattle Times - "State proposes $9 maximum toll for highway experiment" Seattle Post Intelligencer - "WA proposes $9 maximum toll for "HOT lane" highway".
Streets blog seems to have first had the headline "A new Sales pitch for Road pricing" on this story, but have changed it to - "Use pricing to fund immediate quality-of-life improvements".
Other stories - Washington State - "Buying a way out of traffic doesn’t come cheap" Louisiana - "I-49 north too close to let down now" Florida - "Change taking a toll on you? Find out how to object" Washington State - "Legislators say bridge will likely take a toll" California - "Questions over Doyle Drive toll hold up vote" Indiana - "Toll Road collectors unionize" California - "Change gears on transportation solution" Pennsylvania - "Economic impcat of I-80 toll plan" Pennsylvania - "Feds reply to toll plan good news" Pennsylvania - "With levies planned for Interstate 80, officials may set sights on other highways" DC / Virginia - "Congressman raises more questions about Greenway toll operator" Washington State - "State proposes $9 maximum toll for highway experiment" Pennsylvania - "Rendell says he hopes to have bids on Pa. turnpike soon" Pennsylvania - "OOIDA on the front lines of I-80 toll fight" Oregon - "Transportation funding elbows it way to center stage in Oregon politics, starting with Portland".
As the global warmers reached some sort of agreement in Bali, yesterday's Guardian published charts and figures (said to be from the UN) showing the CO2 villains. The figures per head were interesting. The average for the world was 4.37 Tonnes per head. Arch villians, the US, could only manage 20.14 tonnes per head which made it 9th in the list. Britain despite it's leading role in global warming evangelism could only manage 36th place at 9.55 tonnes per head. The countries ahead of the US in order were - Qatar, Bahrain, Trinidad & Tobago, UAE, Kuwait, Singapore, Luxembourg and Australia - as they all have far lower populations, the US of course produces far more CO2.
It is likely that these UN figures are as unreliable as most figures - they will contain poor estimates and mistakes and some of the sources will not have told the truth, but it is interesting that Singapore which has the longest established and nmost comprehensive system of road pricing, is (according to these figures at 30.25 tonnes per head) also in the vanguard for producing CO2.
Saturday 15 December 2007
More on DON'T PANIC!!!
The fuel protests that we reported on Tuesday are due to start today - BBC - "Drivers to stage petrol protests".
There is just cause for protests, but our concern is that the aim is to cause disruption to fuel supplies. It is interesting that the BBC in London in their story include a link to the group that is organising the protest, though when it comes to stories of national interest that relate to tolls, congestion charging and road pricing, they generally only show links to the authorities and their allies.
The global warmers are apparently ready to sign some sort of agreement - Press Association - "Climate change deal agreed at talks".
The US is generally vilified either for being sceptical about global warming or because it does little about it. It is fortunate for many other countries that the news media ignore the world's real problem. Indonesia in 1950 had 83 million people, today it has 235 million people.
The petition that we started a year ago against ALL forms of tolls has closed with just under 17,500 signatures - Petition. If you signed the petition but didn't click on the link in the email that came back from 10 Downing Street, then your signature will be added to the count when you click on the link even though the petition is "closed". The petition ended up as number 1 in the list of the 1,100 current "Transport & Infrastucture" petitions but at only number 9 in the list of 8,600 current petitions in all categories. Amongst those doing better than us is the petition to make Jeremy Clarkson the Prime Minister! If you include closed petitions we only reached 24th out of 15,750 petitions, and 5th out of 2,200 in the Transport and Infrastucture category.
From the Trolls favourite paper
Matthew Parris, an ex Tory MP who writes for the Times, occasionally has a piece on the lines that road tolls must be introduced even though people don't want them. Today he writes - "Whopping new taxation is needed to encourage good husbandry in energy. Only government can do this. In particular, the case for road pricing is now overwhelming. Only government can do this. Yet everything I know about Gordon Brown tells me he will shortly shy at the road-pricing fence; and everything I know about the Tories tells me that they're unlikely to whip him on." - "Please force us to go green - I can't believe I'm saying this, but we need to learn from Tony Benn about how the State can change people's habits".
At current prices and tax rates, the tax on fuel used in vehicles is about 165 per cent on top of the non tax price. The fuel used for everything else (in the home and for commerce, industry, farming or in the air or at sea) is virtually untaxed, yet this "whopping new taxation" is "in particular" to be added to the burden of drivers. Isn't it strange how those who probably have a bigger carbon footprint than 99 per cent of drivers are so keen to tax the less well off drivers off the road.
Tyne Toll Plea
A call from Stan Smith of "North East Against Tolls" for the existing tunnel tolls to be scrapped - Shields Gazette - "Scrap Tyne Tunnel charges". The tolls are due to be increased to help pay for a new privately operated crossing.
Friday 14 December 2007
2007 is, according to the British weather bureau, the seventh warmest ever around the globe as a whole. But Britain has done even better as it is said to be the second warmest year ever in Britain - Press release - "Another warm year as Bali conference ends" (for Global and British figures see two tables at bottom).
This news about British weather come as a bit of a surprise to many people who live in Britain, but it must be correct - mustn't it?
Car pooling is a great idea and should be facilitated. But car pool lanes are just a con. The authorities create the lanes, then they notice that they are virtually empty, then they stick a toll on - end game - LA Times - "Carpoolers' free ride may be over".
A New York paper publishes a piece against the New York Toll plan - now that is news - NY Sun - "Whacking Groundhogs".
There have been numerous reports on the FHA querying Pennsylvania's plan to toll the I-80 - here are a few - Times Leader - "Feds want I-80 toll answers" Centre Daily - "Feds seek more I-80 toll data" Standard Speaker - "Feds question I-80 toll plans" Oil City Derrick - "Opponents are keeping up pressure to derail I-80 proposal" Land Line Mag - "FHWA stalls PA tolling application for I-80".
Other stories - North Carolina - "Road woes push drive to increase sales tax" New Hampshire - "Man indicted for punching officer" Maryland - "High hopes for ICC" Oregon - "We're in trouble, traffic panel says" Florida - "Gouging motorists" California - "Golden Gate bridge toll increase" California - "New plans for fixing Doyle Drive" New York - "More trouble for the New York Thruway Authority" New York - "Should the Canal Corp. be split from the Thruway?".
"Looking beyond gridlock"
The suggestion is that people will never give up cars, so you should load them with a variety of penal level taxes - Toronto Star.
Thursday 13 December 2007
Later USA news
I-80 toll plan back with the Governor - Newspaper.com - "Plan to Toll I-80 Freeway in Jeopardy" (inc link to FHA letter) Forbes / PA - "Feds Want More Info About Pa. Tolls" Central Penn Business Journal - "Federal government requests more information for I-80 tolls" Philadelphia Inquirer - "Plan to toll I-80 is dealt a setback".
Other stories - Pennsylvania - "Clinton business executives’ testimony against tolling I-80 proves compelling" Texas - "Interstate 30 HOV lane extension between Dallas and Mesquite opens Monday" Rhode Island - "Bridge authority faces $223M shortfall" New York - "Angered by toll hike, Silver calls for entire Thruway Authority board to resign" New York - "Are Tolls on the East River Bridges Politically Feasible?" Rhode Island - "Buyers interested in state’s bridges".
8 people are now dead following an accident at Malaysia's Jelapang toll plaza on Tuesday. There has been an average of one crash a month for the last 10 years and the authorities say that the toll booths will now be moved to a "safer" spot further away from a slope.
Regional Transport Statistics 2007 - Press release The stats (Pdf file).
Manchester toll - Bury drops out
Councillors in Bury (part of Greater Manchester) last night delivered a damaging blow to the plans for road tolls in the Manchester conurbation - Manchester Evening News - "Bury blow for c-charge" Salford Advertiser - "Bury blow for congestion charge plans". That is to say it should be a damaging blow, but those behind this scheme are already ignoring the fact that two of the Councils have voted against it following public consultation. To overcome this problem it has in effect been said that even though the law says that it is up to each local council, these two areas will be forced to introduce road tolls.
For details of the motions moved at the meeting see our Manchester news page.
It's only "make believe"
Drivers in Florida are to be recruited for another experiment where a toll per mile based on satellites replaces fuel taxes - News & Observer - "Guinea pigs wanted for taxes - System would replace gas tax; volunteers to get mock bills". Good news for the oil producers and the makers of black boxes!!
USA round up
Some sensible suggestions for what Washington State should do following the defeat of Proposition One, but mixed up with the usual tolls pushing - Seattle Times - "From the ashes of Proposition 1". It advocates "user fees" and says that "it is irresponsible for our elected leaders to pretend there is a free lunch". What this seems to mean is that there should be road tolls so that mass transit users can get a subsidized ride.
By coincidence here is another story today from the state - News Tribune - "HOT toll could hit 9 bucks".
With the Mayor's toll plans, increases on existing toll bridges and this proposal to add tolls to the East River bridges - New York Times - "Traffic Panel Keeps East River Bridge Tolls on Table", they will probably soon need the help of Kurt Russell to "Escape from New York".
The Queen of tolls and a toll opponent meet - The Thin Man (Pa.) - "Peters and Peterson talk tolls".
Other stories - New Jersey / Pennsylvania - "DRPA sets toll hike hearings" New Jersey / Pennsylvania - "DRPA board OKs budget; increase in tolls likely" New Jersey / Pennsylvania - "Open bridge managers before tolling I-80" letter Florida - "Moving forward" (PPP scheme) Rhode Island - "State considers Mt. Hope Bridge toll" California - "Double tolls are unfair to Marin County" New York - "State canal system burdens T-way, assemblyman says" Missouri - "Lawmaker tries for fourth time to add tolls to I-70" Pennsylvania - "Public strongly opposed to I-80 tolls".
Italian truckers have been protesting about high fuel prices. The Government is to help in various ways including reducing road tolls - Bloomberg - "Italian Truckers End Three-Day Strike and Blockades".
More on Irish AA suggest fuel tax
The proposal is that the automated tolls will cost 50 per cent more than existing tolls - Irish Independent - "Barrier-free toll to cost 50pc more in new plan". The idea with automated tolls is that drivers don't notice that they are paying and will therefore pay more - unfortunately the research shows that drivers do fall for this.
Another survey this time from an insurers based in Wales - Western Mail - "Survey drives at true nature of modern motorist but finds their views frequently go into reverse".
Keeping the pressure up
Central banks (America, Euro zone, Britain, Switzerland and Canada) are to pump just over £50 billion into the inflation bubble to ensure that property prices keep spiralling up - BBC - "UK welcomes world cash injection". By coincidence the amount that is being pumped in by the banks is the same as the amount taken off British drivers each year - let's hope that the banks don't run out of cash!
Wednesday 12 December 2007
Humber Toll - 3 weeks before Petition closes
The Humber toll petition to PM is at number 5 in the Transport category with only 3 weeks before it closes. The local group - Humber Action Against Tolls has been very active during 2007. It has held demonstrations on the bridge and took part in the recent Barton's Christmas Festival. It increasingly has the backing of the local MPs and councillors. If you live in the area and can help the HAAT, then please email us.
More on jamming
In June (12th & 18th) we reported on jamming road toll signals, here is an update - Silicon.com - "Peter Cochrane's Blog: Wireless jammers galore".
More on Rich man's Roads
On Monday we reported on the proposals that the RAC Foundation appears to be floating on behalf of the DfT. It is nice to see that at least one local politician (a Tory from Leicestershire) is supporting less well off drivers "I can't say I agree with this one, as it will attack the disadvantaged, and all you will see is some person driving in the lane in his Bentley." - Leicester Mercury - "PLANS FOR NEW 'LEXUS LANE' TO BYPASS THE JAMS".
Daily Telegraph - "Harbour Tunnel gets $52m gift" Sydney Morning Herald - "Bridge toll props up harbour tunnel".
Another Toll subsidy
More on another bizarre scheme where the Government refunds tolls for drivers that live in certain districts - Nortern News - "Toll pain to increase".
Irish AA suggest fuel tax
The Irish AA has proposed replacing tolls with a 2 cent per litre tax on fuel - Irish Times - "M50 toll plan a 'rip-off', hearing is told" RTE - "Public hearing on NRA's plans for Westlink".
USA round up
More from New York Toll advocates - Village Voice - "Congestion Zone Drivers Earn More $$$: Report". It is claimed than on average drivers have higher incomes than those that don't. If you read the report that this is based on - (pdf file), it seems more like a promotion for the scheme than an independent analysis. There is no indication of how many non drivers have higher incomes than drivers.
The only certainties with the Mayor's plan are that it will waste a lot of money, cause a lot of frustration, force the less well off drivers off the road (possibly to be replaced by the Mayor and other billionaires), and have little effect on congestion.
The Thruway are putting up tolls to try and offset the effect of declining traffic. One result is that truckers will divert on to local roads. This report describes this as a "silver lining". Will the people who have trucks driving past their properties agree? Fox 23 (NY) - "Truck Use On Thruway Could Decline".
The New York Toll and Civil Liberties - NY Daily News - "Mayor's intrepid traffic plan must avoid being intrusive".
Other stories -
New York - "Opposition voiced to proposed Thruway toll hike" Texas - "Toll road plans to be implemented by 2011" New Jersey / Pennsylvania - "DRPA's painful bridge to cross" - "Congressman wants probe of Fumo link to I-80 toll bid" New York - "State Republicans say Thruway toll hike can be avoided" Florida - "Lee approves toll study that's set to last a year" Pennsylvania - "Business leaders criticize toll plan"
The Information Commissioner speaks to the Manchester Evening News - "C-charge: Risk to privacy?".
Tuesday 11 December 2007
Peruvian Judge says no tolls
- Living in Peru - "Court Orders the Suspension of Tolls Near Peru's Jorge Chavez Airport".
More toll pushing from New Zealand trolls - New Zealand Herald - "Love of cars could lead to road charges". Isn't it strange that the problem is the love of cars, rather than that the population is doubling every 25 years or so.
The Government as well as pushing road toll plans has said to local authorities that workplace parking place levies are an alternative (though they would rather have road tolls). A survey suggests that drivers will not be deterred by extra parking costs - Crash.net - "Commuters rather pay for parking than public transport".
Cambridge Toll - London effect
Story from the Cambridge Evening News - "New shadow over road charge plans". The story says that "OPPONENTS of the plan to bring in a congestion charge in Cambridge - and there are many of them - are rubbing their hands with glee". It is a pity that the paper does not have a quote from any of those who are opposed to this or other schemes. Real opponents are not rubbing their hands with glee, as when it comes to road tolls, the authorities and their allies turn a blind eye to facts.
USA round up
The air travel lobby is worried that Mary Peters, the head of DoT, with her enthusiasm for road tolls may introduce "congestion" charges for air travel - New York Times - "In the Crowded Sky, Change Is Approaching".
Some users of toll lanes in California are apparently not happy. One driver says "I get really frustrated sometimes. I paid the $9 dollar toll to not sit in this." - Orange County Register - "Survey: Satisfaction on the 91 toll lanes down". The obvious solution to the dissatisfaction is of course higher tolls, so that only the REALLY rich can afford them. The paper has a poll - "Do you think the Riverside (91) Express Toll Lanes are a good value?" One of the two choices is "No, I can't afford the tolls."
More green logic - The Daily Green - "Waking Up from our Traffic Nightmare - Searching for solutions to bumper to bumper congestion". The writer says that - "The phrase "rush hour" has actually ceased to resonate, because I-95 carries large volumes at all hours on weekdays. I've seen plenty of traffic jams at noon and at 3 p.m.". So naturally the green solution is - "Congestion Pricing .. charging higher rates at peak times .. easing rush-hour pressure".
Progressive States Network - "Privatizing in the Dark: The Pitfalls of Privatization & Why Budget Disclosure is Needed".
Other stories - Florida - "Collier group pleads with Lee Commissioners to vote against tolling I-75" Pennsylvania - "I-80 toll debate polarizing Pa. politicians" Pennsylvania - "Just the facts, ma'am" New Jersey - "No need to sell naming rights to rest stops" New York - "Thruway truckers balk at toll rise" Pennsylvania - "I-80 FIGHT: Benninghoff, other state lawmakers try to keep roadway free" Florida - "Tolls are needed for I-75 widening" Florida - "I-75 toll study expected to be OK’d today" New Jersey / New York - "Online hearing set on NY crossings, PATH toll hikes".
"Mobile tracking tech to take off in Europe"
Electric News Net (Ireland).
An effort is taking place to have another 2000 style Fuel Blockade, variously reported as starting either this Wednesday (12th) or on Saturday (15th). The main group organising it is - Transaction-2007. It is implied that they have at least partial backing from the FTA, RHA and a Farmers group.
The fuel protest in September 2000 seemed to be an alliance between various groups that wanted to have a go at the Labour Government as well as fuel prices. (One of the main elements in the protest were farmers though almost none of their fuel is taxed.) The groups appeared to have collaboration from both the police and the oil companies (who would be glad to see a reduction in fuel duty). The protest caused severe disruption and the Government had to make some minor concessions to get the fuel flowing again. There were more attempts at protests in April and September 2005, but they never got off the ground.
Fuel taxes are high, and motorists and hauliers are unfairly treated compared with all other users of fuel, but we believe that drivers do not want to see the disruption of September 2000 repeated.
Climate change as usual
The latest climate scare report is about penguins disappearing because of global warming - PA - "Penguins face global warming threat". It would be interesting to know how the penguins survived before the current Ice Age. Penguins are probably more affected by man in other ways - fishing removes what used to be their main source of food, while killing (or not) of seals and whales affects the numbers of their main competitors for krill.
The above story is possibly just a small spin off from the stories about the Global Warming conference being held in Bali. In case you had not noticed, Bali lies 8 degrees south of the Equator, and the official Bali site describes it as "always warm, humid and tropical". It has been reported that 10,000 Global warmers have flown from all round the world to the island. It would be interesting to know what the "carbon footprint" of a global warming disciple is. How often do they fly? How big is their car? How many miles do they travel (bearing in mind that train travel has the same carbon footprint as road travel)? How big is their house(s)? Most of all it would be interesting to know how many children they have - as that is the real factor that will affect future life on this planet.
View from a drivers organisation that is sceptical - ABD - "Cool It Mr Benn".
It had been said that the BBC were to stop their efforts to sell global warming, but last week we had a new series - "Earth: The Power of the Planet", and the first episode was "Ice". The programme was fair in pointing out that for most of the Earth's history the Earth has been warmer than now, and that we are of course still in an Ice Age (the current warmer or "inter glacial" period is variously predicted as continuing for between another 5 years to 50,000 years). (Wikipedia - Ice Age.) Despite all this the programme had the usual claims that there was unprecedented melting of ice and that much of the Earth will be flooded.
Monday 10 December 2007
Rich man's Roads
The usual culprits are pushing a plan for more tolls - Times -"Drivers could pay extra for life in fast lane" Daily Mail -"Sick of motorway jams? Soon you could pay to use an extra 'Lexus lane' and jump the queue".
Rich man's Parking
Newcastle is thinking of following the lead of some London boroughs and charging high emission cars more to park - Journal -"Pay more to park a 4x4". If anyone understands the logic in charging high emission vehicles more when they are not emitting anything, then a place is waiting for you on your local council!
USA round up
An ex Marine takes on the trolls - Miami Herald - "MDX tickets taking a toll on drivers".
More on the reluctance to collect SF tolls - Examiner - "Doyle Drive plan may hit brakes".
Other stories - New York - "Spitzer To MTA Board: Vote 'Yes' On Hikes" Pennsylvania - "Republicans warm a bit to leasing turnpike" "Meeting Maine's transportation needs in the 21st century" Texas - "Bridge fees: There's concern about diverting funds" Pennsylvania - "I-80 toll opponents pin hopes on hearing" Texas - "TxDOT sitting on mound of TxTag cash" New York - "Drivers, Lawmakers Question Thruway Toll Hikes".
The Greens are complaining that some drivers are switching to cars with lower emissions to avoid the "C" charge. They say that this will "worsen congestion and pollution, as well as increase accident rates" - Evening Standard - "Boom in green cars could 'damage' C-charge". Green views - such as their support for replacing fuel taxes with road tolls - are sometimes difficult to understand. Though there was a sign last week that they may be getting a bit less gullible - Green Party - "Greens back Biofuelwatch report".
"The benefits of high gasoline prices"
For once here is an academic body that is not pushing tolls - Caribbean Net News.
Sunday 9 December 2007
"Pricing puts workers on road to ruin"
A story from Friday - The Journal (Newcastle).
The agenda of most British newspapers is to back policies that favour their owner's interests. An example of this is the Express which in their
Saturday edition spoke about how drivers were being treated as cash cows. One of the people complaining was John Redwood, the man who apparently wants to put tolls on all the motorways - "BROWN CASHES IN AS PETROL ROCKETS".
The Sunday edition had the headline "Banks raise home hopes". The "hope" is because the Bank of England is heading back towards a cheap money economy which will further inflate the housing price bubble. This may be good news for those who invest in properties but what about those who want to buy a first home and may face ruin when the bubble eventually bursts with an even bigger bang.
A "congestion tax" is proposed for Brisbane to force people to use public transport. But an academic says that the "issue might be taken out of government hands by increasing fuel prices. A fuel price of $1.50 to $1.80 a litre would do wonders for public transport" - Courier - "Subway plan gathers steam".
"Freeway" nearly complete
Herald Sun - "Eastlink tollway to open six months early".
Toll booth occupied
- World War 4 Report - "Mexico: police attack student highway occupation in Guerrero".
The Troll Times is part of the alliance that backs tolls in their various guises, but today it publishes a piece that seems to criticise at least the congestion charge - "British cities shun London’s wasteful car tax". Does this mean that the paper has turned over a new leaf? No - all it means is that getting in a dig at Labour is for the moment more important than driving poorer drivers off the road.
View from Canada
- Toronto Star - "A subway rush-hour hell invented in London".
USA round up
Buffalo News (New York) - "Force-feeding toll hikes fuels frustration".
Fosters Daily Democrat(New Hampshire) - "The long road home: Search for less-expensive housing leads many to settle far from where they work".
A plea for tolls on all main roads so that users of mass transit don't have to pay for what they use - Chicago Daily Herald - "Fund transit with more pay-as-you-use".
The Troll Vampires can smell fresh blood - Star Ledger New Jersey) - "The frenzy to buy into governor's toll plan - Lobbyists scramble for a cut of the action".
Nobel prize for tolls - Newsday - "For 1 winner, a Nobel means some fame outside his field.
Other stories -
Pennsylvania - "Twin Tiers Perspective: Tolling I-80 is not the answer" New Jersey - "DRPA budget preps for hike" New Jersey - "New Jersey toll hikes might hit some harder" Arizona - "New transit plan may call for new sources of funding" Massachusetts - "Tobin Bridge toll evaders face hefty fine" Pennsylvania - "Getting Around: Rolling out all the reasons against tolling I-80" Texas - "'Those people' victims of poor highway planning" California - "For Whom the Road Tolls".
Saturday 8 December 2007
Bit more on - A small step in the best direction
- Japan Times - "More road tax to go on tolls, local loans".
Cambridge Toll - Business effect
- CEN - "Landmark firm fears congestion fee".
USA round up
This story must be a first, an authority (Golden Gate) that collects tolls has refused to take responsibility for collecting another toll (the one being pushed by Mary Peters for Doyle Drive that leads to the bridge). One authority member even calls the toll a "regressive" tax - Marin Independent Journal - "Golden Gate Bridge officials balk at taking toll to S.F.".
This story is not a first, users of New York mass transit want improvements paid for by road tolls and oppose fare increases - Asbury Park Press - "Commuters oppose PATH fare hike".
Other stories -
New Jersey - "Corzine staff should look for cuts" New Jersey - "A rest stop by any other name decried" New York - "Thruway Authority heading wrong way on toll increases" California - "Should car pool lanes become toll lanes?" Florida - "Until both counties agree, hold off tolling new lanes" New York - "BARCLAY LEADS EFFORT TO HEAD OFF THRUWAY TOLL HIKES"
Friday - California - "Transportation funding falls $132 billion short" California - "Transportation funding falls $132 billion short" "Private Equity Shifting Money to Public Works" New Jersey - "Some say PA toll hikes would fuel more driving ".
M6 toll going up, but not traffic - Company's reply
- BBC - "Chief defends half-full M6 toll".
More handouts for bureaucrats, consultants and spinners
The DfT is going to handout more taxpayers cash so authorities can produce more road toll plans - DfT - "Additional TIF pump priming and development costs: 2007/8". What the DfT do not say is that a large slice of the public money goes to the PR firms etc who will sell the tolls plans to the public and news media.
Thursday 6 December 2007
Out today is - 2007 edition of the DfT publication which summarises official figures for different forms of transport over the last 20 years or so. As we have mentioned before the figures for car traffic for the more recent years were reassessed upwards as the original figures indicated that car travel growth had flattened out several years ago. In the real world it seems that people do not want to spend 24 hours a day driving round in their cars. The roads are getting more and more congested because the population is growing, and because van traffic in particular has grown far faster than the economy. But the biggest reason for congestion is of course the Government and the local authorities who instead of increasing road space, have adopted policies aimed at bringing traffic to a complete halt.
M6 toll going up, but not traffic
A Lib Dem MP has suggested that the M6 Toll contract should be renegotiated - BBC - "Half-capacity toll road defended". Rosie Winterton, the Roads Minister defends the toll.
Our M6 Toll Daily Traffic page.
"Threats to London's Prospects"
The big bosses in the CBI are big supporters of road tolls. It is a bit surprising that a press release from them today on the "London Business Survey" includes - "Despite the introduction and expansion of congestion-charging, half of respondents said the road system is getting worse. Only 6% felt it is improving."
USA round up
Washington State's "Climate Advisory Team" have a list of suggestions - Seattle Post Intelligencer - "Governor's team recommends 47 ways to cut greenhouse gases". Top of the list seems to be "Tolls for busy roadways". If the aim was to encourage less use of carbon fuels then you might expect that top of the list would have been taxes on fuel. But when it comes to road toll pushing, any excuse will do.
From Costar - "Private Equity Shifting Money to Public Works". Private Equity usually tries to make a quick buck, this is bound to be at the expense of roads users in the long term.
Cashless tolls can be expensive - NBC - "Rental-Car Customers Criticize Extra Fees For Changeless Tolls" (inc video).
Other stories -
New York - "Motorists want toll-hike plan to take the next Thruway exit" Texas - "I'm FORD tough" New York - "Let comptroller weigh in before hike is considered" New Jersey - "A lot riding on mystery $$$ report" Pennsylvania - "Toll war building strength" Texas - "Widened I-35 may include controversial toll lanes" New Jersey / New York - "P.A. holds hearing on toll increase proposal" Texas - "San Antonio toll plans could affect Comal" New Jersey - "After Setbacks, Corzine Looks to Make Up for Lost Time" New York - "Sounding off on toll hikes".
Green and spooky
Story in Computing Weekly - "Green IT presents security concerns". Privacy International says that "A central database of personal carbon spending would effectively be a map of everything you do in your life, providing the state with information on everyone's movements and activities... similar dangers with other environmental schemes championed by the UK government, such as tracking individual vehicle journeys for congestion charging.".
More on - One down - Nine to go
BBC - "Transport study costs questioned".
Wednesday 5 December 2007
Tomorrow the Lords are due to have the Committee stage of the "Local Transport Bill" aka "Let's make it easier to bring in road pricing whatever the people think Bill". Most of the Tory peers usually support the overtaxed motorists, but will they again have the wool pulled
over their eyes?
As part of the consideration of the Bill the DfT have just published more background papers. One of the links is to a "selection of comment on the Local Transport Bill from the websites of some external organisations". Oddly enough it is all links to organisations that support the Bill. We wonder why they did not link to us or the ABD?
Late USA news
Federal plans for more "efficient" tolls - Federal Computer Week - "Digitally connecting roads, cars drives DOT's plans".
The anti car lobby say why the alternatives to the Mayor's New York Toll plan are not bad / good enough - Earth Times - "Alternatives to Congestion Pricing Fail Reality Test, Transportation Expert Analysis Shows".
Other stories - New Jersey / Pennsylvania - "No bridge toll hikes - for now" New York - "Speakers attack proposed Thruway toll hike" Michigan - "Mackinac Bridge fare hike debated".
Congestion busting or congestion creating?
In February the authorities started an experiment of closing one of the two slip lanes at Junction 19 on the M25. In June they issued a press release hailing that the scheme was a success as it had reduced congestion. They have now reopened the slip lane.
Brian Mooney from the Association of British Drivers and Peter Roberts have been on Sky TV querying what this was all about. From people who live in the Junction 19 area it appears that any faster speeds at the junction were offset by increased congestion elsewhere as drivers avoided joining the road at that junction. Story as it first appeared in Watford Observer last week - "Junction 19 scheme axed".
In Britain we have at least two problems.
The first is that drivers in effect vote for better roads by paying the Government £50 billion in roads taxes, yet the Government spends almost none of it on the roads, extra lanes, village by passes, junction flyovers etc that we need.
The second is that the authorities and officials have a mind set where increasing road space or doing anything to improve overall traffic flows is anathema. They may have good intentions but all they seem to know how to do is close roads, close lanes (remove them, cone them off, paint them out, reserve them for buses, bikes or anything but the cars, vans and lorries that pay them the £50 billion), and slow down the traffic on the remaining lanes by too many or badly phased traffic lights and a 1,001 other devices. And then when all this inevitably fails and traffic speeds slow, they suggest "congestion charges"!
Liverpool Toll - more on revived campaign
A local Labour MP is asking the PM to look at abolishing the tolls to cross the Mersey - Wirral Globe - "MP taking toll fight to the top".
Comment on latest sales push
"Congestion-charging is the elitist solution to overcrowding on our highways. An auction process, which taxes motorists more and more until those who can't afford it, have to stay at home and leave the public roads to those that can." - New Zealand Herald - "All congestion charging will do is favour the rich".
Tolls by the back door
The Yorkshire Post says that the Government as part of plans to try and cope with increasing population and the need for more houses "has also slipped into the latest draft of the plan specific proposals to introduce road charging schemes" - "Yorkshire facing doubled housing challenge".
USA round up
It seems that two per cent or so of Texans are not paying the tolls - Austin American-Statesman - "State not yet fining toll scofflaws - Agency has 1.8 million tolls in arrears". What's wrong with the other 98 per cent?
A researched piece on financing of roads and public transit - Hawaii Reporter - "Rep. Marilyn Lee Reveals Disturbing Bias for Mayor Hannemann's Proposed Rail Project".
This story about hearing on proposed toll increase says - "Surprisingly, no one spoke in favor of eliminating tolls" - News10 - "Outrage at possible Thruway toll hike". Perhaps the answer is that most Americans have been conditioned to wait in line to hand over their money, and they never think about in whose interest it is that there are tolls instead of gas taxes.
More coffee tolls, this time it is not sponsored by Maxwell House - Miami Herald - "Starbucks covers SR 836 tolls Thursday".
Other stories -
Michigan - "Proposed toll hike evokes anger" New Jersey - "A road once traveled".
New York - "Assembly Democrats try to delay toll increase" New Jersey - "Don't borrow money without approval" Oklahoma - "Tax hike proposed" Pennsylvania - "State senators voice concern over I-80 tolls" Pennsylvania - "State senators write feds: no I-80 tolling" California - "Speak out on toll roads - Should car pool lanes be used for revenue?" New York - "Lawmakers seek alternatives to Thruway toll hikes" "Mackinac Toll Increase Is a Bridge Too Far for Michigan's Economy".
"A postmodern sage".
A small step in the best direction
Japan is considering some small toll reductions because of rising fuel prices. The opposition has suggested 30 percent toll reductions - Daily Yomiuri - "Govt to ease burden of oil price hike". Japan has wisely decided that it is more appropriate to reduce tolls rather than reduce fuel taxes. But given the need to conserve fuel supplies it has not taken the most logical step of all, which is to further encourage fuel economy by switching the whole of the tax burden to fuel tax and scrapping the tolls.
Cars to go
Stuff.nz - "Sydney addicted to cars".
Tuesday 4 December 2007
One down - Nine to go
Some news that should please Peter Roberts who started the famous 1.8 million signature to the PM. Peter lives in Shropshire, one of the 10 possible pilot areas for road pricing, and he has been helping in the campaign against it. It seems that the campaign has won - BBC - "Congestion charge plan is ditched".
A Finnish visitor's view on China, and a sign that free enterprise has really arrived - Helsingin Sanomat - "Relativity Theory, Chinese style".
Cost of spin spirals
The Evening Standard reports on the cost of the team that helps to sell the London Toll - "TfL press office bill trebles to £2.5m". They have done such a successful spin on the con charge, that the Mayor must think that they are worth every penny.
Fines to go up
The Evening Standard also reports that - "Ken wants to fine you £20 more if you forget C-charge".
Tyne Toll - Another blow for drivers
Drivers crossing the Tyne through the Tunnel have been forced to pay tolls for 40 years. Recently they have been paying even higher tolls which are going towards a new toll crossing even though that crossing will be privately operated. Now they are told that when the new crossing is open the old one will close for a year - Evening Chronicle - "Drivers get one Tyne tunnel at a time".
USA round up
Michael says that his New York Tolls plan will be used to subsidise MTA fares - New York Daily News - "Congestion plan could help keep fares 'reasonable,' Mayor Bloomberg says".
There are similar suggestions in California - Whittier Daily News - "Toll roads could aid Gold Line plan".
There is of course nothing new in this, many toll roads are already looked at as pots of gold to be used to subsidise mass transit as well as inflated pay packages, "consultants", canals, airports, dredging shipping lanes, highway police, schools, and even arts centres.
Other stories - Texas - "State to begin issuing fines for unpaid tolls" Texas - "Toll violators face crackdown on 183-A" Pennsylvania - "Answers lacking on new tolls" New York - "Hearings planned on Thruway toll hikes" Florida - "Four teams win right to bid on major I-595 project" Florida - "Tolls on I-75??" Florida - "Lee commissioners give mixed blessing to Expressway Authority's I-75 tolling measure; vote in poll" Texas - "Doing the Math on Toll Roads" New York - "Tedisco: toll hike should need legislative OK" New York - "Good Ideas on NYC Congestion".
Fresh sales push
New Zealand Herald - "Congestion charge plan back on road".
Monday 3 December 2007
A story about Britain's M6 Toll road which you won't see in UK papers - Sydney Morning Herald - "Cars disappear from motorway".
The latest traffic figures are those for the third quarter which were published in early October. They showed that traffic was 11 per cent down on the same quarter in 2006 (though that quarter was the best that they have had). More details are on our M6 Toll Daily Traffic page.
USA round up
A shrinking weed - New York Daily News - "Public criticism has congestion pricing commission considering changes" NY1 - "Reports Say Mayor's Congestion Pricing Plan To Undergo Makeover".
Later report from Streetsblog who are toll advocates - "Congestion Panel considers shrinking zone and tolling bridges".
Mass transit - the way to go? Inside Bay Area (Ca.) - "You can't get there from here".
Daniel Cirucci gives his views of the Beast and asks if anyone wants to join the Movement to End All Tolls Philly.com - "Toll-gobbling gluttony".
Other stories - Virginia - "Poquoson's mayor still battling HRTA" Utah - "Booming suburbs pushing Utah Lake bridge proposal to beat traffic woes" Virginia - "Zooming through tollgates is easy if you've got the dough" Pennsylvania - "Impact of I-80 tolls wide".
Cold war back
More on Finland's plan to target Russian vehicles with tolls - Newsroom Finland - "Finnish PM backs Russia-bound road pricing".
Tom Toms for all who want to pay tolls
Report from Netherlands - Dutch News - "Transport sector slams road pricing plan".
Sunday 2 December 2007
Humber Toll - More on Petition Appeal
On BBC - "Push to sign Humber toll petition".
USA Road Pricing
The Final Report on the Oregon road pricing trial was published on 21st November - Oregon.gov - "Oregon's Mileage fee concept and Road user fee Pilot Program" (pdf file). The official conclusion is that the scheme is a success and that there should be "additional development and testing" with a view to eventual implementation. We have not yet studied the report but - here is what we have said before about the scheme. Let us hope that this report is filed in the trash can.
Some of the news reports - 29th Nov - Baker City Herald 28th Willamette Week 21st Albany Democrat Herald 21st Fox 12 21st KGW 20th Land Line.
USA round up
From the Aloha State - Star Bulletin - "Privatization of roads wouldn’t best serve the public interest".
From the Garden State - Asbury Park Press - "The wrong road, Part 1: Asset monetization: It just doesn't add up".
Make NY city employees pay for tolls and parking - Letter in New York Post.
Opponents of tolling the I-80 in Pennsylvania are going to appeal to Mary Peters - Centre Daily - "Foes of toll road take plea to D.C. - Opponents pushing federal transportation secretary to reject states application". If Mary had her way every road would be tolled - though the initial plan is to start with a few roads and the I-80 was not one of them.
Other stories - Texas - "Flouting tolls on 183-A could get costly" Louisiana - "I-69 faces hurdles, needs support" "Connecticut’s Interstate of Confusion" (NY Times says bring back tolls) "Southwest Florida Expressway Authority could meet early end" New Jersey - "Some worry N.J. toll hikes would hit some harder than others" Missouri - "Panel weighs state financing options for transportation" Claifornia - "SoCal fire crew fined for not paying road toll".
The Economics editor for the Times points to the lack of spending on London roads and mentions the recent RAC Foundation report- "Motormouth: Jams today, jams tomorrow". What is not mentioned is that the report proposes charging British drivers an extra £25 to 30 billion a year, with only a small part of that being spent on roads.
A rally is to be held in Kuala Lumpur to protest against toll increases, though gatherings of more than 5 people are banned.
Saturday 1 December 2007
More mumbo jumbo
The Telegraph is not supposed to be a particularly Labour friendly paper, but today we have some more mumbo jumbo on the success of the London Toll - "Be the change". The traffic is now as abysmally slow as in 2002 the year befoe the charge zone was introduced. Even the advocates of "congestion charging" have some difficulty denying this, so recently they have trotted out excuses such as it is due to "roadworks" etc. But these advocates have short memories - TfL in their First Monitoring Report on charging said that 2002 "has been characterised by an unusual amount of disruption" to central London roads, so 2002 measurements "may not be wholly representative of 'settled' conditions before charging."