DECEMBER 2008 NEWS
Wednesday 31 December 2008
Feeding trash to the trolls - KFSM (Oklahoma) - "Motorists jam toll machines with trash, pennies" NewsOK - "On Oklahoma turnpikes, abuse takes a toll".
It seems that the President-elect will boost road spending and pay for it with tolls. Before he goes down such an unpopular road, he should read what the American Transportation Research Institute said about tolls in May 2007 - Defining the Legacy for Users: Understanding the Strategies and Implications for Highways Funding (pdf file) (page 12 to 15).
More of the usual myths about London to try and justify San Fran Con - Wall Street Journal - "California Dreaming: Even In San Francisco, People Don’t Want to Pay to Drive Downtown".
Other stories - California - "Carpoolers want to put the brakes on bridge toll plan" New York - "V-N discount safe for Islanders, but less of a deal" New York - "Toll hike eyed to cross V-N Bridge to Staten Island" New York - "State Thruway toll increases start Sunday" Colorado - "Tab for RTD, tolls ramping up" West Virginia - "Traffic, tolls on Turnpike are down since 2007" Rhode Island - "Heavy vehicles pay larger toll on Pell bridge" Texas - "Foster, an oilman, favors gas tax hike".
End of the year drive against the Helots
The Commission for Integrated Transport and the Motorists Forum want devices fitted in cars to limit speeds - Times - "'Speed control' devices should be installed in cars, say campaigners" BBC - "Calls for 'speed-limiting' cars ".
The so called Motorists Forum is in fact a group, assembled by the Government, of interests that appear to be opposed to that of the ordinary driver. It does not of course include any ordinary motorists or anyone from the only two drivers organisations that have individual members - the ABD and the Driver's Alliance (they would be vastly outnumbered anyway). Instead it has various firms such as the AA and RAC, anti roads groups such as the Campaign for Better Transport, and establishment interests such as the Police and the CBI. It is chaired by Sir Trevor Chinn, who seems to be the éminence grise of road pricing. His firm bought out the RAC in 1999 and he was RAC chairman till 2003, he was also chairman of the rival AA from 2004 to 2007, and is connected with various other companies including ITIS Holdings Times - "Ex-transport minister takes job at road pricing firm" Wikipedia - "Trevor Chinn".
Irish toll increases
HGV Ireland - "NRA confirms toll increases for HGVs".
Iranian Con plan
Zawya - "Call for Comprehensive Traffic Plan". As 70% of the traffic entering the centre of Tehran is doing so without the appropriate sticker, it will be interesting to see if a Con charge will deter drivers.
Oxfordshire tolls on the Thames
A new site has been created for the campaign against the tolls on the Swinford bridge - Scrap the Toll on Swinford Bridge.
The BBC have a new page about the campaign against the tolls on the Whitchurch bridge - "For whom the bridge tolls". The BBC fail to mention the local campaign group.
Rural Con Charge
Newbury (HQ of Vodaphone) and Thatcham (location of the Motor Insurance Repair Research Centre) are two small towns in rural Berkshire. Apparently the congestion is so bad that some locals want a con charge - Newbury Today - "Newbury congestion charge proposed". As usual the real problem is not recognised, in 1951 the population of the area was only 20,000, today it is 60,000. Without a proportionate growth in infrastructure, you will get congestion.
Tuesday 30 December 2008
Tis always the season for a bit of tolls selling - AP - "Toll express lanes ease traffic on urban highways".
Update on San Fran Con - LA Times - "In San Francisco, 'congestion pricing' is something they're sneezing at".
Other stories - New York - "MTA fare-hike plans: From bad to worse" Pennsylvania - "Turnpike Tolls To Increase By 25 Percent" Texas - "The New Year May Bring Some Changes in the Capitol".
How not to save on tolls
Sydney Morning Herald - "Billions blown in tolls fiasco".
Councillors file toll discount request in the bin
Liverpool Echo - "‘No’ to tunnel toll cut".
Humber toll campaign
Scunthorpe Telegraph - "9,000 back our Bridge campaign" Hull Daily Mail - "Call for final push in toll campaign".
Monday 29 December 2008
More on the growth in the criminal class in Texas - "Thousands Of Warrants Issued For Tollway Jumpers".
Other stories - Massachusetts - "Raise the tolls? Some better ideas" West Virginia - "State’s turnpike showing its age".
Naughty "intelligence information" and other officials
Macedonia Online - "Police punishes abuse of official road-toll free passes".
Federation of Small Businesses attack Dartford tolls
Thurrock Gazette - "MPs urged to question minister on Dartford Crossing usage after tolls increase".
More on no tolls or no way
From the 1st January, China's road tolls are supposed to be replaced with a fuel tax to encourage fuel economy and reduce emissions. We still do not believe that the powerful toll interests will pay any attention to the Chinese Government. Today there is one story which says - "You pay as you fill up the tank. In other words, the more you drive, the more it costs you - and the planet. This is a simple market rule but it has taken nearly two decades for the government to pick a "proper time" to implement it amid the sharp fluctuation of global oil prices." China Daily - "Fuel tax reform an energy milestone". But there is another story suggesting that some non fuel charges will continue - CCTV - "Shanghai drivers still to pay fee".
Meanwhile Hong Kong has toll rises - The Standard - "Tai Lam Tunnel toll hike draws fire
Sunday 28 December 2008
New York - "Private builder-operator for TZ?" Massachusetts - "Tax or toll? Solution needed for Big Dig debt" Florida - "Editorial: Bad timing dooms plan for privatizing highway".
Today's Courier Mail reports the reults of a survey of drivers including "four out of five people experience a feeling of rage after paying road tolls". So why do they vote for parties that renege on promises to provide toll free roads?
Saturday 27 December 2008
South Carolina - "Panel urges private-DOT alliances" North Carolina - "Loop is key to BRAC" Colorado - "I-25 Express lane tolls going up"
New Jersey - "Margate Bridge hikes tolls to $1.50 for a one-way trip" Texas - "Collin County home to thousands of toll jumpers" Florida - "Drivers dodge interstate tolls" "Texas Toll Money: Give it back" Georgia - "Roads took toll on driving habits" Texas - "New toll road phase to extend south" Maryland / DC - "USDOT Agrees to $516 Million Loan to Construct Inter-County Connector".
Strike against Water tolls
Times of India - "Private water lorries to go on indefinite strike".
India is still considering a "special fee on vehicles entering the central business districts of metropolitan cities" - Economic Times - "Centre weighs traffic congestion tax in metros".
In a novel use for the proceeds of highway robbery, the operators of the tolls tunnels at Liverpool have been getting publicity for donating "overpaid" tolls to charities!
Also from Liverpool is someone actually suggesting that charging for roads through fuel duty may be a good idea - Daily Post - "Forward planning".
More thinking about more tolls
The Star (Toronto) - "Road tolls still a talking point - Finding ways to cover $38 billion shortfall in Metrolinx vision will top 2009 agenda".
Thursday 25 December 2008
On the first Christmas Day (1914) in the "Great War", the ordinary soldiers on both sides ignored the generals and politicians and stopped killing each other - for a day. In the world of the trolls, the 25th December is generally only another day for a bit of highway robbery. Some exceptions are - London congestion charge zone (Thursday 25 December until Thursday 1 January inclusive), Tamar bridge twixt Devon and Cornwall (Xmas day only) and the Niagara border crossings between Canada and USA.
Wednesday 24 December 2008
"Chicago sells rights to city parking meters for $1.2 billion - Is anything in Illinois NOT for sale?" from the Defense establishment - "A Christmas wish : End traffic congestion in 2009" Florida - "Proposal To Lease Alligator Alley Postponed".
Pennsylvania - "Defeated I-80 tolling plan: what’s next?" Virginia - "Proposal: Tolls to pay for new $100M Jordan bridge" Pennsylvania - "Retiring Peterson looks to the future" Florida - "We think: Massey brought badly needed reform to Expressway Authority".
Dartford Toll campaign
Bromley Times - "Tolls revenue can be spent countrywide".
Tuesday 23 December 2008
$40 toll fines "less punitive"
NZ Herald - "Late road toll-payers face $40 fines".
Review of the year
From Transport Briefing - January to April May to August September to December.
"What future for local road-pricing schemes?"
Gov news - "Route 3 tolls to rise". Strange that Hong Kong is rising tolls, at the same time (1st January) that China is supposed to be abolishing them. Another sign that the trolls will make sure that most tolls remain.
International toll cut
Focus News - "Government cuts Danube Bridge tolls by 25%".
Way off topic
Is there anywhere other than Britain where the head of the national anti terrorist police would have his wife running a car hire business from home? Daily Mail - "Risky business: Fresh security review over running Quick car hire firm from home".
America converts - Obama to lead the prayers at the Church of Global Warming
On Saturday, the President-elect announced who would be his top scientific advisers - CNN.
John Holdren, the new "Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy" told the BBC in 2006 - "We are experiencing dangerous human disruption of the global climate and we're going to experience more." Oddly the professor at the end of the 1960s was associated with Paul Ehrlich and a major advocate of the dangers of population growth. As the American population is bound to continue its uncontrolled growth, we assume that he abandoned those beliefs when he converted to Global warming.
More on lack of security on toll tags - Tech Republic - "Insecure by design".
Other stories - Massachusetts - "Pike agency finds way out of deal, and toll-hike foes take note" New Jersey / Pennsylvania - "New year will bring E-ZPass changes" Massachusetts - "Take the lead, governor".
Malaysian toll increases to be delayed
MySinchew - "Toll Rates For Eight Highways May Stay Put".
Humber tolls - call for a delay
Scunthorpe Telegraph - "Calls to slow Bridge tolls process". Like many tolls stories, a bit bizarre - there is a call for a delay to an Inquiry which has not even been announced.
Irish boost to the economy
Herald - "Drivers to be hit with yet another toll hike in January" Independent - "New year blues for motorists as tolls increase".
Welsh tolls collaborators
South Wales Argus - "Severn bridge tolls can go on cards". Why are members of the Welsh assembly not pressing for the removal of tolls rather than letting people pay on credit?
Monday 22 December 2008
Mass. tolls - Wicked - "Tolls the talk of the town" Metro - "McPhee: ’Twas the night before corrupt Christmas ..." Worcester Business Journal - "Mass. Needs To Address Infrastructure".
Other stories - Pennsylvania - "Defeated I-80 tolling plan continues to draw debate" Virginia - "Pocahontas Parkway tolls to increase".
Evening Standard - "What we need is a C-charge holiday".
It seems that even Andrew Gilligan can be conned. He thinks that the London C-charge "worked well at first". This success was a myth created by the PR people. Traffic entering the zone did fall and is still down, but this has had no effect on congestion or anything else. There was also a temporary increase in traffic speeds, but that was mainly because the year before the charge started there was a very high number of road works.
Andrew has also been conned into believing that London's transport is a success because it is regulated and concluding that therefore it should be regulated in other cities. London is London and has had a boom on the back of a huge financial bubble that it helped to create. That boom sucked in lots of new customers for public transport. London Transport also gets a mammoth four billion pounds of subsidy each year. By comparison other cities receive very little, just about enough to pay the bureaucrats to devise some more traffic obstuctions. In London, with or without the boom, the size of the city may well mean a net benefit from regulation, but regulation elsewhere is likely to result in the bureaucrats and politicians increasing costs while failing to improve services.
Toll on the Thames protest 1
Thurrock Gazette - "MPS urged to question minister on brief for Dartford crossing study". That story is about a rumour of another study of the Dartford Crossing. In the meantime, last Wednesday there was a Westminster Hall debate about the current Dartford River Crossing Tolls - News Shopper - "MPs debate the Dartford Crossing tolls" Hansard - (2 pages). There was the usual claim from the Government that the tolls are there to reduce congestion when everyone knows that this is the opposite of the truth. The debate had been called by the Tories, it is disappointing that when asked would they remove the tolls, the answer was "pass".
Toll on the Thames protest 2
Henley Standard - "Inquiry into plan for bridge toll increase".
"San Francisco is not London"
San Francisco Chronicle.
"Tolls, or "road pricing" as the experts call it"
Globe & Mail (Toronto) - "Is road-tolls fix running out of gas?".
Usual solution to the usual problem in a "Green" paradise
Jakarta Post - "Stuck in Jakarta traffic: Is the gridlock coming early?".
The solution is "congestion pricing" to solve the problem of traffic in Jakarta. Except of course that the real problem is not the traffic. The city has a population of 8.5 million, and the metropolitan area has nearly 25 million people. As recently as 1960 the population of the city was only 1.2 million.
"Green campaigners can't beat the self-interest lobby in a referendum over congestion charges"
An ex editor of the Guardian, who is also the grandfather of a child (Yes poster) who was used in the Manchester "Yes" campaign, complains that you will never get a con charge through the ballot box - Guardian Comment - "Looking after number one". Greens as usual seem to be living on a fantasy planet. This is what we said during the Manchester campaign about air quality and asthma claims and about Global warming claims.
Sunday 21 December 2008
Massachusetts - "Grudging support for gas tax hike in poll".
Fantasy in Times
The Times is the paper of the Trolls. They are also Tory, so today we have a bit of Government bashing on the issue of roads pricing - "Motormouth: Two fingers to road charging". The author mentions a Dispatches documentary that he made a year ago on this issue. He seems to have forgotten that the programme was a misleading advert for road pricing (see news for 12 November 2007 "More tolls selling").
Yesterday the Japanese Cabinet agreed another economic stimulus package. There are to be a further 500 billion yen (6 billion US dollars or 4 billion pounds) of toll cuts. The main opposition party has said that if it ever comes to power it will abolish the tolls.
Saturday 20 December 2008
Massachusetts - "Aloisi named secretary of transportation" Massachusetts - "Mass gov taps Big Dig exec as transportation head" Texas - "Voters may get a say on tollways".
Welsh tolls joke
We reported yesterday how the Government were succeeding in deceiving MPs and news media over VAT and the Severn bridges tolls. Today there is more of the same - South Wales Argus - "VAT cuts passed on to Severn bridge motorists".
PS And in Wales on Sunday - "Severn bridge motorists to benefit from VAT cut".
Jamaica Gleaner - "Highway headaches".
Friday 19 December 2008
USA Roundup - later news
Mary's Mother Goose story - DOT lied about fall in gas tax revenue - Traffic World - "Group Says DOT Misleads on Data".
A fox guarding the chickens? Boston Globe - "Former Big Dig official appointed to top transportation post".
Guardian (GB) - "Obama buys the biofuel hype".
Other stories - New York - "Congestion Pricing vs. Ravitch Plan: Which is Better for the Boroughs?".
Going down the wrong road
India is concerned that "greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles .. could increase by 580 per cent by 2035". So will it encourage less use of fuel though a fuel tax? Of course not, the answer is "congestion charging" - Times of India - "Hard Drive".
What! No wake?
An interesting explanation of why the news media ignored the result of the Manchester "referendum" - Transport Crucible - "Eerie silence as Road Pricing Golden key is laid to RIP while UK 'experts' face vacum of failure and need for new ways forward".
What is reported or not has multiple influences - establishment links to editors and transport correspondents, confusion over national Tory position (which prevents the right wing press from attacking Labour policies which the Tories will copy), and the biggest factor of all - another story comes along which has more "human interest" than tolls, i.e. just about anything, even if the story is made up.
Detroit bail out
As Congress could not agree on help for the three big auto makers, the President is using some of the small change ($17 billion) from the banks bailout to make short term lonas to the car giants - Wall Street Journal - "Auto Makers to Get $17.4 Billion" NY Times - "Stocks Rise on Auto Bailout" CNN - "Bush announces auto rescue" Detroit News - "Bush approves federal loans for GM and Chrysler".
Deccan Herald - "Chaos takes its toll on travellers - Traffic jam near toll booths".
Government again succeed with deception
The Government must have a laugh over how easily it deceives the news media and MPs. Early this morning we had this story - Western Mail - "‘Free day’ solution to Severn Bridge VAT row". Later we had this one -
South Wales Evening Post - "Tolls cut on Severn Bridge" and this - press release".
There are three deceptions. Firstly the tolls will actually go up in January, the increase will just be a bit less than otherwise. Secondly motorists will not "benefit from this change", as reducing the toll further postpones the date by which the toll should be removed. Thirdly the Government did not "protect the motorist from the impact of the ruling" by the European Court on VAT. In fact the Government pockets the VAT which means that drivers will continue to pay tolls for two years longer than if the Government was not taking the VAT.
What a pity that Government ministers do not have noses like Pinocchio, then even other MPs and the news media would know that they are bring misled. We might even get one MP to fight for the tolls to be removed, or at least get the Government to keep its hands out of the till.
Denial that there were favours for cash - Chicago Tribune - "Tollway Chairman John Mitola denies pressure from Rod Blagojevich on road contracts".
Bit more on the nominee for Transportation Secretary, mixed in with the usual pushing to replace gas tax with tolls on all roads - Cascadia Prospectus - "LaHood, Obama, Congress Face Transportation Challenges".
More on change to rules to make it more likely that roads will be privatized rather than run by in house toll authorities - Forbes - "Bush road rule takes effect Jan-Transportation Dept".
Mass. stories - Daily News Tribune - "Sannicandro: Stop the tolls" NECN - "Newsnight: Pike funding deadlocked" video.
Other stories - Tennessee - "Higher gas tax, toll could fund road project".
Global Researcher - "American Transportation: Do we really need toll roads?".
Thursday 18 December 2008
Sundry stories - California - "Bay Area Carpoolers May Soon Pay Toll" "Credit-Crisis Wipeout of New California Toll Road Suits Surfers " "Maine Turnpike Authority Approves Toll Hike" video New Jersey / Pennsylvania - "DRBA toll revenue hurt by fewer trucks on bridge and ferry" California - "$5 tolls likely for many Bay Area bridges".
California - "Freeways soon to be 'payways'" California - "$5 Toll Sought To Retrofit Bay Area Bridges" California - "Bay Area drivers pay for bridge improvements" video New Hampshire - "Good roads, bridges require gas tax hike" "Texas Panel OKs End To TTC".
Florida - "Some like it HOT – city officials get briefing on toll lanes" Texas - "Revenue from El Paso International Bridges Significantly Down" Maine - "Newest Toll Hike Announced" video Texas - "Lawmakers upset over Perry's push for private toll roads vote to abolish transit board" New Jersey - "Cashless tolls ill-conceived" Land Line - "Lawmaker wants to add tolls to I-70 in Missouri".
Bloomberg's latest wheeze - The Spoof - "New York Mayor Bloomberg's HOV Plans".
Fight over toll loot - Pegasus News (Texas) - "$2.6 Billion from State Highway 121 locked up by Attorney General".
The Defence establishment is "Fighting Congestion, RAND-Style".
Advice from the people who don't drive - Mobilizing the Region - "New York Mayor Bloomberg's HOV Plans".
theNewspaper.com - "Toll Road Values Plunge".
FXStreet - "Bush road rule change to drive up tolls-Congressmen".
On Wednesday New York's MTA agreed substantial fare and toll rises and service cuts. Though if the plan for a payroll tax and to toll the East River and Harlem river bridges goes ahead, then the money will go to mass transit and part of the rises will be scaled down - New York Times - "M.T.A. Approves Cuts but Seeks Help". Before the vote - Brooklyn Daily Eagle - "Drivers Not Paying Their Fair Share. Says Who?" NY1 - "Council Holds Final Hearing On Ravitch Commission".
Massachusetts tolls - In case you have not been following this story, the trolls have squandered so much money, that they need massive toll rises to "dig" themselves out of a deep hole. There is a lot of support for a plan to instead scrap ALL the tolls and raise the money from the gas tax. This plan is of course opposed by the trolls, but it is also opposed by those who think that somehow reforming the toll authorities will solve the crisis without a toll or a gas tax rise. As usual our betting is that the trolls will win as there are too many people sharing in the loot for this inefficient wasteful system to be stopped. - Worcester Telegram - "Toll hike foes push for higher gas tax
" Daily Item - "Gloomy drivers: Hike to take toll" Boston Globe - "Lawmakers debate toll, gas hikes" MetroWest - "Local pols mixed on Patrick's transportation pick" Daily News Tribune - "Protesters at Memorial Building fight toll hikes" NECN - "MetroWest commuters debate toll hikes" video Boston Herald - "Deval Patrick’s transportation pick voted to back Big Dig firm" Boston Globe - "Patrick's puzzling transportation pick" PolitickerMA - "Officials bash toll hike plan" Wicked - "Speakers, local legislators attack toll hike plan at Lynn hearing" Daily News Tribune - "Editorial: Toll hike is sign of failure".
Daily News Tribune - "Spilka: Trade new tolls for a fair, comprehensive solution" Salem News - "Proposed toll hikes have legislators seeking a better plan " Boston Globe - "Possible transport pick stirs criticism" Boston Globe - "Get outta here: Foes take a pass on Pike gift idea" Boston Globe - "Our transportation mess" Boston Herald - "James Aloisi fuels Beacon Hill backlash" Cape Cod Today - "Reform before Taxes!!!" Cape Cod Today - "Reform before Taxes!!!" Boston Globe - "Pennies from Eastie: Protester pays toll in change" inc video Metro - "Protesters make ‘cents’ of toll hike".
It is not official, but it is widely reported that the President-elect has ignored the Democrat contenders and picked a Republican outsider, Ray LaHood from Ilinois as Transportation Secretary - AP - "Obama to name LaHood, R-Ill., transportation head" Wikipedia.
We have found nothing to indicate where LaHood stands on gas tax v. tolls or on roads privatization.
Take the Bus
"Bus and Light Rail Statistics GB: July-September 2008" inc link to pdf file. London buses appear to be booming with annual growth of about 6%, both before and after the Con charge was introduced. In other cities bus usage shows slight falls each year. Bus use in Britain outside the English cities appears to be going up, partly due to a surge up in 2006/07 which was probably due to the granting from April 2006 of free bus travel to over 60s within their local area; such people in the big cities already had this concession. From April 2008 there is another surge as the concession was extended so that over 60s could travel free on buses outside their own area.
Think of a number and halve it
DfT press release - "Road Tax evasion falls by more than 40%" "Vehicle Excise Duty Evasion 2008" report. According to earlier reports, the number of unlicensed vehicles were - 2002 1.905 million, 2004 1.240, 2005 1.549, 2006 2.170, 2007 0.589. When the 2007 figure came out it was said that figures for earlier years had been overstated. Now they are saying that 2008 is 0.330 million. At this rate will the figure become negative?
Some views on a new Forth road bridge and congestion
Scotsman - Letters on "A councillor voicing fears that a new Forth crossing will bring more cars into Edinburgh drew a lot of flak.". Though the tolls are gone the influence of the trolls lives on. The Scottish Government is being conned into paying an extravagant amount for a new bridge, and in effect closing the old bridge leaving almost no improvement in capacity.
Shape of things to come
Yesterday the Transport Committee had an evidence session on "Taxes And Charges On Road Users". Though the NAAT tend not to agree with the views of MPs, we were invited to join the AA, ABD, Drivers' Alliance and RAC as a witness. It is fairly clear that most MPs want to take more money from drivers, and that despite last week's vote in Manchester they want to do this mainly in the form of tolls, i.e. "Congestion charging" and "road pricing". The MPs also seem to be keen on raising Vehicle Excise Duty, though drivers' organisations as a whole are in favour of shifting tax from this fixed cost onto fuel duty as that better reflects roads use and vehicle emissions.
It seems that the politicians passion for tolls is such that they are not concerned that in London, 60% of what is collected in charges and fines is wasted in the cost of collection and enforcement. If a London type scheme were to go nationwide then the annual cost would be about £50 billion. This by coincidence is what is currently raised in fuel duty and other taxes - Road taxes. So if drivers were to pay no more overall than now, the Government would lose £50 billion of net revenue. Perhaps they would try for a loan from the banks?
Even a more limited national scheme would cost about £10 billion a year to run if you include amortisation of set up costs. This is the equivalent of increasing fuel duty by 20 pence a litre, then gathering up all the income - and burning it!!
The Committee have apparently just been to the Netherlands and seem to admire what the Dutch are doing. The Netherlands currently have a high tax on the purchase price of cars and a high annual motor vehicle tax. They are to replace these fixed taxes with a kilometre charge which would vary according to time, place and "environmental characteristics". They have not decided what tehnology to use, but aim to have the system working for lorries by 2011 and cars by 2018.
The obvious question (which was not asked) is why are the Dutch going to so much trouble when they could increase fuel duties to offset reduction in fixed taxes at far lower cost and far more quickly? The answer is that the Dutch are afraid that if they do that then too many people will cross the border to buy their fuel. At the moment the Dutch have a duty on petrol which is about average, but their duty on diesel is about half that in Britain. Something which the Committee either don't know or are ignoring.
The most worrying thing is that the Dutch Government are said to be going ahead with the active collaboration of the Dutch AA, and the committee are expecting that the same will happen in Britain.
Durham says No more
BBC - "Toll road expansion plan shelved".
Mayor thinking about original zone
Evening Standard - "Will you scrap the C-charge, Boris? Let me brood on it".
Cambridgeshire - More toll pushing
Despite what has happened in Greater Manchester, Cambridgeshire County Coucil is being pushed by "Cambridgeshire Horizons" to go ahead with TIF tolls - Cambridge Evening News - "The traffic timebomb". The odd thing is that this "not-for-profit" body telling the Council what to do appears to be almost entirely funded by - the Council.
Too early to say
Local Government Chronicle - "Innovation fund rules mooted".
STv - "Toll removal on Tay Bridge increases traffic". What this story does not say, was that as the tolls were removed in February, for whatever motive, roadworks started on the bridge. Now that the works have finished and a true comparison can be made with the position before the tolls were removed, the situation is that the evening traffic queues that in the days of tolls stretched from the bridge into Dundee have gone.
Toll road sale
XinhuaNet - "Former local traffic official under trial over power abuse ".
Humber Toll Petition
Hull Daily Mail - "Help toll petition hit 10,000 names".
PS Hull Council have again expressed their opposition to the tolls - Hull Daily Mail - "Hull councillors back bridge toll campaign".
Wednesday 17 December 2008
Today is the 75th anniversary of the opening of the toll tunnel between Liverpool and Birkenhead. Originally the road was to be free in line with the situation elsewhere in Britain apart from some relatively minor privately owned tolled crossings. Then it was agreed that part of the cost would come from tolls that would be applied for a short limited period. But once the trolls have got you in their grip they never let you go - Mersey Tunnels Users Association - History of the tunnels.
Tuesday 16 December 2008
USA Roundup - Later stories
This story is from Saturday but we have only just noticed it. Between 2003 and 2007, New York had to cope with 130,000 more residents and 200,000 workers - yet car traffic actually declined - New York Times - "New York City Grew, but Traffic Didn’t". Various reasons are suggested including more people using MetroCards and in particular the unlimited ride ones.
Other stories - "Maine Turnpike approves toll increase" New York - "Council To Review Ravitch Commission Findings" Massachusetts - "Khan: Use gas tax, not toll hike, for road needs" Massachusetts - "Motorists Urged To Protest Toll Hikes" inc video Massachusetts - "Lawmakers, residents decry toll hike proposal".
Woes of toll bank
Sydney Morning Herald - "Macquarie tolls the loss of $2.1b" The Australian - "Weak US traffic fells Macquarie Infrastructure Group".
More on Nottingham pushing ahead with parking tax
Transport Briefing - "Notts reaffirms commitment to workplace parking levy".
Liverpool worried that it may be conned
Liverpool Echo - "Congestion charge fear for Liverpool".
Bristol Evening Post - "Severn bridges to accept credit cards".
The statement about the charges being inclusive of VAT misses the point. The Government gets a VAT slice from the tolls which means that it will take a lot longer to pay off the cost of building the bridges. The toll should be scrapped. Using credit or debit cards only makes it easier for them to squeeze drivers.
Toll deal falls through
Reuters - "Austrians exit 1.5 bln euro Serbia highway deal".
Mass tolls - Boston Globe - "Governor's transportation chief resigns amid turmoil" Boston Herald - "Back to the future" Boston Herald - "Toll foes gone wobbly, get run off road" Daily News Tribune - "Hundreds pack toll hike hearing in Lynn" Daily News Tribune - "Group hopes to pinch Pike with pennies" Salem News - "Drivers give MTA an earful over tolls" Boston Globe - "Solving the transportation crisis" WHDH - "Murray says Mass. faces tough transport decisions".
Other stories - North Carolina - "I-540 Toll Road Moves Forward" Florida - "Taxes and tolls could bring double whammy to Lee residents".
For your information
Japan Times - "FYI - A highway system that ever exacts toll". One piece of information which is only hinted at in this story is the corruption and bid-rigging which came to light in 2004.
Monday 15 December 2008
Whitchurch bridge tolls protest
| Protest last week against the proposed toll increase on Whitchurch bridge.|
If you live in Oxfordshire or Berkshire and want to help stop the spread of tolls, then please contact the local campaign group.
Daily Telegraph - "Toll dodgers enjoy free ride on city motorways".
New York - "Thruway tolls up, jobs down" New York - "Paying for Transit: Fares or Fees, Tolls or Taxes?" "Tolls For All West Viriginia Highways Could Be Debated" Massachusetts - "Pike Toll Protest Cancelled" North Carolina - "Transportation panel recommends tolls and higher fees".
King of the trolls?
Detroit News - "Matty Moroun's bridge battle".
Cheshire Council supports tolling of free bridge to Liverpool
Chester Chronicle - "New Cheshire council backs Mersey Gateway Bridge".
More on the most expensive bridge in the world
Herald - "Proposed second Forth crossing is a bridge too far" letters.
Sweden looks at wheel hub tax
National Business Review (NZ) - "NZ's Eroad in €200 million Swedish road charges trial".
Birmingham Post - "Will cars be our road to ruin?".
Humber tolls petition
Scunthorpe Telegraph - "Call for 'final push' on tolls petition".
Going, going, not going
Each time we have reported that China's tolls are being replaced with a fuel tax to encourage economy and improve air quality, we have said that we don't believe it. Now for the first time there is a report that says only about half the tolls will be removed. How long before the other half are staying? China Daily - "Fueling reform in the pipeline".
Sunday 14 December 2008
The President-elect has still not revealed who will be the Transportation Secretary. Names still in the frame seem to be-
Steve Heminger, executive director of San Francisco's Metropolitan Transportation Commission whose empire includes seven tolled bridges; Jane Garvey, former head of the Federal Aviation Administration and at one time the acting head of the Federal Highways Administration where she was "credited" with developing the "Innovative Financing Initiative", more recently she has been working for JP Morgan on "infrastructure financing"; Mortimer Downey, a deputy Transportation Secretary who was also involved in the "Innovative Financing Initiative"; and Ron Kirk, former mayor of Dallas - Capitol Hill Blue - "A Texan in King Obama's Court".
Other stories - Massachusetts - "Toll foes planning protest of Pike meeting" Texas - "Charges to be filed against drivers ducking 183A tolls" Pennsylvania - "Feds ask Pa. for information on Rt. 80 tolls" .
More toll preaching
Though Scotland is now free of tolls, the establishment are still pushing tolls through the papers that they control - Scotland on Sunday - "Heading for gridlock: The future of SNP's new trasport blueprint". The establishment also seem to have conned the SNP that a new Forth road bridge would cost billions, though they have just about halved the estimate, they need to halve it again and again.
Another day after D day
Friday's result got far less attention than we expected. No doubt if the result had gone the other way, the news media in Britain and abroad would have had it as a big story. There is a bit for today on our Manchester News page .
The only coverage in America seems to have been in theNewspaper.com - "UK: Congestion Pricing Referendum Loses 4-1".
More fantasy about success of M6 Toll
Lichfield Mercury - "Key business group hits back at M6 Toll critics".
More on - News we don't believe - China introducing fuel tax and scrapping road tolls
Gulf News - "Fuel price reforms get wide support".
Saturday 13 December 2008
“Bloomberg’s talking about congestion pricing and look what he’s doing — he’s making traffic.” - Chelsea Now - (New York) - "New protected bike lanes are rolled out on 8th Ave".
Other stories - Massachusetts - "Keenan urges attendance at toll-hike hearing" New York - "Port Authority wastes $20M more at bottomless Ground Zero pit" Texas - "Trinity Parkway toll road's design moves ahead, but questions about project remain" California - "MTA, feds reach $210 million deal on pay-as-you-go lanes" New Jersey - "Toll Increase Is Met With Sense of Inevitable" Massachusetts - "Rick Holmes: Stop the Pike hike" Pennsylvania - "Route 30 a bad trip for truckers" Massachusetts - "Toll Hikes".
Day after D day
There are more stories on our Manchester News page .
More reactions in other parts of Britain - Newcastle Evening Chronicle - "How bad must it get before we act?" Yorkshire Evening Post - "Leeds council bosses vow to resist road tolls".
The National - "Dubai toll dodgers caught on camera".
Friday 12 December 2008
This is a new one - congestion pricing is needed because of old people moving to the city (and presumably as they have no other entertainment they spend all day, including peak periods, driving round town) - San Francisco Chronicle - "Congestion pricing is a solution for San Francisco".
"A fee similar to that is already in place, and that is the gas tax" - WHKP (North Carolina) - "Apodoca Against Vehicle Miles Traveled Fee".
Mary announces (again, it was first announced in April) the grant to encourage more tolls in California - DoT - "U.S. Transportation Secretary, Mary E. Peters, Announces Los Angeles Can Start Spending $210 Million to Cut Traffic, Improve Transit and Protect the Environment" LA Times - "Los Angeles receives $210 million in federal funds to ease traffic jam".
New York - "Toll-Free Bridges Already “Tough” on South Bronx and Upper Manhattan" Massachusetts - "Nelson Benton: Tolls have pols on edge" Massachusetts - "Group Calling For Turnpike Boycott Over Hikes" inc video West Virginia - "We’re not alone in paying tolls to travel Interstates"
West Virginia - "Legislature could float new bond to ease toll hike" New York - "East River Tolls Face Backlash" New York - "Commuter Tax, Not Tolls, Would Ease MTA’s Woes, Says Kruger" New York - "Fare hikes? How about free buses instead, plan asks" New Jersey - "Bridge Officials Plan Toll Hike on Ocean Drive Spans".
D day for Manchester vote and the whole issue of "road pricing" in Britain
All the stories are on our Manchester News page .
Full details of the result are on our main Manchester page .
Being optimistic we issued this press release (pdf file) (as Word file) (as plain text file) before the result was known.
Our main reaction after the vote was that it was surprising how few people had fallen for what the other side said.
It was a victory for the people over the establishment, for fairness over greed and for the truth over deception.
Meanwhile Nottingham says that it is still going ahead with the other form of "congestion charging" which still qualifies for Government bribes, i.e. a workplace parking levy - Nottingham Evening Post - "City defends parking levy after Manchester congestion charge defeat". Such a scheme is not as bad as tolls, but who in their right mind would proceed with a tax that was aimed at businesses in their area, when the country has moved into a recession?
The final betting on the Manchester Con was 2/9 for 'No' vote and 3/1 for 'Yes' vote. The current odds on Nristol or Leeds follwing Manchester are 1/5.
Meanwhile .... Birmingham Post - "Birmingham calls for new UK transport policy after Manchester rejects congestion charge".
Developer defends M6 Toll
Express and Star - "Tycoon Fred’s drive to defend M6 Toll".
Workplace parking levy
Daily Mail - "Plan to charge drivers £350 to park at the office is slammed as a 'tax on work'" Telegraph - "Commuters who drive to work 'face workplace parking levy'" Telegraph - "The workplace parking levy is simple and cheap but nasty".
Bridge closed so that "free flow" tolling can be installed
Brisbane Times - "That's a first: Gateway Bridge to close".
Thursday 11 December 2008
The Hudson Institute, scion of the defence establishment's RAND Corporation, does a bit of toll pushing - Reuters - "The right way to spend billions on infrastructure".
Stories other than Mass Pike - Illinois - "The right way to sell a Senate seat" Georgia - "Privatizing government can backfire" North Carolina - "Transportation panel recommends tolls, higher fees" "Rhode Island revives toll debate" Ohio - "Truck firms displeased by turnpike rate plans" Illinois - "Stop the tollway deal" Illinois - "Stop the tollway deal" Florida - "Express lanes to nowhere, fast" letter Florida - "Paying More To Get To Work Faster?" video New York - "Riders oppose toll, fare hikes" New York - "Ex-MTA boss Richard Ravitch: Make bridge tolls 'flexible'" New York - "Bridge tolls get cold shoulder" New York - "Bridge tolls get cold shoulder" New York - "MTA Commission Chair Defends Bridge Tolls, Taxes" inc video New York - "MTA Commission Head Goes Before Lawmakers" inc video North Carolina - "Future Transportation Funding Could Mean More Taxes".
Mass Pike - Another Revolution? Boston Globe - "In first wave of cuts, Turnpike to layoff 20 toll collectors" WCVB - "Group Calling For Turnpike Boycott Over Hikes" video Wicked - "Anti-toll activists take to backstreets" Wicked - "Tackling transportation" Boston Globe - "http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2008/12/11/emotions_high_at_toll_hike_hearing/" inc video Metro West - "Residents blast toll hike plans at first hearing" Boston Herald - "Councilor: Toll hike’s ‘war’ on East Boston" Eagle Tribune - "State lawmakers plead to stall Mass Pike toll hike" Metro - "‘Boston Toll Party’ to protest fare hikes" Boston Globe - "Toll hike critics call for Pike boycott".
Wicked - "Online poll results: Reforms needed before new taxes, tolls" Wicked - "Needham officials against toll hike, prefer gas tax" WBZTV - "Angry Drivers Fight Bay State Tolls" NECN - "Turnpike Authority holds hearing over toll hikes" video Wicked - "Public hearings for proposed hefty toll hikes" Wicked - "Raise the gas tax? Turnpike tolls? Both? Or do nothing?".
Let them eat grass
Times - "No more beef if Britain hopes to cut carbon emissions". Though this may not be a problem as the politicians and co, only aim to cut CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels. They ignore other ways that CO2 is increased and they ignore other greenhouse gases.
Last day for Manchester vote
Times - "Road pricing is at the mercy of Manchester's voters". Other stories on what is happening are on our Manchester page.
More on - Cost of new Forth road bridge halved
Courier - "Cut-price new bridge for Forth by 2016" Scotsman - "Salmond goes for cut-price bridge across Forth" Herald - "New bridge and better roads … but Crossrail is off the table".
A plea for more tolls
Punch - "How to better manage Lagos roads".
As well as the aim that "those who cannot afford to pay extra tolls will be forced to leave their vehicles at home", there is an assumption that roads will be better maintained if there are tolls. But the bulk, possibly all of the tolls will go to the toll "collectors" and proprietors. In developed as well as third world countries there is a problem of ensuring that roads are maintained adequately, but tolls just waste most of the money. Maintenance should be paid for from fuel or general taxes.
More on - Double your Money
ABC - "NSW paying Harbour Tunnel owners $1m a week".
PS ABC - "Premier says he wouldn't have signed Sydney Harbour Tunnel contract".
Wednesday 10 December 2008
USA Roundup - Later stories
New York - "Why I Don’t Support Tolls On the East River Bridges" New York - "Queens Lawmakers Rally Against Bridge Tolls" New York - "Queens Residents Protest Proposed Bridge Toll" inc video Florida - "Toll has retailers pointing fingers" Rhode Island - "Mt. Hope Bridge tolls still an option".
Cost of new Forth road bridge halved
BBC - "Cut-price Forth crossing outlined" Guardian - "SNP halves budget for new Forth bridge project".
We have been saying for a long time that the estimates for this bidge were ludicrously high. We would hope that as it is to be a Design and Build scheme and untolled, that the cost can be halved again.
Plea for toll cut falls on deaf ears
Herald - "Toll for cars using port tunnel at peak should be cut to €3".
Double your Money
The New South Wales Government is forecast to pay one billion dollars as profit guarantees on a toll tunnel that cost the developer $500 million to build - Sydney Morning Herald - "Harbour tunnel a $1b black hole".
EU Ministers put new Tolls diktat on hold
Euractiv - "Ministers fail to agree on 'green' road tolls".
Ravitch on his plan for more bridge tolls. It is clear that the issue is not getting more money (nearly half of the tolls will be lost in toll collection anyway), the motive is to hit New York drivers - WNYC - "Ravitch on the MTA" audio.
theNewspaper.com - "Illinois Governor Blagojevich Saw Personal Green in Toll Lane Idea - Illinois governor arrested for approving a toll lane project in return for campaign cash.". If dealings connected with toll road and road privatization contracts were to be investigated then they would need a Guantanamo Bay to hold all the defendants. The allegations in this case (para 63 and 64 in the Criminal complaint) relating to toll lanes must have just been accidentally caught in the net by the FBI when they looked at other allegations.
Update on Detroit bail-out plan - CNN - "Automakers bailout bill inches closer". A better stimulus would be to scrap tolls and to encourage more fuel efficient vehicles by gradually (over say 5 years) raising Federal gas tax.
The "Reason" Foundation must be pushing on an open door in the Wall Street Journal as they continue their tolls and roads privatization campaign - "Stimulus Shouldn't Be an Excuse for Pork".
Trying to climb the "radioactive" mountain - Metro (NY) - "Tolls still ‘Holy Grail’ for MTA".
Bridge for a buck - Cape May County Herald - "Freeholders Approve, 4-1, Beesley's Point Bridge Buy for $1".
Mass Pike stories - Wicked - "Brown: Comprehensive transportation reform needed" WBUR - "MassPort Chief: 'Maybe' We Can Inherit Turnpike" Wicked - "Toll hike serves as wedge issue as Hill vexed over transportation" Wicked - "Pike toll increases are bad for Boston" Metro West - "Some support Pike toll increases" Republican - "Longmeadow friends launch online rebellion against planned Mass. Pike toll hikes" Boston Herald - "Gov urged to reconsider Pike toll hikes" PolitickerMA - "Committee chairmen hit Patrick’s transportation plan".
Other stories - Florida - "Preferential lanes and tolls wrong for Miami" Virginia - "State urged to cut back tourism centers" Florida - "Officials Say I-95 Express Lanes A Success" New Jersey - "Vicari Calls On The Turnpike Authority For Parkway Token Redemption Day".
M6 toll fantasy
The M6 Toll was opened on Tuesday 9th December 2003 by one of our favourite MPS - Alistair Darling - and was five years old yesterday - BBC - "M6 Toll road marks fifth birthday".
The report in the Birmingham Post is amazing as it rates the road as a qualified success - "M6 Toll road - Five years on". The Government and the opertors were expecting that by now about 130,000 vehcles a day would be using the road. The actual traffic is less than 50,000 and drivers and businesses using the old M6 and other roads in the area are suffering congestion that could be removed with the removal of the toll. The toll is a disaster.
Tuesday 9 December 2008
Greens say M6 toll "has not delivered"
Birmingham Post - "Green groups label M6 Toll road a huge failure".
The Greens are right that the M6 Toll is a waste, but not because the road was built, it is a waste because it is tolled. Groups like the Greens would rather see it wasted than see the toll removed. A view that they share with all three of the main parties.
The Greens are wrong to say that the toll road has been a success in "generating cash for its private owners". The road has made a loss since it opened, though oddly enough we believe that the owners have already got all their investment back, because of a PFI refinancing deal with the banks.
Sooner the Western Toll is ended the better
Mayor Watch - "Council calls for faster end to congestion charge".
Despite massive spending on tolled roads, Sydney is moving towards slow motion Sydney Morning Herald - "If motorways are the answer, we've been asking the wrong question" ABC - "Peak-hour speed 31kmh".
The first thing is that whatever the question, tolls are the wrong answer. Tolling a road - even with barrierless systems - reduces the capacity, it also distorts traffic patterns.
The second thing is that the real question should be what do you do about population increase. Australia is BIG, but large parts are not habitable, and anyway people tend to congregate into cities. At the end of the Second World War there were 7.5 million people in Australia. There are now 22 million. By the end of this century it is projected to be 45 million. Sustainable Population Australia.
Express & Star - "M6 Toll shunned as charges rise".
Strange that the paper and some others have again noticed that the M6 Toll is empty. Though it would be a miracle if a politician ever removes the blindfold from their eyes and notices.
The Australian bank who own the M6 Toll published the traffic figures for the third quarter on 13th October. The average daily traffic was 43,064, which was 12% down on a year ago. Part of the fall may have been due to high fuel prices but it was the fifth quarter in a row where the traffic has been lower than the same quarter a year earlier. Because of price increases, revenue was only down 1%. At the time the bank appeared to be expecting an increase in future traffic and revenue as the Government were about to start roadworks on the free M6 that would last a year or more.
Our M6 Toll traffic page.
We have been a voice crying in the wilderness with our campaign for the road to be taken over by the Highways Agency and the toll removed. Much of the West Midlands
continues to suffer congestion while there is this virtually empty motorway. If the toll were removed then the road could take all the through traffic. It is a mystery why motorists and businesses who are paying a billion pounds a week in roads taxes have to continue to suffer, particularly while there is many many billions of pounds of Government help for the banks.
On the Road to Damascus UPDATED
Telegraph - "Two third of drivers would not use car pool motorway lanes, finds AA" AA Press Release - "Is it the end of the road for road pricing?" Driver's Alliance Press Release - "77% of drivers in the North West are opposed to Congestion Charging".
Can it be that the AA is about to stop helping the Government sell tolls, "congestion charges" and "road pricing"? Though on this particular issue, the authorities won't be bothered that most drivers would not use tolled lanes - that is the idea!
There are two real problems with toll lanes on motorways. The first is that there will be more accidents and deaths which the Government may not be able to hide. The second is that they may be the straw that breaks the camels back, and drivers will revolt. The Government can try and get round the second problem by getting the Tories to openly sign up to the policy, but there will still be a risk that if drivers can not express their dissatisfaction through the ballot box then they will do so in other ways. Any barrier free tolling system depends on a population where nearly everyone can be relied on to comply with the rules.
Convert? New York Post - "Gov Backs Tax Over Tolls".
Other stories - New York - "Assembly to hear suggestions on MTA funding" Texas - "Vehicle Owners Face Charges and Fines for Unpaid 183A Toll Fees".
Massachusetts - "Lynch backs gas tax over toll hikes, supports auto bailout" inc video Massachusetts - "Pike toll hikes are unconstitutional" letter Massachusetts - "Pike reports $31m saved in cost cuts" New Jersey / Pennsylvania - "DRPA eyes 18.3% spending hike" Washington State - "City supports bridge tolls, mostly" New York - "Gov: Albany must ride to MTA rescue" Massachusetts - "Taking a toll on the North Shore".
"Battersea traders welcome congestion charge u-turn"
More on Tolls from Amsterdam
Follow up to the recent story from the toll sales conference in Canada, this was written by someone from a "carbon offset" site - World Changing - "Netherlands Plans Massive Road-Pricing Scheme". This is what the Dutch plan, but if one aim is to encourage fuel efficiency, are they really barmy enough to introduce such a complex tax that would cost a fortune to collect?
Nation of shoppers
BBC - "Retail sales 'fall still further'" British Retail Consortium - "BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor November 2008".
The panic over falling sales is justified in certain badly hit sectors, but overall despite the headlines, it seems that on average the retail sales for the September / November period were the same in money terms as they were a year ago. The problems for many shops are that because of inflation real sales may be down, there are more shops (2% increase in selling space year on year) and more people are buying online (sales are up nearly 10%).
Monday 8 December 2008
More on - News we don't believe
Speculation that Obama may follow China who from January are reportedly introducing a fuel tax and scrapping road tolls - Guardian - "Will Obama raise fuel taxes?".
As we don't believe that China will really scrap tolls, Obama could easily copy that!
Not enough of a bad thing
Damian Hockney of the "One London" party (who broke away from UKIP and later lost their seats in the May elections) suggests that the new Mayor may have given the Con charge a reprieve by reducing the size of the zone and other changes that may be in the pipeline. He further suggests that this may encourage people in Manchester and New York to support a Con - Mayor Watch - "Hail Mayor Boris - saviour of the Congestion Charge".
More speculation on Obama's cabinet, including post of Transportation Secretary - Bond Buyer - "Obama Teams Casting a Wide Net".
The Mass Pike - Milford Daily News - "Reps feel anger and frustration over toll hikes" Worcester Business Journal - "Reader Reaction: Toll Editorial Baffling".
The East River bridges - Gothmaist - "Bridges Aren't Being Built to Bring Tolls to River Crossings" Metro - "Pols: Bridge tolls DOA - Group of city, state electeds reject East River bridge tolls to fund transit" 1010 - "AUDIO: NYC Officials Oppose East River Tolls" Brooklyn Heights Blog - "Squadron Responds to MTA Report".
Also the existing toll which is rebated back - NY Daily News - "Drivers, pols gear up to fight for bridge toll break".
A Republican who backs infrastructure investment. Which in his eyes includes - "the systems required to implement roadway congestion pricing" - Washington Post - "A Conservative Investment - Why the Right Can Get Behind an Infrastructure Program".
Pawtucket Times- "Time for feds to take on Interstates ".
Other stories - Pennsylvania - "Peterson: State to resubmit I-80 tolling application" Illinois - "Plates gone, toll fines roll on" Michigan - "Save roads with a modest gas tax hike".
Humber bridge toll petition
Scunthorpe Telegraph - "Hundreds more back bridge toll cut".
Possibility of more tolls to help pay for public transport
The Age - "More tolls possible as transport plan unveiled" ABC - "New trains, trams and tunnels in Vic transport plan" ABC - "Tolls possible on new Melb ring road freeway".
Trolls attack SNP over new Forth Road bridge
Courier - "Forth bridge funds may be made clear" Scotland On Sunday - "Pressure on Swinney as doubts grow over funding of new £4bn Forth bridge".
The SNP inherited a millstone around their necks left by the Trolls. The millstone was the pressure for a new Forth Road bridge. There is no certainty that a new bridge is needed New Crosssing?. What is clear is that even if built at a reasonable cost, it could not be tolled as the toll would be so high that no one would use it. In any case the SNP have said that it will not be tolled. Unfortunately the SNP have been conned into an incredibly high cost figure, though they recently cut a billion pounds off the estimate (see 28th November). There is also an argument about financing. The SNP don't like PFI, and came up with their own twist which has run into problems. It appears that they are now considering "shadow" tolling, and the people who clamoured for a bridge to be built, are now carping about this possibility! The SNP would do well to go back to the drawing board and get some independent advice.
Sunday 7 December 2008
The Mass Pike - Worcester Telegram - "Private Pike?" Wicked - "Legislators battle toll hikes" Metro West - "Editorial: Perpetuating Pike inequity" Boston Globe - "Big toll hikes called northern overexposure" Metro West - "Pillsbury: Don't raise tolls or taxes".
Other stories - West Virginia - "Authority member: Public will play part in toll talkp" New York - "Mike has good reason to sit out bridge game" New York - "MTA report doesn't get at the root problem" New Hampshire - "Good roads, bridges will require gas tax increase" Pennsylvania - "Idea of tolls on I-80 not yet dead" New York - "Many Hurdles, Legal and Political, to Bridge Tolls".
Saturday 6 December 2008
The Mass Pike - Salem News - "Pols to Patrick: Take another route on tolls" Boston Globe - "Lawmakers seek transportation documents" Wicked - "Senator Galluccio raises concern about pollution from toll avoidance traffic" Boston Globe - "Swapping debt won't remove it" Wicked - "Transportation privatization plan turns up more questions" Boston Globe - "On the Turnpike, a more open road than usual".
Other stories - Florida - "Toll lane opening day ends without a bump" Texas - "NTTA plans budget cuts as drivers steer away from tollways" Florida - "Tolls climb steeply as commuters head home on I-95" Rhode Island - "Motorists not quick to embrace revenue proposals" Pennsylvania - "Driven to alternate routes" New York - "MTA foes seen wishing upon a star" Pennsylvania - "Debate continues on I-80 tolls, Turnpike hikes" Rhode Island - "Driving tax, border tolls among ideas
for funding R.I. road and bridge repair".
American view of London cameras
McClatchy - "It must be '1984': 'Big Brother' snoops and Britons don't mind".
Another unwanted Ken legacy going
Yesterday the new Mayor honoured another election pledge by announcing that the unpopular "bendy" buses were to go - GLA Press release - "The beginning of the end for the bendy bus" Independent - "Johnson ditches London's bendy buses" Independent - "Leading article: A welcome reverse".
More on - News we don't believe
The chief economist with CITIC Securities says - "The recent slump in oil prices has given the government a good opportunity to push through the reform ... which is fairer compared with the current road toll systems" - China Daily - "Plan for fuel tax increase proposed".
Friday 5 December 2008
"Rell: No Tolls In Connecticut" Massachusetts - "Go slow on Pike privatization" West Virgina - "Decay tightens grip on turnpike as case built for hiking tolls" West Virgina - "Talk continues over future of Tamarack" Massachusetts - "Rep. Reinstein urges participation in toll hike public hearings".
Pennsylvania toll increases - Philadelphia Inquirer - "Pa. Turnpike tolls to increase 25 percent" Lancaster Online - "Toll hikes loom for turnpike" Pittsburgh Tribune Review - "$3.5 billion loss averted, turnpike chief says" Patriot News - "Turnpike officials defend toll increases" Land Line Mag - "OOIDA says Pennsylvania toll increases will hurt truckers".
More on the Florida Lexus lanes which started today - Miami Herald - "Tolls on I-95 off to good start, FHP says" Sun Sentinel - "State patrols added for I-95's new express lanes" inc video CBS - "Free Ride On I-95 Express Lanes Is Officially Over" inc video Palm Beach Post - "'Lexus lanes' on I-95: Godsend or disaster waiting to happen?".
More on the East River tolls plan - Commission report (pdf). One interesting bit is that the tolls on the East (and Harlem) Rivers will cost $500 million to collect $1.1 billion. As usual most papers favour the saving of the straphangers and the MTA empire by charging drivers -
NY Observer - "Would Bridge Tolls Need Seven-Month Approval Process?" NY1 - "Commission Plan For MTA Revenue Under Review" Staten Island Advance - "A kinder, gentler transit fix" NY Daily News - "Saving the subway: Ravitch funding plan is best hope for preserving mass transit" Lower Hudson News - "Panel urges 8% MTA fare hikes" Newsday - "Economic crisis makes for strange political bedfellows" Newsday - "Politicians, transit advocates react to MTA panel plan"
NY Times - "Keep the City Moving" NY Times - "Mixed reviews on Transit plan" Bond Buyer - "N.Y MTA could sell $30 billion" NY Times - "Ravitch Unveils M.T.A. Rescue Plan" Press Connects - "Tolls, payroll tax proposed as alternatives to large fare hikes"
NY1 - "Disgruntled Commuters Resigned To New Tolls" ABC - "What's the truth?" NY Daily News - "Highlights of the MTA bailout plan" Bloomberg!!! - "New York’s Free Bridges May Get Tolls in Transit Funding Plan" NY1 - "State Commission Recommends Bridge Tolls, Payroll Taxes"
Crain's - "Panel pushes new tax, toll package to fund MTA" Ny Daily News - "Early Ravitch Plan Response: Tolls A No-Go, But Tax May Be OK" Staten Island Advance - "Staten Islanders oppose tolling East River bridges" Queens Chronicle - "New taxes, tolls to meet protest, boycott".
PS One view as to why the MTA is short of money - Worker's World - "How banks have sucked mass transit dry".
News we don't believe
It is reported that China has agreed the Reform Commission proposal to bring in a fuel tax and to remove road tolls - Reuters - "UPDATE 2-China to hike fuel taxes, float prices in major reform". Such a move would help to conserve fuel and clean the air. BUT whatever the story or the Government say, we don't believe that tolls will be removed.
Two stories from Modern Britain
The woman who had seven children and Social Services said would "require constant monitoring and support throughout the lives of her children". She went on to organise the kidnap of one child - BBC - "MP calls for Shannon case review".
The man who continually raped his two daughters who went through 19 pregnancies so he could "milk the system for child benefits" - Mirror - "Guilt over Brit Fritzl goes right to the top".
Isn't it strange that it is Social Services staff who usually get the blame for a dysfunctional society?
Toll bank cutting back on staff
Sydney Morning Herald - "Macquarie announces new toll: on its workforce".
New website dealing with transport issues
Another spending spree
Lord Adonis trumpets the opening of a motorway link between England and Scotland - DfT - "50 years of Motorways: special birthday celebrated with opening of £174 million M6 extension".
£174 million spending is what the Government takes from drivers in 30 hours. This and previous Governments should be ashamed that while they have spent billions on numerous wars and creating a spiv economy, roads users have waited 50 years for the completion of this important link. Britain now has about 2,220 miles of motorway, which with a population of 61 million, means 28,000 people per mile of motorway or 2.3 inches per person - Enjoy!
Another M6 Toll increase from January
CLICK Liverpool - "M6 toll road refuses to give VAT reduction".
Users of the toll road seem to have a high "inelasticity of demand", so the price rise will have little effect. In any case the Government may be helping them by roadworks on the untolled road near the northern junction with the tolled road. The work stretches out to past July 2010 - Highways Agency.
Toll sales plan put on the shelf
Toronto Star - "Early Metrolinx plan had road tolls".
More on more European toll discussions
Euractiv - "Road users pressed to 'internalise' pollution costs ".
Thursday 4 December 2008
USA Roundup - Later stories
The East River tolls for thee. As expected the Commission headed by the ex MTA boss wants tolls on all bridges. This will please Billionaire Bloomberg, but other New Yorkers may contrast this "bail-out" with the trillion dollars or so that has gone on the bailout of the bankers who finance toll roads - NBC - "Paterson, Ravtich Unveil Payroll Tax, Bridge Tolls To Bail Out M.T.A." Streetsblog - "Ravitch Unveils Broad MTA Rescue Package" NY Daily News - "Paterson: Ravitch's MTA Bailout 'Holistic'" Staten Island Advance - "New York governor accepts MTA bail-out plan" NY Daily News - "Panel unveils MTA bailout plan, financed by payroll taxes, toll hike and 8% fare increase" NY Times - "Ravitch Unveils M.T.A. Rescue Plan".
Other stories - Chicago - "It's official: City parking privatized; rates to soar" Pennsylvania - "Turnpike Tolls To Increase 25 Percent" inc video.
TfL cash goes to Skidz
Children & Young People Now - "Porsche donates legal fees to London motoring charity".
Britain breaks another record
BBC - "Bank cuts UK rates to 57-year low". One of the main beneficiaries of this will be the troll friends of the Government. One of the main losers will be the old who rely on interest as a source of income. No wonder that it is also reported that more people are thinking of emigrating.
More on Mayor Daley the Second selling off Chicago's on-street parking - NBC - "Grab Your Roll of Quarters" inc video Chicago Tribune - "Vote now, debate later" Chicago Tribune - "Meters won't rest on Sunday".
Mary spends her remaining time still pushing tolls - Houston Chronicle - "Transportation chief floats federal gas tax alternative". The usual interests are reccommending that Obabma should keep her in the job.
More on panel recommending tolling the East River bridges. The MTA is in a mess and needs to cram more pople onto the Subway, raise fares and toll bridges. How did things get that bad? NY1 - "Mayor, Governor To Announce MTA Funding Plan" inc video WCBStv - "NY Panel Due To Make Suggestions On MTA Budget" Newsday - "MTA's proposed fare hike smaller than 'doomsday' proposal" NY Daily News - "It all stinks, say angry commuters" NY Times - "Paterson voices support for M.T.A, rescue plan".
More on the Pike and the protests - WCVB - "Group Rallies Against 'Pike Hike" inc video NECN - "Toll hikes prove unpopular with Bay State drivers" inc video WBZtv - "Angry Protesters Seek Alternatives To Toll Hike" inc video Metro - "Eastie rallies against hikes" Boston Herald - "Tunneling toll rage" Metro - "Lawmakers consider privatizing Turnpike" PolitickerMA - "Lawmakers hear varying opinions of public-private partnerships" Daily News Tribune - "Newton aldermen send letter to state opposing toll hike" Boston Globe / AP - "New turnpike partnership could give Mass. cash" (the "Reason" Foundation doing some more toll and road privatization pushing Boston Globe - "Leasing Pike may pay off, but at cost".
More on the Lexus lanes which come to Florida tomorrow - CBS - "Free Ride On I-95 Express Lanes Ends Friday" inc video Miami Herald - "More I-95 changes to come after toll lanes open" Miami Herald - "Allure of fast lanes leads to easy money" Sun Sentinel - "I-95 express toll lanes a really bad idea" Miami Herald - "With new toll lanes, an army of support".
Examiner - "Freedom Under Surveillance, Part I".
Other stories - Rhode Island - "RI gov's panel suggests tolls, higher taxes, fees" Florida - "Debate Over The Right To Control Alligator Alley" Connecticut - "Rell: Tolls Won't Be Used To Balance Budget" Washington State - "Narrows Bridge tolls may hold steady" Washington State - "Bridge advisory panel asking the right questions" New Jersey - "Gas cards for carpooling / Best use of money?" Louisiana - "Crescent City bridge audit calls for dumping toll-takers - It also points to ferries as financial drain" Washington State - "Task force suggests ways state can curb climate change" Pennsylvania - "Turnpike tolls to increase 25 percent next month" Land Line Mag - "Congestion pricing coming to Atlanta" Land Line Mag - "Pennsylvania bill dies; sought to fund roads, bridges without tolls, taxes" Florida - "Former Expressway Authority Chairman Wants Grand Jury Report Sealed" Florida - "Former Expressway Authority Chairman Wants Grand Jury Report Sealed".
DfT - "Congestion on urban roads: 2007-08".
The Government has a problem with congestion. Some years ago it made one of its targets the reduction of congestion. But at the same time it needs people to believe that congestion is getting worse which would mean missing the target. It must have the statisticians very confused as to which way to go. Though in this case they are reporting that compared with the base period (2004-2006) there was a 2.2% reduction in congestion on "major urban roads in England". They also say that "person miles" are down 3 per cent.
"Road Users Alliance" still selling tolls
Public Service - "GPS road pricing is a clear route to driver satisfaction". As with most selling of tolls, many questions are ignored including - Why Should drivers pay more? and Why have a system that is so expensive to run it is the equivalent of adding twenty pence to the price of a litre of fuel, and then burning all the income? Though perhaps the main question in this case should be - Who are the "road users" that this alliance represents?
More on - Chinese should not hold their breath
There are conflicting reports fron China. Some say that Zhang Xiaoqiang, deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission, today said that the replacement of tolls with fuel tax was likely to come in from 1st January as that was the date that tolls were normally increased. But we also have this story - Shanghai Daily - "E-tolls to speed highway flow". Our view is still that those who own the toll roads will win over the Reform Commission, and China will continue with a system which encourages waste of fuel and increases emissions.
Tolls to go up in January
Herald Sun - "Date set for Harbour congestion tax".
Wednesday 3 December 2008
USA Roundup - later stories
Washington State - "Committee Issues Recommendation On Narrows Bridge Tolls" Massachusetts - "Legislators push plan to stop toll hikes" Massachusetts - "Transportation funding: Taxes or tolls?" New York - "Some Taxes Are Better Than Others".
Britain in the 21st century
Today the Queen went in her coach to Parliament and as usual summoned MPs to the House of Lords to hear what legislative treats her Government has planned for the coming year - BBC - "Queen's Speech: Bill-by-bill". It's a relief that there doesn't appear to be any Bills aimed at roads users. One of the main Bills will mean that the taxpayer will to some extent bail out individual mortgagors and pay their interest. Though as it is rumoured that the Bank of England will drop the "base" rate to its lowest ever level, there may not be much interest paid by anyone. The mystery is why anybody is saving or investing when returns are negative even before inflation is taken into account. Britain as a whole is of course already borrowing far more than it is saving, so one effect of all the Government action must be to lower the value of both "the pound in your pocket" and on the foreign currency markets. As this will tend to mean that foreigners stop lending us money, it is difficult to see how the problem of lack of finance is going to be solved or how Britain will avoid going into another inflationary bubble.
After the Speech, MPs returned to the Commons to hear the Speaker say why the Police had been allowed by Commons staff to raid the Commons office of the Tory Immigration spokesman - BBC - "MP raid police 'had no warrant' ".
There's gold in them thar black hills - more on Committee on Climate Change
The Register - "There's gold in green: profiting from climate change - The double standards of our eco accountants".
Dartford Toll - Bexley Times campaign
- "Courier boss joins growing Times bid to stop the tolls".
International Bridge toll
Sault Star - "Saultites oppose proposed bridge toll hike".
Following yesterday's meeting in the City of Love between the President-elect and the National Governors Association we don't know if tolls and road privatization were discussed as part of the meeting was held in private. But as the main item for discussion was to increase spending on infrastructure, what else would they want to keep secret?
More on Frisco Con - San Francisco Bay Guardian - "Decongest me - Congestion pricing could raise millions for the city and reduce traffic". Part of the problem seems to be that there will be 150,000 more people in the city. How about a breathing tax?
Mayor Daley the Second sells off Chicago's on-street parking - Southtown Star - "Motorists would pay more to park at cashless meter spaces".
More on the Pike - Metro - "Rally to protest the Pike toll hike today" Boston Globe - "Leasing Pike may pay off, but at cost" Wicked - "Local legislators push plan to stop toll hikes" Boston Herald - "Pols mull Pike privatization" Boston Herald - "Delays sought for Tobin tolls".
Other stories - Maine - "Turnpike Authority Proposes Toll Hikes" inc video and poll Pennsylvania - "Turnpike schedules 25% toll increase" "From the road: No tolls in Connecticut" Virginia - "Fraim's plea was a Hail Mary pass for Jordan Bridge" Florida - "Alligator Alley lease far from done deal, says state" South Carolina - "Poor roads, bridges risk S.C.'s economy" New Jersey - "Enough grousing about tolls" New York - "'Doomsday' Scenario Turns Into MTA Bailout" New York - "Kellner to Ravitch: Don’t Bother Proposing East River Bridge Tolls".
More on Cambridgeshire Toll trick
Cambridge Evening News - "'Tsar' to examine congestion charge".
More toll complaints
IOL - "Thumbs down for new toll gates".
Ban for half Budapest cars on Bad air days
Budapest Times - "1/2 of cars banned on smog days".
Tuesday 2 December 2008
USA Roundup - later stories
Meeting tonight on San Francisco congestion pricing - KCBS - "Congestion Toll Idea Unpopular in San Francisco" inc audio. If you live in California and want to fight this plan for congestion tolls in San Francisco then please email us here.
Cambridgeshire County Council have appointed Sir Brian Briscoe to chair a new transport commission set up by the county to look at transport and "congestion charging". Tony Travers from the LSE will advise him - Hunts Post - "Council chief to head commission with £500m at stake".
Most of the councillors may not realise that these two were on the similar Commission that recommended "congestion charging" for Reading (see news for 1st, 2nd and 3rd July). Is it likely that they will not do the same again? This seems to be a way of getting the abandoned tolls plan revived with the pretence that it has been endorsed "independently". The Commission will report after next May's elections, which will give those behind the toll plans four years in which they can ignore the electors.
"Most of the trips on our roads are more by compulsion than by choice"
Herald Sun - "CityLink slugging motorists at three times rate of inflatio".
One man protest - Boston Channel - "Hub Man Launches 'Pike Toll Hikes Protest" inc video. The group's website -
Stop the Pike Hike - Together we can.
Love in - The President-elect and the National Governors Association are meeting today in Philadelphia. Tolls and road privatization may be on the agenda though we still don't know who the new Transportation Secretary will be.
IBM is one of the companies hoping to get richer if Obama goes down the toll road - CNN - "Big Blue's big plan - IBM is drooling over the coming infrastructure boom".
Water preservation group join in - San Antonio Express - "Time for a new participant in toll-road controversy: AACOG".
Other stories - New Jersey - "Politics takes its toll on Parkway efficiency" Massachusetts - "A better way to solve Pike’s woes" Alabama - "Highway funding may take several different routes" Massachusetts - "Lawmakers announce hearings on tolls, taxes, aiding Turnpike" "West Virginia Turnpike loses $3.1 million in 13 months" New Jersey - "Parkway And Turnpike Toll Increases Take Effect" Massachusetts - "Tolls, gas tax hike ahead in Mass.?" video of Newsnight discussion Florida - "Controversial Alligator Alley lease hearings this week" Washington State - "Bridge Group Could Make Tolls Decision Tuesday" New Jersey - "Cardinale: Huge Corzine Payoffs Continue".
"Business organisations sceptical about revision of EUROVIGNETTE directive"
Businesses support road tolls, according to the Chambers of Commerce
There are stories in various papers, e.g. - BBC - "Business demands better transport" following a press release from the British Chambers of Commerce - "Counting the cost of Britain’s failing transport systems" The full report (pdf file).
Some of the regional Chambers and most businesses oppose tolls in any form, but the bureaucrats who run many of the Chambers have for some years been in bed with the authorities who want tolls. The timing of this report may be deliberately intended to influence the vote which is currently taking place in Manchester.
Businesses who are included in this survey were asked - "The government’s road pricing initiatives include toll roads, congestion charging, pay per mile, etc. Which of the following, if any, do you consider to be the main circumstances under which you would support the principle of road pricing?". 22 per cent said that they would not support road pricing under any circumstances". Businesses were given seven other choices, all of which were counted as support for road pricing though the choices may not have been compatible (they could tick up to three) or even possible. Doing a survey in this way is a trick often used by those who want to give the impression that people or businesses support tolls.
Businesses were also asked - "In order to reduce congestion on the national
road network the government has proposed the following schemes. What do you most favour?". Most chose new roads or road widening, but 18% chose "toll lanes" and 9% chose "national road pricing". The question implied that only one answer should be given, but the percentages add up to 180% so some of those who chose "toll lanes" may also be included in those who chose "road pricing". In any case it is clear that if businesses had been asked in an unbiased way then they would have said "No" to road pricing and tolls.
Deprivatisation in Phnom Penh
Pnomh Penh Post - "Govt takes back highway from private toll company". The story says that the tolls will be removed, let's hope that this really isn't just a question of changing who pockets the tolls.
Dartford toll and VAT
Essex Echo - "Basildon businessman’s fury over Dartford tolls".
Scunthorpe Telegraph - "Toll campaigns spring up across country".
Monday 1 December 2008
USA Roundup Later stories
Citigroup is using some of the $300 billion it has just got from the US taxpayer in exchange for toxic debts to buy toll roads - the Newspaper.com - "Bailed-Out Bank Goes on Toll Road Buying Binge - Bailed out Citigroup fund spends $10 billion buying 44 foreign toll roads.".
We predicted that this would happen, but not this soon. One thing you can say for America is that it is relatively open, in countries like Britain and Australia things like this are kept in the dark.
More on call for a quick death of the Western extension
London Informer - "Westminster Demands Immediate end to Congestion Charge" Antiques Trade Gazette - "Congestion Charge reversal pleases trade".
Twenty by Twenty
The experts on the Committee set up to monitor Britain's progress to a carbon free world have come up with an interim target of a 21 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions from 2005 levels by 2020 - BBC - "Britain 'needs deeper CO2 cuts'" Committee on Climate Change. The Committee recommends various policies including "road pricing", "congestion pricing" and "environmental pricing". They also have in mind "Non-price levers around network use (e.g. pedestrianisation, dedicated bus lanes, parking policies)" and lower speed limits.
Why don't the Committee take the ultimate step and recommend that Britain be obliterated?
Britain currently makes up just under one per cent of the Earth's population and is responsible for 2 per cent of carbon emissions from all anthropogenic sources. The world's CO2 emissions would fall by two per cent over night!! Admittedly the World population increases each year by the same amount as the whole of Britain's population, so after two years the CO2 emissions would be back where they were. But is not this ultimate sacrifice not worth while? So let's go for 100 now.
DfT - "New £9m funding to help Councils manage highways assets".
The £9 million spending for which they are sending out a national news release is what the Government takes from drivers in 90 minutes. What would they do if they spent say a week's worth of road taxes - call in the world's press?
Danish Blue tolls
Politiken - "Cons. support for road pricing".
Global warming religion responsible for recession?
Tech Station - "Taking the American Dream Off Carbon Fuels".
Congestion tolls arrive in Miami on Friday morning with variable tolls to be charged on what were the HOV lanes. The tolls will be reviewed every 5 minutes and increase as the traffic in the untolled lanes slows to force poorer drivers into the congested lanes. The maximum toll will be $6.20 which will be charged when the traffic in the untolled lanes is not moving at all. Last year the Federal Government gave a grant of $63 million as part of the "Urban Partnership Programme" to persuade the local authorities to introduce the tolls onto part of the freeway - CBS - "I-95 Tolls Go Into Effect Friday" inc video.
Privatization - California Progress Report - "States Take Action to Stop Privatization Abuses and Reform Contracting Processes" .
Other stories - New Jersey - "Tolls go up on turnpike, parkway in N.J." South Carolina - "Toll road may get new deal" Texas - "What's in a(uthority) name? Tolls, really".
Tag deposits are money in the bank
Daily Telegraph - "Robbed blind by toll pirates".