From this month the Scotland News is back on its own page.
JANUARY 2006 NEWS
31 January 2006
Melbourne City council wants to oulaw cars, and encourage commuters to walk or cycle. There are various ways that they will do this including lowering speed limits and highering tolls in peak periods: The Age - "Plan to axe cars from city centre".
Northern Ireland told that it will have Tolls
Peter Hain, the UK Government's boss in Northern Ireland has told a meeting of the Fabian Society at Stormont what his plans are. They include ensuring that "Northern Ireland is fully signed up to the work being done in other parts of the UK on congestion charging and road pricing to help tackle congestion and reduce traffic pollution.".
The Times which is a champion of more and more tolls, reports - "Dependency on cars too great to avoid gridlock" on the latest Transport Statistics. There are really only two significant facts, which we keep on repeating:-
British people travel a lot more, but spend no more time travelling than they did 30 years ago.
The Government is killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. Roads are increasingly becoming inadequate, because though the Government collects £50 billion a year from roads users, it only spends one seventh of it on the roads.
30 January 2006
No Tolls for some New Yorkers?
No we don't just mean no tolls for politicians and officials. Attempts are being made again to remove some of the tolls. Why? - To eliminate bottlenecks that add to air pollution in nearby neighborhoods and congestion on local roads caused by motorists who detour to avoid paying them.". Journal News - "Westchester lawmakers want I-87, I-95 tolls removed". Do we think that they will be removed? - It was easier getting rid of Al Capone from Chigago!
Indiana - No sale?
There is growing opposition in Indiana to the Governor's sale of the Toll road to a consortium of MIG and Cintra. One tiny problem is that the state law does not allow such a sale and there is doubt that the State legislators will agree to it.
Yesterday's Leader in the Observer pointed out that the amount of traffic on British roads is increasing (really?), but the roads space isn't (well I never!). In fact they have just found out that they have 5,000 less kilometres of road than they thought that they had. The paper then goes on to criticise Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling for opposing toll increases on the Forth bridge. According to the Observer, the answer to the missing roads is - tolls: "A government on the road to nowhere".
Irish Give and Take
The Irish Government is proposing to buy out the tolls on the West Link bridge from National Toll Roads. The tolls will be removed to ease congestion. But it doesn't mean that there will be no tolls. The bridge links on to the M50 and they will introduce tolls on that road when it is completed: Irish Independent article repinted in FinFacts Ireland Who said that they wanted a united Ireland?
Not so Happy
On Friday we reported that Taiwan was suspending tolls for part of the Chinese New Year, things are different in "Communist" China, Hou Xin, a computer technician, is quoted in one paper: "The toll operators are the only robbers left on the roads."
29 January 2006
Confusion Just one of the many reports about confusion at toll plazas, and the risk of accidents: Eagle Tribune - "E-ZPass lane confusion continues - for some".
No Tolls for the few The New York Post reports that the Economic Development Corporation reimburses staff for tolls or gives them EZ passes.
No Tolls - Only Fines
We reported on 23rd December that Australian drivers were to be fined if they had in car devices but did not use the toll roads. The Courier Mail now reveals that 550,000 drivers in Queensland will be fined over the next 5 years: "Toll road fines to number 550,000". Quite right! Australia leads the world in toll raods, and it's patriotic to use them as much as you can!
27 January 2006
Happy Chinese New Year
We don't know what is happening in mainland China, but Taiwan News reports that drivers are to be given a bit of a toll holiday to "help relieve congestion". Tolls are being lifted between midnight and 3 p.m. today, from midnight till noon tomorrow and from midnight till 6 a.m. on the first, second, third, fifth, sixth and eighth days of the New Year. Wow! It might be simpler to scrap the tolls, and relieve congestion all year round..
Brave new 2015
They are at it again!
Foresight, a Government think tank, want us to live in cities similar to Stalinist Russia. We would all reside in massive blocks of flats, and travel by horse and cart. Oh - there would of course be road pricing - scheduled for 2015 - to keep the proles off the road :- Telegraph - "Back to the future in a horse and cart".
BBC features the same report from a different angle. Foresight apparently want us to drive vehicles with "greener" fuels, and, of course they want tolls:- "Car firms 'blocking green fuel'".
It is a contradiction to call for both road pricing and at the same time the use of "greener" fuels. Road tolls don't distinguish between a gas guzzler and a small economy car. If they want greener fuels to be used then the answer is differential fuel taxes. All road pricing will do is waste £10 billion a year on collecting it. Money that could be far better spent on 1,001 other things"
More Con Charge Spin
Ken's spin doctors have been busy again. It is reported that changes to give you more time to pay the Con charge will be brought in early:- BBC - "Charge zone scheme 'ready early'". You are told that you will have up till midnight the next day to pay without incurring a fine, though you will have to pay £10 ($18) instead of £8 ($14). What they don't say is that the extra £2 fee will apply from noon on the day that you enter the Toll zone, whereas now it only applies from 10 PM.
26 January 2006
Troll politicians "out of touch with the people"
Some New Zealand politicians seem to have been infected with the Australian Toll Disease. The Mayor of Auckland wants to introduce tolls to existing roads. There is opposition from the Automobile Association and others. The Resident's Association say that some politicians are "clearly out of touch with the people they were elected to represent.":- National Business Review - "Hubbard wants tolls on old roads to pay for new".
New Technology but No Tolls
In Car radio devices have been suggested as one way of having tolls on all roads. But it has been suggested in New Zealand, that they could be used to avoid tolls! All cars would be fitted with navigation systems that would advise them of the best route at that time. Scoop - "Low Cost Alternative to Road Tolls - TMC".
Ten Toll Facts
Elaine West of the "Residents Action Movement" has given the Politicians "Ten Toll Facts" listing why tolls should not be introduced on New Zealand roads:-
Scoop - "'Tolls: The Mayors are taking the wrong action'".
25 January 2006
Dunfermline and West Fife
A "No Tolls" candidate, Tom Minogue, is to contest the by-election. We will be covering this on the Scotland News page.
Trolls Forward plan
The Trolls largely get what they want in USA. They now want an Alistair Darling type toll on all roads: Transportation Research Board paper.
Toll reimbrsement "discriminatory"
Forbes report that the European Commission are blocking German plans to reimburse hauliers for motorway tolls. The tolls were introduced a year ago, under the name "Toll Collect", and are currently only charged to trucks. Germany wanted to reimburse truckers based on how much fuel they bought in Germany, but the EU says this would be discriminatory: "EU blocks reimbursement mechanism for German toll system" . What Germany proposed is similar to the scheme that British truckers wanted, but was dropped by the UK Government last year as the cost would have been more than the income.
Over recents days, weeks and months, there have been numerous reports on the Governor of Indiana's plan to sell the toll roads. On Monday our Australian friends, MIG, and Spanish firm Cintra offered nearly $US 4 billion (£2.2 billion) for the right to the Indiana tolls. Here is the latest report: Brisbane Courier Mail - "MIG's toll road bid 'astonishes'".
Here are a few of most recent reports on the reaction to likely increase in tolls:- layover.com - "OOIDA Opposes Indiana Toll Road, Calls Drivers to Action"
Munster Times - "Toll increases could be dramatic"
South Bend Tribune - "Toll road drivers express frustration".
22 January 2006
More Australian Toll Secrets revealed
Australia's M4 is due to have tolls removed in 2010. But today there are reports in various papers that the New South Wales Government secretly intend that there will be another toll on the road. Later reports say that the government deny this, but the Australian politicians have broken so many promises on tolls, who will believe them? Daily Telegraph - "Don't fall for their transport promise" Daily Telegraph - "RTA's secret M4 toll hike".
Austalian Congestion "Costs"
The Sydney Morning Herald commssioned a study on Congestion, and today reveals its conclusions. It says that the average Sydney driver is delayed 73 hours a year by congestion and that costs $Aus 12 billion ($US 9 billion or £5 billion). The answer is apparently more taxes and tolls - not to be spent on roads, but on public transport.
Sounds like a good excuse for more extortion from drivers. But if a driver is really delayed 73 hours a year by congestion, how much time are they saving by making their journey by car rather than an alternative? We suspect a hell of a lot more than 73 hours a year. And if they force all the Australian drivers out of their cars, where will the Government get their money from?
Texans Against Tolls
The Texan Trolls want to bury the state under toll roads, but as the San Antonio Express reports, not all Texans like being treated as suckers:- "Ample funds, plans make tolls unnecessary" "Anti-toll road group touts its campaign".
21 January 2006
"Rich man's charter"
Editorial in the Express & Star about introducing tolls onto West Midlands roads:- "Rich man's charter". We agree with this comment, but we believe that this may all be a game of charades played by politicians and officials. Areas like the West Midlands pretend that they will introduce tolls, and they are rewarded by Darling's Shilling.
20 January 2006
The two sides of Tolls
Parliament was today debating a Private Member's Bill presented by the Labour MP for Cleethorpes. The Bill would in effect exempt hospital patients from paying tolls on the Humber bridge:- Yorkshire Post. What this story does not reveal is that this MP actually voted in October 2003 for a Bill that would effectively increase tolls on Merseyside, for everyone including hospital patients.
18 January 2006
West Virginia Tolls
There has been an application for an Injunction to roll back toll increases on the Turnpike. The plaintiffs are concerned that even if they win, the Turnpike Authority will claim immunity from paying any damages:- Charleston Gazette - "Plaintiffs in toll suit argue for injunction".
Republicans in West Virginia are so unhappy with increases in tolls, that they have drafted legislation to abolish the West Virginia Parkways, Economic Development and Tourism Authority, which controls the Turnpike, and hand it over to the Highways department. It is claimed that the Turnpike costs 10 times as much to maintain as similar toll free highways maintained by the Highways department. Republicans say taking over the Turnpike would save money and would "eventually lead to a time when tolls on the West Virginia Turnpike will be a thing of the past".
Following reports that the Government intend to toll the Pacific highway, there are now reports that motorists are happy for the road to be tolled, providing that only truckers pay. Truckers for some odd reason are not happy with this. - Supply Chain Review.
Italian truckers want more Toll regulation
FITA-CNA a union of Italian truckers is complaining that the Italian trolls are not giving adequate service for the tolls that they pay of 1.4 billion euros (1.7 billion dollars or one billion pounds). They want more regulation:- AGI.
Irish truckers are not daft - More details
We reported on 4th January, a Transport News Network report on a test carried out in Ireland which found that the toll free route not only saved tolls, but consumed less fuel and was quicker. There is now a more detailed report in the Western People:- "No savings for trucks on new Enfield bypass".
17 January 2006
The Birmingham Mail reports on a survey of 500 businesses in the West Midlands area. They are worried about possible European laws and in particular that tolls on motorways may be introduced (what about the M6 Toll?). They say this is only acceptable if either fuel tax and vehicle tax are cut, or if the tolls are only charged to foreign drivers - Fat chance!
Irish business wants more "No Tolls"
RTE reports that the Irish bosses group IBEC has called for tolls to be lifted on the Dublin Port tunnel at weekends and bank holidays (it is already free at night). It also wants concessions for taxis, port staff and ferry users. Who will be left to pay?
USA - Public Private "Partnerships"
Article by Jacob Falk on what is happening in US:- "Toll Road Update".
Yet More Ez Fun
Oklahoma is paying out following a class action which started in 2002. Most of the $6 million of overcharged tolls has already been paid out. The 380 biggest customers will now share a $800,000 balance. The overpayments are because the equipment fails to register when a vehicle joins the toll system, and so charges the maximum amount. Reading failures are due to equipment failure, bad weather, low batteries and improper mounting of transponders:- News OK / The Olkohoman.
Truckers meet Trolls
Following yesterday's tolls protest by Irish truckers at the Kinnegad/Kilcock bypass, it is reported by Transport News Network that the truckers are to meet with the toll road operators. Difficult to see what will come out of that.
Tolls not Brutal enough?
Chris Huhne, one of the candidates for Lib Dem leadership has been revealing a bit of his thoughts in head to head with other candidates on TV last night. He said "We've had a policy of using road pricing and charging. We have to be more brutal and more direct".
16 January 2006
Tolls go to Court
Forbes.com reports that La Repubblica claims that Autostade SpA is about to be taken to court by Italian consumer groups who are challenging this month's toll increases.
Truckers all round the world avoid tolls when they can.
Irish truckers (reported as numbering between 50 and 100) today blockaded the Kinnegad/Kilcock bypass as a protest against high tolls. The protest was from 7am to 9am, with truckers stopping at the toll booths and refusing to pay. But disruption was not as bad as predicted as the truckers decided not to block all the lanes.
Today there are also reports of the harmful effect on US 19 and other roads caused by truckers avoiding the West Virginia Turnpike, following toll increases.
No Con Charge for Dublin Yesterday's Sunday Times reported that Dublin has rejected idea of copying London "Dublin escapes congestion tolls".
Roads trial to come to Britain?
We reported on the 11th (Country roads trial) on preparations for a trial of road pricing in Oregon. Today there is another report in the FT "Traffic trial 5,000 miles away that could affect British motorists". We asked on the 11th "How daft can people get?" It seems that the Government may be about to show us.
Tolls for Texas
There is a comprehensive report in the Forth Worth Star-Telegram on tolling plans:- "More turning to private tollways". Texans pay $4.4 billion a year in gas taxes. If this was just spent on the roads, why would they need tolls?
A Miami man clocked up $1,915 of tolls in just two months. Only trouble was that the transponder and the account being charged were not his:- Sun-Sentinel - "Miami man charged in $1,915 SunPass theft case"
Louisiana has just tried a major criminal, who was accused of evading $12 in tolls. The man was arrested 3 years ago, but will not be sentenced till next month:- Times Picayune - "Ex-agent guilty in Causeway toll scam"
13 January 2006
No tolls for Sofia
Some of the outer districts in Bulgaria's capital city, faced a situation similar to that which was proposed in Edinburgh, i.e. they had been told they would have to pay tolls to enter the city. The plan has now been dropped:- Sofia News Agency - "Outside-Sofia Neighbourhoods Free of Road Tolls"
We have another American recognising the folly of tolls. John Smith writing into the Palladium-Item of Indiana says:- "The existing fuel tax is a user fee paid per gallon as our cars travel miles per gallon. By accident the gas tax has incentive for us to use less fuel. Higher efficiency, preserving fuel, global warming and air quality are all known to be good. Tolls will only do this if we suffer economically.":- "Ask not for whom the roads toll, they toll for thee"
12 January 2006
No Tolls for Trolls
The Golden Gate Bridge district is looking for savings. But one item is safe from cuts - the toll exemption for 1,300 current and ex employees:- Marin Independent Journal - "Toll freebies escape bridge district ax"
Low Emission Zone
Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, is going to get tough with some of the vehicles that cause air pollution. Unlike the small area covered by the Con charge, the "Low Emisssion Zone" would cover all of London:- Sutton Guardian - "Ken tells drivers: Pollute our air and pay the price". Ken is apparently targetting "lorries, coaches and other heavy goods vehicles" but ignoring buses and taxis. We wonder if it will be as ineffective as improving Air quality as the Con Charge scheme has.
More EZ fun
The Boston Globe gives advice as to what to do, if you have a transponder, but get in a cash only lane at the toll booth. The advice includes getting a receipt at the booth, and then phoning in as you may still have been charged through the transponder or may have paid too much as they won't know where you got on the road! "At the wrong tollbooth? Don't back up"
It pays to advertise
The Charleston Gazette reports that before they announced a 60 percent increase in tolls, the West Virginia Turnpike Trolls hired an advertising firm. "Turnpike spends on promotion". Can't see why they need to advertise, most Americans donate quite freely.
Anger over Tolls for Pacific highway
There are more reports of anger at the Government proposal to toll the Pacific highway - Northern Star - "Anger grows over Tolls". Perhaps they need to increase their promotions budget?
11 January 2006
Cardiff Con charge
Today's Western Mail had a professor arguing in favour of a Congestion Charge for Cardiff which he says would raise "up to £70m annually". He mentions the Edinburgh scheme which was defeated in a referendum in February. He says that this "failed largely because political support was not coming from the city's regional hinterland".
The Professor is correct that the toll was vehemently opposed by the districts outside Edinburgh. But the decisive vote was just Edinburgh residents, they defeated the toll by a three to one vote. It was not just "selfish" drivers who rejected this daft idea, as 42% of the city's households did not have a car. £70 million is a lot of money, but it is still coming out of somebody's pocket. The London scheme, charges £8 a day, and costs about £4 to £5 a day per vehicle to run. We wonder how much the professor and others plan to charge in order to get £70 million profit?
No Tolls Logic
Paul Westbrook of Fairview has written to the Dallas Morning Star saying:- "Republicans in Austin have diverted $360 million of our gas taxes, which were intended to fund road projects, to other budget items. This forces us to pay tolls (i.e. additional taxes) to build roads that should be covered by the taxes we already pay. Can't wait to see their plan for education - cut property taxes, affix a toll tag to your kid and pay a toll every time he or she enters the classroom.
Someone please send some clothes for the Emperor down to Austin. Better yet, send some new representatives altogether. Are there any practical, logical, ethical people out there willing to run?"
Perhaps at least one politician agrees. A Virginia Senator has deposited legislation to remove the toll from the Coleman Bridge over the York river on Route 17.Daily Press - "Bill would end Coleman Bridge toll"
Country roads trial
Robert Wright in the FT reports on preparations for a trial of road pricing in Oregon. There is said to be resistance to increasing gas tax, and the scheme is designed to replace it. The scheme will cover 280 cars, and the drivers will pay the tax at petrol stations. When they fill up, instead of being charged gas tax, they will pay an amount related to the number of miles they have driven. Most roads use will be charged at the same flat rate per mile, though there will be some slight reductions for driving off-peak or on lightly used roads:- "Oregon drives ahead with road-pricing pilot scheme"
Question is how daft can people get?
Will anyone spot that this will make little difference to what they pay at the pump?
Will anyone realise that this will cost a lot of money to run, and that as it relies on in car devices and satellite technology it will be prone to error and abuse?
And will the greenies notice that it will encourage people to switch to gas guzzlers?
Various USA papers have published an article by Mark Rice-Oxley from The Christian Science Monitor:- "In March, Britain will enhance its reputation as the surveillance capital of the West with a global first: recording the movements of all cars on the road and storing the data for at least two years.""Britain plans total electronic surveillance of roads"
Ha Noi Bike Congestion
Various papers report on congestion problems in Vietnams capital. They are looking at the possibility of a congestion charge. Though over 90 per cent of the traffic on the roads is motor bikes and cycles:- Vietnam Bridge - "Hanoi offers plan to solve city's traffic mess"
Freedom of the Road - But only for the Rich
Alistair Darling's plans for tolls on all roads are mainly supported by greenies and the right wing. But it looks as if some Americans would support him. On LewRockwell.com it is suggested that the rich should be able to buy more road space and force poorer drivers off the road:- "Traffic Socialism"
10 January 2006
New M6 Toll
The BBC reports on the first of two Highways Agency seminars on a possible new toll road from the existing M6 Toll at Cannock towards the North West. Though almost everyone is opposed, it seems that the Government are determined:- "M6 plans anger rural campaigners"
The Number Plate Game
This is London reports that London police are concerned about theft of number plates in order to beat the Con charge. Apparently other people are just reporting theft so that they have an alibi:- "Risking jail for free ride"
Trustees cut discount on bridge crossings
The BBC reports that there is to be an Inquiry into the proposed 67 percent increase in the tolls to cross the Clifton Supension bridge. The Trusteees are angry and are cutting discounts on bulk tickets:- "Red tape raises bridge card price". This was our submission against the toll increase (pdf file)
The Con Game
The Birmingham Post has a story about road pricing in the West Midlands, which is supported by the "West Midlands Business Transport Group". This seems to be one of those groups that speaks for itself. Most businesses are opposed to road pricing - including one of the main federations - the Forum for Private Business. A spokesman for the seven West Midlands authorities who have taken "Darling's Shilling" says that "The FPB should be aware that we ruled out adopting a London-style charge six months ago." This is odd because they got Darling's Shilling by volunteering to be a pilot for road pricing - "Critical time for road neglect"
The Times newspaper is a strong supporter of road pricing. This morning's editorial praises Ken Livingstone and ends "Mr Livingstone has a reputation for tackling taboos: he pioneered the London congestion charge, a model that is now being copied by numerous other countries and is attracting interest from other British cities." The Times must be living on a different planet. There are not numerous other countries copying the London Con charge. The only place where the people have had a say (Edinburgh) rejected it. There are seven British cities who have said that they will look at road pricing and are being rewarded with Darling's Shilling and the promise of billions to come. But all the evidence so far is that this is just a game. The cities will not bring in any form of road pricing, and the Government knows it.
9 January 2006
One Way Tolls, Good - No Tolls, Better
Some of the Garden State Parkway tolls in New Jersey have been made one way to help ease congestion at the toll booths. This has been welcomed by drivers. But they reckon there should be no tolls. This would reduce delays both ways, and make it more appealing for tourists:- - Atlantic City Press - "Drivers adjust to double-or-nothing at area toll plazas".
Welsh Border Tax to Hit Five Pounds
John Warman, of the Campaign Against the Severn Tolls (part of NAAT) warns that tolls to cross the Severn bridge into Wales will reach five pounds (nine dollars) by next year - Western Mail - "£5 Severn bridges toll 'will cause outcry'".
"A Bad idea"
Americans are having tolls stuffed down their throats. But they are not all taking it quietly. Some politicians want to put tolls on Interstates 85 and 95, but the editor of the Winston-Salem Journal in North Carolina says: Toll roads are a bad idea. They unfairly double-tax the users of some roads but not others. They create congestion on highways when traffic heads into toll booths. They are an expensive method of collecting taxes when a far more efficient system already exists in the motor-fuels tax. - "Taking a Toll".
Truckers want No Tolls for Pacific highway
The Australian Government recently proposed putting a toll on the Pacific Highway to speed its completion. Acting Prime Minister Mark Vaile claims that the road transport industry "would be prepared to pay a toll". Perhaps they are that weak, but the Transport Workers' Union are opposing it as they realise that it would mean paying to use the road twice:- The Age - "Union rejects highway toll charges". It is a commonly used "Troll Trick" to say that you can only have this nice new shiny road now if you pay tolls. The land, materials and workers come from the same place whether it is tolled or not. And if it is tolled then the cost is borrowed from the banks. Why can't the Government do the same? This means cheaper borrowing, and none of the cost or hassle of tolls.
The Road ahead in the Telegraph
Saturday's paper had two features on restraining car use and road charging:-
Story by Hamish Scot on Edinburgh's experiment at forcing drivers off the roads - "How drivers reclaimed the streets" including "How Edinburgh rejected congestion charging"
Story by Austin Williams on the seven pilot schemes for road pricing - "Coming soon to a city near you"
8 January 2006
Court Victory against Con Charge Bailiffs
The London Motorists Action Group have won a court case against the bailiffs who pursued someone who forgot to pay the charge (see 23rd December). Actor Tom Conti from LMAG said "It seems like Stalinism when you have no voice and no way to appeal against these companies - the system seems totally corrupt":- Telegraph - "Acting in the interest of justice".
7 January 2006
Ex Troll wants to scrap tolls
We couldn't quite believe this, but an ex director of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority is going to campaign for Governor. If elected he will sell all service plazas on the turnpike to the highest bidder and "remove all tolls west of Route 128" The Republican -"Mihos enters governor race". This is a deviation from what politicians who are already in power are doing in the US - bringing in more tolls on more roads.
Trolls taken to court
The West Virginia Turnpike Authority is being sued by businesses as their latest toll increase is "arbitrary, capricious and harmful and will adversely affect the prosperity and commerce of the people in the State of West Virginia." Charleston Gazette -"Firms sue over rise of Turnpike toll".
Irish Roads Toll
Councillor Noel Collins from County Cork complains about safety issues on Ireland's roads, but mainly about the tolls "stealth tax" forcing vehicles on to less suitable roads:- Irish Examiner -"Tolls increase danger on secondary roads".
Tolls for suckers only?
Jack Fink on CBS reports on a BMW who's driver owes $900 in unpaid tolls over the last year. The car was sold a year ago, but the new owner, a political assistant for the Mayor has not had the registration transferred, so the old owner is notified of the unpaid tolls. Could this be a clue that it is only the suckers who have to pay road tolls?
The News Journal reports that a woman in Maryland has been arrested after clocking up over $16,684 in unpaid tolls and fines. She managed to do this in less than a year. The kind hearted authorities released her after she paid $8,709.
6 January 2006
Latest M6 Toll Traffic figures
MIG, the Australian company that owns the M6 Toll, has published its figures for December 2005. There has been a further fall in traffic. Seasonal factor will be the main reason, but it is also down 7% on December 2004. Traffic chart
The company is still making a lot of money because of increases in the price of tolls. During 2005, its gross revenue from the M6 Toll would be about £46 million ($80 million). The company's world wide results were reported in the Age "MIG lifts tolls to keep cash rolling in"
London Bridge delayed - 2
Following the report (see 4th of the month) about the delay to the Inquiry into building another London bridge, here is a later report:- icthewharf - "BRIDGE OF SIGHS AND COMPLAINTS".
Still No Tolls for Bikers
There was apparently a rumour that the London Con Charge was to be extended to include motorbikes. The bikers have been assured that this is not the case. Bikers Press Release. Well done to the bikers, though we wonder if Ken and his pals realise that a motorbike causes more air pollution than a car.
FTA gives views to Rod
The Freight Transport Association has told Rod Eddington (ex British Airways boss who is reviewing Transport at the request of the Government) that congestion will be an increasing problem. Transport News Network. The FTA don't appear to have made the obvious point that we need better roads. We wonder if Mr Eddington will realise this?
The Real Problem
On the 17th October last year we reported on a story from Bangladesh that the "Real Problem" of the world is population growth. Today on the BBC "Population size 'green priority'" the head of the British Anatarctic Survey says the same.
The world population is increasing (births less deaths) by 100,000 every day. US Census Bureau data for all countries from 1950. When the first UK motorway (Preston bypass, now part of the M6) was opened at the end of 1958, the UK population was 51.8 million. It is now 60.4 million, and is growing at over 100 thousand a year.
Can anyone explain, why politicians have been misled by greens and others, and are obsessed with global warming, rather than the root cause of problems caused by increasing demand for land and other resources?
Irish Toll blockade
The Irish papers report that truckers are to blockade the Kinnegad/Kilcock bypass on Monday the 9th, in protest against high tolls. Car drivers are invited to join in:- Irish Examiner.
5 January 2006
No Tolls - The Stockholm Way
The Local has another report on the new Con charge. Drivers have already figured out one extreme way of avoiding the charge. It also seems that the system couldn't cope with the heaviest traffic period. "Owners "must pay tolls for stolen cars"".
Texas Toll Debate
Lisa Sorg in San Antonio Current gives a long comprehensive report on the row over the Texas Tollocrat plans for a mammoth toll road system. Plans are opposed by those who don't like tolls and those who don't want to be buried under a sea of roads. The Tollocrats say that most people supported tolls in a biased survey that they paid for:-
"Road rage". Texas Toll Party.
4 January 2006
Doug Doucet in Concord Monitor of New Hampshire says "This highway tax was supposed to be temporary. That just goes to show you when you let the government borrow your money or liberties, it doesn't plan on ever giving them back."
Protection for Toll booths!
The BBC has a report about crash barriers planned for toll booths on Dartford crossing. The report includes our views on this:- "Safety plans at Dartford crossing".
The World Bank is usually all in favour of tolls being forced on developing countries. We were therefore surprised to see in a report from Asia Times, on the economic advantages of a good road system, that the bank's China office was saying:- "Tolls discourage less well-off drivers, including truckers, from using the highways, sending them in some cases to more dangerous roads":- "Take me home, Chinese roads".
Irish truckers are not daft
Transport News Network reports on tests carried out by Fleet Management magazine and the Freightshift Nationwide distribution company. They calculated time and cost (fuel and tolls) using the "National" (toll free roads), and the tolled motorways. They found that the toll free route not only saved tolls, but consumed less fuel and was quicker:- "Truckers Pay the Price by Using New Motorways". Sounds too good to be true. It may of course be that the motorways are the most suitable roads for the trucks. We wonder if the Irish government will remove the motorway tolls to entice the truckers? No, that is definitely too good to be true!
Stockholm Con charge - Day One result
Traffic entering the city during the morning peak was down about 15%. Later reports say that traffic entering the city over the whole day was down about 25%. The Local -"Traffic "down 25 percent" on charging debut".
It is too early to come to any conclusions. Stockholm like London chose a quiet day to introduce the charge. The news media very quickly lose interest as to what happens later. The Stockholm charge is structured very differently from the London charge, and of course Stockholm is not London. But most likely real results will be:- 1. less traffic (particularly outside peak periods) though the reduction will be a lot less than 25%, 2. substantial costs in setting up and running the scheme, 3. aggravation for drivers.
London Bridge delayed
There has been a delay to the Inquiry into building another London bridge near Greenwich. The reason is bizarre - forecast traffic has increased, so those who don't want the bridge have asked for more time to look at the figures. Even more bizarrely the anti bridge campaigners are funded by Transport for London who want the bridge. More predictably, there are complaints that some of the people who thought that they would pay lower tolls because they are "locals" will now have to pay the full toll:- icsouthlondon - "Extra time for Gateway bridge inquiry".
3 January 2006
Two Right American Views
America's far right love Tolls, today the American Enterprise Institute published some New Year resolutions including "This year I will admit that there are some good taxes. Everyone hates taxes, but the government needs to fund its operations, and some taxes can actually do some good in the process. I will tell the American people that a higher tax on gasoline is better at encouraging conservation than are heavy-handed CAFE regulations. It would not only encourage people to buy more fuel-efficient cars, but it would encourage them to drive less, such as by living closer to where they work. I will tell people that tolls are a good way to reduce traffic congestion -- and with new technologies they are getting easier to collect. I will advocate a carbon tax as the best way to control global warming. Because we may well need to raise more revenue, I'll always be on the lookout for these good taxes."
So we have - higher gas taxes, tolls, and a "carbon" tax. We wonder why all these "good taxes" are anti car? Or is it just anti poorer people using cars?
Terry Parker, a reader of the Portland Tribune has an opposite view. He thinks that the problem is that existing gas taxes are not spent on the roads, but "siphoned off to pay for bike infrastructure, sidewalks and mass-transit subsidies, and to help build both commercial and residential developments categorized as transit friendly":- "Funnel gas taxes to right ends".
Swedish Con starts today
Stockholm's London style Congestion Charge starts today, here is another report with the usual myths about the "success" of the London scheme:- Reuters -"Stockholm residents choke on new congestion charge".
There is a later report in the Local:- ""Quiet start" for Stockholm congestion charge".
Welsh View of American Trial
We reported on 27th December "American Trial", the early results of the Tolls trial in Seattle. Today there is a report in Western Mail from Rhodri Clark:- "'Road tolls will increase driving'". Kirsty Williams, Liberal Democrat transport spokesperson at the National Assembly for Wales, wants tolls on all roads and says "We are in favour of a road-charging system that would be revenue neutral.". She and most other politicians from all parties are living in a fantasy world. The cost of collecting tolls on all roads will average about £10 billion a year. Even if the Westminster Government got no extra net revenue, that would cost roads users the equivalent of an extra 20 pence a litre on fuel. Kirsty complains about the time it takes her to get from her home to Cardiff, what a pity that her solution is to in effect force poorer drivers off the road.
PS Transport News Network report
1 January 2006
The start of a new calendar year is the time for many toll increases in USA. Though on Tuesday, the tolled Causeway bridge at Boca Ciega Bay in Florida closes. Most of Florida is sinking under the weight of toll roads, but the new bridge is toll free. Treasure Island's Mayor - Mary Maloof - tells the St Petersburg Times - "We are off to a whole different lifestyle now. There's not going to be a toll and once people realize they can just stream right out here I think it will increase our business opportunities."
Most Americans have been suckered into believing that tolls are as inevitable as death and taxes. Maybe one day they will realise that the cost of building roads is better paid off with taxes than tolls. Here is a view from Al Lewis in Colorado's Denver Post. It seems that even the well off don't like toll roads:- "Roads take their toll on wallets".
The Editor of the Virginian Pilot has similar views:- "Do the math: Gas tax is cheaper". Tolls roads are not more expensive just because of the cost of collecting the tolls. Tolls encourage waste and worse. They are also more expensive to finance than municipal or state borrowings because of the risks.
Irish Eyes are laughing
Niamh Connolly in Ireland's Sunday Post reports that the government is asking the operator of the West-Link toll plaza to stop tolls at certain times of the day to "ease traffic congestion on the M50" when the Dublin Port Tunnel opens later this year.
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