JULY 2007 NEWS
Thursday 26 July 2007
The big event in the British Troll world is still the decision due tomorrow on whether Manchester agrees in exchange for cash to be a guinea pig for road pricing. You can see all about it on the - Manchester page.
West Midlands Toll
One of the other possible contenders in the Ugly Sisters race is the West Midlands (Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall, and Wolverhampton). Today there was this story in a Coventry paper about their TIF bid - "Drivers given reprieve for now". There is so much spin and so much fog, that it is difficult to know whether a bid is going in now, later or never.
Wednesday 25 July 2007
Cambridge Toll - Good news, for some
Rival towns may benefit if tolls are imposed on Cambridge - Cambridge Evening News - "Backlash will bring boost to city rivals".
London Toll - also, Good news for some
Capita is to declare a special dividend - In the news - "Congestion charge firm sees profits up".
PS London's transport boss who helped Ken sell the con charge and has recently been acting as a consultant has finally left - Evening Standard - "Pack up your troubles ... Kiley leaves London".
USA round up 25th July
Swimming against the tide - Joplin Globe - "In our view: Missouri won’t buy toll roads".
In a surprise development, there is a move to block the tolling by Pennsylvania of Interstate 80 - Pennlive - "U.S. House votes against tolls on I-80".
PS The Trolls say that they are confident of reversing the vote so that the I80 will be tolled - Pennlive - "Lawmakers: I-80 will be tolled".
New York Toll - Oneida Dispatch - "Senate enters Spitzer-Bruno fray" Staten Island Advance - "Congestion-pricing vote Thursday - Legislature to decide on preliminary measure to clear way for mayor's controversial proposal".
Other stories - New Jersey / New York - "Survey asks motorists on tunnel tolls, would you pay $30" New Jersey - "Poll finds public wary of Corzine's plan for state assets" Texas - "Metro proposal would let motorists pay to share lanes with buses, carpools" North Carolina - "Tolls suggested for U.S. 17 bypass" Florida - "Stop or go? Dade tunnel share is due".
Tuesday 24 July 2007
Cambridge Toll Gangs
The residents of Cambridge versus the politicians - Cambridge Evening News - "Residents form toll plan battle groups".
USA round up 24th July
New York Toll - City Limits - "CLEARING THE AIR:AFTER CONGESTION PRICING" NY1 - "Lawmakers To Hold Special Session To Form Congestion Pricing Panel" Gotham Gazette - "Traffic Jam? It’s not over until it’s over" Brooklyn Daily Eagle / AP - "State Agrees To Approve City’s Traffic, Transit Plan" - (according to this last story tolls are inevitable as the trolls have been given most of the seats on the committee looking at the idea).
Newsnet - "States Consider Truck-Only Highway Lanes".
Other stories - New Jersey - "Corzine plan: Road to ruin" Virginia - "Hearings scheduled for Virginia toll-lane project".
Monday 23 July 2007
Chinese Cash Cows
China has on and off been talking about introducing gas taxes and scrapping road tolls. The chances of the trolls ever letting that happen are low. But someone is actually trying to get the toll taken off one road - China Daily - "Freeway: authority's cash cow or public utility?".
USA round up 23rd July
The Ugliest sister prize contest - New York Post - "TROLLING FOR TOLL MONEY".
An unusual admission - "Highway expansion can't match population growth". Even when they admit that population growth may be a problem, why is it only the roads affected?
Two tricks for trolls. The first is just to keep on putting tolls up - once people are paying x, it's easy to get them to pay double x. The other trick is to make sure that you have a bad road system, that way people will accept that tolls are the "only answer" - My SA - "Toll road proponents: Motorists can - and should - pay more".
Newsday prints what the "Troll" Foundation has to say about proposed New York toll - "Swedish take on congestion pricing".
More trolling by Newsday - "NYC traffic plan first had to crack Albany's gridlock".
Other stories- Texas - "NTTA on road to more tolls" Utah - "To build new roads, fuels tax must be hiked" Pennsylvania - "Fixing roads on our dimes" Pennsylvania - "Tolls are taxes" New Hampshire - "DOT Warns Drivers To Install E-ZPass Transponders" New Jersey - "Corzine's toll road plan a hard sell" "Maryland eyes toll violators".
Cambridge Toll - Transport Secretary quizzed
The Cambridge Evening News asks Ruth Kelly some questions - "Kelly faces revolt over congestion charge". The Transport Secretary suggests that there is a shortage of money available for improving public transport and the roads system.
The solution offered by her and other politicians seems to be to milk drivers - motorists and businesses - of more money to pay for
public transport. Drivers already pay £30 billion a year in taxes on fuel and another £20 billion on things like vehicle excise duty, VAT on new cars and company car tax. In return the spending on maintaining. lighting and improving roads is only £7 billion a year.
Even if drivers were to be forced to pay more money, so called "congestion charging" is the most wasteful tax that is available. The Transport for London published accounts for the years 2002/2006 show that the income collected was £677 million and the cost of collecting it was £488 million (72 percent of the income). The charge is little more than highway robbery. Is the Transport Secretary not aware of any of this? Or does she not care?
Noah ahead of his time
Britain has been having unusually heavy rainfall and flooding in some river areas. You might think that these things happen, and the effects are magnified due to increased population. But no, apparently this is due to global warming caused by CO2 - Independent - "England under water: scientists confirm global warming link to increased rain". The Lib Dems say that the floods are the Prime Minister's fault because he has not "woken up to the reality of global warming". Strange as the Prime Minister is also quoted today as blaming the rain on global warming.
More on - Shrewsbury turns away from "wrong" road
Shropshire Star report "Congestion charge plan axed" and in Transport Briefing "Road pricing vote puts Shrewsbury TIF bid in doubt".
On Friday the councillors in Shropshire rejected the proposal that Council "Recognises the challenges associated with the timetable for
submission of the progress report to the DfT and confirms its support subject to further consideration following the evaluation of the consultation". Instead they agreed -
A. Notes the content of the progress report and agrees to it being submitted to DfT.
The Council currently is not in support of tolls on the North West Relief Road or the imposition of road pricing. However they
recognise the future problems faced by the town of Shrewsbury and therefore will be listening to the people of Shropshire.
B. Agrees the draft letter to the DfT, attached at Appendix B.
C. Approves a virement of £477,000 from the integrated transport block and £450,000 from the structural maintenance of bridges block
making a total of £927,000 into the major schemes block of the LTP 2007/08 and to make the necessary adjustments to the Capital Programme and subject
to current work being completed there should be no expenditure relating to TIF beyond the public consultation exercise and a further decision by council.
D. Agrees the draft consultation plan and proposed evaluation process as detailed at pages 8 and 9 and commits to ensuring that the
results of the evaluation of the consultation are fully taken into consideration so that there should be no TIF submission without the overall
support of residents and stakeholders.
E. There should be an immediate review of alternative means of reducing congestion and encouraging transfer to more sustainable
forms of transport. This analysis to be published alongside any proposed TIF business case."
What, no toll?
Le Soleil - "No pay toll for Autoroute 30".
Saturday 21 July 2007
USA round up 21st July
Men out west used to be tough, but judging by the picture with this story that is no longer so. Drivers queue up in a deliberately congested lane and are blind to the waste of a nearly empty toll lane - Rocky Mountain News - "More taking fast lane".
Though it seems that there is one man in Pennsylvania ready to defy toll laws and he's a State rep - Pocono Record - "Impact of Interstate 80 tolls on Monroe still unkown".
More on New York Toll - Staten Island Advance - "Hot potato tossed at City Council" NY1 - "City Hall prepped for congest pricing long before deal".
Other stories - Texas - "A desire to keep the rates low could torpedo toll road goals" Washington State - "Toll fines will start early Sunday" Florida - "I-75 widening may shift north".
Shrewsbury turns away from "wrong" road
It was only on the 5th July that it was reported that not only were the Shrewsbury, Salop TIF proposals for "congestion charges" still alive, but that it was now proposed that a by pass that may be built to the north west of the city would also be tolled. Shropshire County Council met yesterday to consider this plan - and unanimously rejected it - BBC- "Toll proposal no longer supported". Tolling the relief road and introducing some form of road charging into Shrewsbury would have resulted in an empty road and
empty businesses. We applaud the councillors for not going down the "wrong" road.
The Shropshire Star says that Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawczynski said he was - "delighted that Shropshire County Council had finally listened to the people."
Salop - Main part of the report that councillors considered yesterday Executive Summary Appendix Contents Cover & Foreword.
Friday 20 July 2007
USA round up 20th July
New York Toll, agreed or not? The Mayor's spin machine says that it is, but for the moment all that has really happened is that the State have agreed to appoint a commission to look at congestion and the tolls plan. Let us hope that they look at the true facts and "discover" that traffic speeds in the London toll zone are the same now as before the congestion charge was introduced. NY1 - "Congestion Pricing Gets Green Light To Proceed" (inc poll) Newsday - "Bloomberg's congestion pricing plan revived" Albany Times - "Give, take in big deal" Staten Island Advance / AP - "Bloomberg's car toll plan inches further, still long way off" NY Daily News - "They bust gridlock ..." NY Daily News - "Green light, Mike! - Mayor can start congestion plan, but a state panel gets final say on toll" NY Post - "ALBANY'S DEFINITE 'MAYBE'" Journal News - "'Lazarus' can breath" Journal News - "Plan for tolls on drivers going through Manhattan wins reprieve" Queen's Chronicle - "Congestion Pricing’s Future Unclear After No State Vote" NY Sun - "For Bloomberg, Small Victory Breeds Work" am NY- "Congestion agreement reached" Reuters - "New York City traffic-fighting plan wins state OK" NY1 Poll ABC /AP - "NYC Traffic Fee Revived in Albany - Commission Will Give NYC Congestion Pricing Plan a Second Look" Streets Blog - "Some sort of congestion pricing deal is done" myFoxNY / AP - "NY State Will Approve Congestion Pricing Plan".
Today it is the turn of the Wall Street Journal to repeat the usual London Toll myths, though at least it does give some of the views of those who don't like the charge - "Life in the Faster Lane".
PS New York Press - "It'll Never Work".
There was a version of this story yesterday, but we could not resist the headline in one paper - "TxDOT Audit Recommends Replacing Fuel Tax With Fee Per Miles Traveled". No doubt all the "green" supporters of tolls will welcome this way of ensuring that fuel stocks run out sooner rather than later.
Other stories - Texas - "Perry says toll roads still a good option for Texas" Maryland - "Putting tolls on the interstates" New Hampshire - "Highway chief calls for project cuts" Florida - "Commuter crunch looms on paper" Louisiana - "Loop’s 'doughnut' set" Louisiana - "Loop’s 'doughnut' set".
Gimme a dime
It is widely assumed that the Americans are selling off roads to generate cash to be spent now, and who cares about the tolls to be paid in the future. But in a strange twist it is reported that the US Government is lending money to a toll operator - The Age - "Transurban granted US loan for bus road".
Cambridge Toll - Petitions & new website
Cambridge Evening News - "Petitions launched online".
A second Tyne toll?
The Journal - "No road-pricing link to bypass upgrade".
"DVLA urged to consider number plate recognition"
Thursday 19 July 2007
USA round up 19th July
The New York Toll may have beaten the count - myFoxNY - "Deal Near For Congestion Fee - Agreement 'Extraordinarly Close'" Newsday - "Dysfunction or detente - Albany winds could blow either way" NY Daily News - "Congest fight U-turn" NY Daily News - "E-Opinion: The best of the political blogs" NY Daily News - "Of men and mice" NY Post - "CONGE$T PLAN WHEEZES TOWARD DEAL" Staten Island Advance / AP - "Spitzer continues talks on congestion pricing" Politics on the Hudson - "So close…but no deal" WNYC - "Silver Things Congestion Pricing Won't Pass" Philadelphia Inquirer - "N.Y. mayor hits state on traffic plan".
This one is good for a laugh, the Federal DOT have told one reporter that more tolls and road sales are needed because of "the fact that people are driving less" and thus there is a fall in gas tax receipts - Clarke Times Courier - "The next transportation crisis".
Other stories -
Texas - "Toll road traffic exceeding projections" Georgia - "DOT to unveil first 'public-private' toll road project" Texas - "Audit urges more tolls for Texas drivers" Washington State - "New plan calls for four lanes on old span" Texas - "A heavier toll on drivers?" Pennsylvania - "Get input on tolls on I-80" Pennsylvania - "More Tolls for PA Roads" Pennsylvania - "Governor Signs Measure To Make Investment In Local Transportation" New Jersey - "WAS GOLDMAN SACHS THE FIRM THAT WANTED TO TRIPLE OUR TOLLS?" Virginia - "HOT Lane Tolls".
The Association of British Drivers have launched a campaign against more road tolls in London. Roger Lawson from the ABD says - ""Ken Livingstone obviously wants to extend the congestion zone over the whole of London. Greenwich is the next step so we want to stop it now." - ic South London - "Group in talks over feared C-charge expansion".
Brave New London
Spiked - "Boris, Ken and the
cult of personality".
Cambridge Toll generates interest
Hold the Front Page - "Readers up in arms after congestion charge scoop" Cambridge Evening News - "School staff will be driven away" CEN - "Another stealth tax, say angry readers" CEN - "74% say no to road toll" CEN - Map of charge zone.
Not enough congestion?
Norwich is one of the ten or so potential pilots for road pricing, but a recent survey by an insurance company says that Norwich is the third least congested city out of 64 in Britain - Norwich Evening News - "City named as one of least congested".
PSVirgin Money Press Release and list of the 64 cities. Note that the table does not assess congestion, but how car friendly the city is.
A sad case
The Toronto Star says - "Time for Toronto to get angry". The reason for this is because they are being denied "congestion fees, road tolls and the like" - "measures that would help the city triply; first by raising revenues, secondly by improving travel times within the GTA and finally by reducing greenhouse gas emissions."
Wednesday 18 July 2007
Not me, Guv
The new Transport Secretary denies that councils are being forced to introduce tolls - BBC - "Road pricing 'blackmail' denied". As usual with all these road pricing stories, the only link that the BBC provides is to the authorities.
Not so secret, out
Following yesterday's report about the official use of surveillance data from London's "congestion charge" cameras, the Government have accidentally released documents showing that the Home Office want police to use the surveillance data from future road pricing cameras - Evening Standard - "Big Brother cameras to track millions of innocent drivers" BBC - "Police 'to access road cameras'" Daily Mail - "Police to get the power to track every car journey" Telegraph - "Police will get access to road pricing cameras" Guardian - "'Big Brother' plan for police to use new road cameras" Times - "Traffic spies to join fight against crime".
PS None of the reports mention the draft Local Transport Bill published on the 22nd May. Clause 79 of the Bill would widen the extent to which information is shared between various bodies including local traffic authorities, "Passenger Transport Authorities" and the Government. There seems to be no limit as to what information is being shared. Today's story increases the suspicion that the purpose of this clause is to give legal backing to the passing on of information with regard to individual vehicles and drivers.
PPSGuardian Comment - "Keep your eyes off the roads".
USA round up 18th July
Recent NY Times stories on the probable demise of the New York Toll - "The Path of Least Congestion" "Fingers Point as Traffic Plan Runs Aground" Blog - "Congestion pricing aftermath" "NYC Traffic Proposal Is All but Dead" "Albany Rebuffs City Traffic Plan".
And of course New Yorkers are still being fed the London Toll myths such as - "the benefits of the system quickly became obvious: Traffic jams melted away almost overnight, buses began to run on schedule, and the air seemed cleaner" - Plenty "Bad News for the Big Apple". It's interesting that the writer of this while falling for the other myths seems to realise that the air is only cleaner in the mind of the London Mayor.
Other stories - Pennsylvania - "Turnpike survives, gains power" New York - "Traffic plan sputter" "New York ‘congestion’ toll overturned" Pennsylvania - "State OKs tolls on Interstate 80" New Jersey - "State rejects firm's plan to hike tolls" New York - "Albany blasted" Pennsylvania - "New I-80 tolls, turnpike hike, OKed for Pa. road, transit fixes" "Florida's sinking ship" "Ohio Among States Considering Truck-Only Lanes" New York - "ALBANY PUTS BRAKES ON CONGE$TION PLAN".
Cambridge Toll - "Residents 'must share the pain to see the gain'"
Cambridge Evening News.
Call for more aggression against drivers
The anti car lobby - i.e. "greens", politicians of all shades, bus and train companies and the public transport bureaucrats - are outraged because they say the cost of using a car is going down and the cost of public transport is going up. They want "aggresive policies" including road tolls - Independent - "Derailed: Government's green promises on transport policy". Drivers pay seven pounds in taxes for every one pound spent on the roads. Public transport is subsidised. Why is it that all the politicians seem to believe that they can dip even deeper into drivers' pockets?
British report on New York Toll
BBC - "NYC congestion charge is blocked".What, no mention of the wonderful London Toll?
Tuesday 17 July 2007
Bureaucrats in Calderdale are suggesting that the area should jump on the tolls train, even though they have never made a bid for TIF money (congestion charge bribes) - Halifax Evening Courier - "Tolls on cards to beat growing traffic fumes".
An important vote affecting national road pricing plans takes place in Manchester on the 27th. Though the only people allowed to vote will be the council bosses, the toll pushers through the Manchester paper which is backing them today published a "news" item accusing those of us who opposed the Edinburgh tolls of "disinformation and smear tactics" - MEN - "Learning the c-charge lessons". If you want to see what really happened in Scotland, then look at our Edinburgh page.
London Police are to be given real time access to the con camera data. What would otherwise be a breach of the Data Protection Act has been made legal by the Police Minister signing a piece of paper. By coincidence the Police Minister is a former Roads Minister - BBC - "Met given real time C-charge data". Strange, we assumed that they were already getting this data, or have they only just got their link working?
Money in the bank
Toronto Sun - "Banker pushes road tolls".
More on Cambridge Toll
"Yes, please" - CEN - "Road charging plans 'will need to be radical'" and "No, thank you" - CEN - "Charge branded outrageous".
USA round up 17th July
Yesterday the New York State Senate had a special one day session, mainly so that they could consider Bloomberg's plan for a New York Toll. The toll pushers said that it had to be approved yesterday otherwise $500 million of Federal toll incentives would be lost. Mike said "This is a drop-dead date.". Well he didn't get his way, and now we are told that they have another 2 months. Would you buy anything that these people told you? WNBC - "Bloomberg's Traffic Plan Sputters, But Still Alive" NY Daily News - "Congestion plan jammed" City Limits - "CLEARING THE AIR: AFTER CONGESTION PRICING".
Other stories - New Jersey - "Corzine's Secret Plan is Costly" California - Fastrak Q & A Pennsylvania - "FINALLY, A (TOLLS) BUDGET" Virginia - "MWAA Toll Hearing Set".
Monday 16 July 2007
USA round up 16th July
Latest New York Toll reports - MSN / FT - "NYC congestion charge in doubt" Gotham Gazette - "More on the congestion countdown".
Earlier NY Toll reports - The toll pushers are pushing at the Democrats on the State Assembly - New York Daily News - "Judgment day for congestion pricing plan".
Also - Forbes - "Politics, Pollution Collide in NYC Plan" amNY - "Congestion pricing's unanswered questions".
The Maine Turnpike are thinking about relocating one of their toll plazas. Turnpikes are masters of economy and efficiency so the new plaza is expected to cost only $32 million - Portsmouth Herald - "York I-95 tollbooths bogged down".
Two Democrats on the House highways committee are trying to stop road sales - Financial Week - "A case of highway robbery?".
Other stories - Alabama - "Again, toll roads" New Jersey - "Turnpike deal needs salesman" New Jersey - "Proposed sale of toll revenue nothing short of highway robbery" Washington State - "First traffic crosses new bridge" Washington State - "Toil ends, tolls begin: span opens today" Washington State - "Today the Party, Tomorrow the Panic?".
The eyes of Canadian politicians must light up with dollar signs when they think of the money that they can make from tolls. It is not surprising that others want a go - CBC - "Club ordered to stop volunteer road tolls".
Cambridge county bosses have decided to introduce "congestion charging" into the city. They say that it is likely to be between £3 and £5, and would be charged in morning peak - Hunts Post - "£500m to keep traffic moving".
The CEN in a later report - "Ghost town warning for city" says "Sian Reid, city councillor for planning and transport, said the county council had made "no consultation whatsoever" with the city council, and said she had serious doubts about the scheme." BBC report - "£500m bid may see congestion fees" and the Cambridgeshire docs.
The Right Mix
The RAC Foundation have published their analysis of various Government surveys on the use of cars - "Trends in Modal Shift" (pdf file). Though the Foundation are allies of the Government in their plans for road charging, they do not mention this and only suggest that "the right mix of targeted solutions are put in place to provide a real alternative to the car".
More on Balkan mystery tale
South Africa on toll road
Mail & Guardian - "Driving drivers into public transport".
Sunday 15 July 2007
More of the same
Almost every day, there is more toll spinning from London for those pushing tolls in New York. Is the London spin machine to get a commission? ABC - "Welcome to New York; That'll Be $8".
Please Sir, we want some more
One of the things that America, Britain and Australia share in common is that the organisations which are called something like "Automobile Association" give the impression that they represent drivers but don't. Here is the AAA in effect encouraging the New Jersey Governor to increase road tolls - Courier Post - "Cost of driving N.J. toll roads one of the lowest in region".
Saturday 14 July 2007
USA round up 14th July
There have been a lot of stories over the last week about the Pennsyslvania budget crisis and deal. It seems that everyone is happy but this story makes it clear what has been done - "The transportation package hinges on the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission borrowing more than $13 billion, equal to nearly half of the state budget. The debt would eventually be repaid with revenue from higher turnpike tolls and tolls to be added on Interstate 80." - Phillyburbs - "Creative financing fuels much of Rendell agenda".
Other stories - Virginia - "Coleman Bridge toll is a hot election topic" Washington State - "Narrows Bridge toll could be first of many" New York - "Removing a barrier" Texas - "(LETTERS)Tolls and public ire raised" Pennsylvania - "Daley ready to declare war over Mon-Fayette Expressway" Texas - "Downtown Bridge Blues"
Oklahoma - "More for turnpike tolls? Maybe much more?".
Friday 13 July 2007
Balkan mystery tale
It appears the Croatian road tolls boss has been sacked for talking - Javno.hr.
USA round up 13th July
A few Florida toll collectors have been arrested - Florida Sentinel - "Accused of stealing Turnpike tolls". Whatever they may or may not have done, toll operations are just a machine for taking money.
On Michael's "rush to toll" - New York Sun - "A Hidden Revenue Scheme".
A Newsday report on the New York Toll - "Can’t clear congestion - Silver’s plan to hold meeting in Manhattan means Assembly won’t reconvene to take up Bloomberg’s plan, putting $500 million at risk".
And of course the London spin is still having an effect - myfoxny - "Monday Could Be Last Day To Push Congestion Pricing Plan".
Other stories - New Jersey - "Administration Continues to Stonewall on Release of Asset Sale Plan Documents" Maine - "Too much of a diversion?" New Jersey - "Toll-road monetization" New York - "Amedore rolls out job creation plan".
To flow or not to flow
The Association of British Drivers highlight information first discovered by Tory members of the Greater London Assembly - that Transport for London were advised not to scrap the contra flow scheme on the Greenwich tunnel under the Thames - East London Advertiser - "Consultant report urged TfL not to scrap tidal flow, says drivers' lobby". TfL say that they stopped contra flow because of the possibly serious effects of accidents, but it is widely believed that contra flow was stopped as an excuse for future introduction of tolls or "congestion charges".
"Not a sheep" asks - "What are these - Unidentified Cameras". Assuming that they are cameras and not Martian ray guns they are probably the first of the cameras which will be installed all over Greater London which becomes a "Low Emission Zone" from 4 February 2008 (though it will take 4 years to instal all the cameras). The system is similar to the existing Congestion charge and according to TfL - "Cameras .. will record each vehicle’s number plate and then match the image with information held on TfL's database of registered vehicles that meet the emissions standards, have paid the daily charge, or are either exempt or registered for a 100% discount. Any vehicle that does not meet the emissions standards and has not paid the daily charge may receive a penalty charge." The TFL pages for the Low Emission Zone.
Andrew English in Auto Express - "Freedom to travel, associate with family and friends and seek work is one of our most basic liberties...".
Thursday 12 July 2007
"You Can't Tax the Sun for Shining"
It has become almost a crime to suggest that burning fossil fuels may not be making the earth hotter, but the Association of British Drivers are still risking burning at the stake - ABD Press Release.
USA round up 12th July
One lesson Ken probably taught Mike was on conning the con. But though the BBC and other London news media will happily repeat the spin, it is a bit more difficult in New York, even if according to New York Press you - "Force The Kids To Sing" (includes video link).
Though even Ken may have hesitated to bring in Zionism, particularly after what he said to an Evening Standard reporter who annoyed him - Downtown Express - "Silver blocks the road to traffic’s promised land".
We all know that there is big money to be made from tolls. We have recently had Bloomberg pushing New York tolls, and now we have New Jersey's Governor planning to use his own money to push tolls and road sales - Newsday - "Multimillionaire Corzine may buy ads to push toll road plan" Star-Ledger - "Turnpike plan may require toll hikes".
Other New Jersey stories - New Jersey - "Asset monetization won't solve long-term problems" Bridgeton News - "Selling state toll roads not the thing to do".
One story that gives a glimpse of the real reason why some states are experiencing traffic problems - California - "Experts see big downside to growth".
Other stories -
New Jersey - "SECRET TOLL PLAN WILL DEAL CASINOS A LOSS" New Jersey - "CORZINE’S PLAN TO SELL TURNPIKE AND RAISE TOLLS IS IRRESPONSIBLE" New York - "Legislature Considers New York City Toll Plan" Pennsylvania - "A Mon-Fayette feeler" New York - "Mayor still races to ram traffic plan through Assembly jam" New York - "Legislature considers new New York City toll plan" New York - "Political rivals unite to target tolls".
Latest Spin Report PS
Following yesterday's story, a view from over the pond - Bloomberg - "London Traffic Congestion Declines at Slower Rate Than Before". "Declines at a slower rate than before" seems to be another way of saying that congestion is increasing. More of the same - Streetsblog.
Wednesday 11 July 2007
Latest Spin Report
Transport for London have produced their Fifth Annual Report on the Con charge - BBC - "Road toll 'cut traffic by 70,000'". About the only claim that TfL make that is accurate is that the number of vehicles entering the zone is down. Everything else is just spin. Congestion has not noticeably changed; the worst air pollutants (Nitrogen Dioxide and Particulate Matter, pm10) have not gone down, and over half the income collected in charges and penalties is wasted on the cost of collection and enforcement. TfL Press Release "Fifth Annual Monitoring Report".
Gordon does more for the people (who matter)
Gordon Brown delivered his own "Queen's Speech" today. It includes the already announced bill to make it even easier to charge for use of existing roads. One of the early reactions was from the impoverished people at the Institute of Directors who said - "We welcome in principle the desire to tackle congestion through the use of road pricing and the measures that enable local authorities to implement this."
Australian Givers and Takers
Givers - Daily Telegraph - "Travel toll hurts single mums".
Takers - Daily Telegraph - "MacBank corrals the cash cows".
Salik tolls and Hotels
Arabian Business - "For whom the road tolls".
"London to Swap Congestion-Charge Cameras for Electronic Sensors"
Not really news, and not really accurate as they will still need the cameras - Bloomberg.
The Department for Transport say that - "Tough new powers will tackle disruption caused by digging up the road". A mistake, surely? Isn't the aim to increase congestion as an excuse for road tolls? Or is the idea that by getting the local authorities more involved, the road works will take even longer?
USA round up 11th July
The Buffalo News reports - "Traffic surge follows toll removal". It is said that traffic on the Thruway has increased by up to 30% since tolls were removed. As the tolls were low, this demonstrates the psychological impact that tolls have - drivers will avoid them if there is an alternative. The story quotes one driver who says that the removal of the tolls has reduced his travel time and says - "It’s nice to see some positive change in Buffalo."
There have been hundreds of reports about the past the last minute "no tax increases" budget deal that was reached in Pennsylvania. There are various aspects to this, but of interest to us is that the Governor and the State legislators have agreed that the Turnpike is not to be sold, but that there will be a 25% increase in tolls in 2008 (to be followed by smaller annual increases), and that the currently free Interstate 80 will be tolled from 2010. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - "Budget highlights" State College News - "I-80 Tolls Ahead; Turnpike Tolls Will Also Increase".
Other stories -
New York - "Congestion Pricing Fight Continues" Texas - "Commissioners officially nix Westpark peak pricing" New York - "X-bus boost if traffic plan is OK'd in Albany
" New York - "Traffic a Problem, But Toll Is Not the Solution - Report Says Congestion Pricing Toll Would Have To Be Doubled" West Virginia - "Citizens put ‘human face’ on paying tolls" New York - "Ease the squeeze, Speaker Silver" Virginia - "New, improved 460" Texas - "Harris County toll road workers lose EZ Tag privileges" New York - "Traffic fee down to the wire" West Virginia - "No shortage of advice for Parkways Authority" California - "TORRICO HOT LANES BILL PASSES SENATE TRANSPORTATION & HOUSING COMMITTEE" Pennsylvania - "Skeptical of proposal for tolls on interstates".
More hot air
Ken's deputy tells the Euros how London is saving the planet. There is also a different angle on the "congestion charge". Apparently it was nothing to do with congestion and "When we introduced it was all about air quality". Now apparently the aim is to stop climate change - Euractiv - "The new paradigm in terms of renewables in cities is waste". Ken and his PR machine have been very successful in spinning a tale that air quality improved, when in fact the two worst pollutants - Nitrogen Dioxide and Particulate Matter, pm10, actually increased after the charge was introduced. Will the spin machine be equally successful with the latest aim? Could London soon be hosting the Winter Olympics?
"Taipei not ready for congestion charging"
Report from Taiwan - Taipei Times.
"Weekend toll cuts to entice motorists"
From Irish Independent.
Tuesday 10 July 2007
Musical chairs gives us a new Shadow Transport Secretary
Last week we not only had a change of Prime Minister and Government reshuffle, the Tories also had a reshuffle and we now have a new Shadow Transport Secretary - Theresa Villiers. As she has only been an MP since May 2005, she has said almost nothing on tolls issues, apart from this in February last year when it had been suggested that there might be congestion charging in outer London- "This is just another Livingstone stealth tax ... The central London scheme has failed to cut congestion. While it may have had some effect in the first few months, traffic in London is worse than ever .. Charging motorists to use ‘busy roads’, will not reduce local traffic, it will just move to quieter residential roads and create even more rat runs." Let's hope that in her new post she doesn't have a tolls conversion.
More on Salik tolls
Comment on the new Salik tolls, and a suggestion that the toll points should be moved to the Dubai border - 7Days - "Difficulty with Salik topping up procedures".
"Transport for London is handing out complementary menthol and eucalyptus lozenges in all tube stations"
From The Spoof - "Transport for London takes to the air, and gets up your nose!".
"Breaking the gridlock: moving the road pricing debate forward"
Last Thursday, the Local Government Association issued their second report on road pricing. Their PR said "This publication is timely because local governnment is moving into the front line of the road pricing debate .. it is now appropriate to look again at what the implementation of road pricing involves and what will be needed to make local schemes a success. The first part of this report looks at the reasoning behind road pricing and the second part looks at how this fits with other aspects of transport policy and delivery and in particular considers the governance arrangement for transport. The third part considers the financial issues faced by local government in delivering an integrated transport package, and the final part looks at what is needed to facilitate road pricing projects in England." - pdf document (40 pages).
USA round up 10th July
Janet Folger on World Net Daily - "Adolescent America".
The LA Times reports on increased flying costs, but also says "Driving a car costs roughly 55 cents a mile, not including tolls. Even with fare increases, flying costs roughly 12 cents a mile." - "For fliers, fares are still ascending".
Illinois's Daily Southtown reports on the dangers of toll plazas. The answer of course is not to remove tolls, but for drivers to be more careful - "Road safety needs to be an ongoing mission for all". How about road signs saying "DANGER - Tolls Ahead"?
Other stories -
New Jersey - "Conaway and Conners Can’t Have It Both Ways" New York - "My District To A Highway" Pennsylvania - "New State Budget May Include Interstate Tolls" Pennsylvania - "Budget deal calls for I-80 tolls" New York - "Persevering toward future that’s toll-free" Washington State - "Drivers aren't testing "Good to Go"" New Jersey - "Cut spending before cashing in on our roads" Pennsylvania - "Deal Ends Shutdown" New York - "GRAND ISLAND: Toll removal effort adds power couple" Pennsylvania - "OOIDA Call to Action" New York - "NYPD plans automatic vehicle entrapment".
Truck Industry love tolls, apparently
"Road Transport" spoke to various industry interests and came up with a "Wish list to Gordon Brown". No mention of tolls on M6 or elsewhere. Strange as we believe that most lorry drivers and their firms avoid tolls where they can.
Monday 9 July 2007
"London Road Speeds Slow in Charge Zone, Standard's Study Shows"
There is something strange in Michael's Empire as part of his media interests reveal some of the truth about the London Con - Bloomberg.com.
More on ... with my little eye
The Edinburgh Evening News has had an expert look at the contract for the new spy cameras and he says that "the system could be easily scaled up to gather information for a congestion charge system" - Evening News - "Many roads to less congestion".
USA round up 9th July
More laboratory rats (a.k.a. drivers) - "On Monday another grand experiment in behavioral science will commence on the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge. The subjects of this experiment, we commuters, will be forced to wait in long lines to pay $4 cash tolls because the toll plaza will have two fewer cash lanes." - San Mateo County Times - "FasTrak or slow trek, you decide".
Mayor Bloomberg says that New York must agree to road tolls NOW or miss out on a $500 million bribe from the Federal toll pushers - NY Post - "NYC'S TRANSIT CRISIS - WHY LEGISLATURE MUST ACT ON CONGESTION PRICING NOW". $500 million? Surely this is just loose change to Michael.
Other reports in New York Times - "Report Recommends Rejecting Plan on City Traffic" and in amNew York - "Congestion plan advocates turn up heat" and Streetsblog - "Mayor and Assembly headed to a showdown over pricing".
A separate report in New York Times on surveillance and the con - City room.
New York Press report on reaction of the right wing Drum Major Institute to criticism of the Mayor's Toll - "Challenging Brodsky's Conclusions".
And another story from NY Press - "FOLLOW THE LEADER: CONSUMER CONGESTION PRICING".
More beggar my neighbour - News Journal (Delaware)- "Local advantage on tolls will vanish as road costs rise in neighboring states".
Other stories - Texas - "Tollway congestion pricing idea not dead yet" New Jersey - "Turnpike Assets Sale 'Highway Robbery'" California - "San Mateo Bridge Increases FasTrak Lanes" Texas - "Plan will cost drivers an extra 25 cents" New York - "Grand Island Tolls Fight Escalates" Washington State - "Q&A Details behind bridge tolls" Pennsylvania - "'robocalls' about I-80 tolls are bogus".
FTA backing for Road Pricing and Eddington
Road Transport interviews one of the Freight Trnasport Association bosses. The FTA have been one of the main allies of the Government on road pricing.
Denmark is reported to be considering building a bridge linking Jutland and Sealand. They only want it for trains, but the bridge might also carry cars and trucks so that their tolls can pay for building the whole bridge.
Sunday 8 July 2007
No toll for Australian politicians - Herald Sun - "Pollies tag us for toll".
Last Monday, MPs in Britain discussed how much more money would be pumped into Galileo. One purpose of this is road pricing or as they say on the Galileo webite - "user-friendly road charging", though you would not guess this from the reports - BBC - "UK presses private Galileo role".
USA round up 8th July
The Reason Foundation are still pushing tolls with their views being distributed by many American papers as news. One of today's stories reveals a link between the Foundation and "Tollroads News" whose public sponsors include Abertis and Transurban.
Other stories - Florida - "Toll roads and foreign investors may ease future traffic congestion" Delaware - "Pricey stretch of I-95 about to get pricier" Florida - "Paying for Roads" Florida - "Bayway repairs not on horizon" Texas - "Valley highway travel could take a toll" North Carolina - "Toll roads possible by 2010".
Saturday 7 July 2007
Southampton Council is looking at using toll income from the Itchen bridge to pay for iluminations - This is Hampshire - "How about illuminating Itchen Bridge to bring the 'Wow Factor' to Southampton?".
USA round up 7th July
Washington State tries to make its new tolls look like a bargain by quoting some old toll rates - Kitsap Sun - "Yesterday's Tolls in Today's Dollars". The highest quoted rate is Longview with a 1930 toll of $1 said to be equal to a $23 toll now. Could that be why there was a Depression?
It seems that some American Greens have been taking lessons in logic from their British cousins. The Reformer says about Sweden - "And it now imposes a "congestion tax" in Stockholm - tolls on vehicles entering the city to encourage the use of public transit. As a result, about half of Sweden's income tax burden has been phased out in favor of taxes based on fossil fuel consumption." - "Energy lessons to be learned".
LA Times report on Big Apple toll plans - "Manhattan on $8 a day -- just to drive".
More on the New York Toll plans - NY1 - "Spitzer, Bruno Feud Could Stall Congestion Pricing Progress" Queens Tribune - "Too Much Stick, Not Enough Carrots".
One of Florida's toll road agencies is being investigated - Orlando Sentinel - "State probes X-way deals". As toll operators in general look on tolls income as being donations, it must be difficult to distinguish something "unlawful" from the usual waste.
Other stories - Kitsap Sun - "Yesterday's Tolls in Today's Dollars" New Jersey - "Toll road study is under way" (using British firm) Maryland - "Md. highway congestion among worst in nation" California - "SANDAG should charge solo drivers".
Friday 6 July 2007
More on Shrewsbury Toll
Video story - Shropshire Star - "Anger over C charges plan".
And the money keeps rolling in
More cash for Australian trolls, who also own roads in America and Britain - The Age - "Melbourne motorists a mint for Transurban" The Age - "More on Macquarie Infrastructure roads".
M6 Toll traffic creeps up
Included in the troll quarterly figures are those released by MIG, the Australian owners of the M6 Toll road. The figures are up or down according to when you compare with. They seem to be going back towards their highest figures, though the road is still virtually empty. Income for the quarter was just over £15 million. - Traffic figures.
The Government have been making great use of the "Private Finance Initiative". This is where the Government claims the credit for new schools, hospitals etc, while at the same time keeping the expenditure out of its accounts. Whenever Gordon Brown delivered his Budget speech, the Tories must have squirmed as they could not expose him without it being pointed out that it was them who started this dodge. There is now a problem as it is getting harder to keep the expenditure off balance sheet. This is affecting some road schemes, and it is suggested that this will increase the threat of more road tolls - Voltimum - "New EU rules delay £1.2bn of PFI deals".
People and businesses in Norfolk are being told that tolls will not come in for many years and that in any case they haven't worked out which roads will be tolled yet! Norwich Evening News - "No road pricing until 2012 - pledge". Sounds a bit like someone on death row being told that they do have time to finish War and Peace.
Later report Norfolk EDP - "No congestion charge for five years".
USA round up 6th July
One problem with tolls is that where there is a choice trucks will avoid them and use unsuitable roads - Ithaca Journal - "Garbage trucks, please take the interstate".
Other Stories - New Jersey - "GOP wants lease documents made public" West Virginia - "Parkways chairman says top priority is Tamarack, not Turnpike tolls" Illinois - "Tollway officials eye congestion pricing" Washington State - "Bridge toll will change lives" New York - "Under congest plan, driving still cheaper than bus" New York - "No Grand Island Toll petition drive continues".
. ... with my little eye
In the "Toll Poll" of February 2005, the people of Edinburgh voted three to one against charges. There were various reasons for this, but fear of surveillance was not mentioned. It now seems that Edinburgh drivers are to be put under surveillance anyway, on the pretext that it is to improve traffic flow - Evening News - "Cameras give jambusters a clearer picture".
Thursday 5 July 2007
We thought that the Shrewsbury, Salop TIF proposals for "congestion charges" were dead, as the people behind the plans denied that was their intention. But it has today been revealed that the Shrewsbury proposals are very much alive and now include a proposal that a by pass to be built to the north west of the city would also be tolled - BBC - "Toll relief road plans unveiled" Shropshire Star - "Anger at Road Toll proposal". The Tory MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham is Daniel Kawczynski who says - “I will fight this charging proposal tooth and nail in the Commons because it would be very harmful to the town. I will not let this one rest and we cannot allow charging to happen.” Peter Roberts who started the 1.8 million signature petition on road pricing is also a Salopian. This may be an interesting fight.
A sham consultation exercise is taking place near Liverpool. Believe it or not local people are being consulted on discounts on tolls to cross the bridge - the catch is that the bridge is currently free!! Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News - "Have your say on bridge bid". The authorities in the Liverpool area seem to be able to do what they like. Part of our alliance put a Freedom Of Information Act request for information on the toll plans. It was refused.
Need for further education of businesses
A new report on business attitudes to measures to "combat" "global warming says that "a majority opposed road charging, with the stiffest resistance coming from the retail sector" - Independent - "Climate change policies are ineffective, say businesses". We are frankly amazed that most businesses failed to realise that if you want to reduce fuel use, then you must replace fuel tax with road tolls. There is obviously a need for a bit of "reeducation".
USA round up 5th July
Comment on yesterday's story ("Technology Eases the Ride to Higher Tolls") - Liberty Papers - " Hidden Taxes, EZ-Pass, And Tolls".
Other stories - New Jersey - "Corzine Administration Seeks Extension on OPRA Request For Asset Sale Plan Documents" Indiana / North Carolina - "Privatization is another Bush mess" California - "Los Angeles to Consider Congestion Tax" New York - "Use Sticks, But of the Vegetable Variety" California - "Charge for Ride in Carpool Lane?" Illinois - "Rush-hour toll hikes considered" Texas - "Council's chairman slowing down to speed things up" Washington State - "Tolls could flood court" California - "Freeway commute may take a toll" Pennsylvania - "Neglect takes its toll" Texas - "Watson: We'll pay for problems with more than tolls" West Virginia - "Turnpike Tolls Could Increase".
"Roads plan to let wealthy have life in fast lane"
More about yesterday's story on converting bus lanes to Lexus lanes - news.com.au.
"Why Dubai needs more road tolls"
After the Salik tolls disaster, you would think that the Dubai trolls would be in hiding. But they know that reality is what gets reported in the news media - Arabian Business.
There is a proposal for a privately financed toll bridge across the Ribble. In our view there is no chance of this - why would the bankers take a risk when there are lots of desperately needed roads that the Government wants to toll? Blackpool Citizen - "A bridge too far for Lytham link".
Wednesday 4 July 2007
New territory for Lexus lanes
Australia has a novel idea for those empty bus lanes (see picture on story) - put a toll on them - Sydney Morning Herald - "Bridge toll plan: $20 to follow the buses" Courier Mail - "Separate fast lane for rich - bridge toll plan".
Mike Rutherford gives some advice to the new Transport Secretary - Auto Express.
Government Quango pushing tolls
A report from the East Midlands Development Agency (a Government Quango) complains about cost of congestion in the area. The answer of course is not better roads, but road tolls - Derby Evening Telegraph - "CITY BUSINESSES ARE PAYING HIGH PRICE FOR JAMS" (with comments).
PS BBC report next day - "Cost of congestion is calculated".
USA round up 4th July
War of the Roads - Star Ledger - "Secret is out: Turnpike to be sold to Martians".
New York Times has readers' views on electronic tolls - "Reader Responses".
They also have a report on one of the reasons that the trolls love electronic tolls, the cows don't realise that they are being milked - "Technology Eases the Ride to Higher Tolls".
The Charleston Daily Mail reminds its readers that even with electronic tolls you are supposed to slow down at the booths - "Even on huge travel day, blowing through the tolls is a big no-no".
Other stories - West Virginia - "Legislators say Turnpike warning is harbinger of toll increase" North Carolina - "New bit of Outer Loop renamed - N.C. 540 is a sign of future turnpike".
Tuesday 3 July 2007
Better by Bus
It is reported that bus journey times in Kensington and Chelsea were improved before the recent extension of the Charge Zone into the borough - 24dash - "Bus journey times improved in Kensington".
People not completely fooled
People in Britain are sceptical about "global warming" according to a poll of 2,000 adults - BBC - "'Scepticism' over climate claims". In our opinion people are right not to trust the politicians whose obsession with possible climate changes distracts people and resources away from other more definite and more serious problems.
Italy's antitrust authority is to investigate the Viacard offered by Atlantia SpA, formerly Autostrade, for motorway tolls over complaints about not being able to claim unused credit.
USA round up 3rd July
Toll deaths in Illinois - Daily Southtown - "Truckers and tollways can be a deadly duo".
There were also these stories today from Pennsylvania - Centre Daily Times - "Barrier tolls pose stop-go peril" Centre Daily Times - "How do you spell d-a-n-g-e-r?".
Other stories - New Jersey - "Questions answered on toll road plan" Florida - "Tolls Increased On Popular Miami Dade Highways" Pennsylvania - "Locals would pay on I-80" Texas - "Little time to celebrate" Massachusetts - "Pike ‘peak’ ploy - Turnpike eyes new commuter money grab" Florida - "Six 1-75 toll lanes way to go" New Jersey - "Tricky turn in the road" New Jersey - "A deadlock over decision on Delaware Memorial Bridge toll hike".
Dubai drivers now have a new hobby - administering their toll payments - Khaleej Times - "No Salik fines until you get SMS alert".
Monday 2 July 2007
One dog not enough
Transurban is looking at using infra-red sensors to determine how many people there are in vehicles using transit / HOT / HOV lanes - Brisbane Times - "Heat may be on transit cheats".
Salik toll - Day Two - Success
Nilofar Humayun reports that "Trips that would take 10-15 minutes have now been extended to a 2-3 hour drive." - Xpress - "Salik Toll Frustrates Commuters". Dubai drivers will soon learn to have a fatalistic acceptance, and realise that their only function is as a source of money.
The London Mayor tells New Yorkers how wonderful the London toll is - NY Times - "Clear Up the Congestion-Pricing Gridlock". The story with a slightly different opening is also being fed to Americans living in Europe - International Herald Tribune - "What price gridlock?".
USA round up 2nd July
Rolf Lockwood in Today's Trucking says - "Toll roads bug me. I avoid them like the plague when there's a useful option and resent it with some serious passion when I'm forced to stop and pay." - "Evil tolls".
Michael Niman argues that more fuel efficient vehicles should be encouraged through legislation - WW4 report - "THE GAS-GUZZLER LOBBY STOPS TIME". We wonder why he doesn't suggest shifting the road toll and tax burden on to the gas tax?
Other stories - Pennsylvania - "Truckers say I-80 tolls would hurt business" Florida - "New law ties tolls to cost of living" Illinois - "Tollway study eyes rush hour fee hike" Delaware - "Tolls, taxes rise in Del. budget" Florida - "New 836 toll opens to drivers" Pennsylvania - "Past toll plans had no traction" California - "Consider LAX as takeoff point for congestion pricing" Virginia - "New law allows toll booths to be built on Va.’s major highways".
Sunday 1 July 2007
Salik toll opens
7 Days reports on T day - "Dubai - First taste of tolls". There are also some letters about the tolls, including one from an otherwise anonymous "Toll Lover", who says that everyone should be able to "afford four measly dirhams a day to drive a car" and that tolls will "solve the massive traffic problem". Certainly sounds like troll logic.
A later report from Xpres says that though the tolled road now has less traffic, other routes are a "nightmare" - "Salik Panic: Day One". Even later report - 7 days - "Salik arrives".
USA round up 1st July
Paul Jacobs in the Californian says "The latest assault on the family budget is the curse of toll roads in the middle of the public transportation corridors we affectionately know as freeways" - "Picking of the public pockets".
Views of the chairman of the House committee on transportation and infrastructure, and chairman of the subcommittee on highways and transit - South Bend Tribune - "Wrong Way?".
You can tell your pet animal the truth because it can't understand what you are saying. A new toll bridge is opening in Washington State with a couple of classic remarks from the Department of Transportation. The first is that though tolls will initially deter some drivers, things will be back to "normal" by January. The other is that "the tolls might slow traffic .. and that could lead to congestion". Well if the tolls don't deter drivers, then the toll queues might - News Tribune - "Ok, now for the good bad news".
Another tolls death, this time a truck driver - nwi times - "Toll Road crash kills Florida man".
New Jersey - "Q&A on Corzine's hopes to make money off state assets" Pennsylvania - "With Rendell, legislators at odds, budget expires" Pennsylvania - "50 years later, tolls may indeed come to I-80" Pennsylvania - "REACTION TO THE TOLLS" Florida - "State hunts cash for I-595 in sky" Pennsylvania - "Truckers say measure would hurt business, drive up costs" DC - "Greenway Drivers Face Dilemma".