NOVEMBER 2007 NEWS
Friday 30 November 2007
In the Financial Times, Prince Charles, heir to the British throne and the next head of the state church, backed by 150 leaders of big businesses "advocates bold action to tackle climate change" - "Bali offers a vital chance to take tough decisions". It is not said what this action is. Will these 151 people sell off a few houses and stop jetting around the world? Or will it be more road tolls and other measures that will tend to hit the poorest?
We wonder if the Prince would recognise this series:- 1850 -1.25, 1900 -1.65, 1950 - 2.50, 2000 - 6.10, 2050 - 9.40.
Give up? It is the population of the world in billions. It would be nice to know why all these very important people are very worried about it getting warmer, but are not at all concerned that in just two centuries, the world population will have increased by 650%.
"Invest in Improvement Not Obstruction"
ABD Press Release - "Britain's Poor Roads Cost Lives".
Let's open all the books
The latest political furore is about recent donations to the Labour Party - BBC - "Police to launch donations probe". If Gordon was really canny, he would hint that he was thinking of opening up for investigation all the major donations to all the parties going back over the last 15 years. Now that might reveal some interesting facts about who has been backing all the parties!
The Tory Shadow Transport Secretary has a long piece in the Yorkshire Post complaining about the way that the Government is dealing with railways - "Theresa Villiers: Raising fares is not the answer to our rail crisis". She says - "After their "spy-in-the-sky" national road pricing scheme recently bit the dust, they are pushing hard for local authorities to bring in congestion charging. Yet such schemes are very hard to justify unless they operate alongside reliable and reasonably priced public transport." Based on what is happening around the country this seems to really mean that Tory policy is the same as Labour - it is alright to bring in road tolls that drivers hate and to waste a lot of money enforcing them, so long as some of the loot is used on public transport, rather than using existing taxes.
USA round up
The toll collector, a cat, and the law - International Herald Tribune - "Was the death of Mama Cat murder most foul?".
The Mayor of Charlotte and Mary Peters, the DoT Secretary, go on a tolls beano - Charlotte Observer - "McCrory to skip ceremony, see Paris".
One way to sell tolls idea in a no tolls state (Wisconsin) - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - "Paying for speed on I-94 could be optional". Though not everyone is buying - Twin Cities Daily Planet - "My Minnesota: what’s really behind the Pawlenty 'No Tax' pledge?".
Other stories -
South Carolina - "So? What do you think? - Are toll roads the way to go?" Maine - "Comments about: Remove tolls, use gas tax to maintain our highways".
New Jersey - "State commuters already overtaxed" (letter) Pennsylvania - "Global agenda seen in I-80 tolls" (letter) "Auctioning off roads is dead end for Florida" California - "Tolls on car-pool lanes?" Pennsylvania - "Officials split on Interstate 80 tolls".
No more roads
The poor traffic figures on the latest toll road - the Lane Cove Tunnel - have led to a suggestion that no more roads should be built - Sydney Morning Herald - "NSW govt told to give up on motorways". The NSW Premier says - "One of the key benefits of projects like this is that the financial risk is borne by the company and the government obtains a network of road infrastructure at no cost to the taxpayer" Really? Does this mean that taxpayers don't have to pay tolls?
More but less
It is suggested that Malaysia's latest toll increase may actually reduce income - The Star - "Toll increase ‘not justified’".
Thursday 29 November 2007
More selling of tolling
The Economist has an article based on the latest road tolls sales pitch from the RAC Foundation - "Wrong way - Roads are clogging up, as government retreats from the obvious solution". The whole article can be judged by the absurd statement that the Foundation is "a motoring lobby group", this is like saying that the Vegan Society is a lobby group for the meat industry.
Bristol (and Bath)Toll
Politicians and bureaucrats are planning how they will spend the loot - Bath Chronicle - "TRANSPORT OVERHAUL COULD BRING CONGESTION CHARGE".
Humber Toll - Petition Appeal
From the Leader of North Lincolnshire Council in the Market Rasen Mail - "Humber Bridge tolls petition - only a month left to have your say".
The Yorkshire Post says that the county is not getting its fair share of transport spending and points to the benefits that accrue when money is spent on roads and public transport. The editor concludes - "Ministers believe that the only answer is congestion charging - something which is opposed throughout Yorkshire. They repeatedly fail to demonstrate real awareness of the problems or come up with innovative solutions that would benefit the local community" - "The road to riches: Why a fairer deal on transport would pay off for us all".
Ho Chi Minh City has abandoned proposals for "congestion" tolls. Other measures to now be adopted include making it compulsory for students to take buses and offering them free or cheaper bus tickets - Vietnam Net - "Metros reverse plans to impose road tolls to reduce congestion".
USA round up
"Congestion" tolls for the city by the Bay? Golden Gate XPress - "Hell on wheels: city driving is expensive enough already"
Other stories - Pennsylvania - "I-80 toll symposium set in Clarion" New York - "Amedore Says Proposed Thruway Toll Hike Should be Canned".
New York - "Legislators float an idea to sink rising tolls - Thruway urged to give canal system back to N.Y." New York - "Mayor Bloomberg could halt proposed fare hike, sources say" New Jersey - "Corzine "monetization" plan drives reader debate" Washington State - "Prop. 1 too big, costly to pass, survey finds" New Jersey - "Public must have chance to comment on DRPA budgets" Florida - "Would a Port of Miami truckway deliver results? - Local leaders may consider a $1 billion network of truck-only tollways" Pennsylvania - "Kanjorski now says he will lobby to kill I-80 tolls" Pennsylvania - "I-80 toll meeting gets ugly in Bloomsburg" Maine - "Hearing on turnpike tolls fails to attract a crowd" New York - "BOYCOTT THE THRUWAY" (letter) Pennsylvania - "Kanjorski expands on reason why all highways should be tolled, not just Interstate 80" New Jersey - "Corzine wins in court, not in public" New York - "Push plan to reform authorities" New Jersey - "Democrat sees clues that Corzine plan would triple tolls" New York - "County business leaders oppose toll hike".
Wednesday 28 November 2007
USA round up
A novel idea - Herald Net (Washington State) - "How a Web site could fix our traffic".
An old idea - "The hope is, freeway tolls would persuade others to take the bus or train or drive off-peak hours" - Pasadena Star(California) - "Keep funding on route". Who exactly are these "others"?
As a change from some of the stories in American papers promoting tolls and road sales, here is something from one of the sources - Media Wire - "Spanish Company Introduces New Road Construction Approach to Florida".
Other stories - New York - "Spitzer needs help to stop Thruway toll increases" Colorado - "E-470: Toll fines add up for those who don't pay" Florida - "Truck tollway proposed for Port of Miami" New York - "How About Commuter Gas Subsidies?" Washington State - "Task force studies I-5 bridge options" New York - "Schumer holds truck summit" Pennsylvania - "Fight continues to block I-80 tolls" Pennsylvania - "Toll all Pa. Interstates" "IT'S TIME TO PAY TOLL TO GET TO MEXICO ... $REVENUE!$" "Maine Turnpike Could Change Toll System" Pennsylvania - "Opposing views aired on plan to toll I-80" Pennsylvania - "Our view: Warped speed" New Hampshire - "Residents fuming over plans for new road, bridge" New Jersey - "Complaining about news coverage makes it a story".
Pennsylvania - "Turning I-80 tolls into taxes" Florida - "Bayway bridges, tolls are going up".
Cambridge Toll - Bikers say "I'm alright Jack"
- Politics - "BMF welcome 'bikes go free’ plans for Cambridge".
Bit more on Negative tolls
This follows yesterday's story about Netherlands road pricing pilots - NIS News - "Companies Support Experiments with Avoiding Peak Traffic".
Businesses oppose suggestion of tolls in North Wales
- "‘Road pricing is a short cut to ruin’".
Liverpool Toll - revived campaign
- Wirral Globe - "We want to be scot free too!".
Norwich Toll - More on "Conditions"
- Norwich Evening News - "Councillors want a say on road pricing".
Poisoned apple - Here we go again
There seems to be no let up in the campaign by the Government and their allies (including "Road Users Alliance", FTA and surpisingly the SMMT) to sell road pricing. This latest shot has been presented as a call for more spending on roads - BBC - "New roads call to stop gridlock" Times - "The road map designed to keep congested Britain on the move" Guardian - "Study calls for 372 miles of new road lanes a year" Mirror - "Gridlock UK - More roads or it's havoc warns RAC".
This is the RAC Foundation press release This is their report "Roads & Reality" This is the press release from the "Road Users Alliance".
The report is a barely disguised attempt to again sell the idea of road tolls to drivers. It proposes spending another £4 to 5 billion a year on roads, but it also suggests that there should be tolls on most roads with an "annual financial yield" of £25 to 30 billion. It says that "This would be payment from users additional to fuel duty and road tax at the present rate." Roads users are already paying £50 billion a year in fuel and other taxes, hardly any of this money is spent on the roads. As usual drivers will be completely misled by what they see in the news media.
Tuesday 27 November 2007
A few crumbs
The DfT are today trumpeting that they are to spend £4 billion on "integrated local transport over the next three years .. such as bus infrastructure improvements, cycle lanes, new road safety measures, better street lighting and road maintenance". They say that this is "in addition to the £7.9 billion planned to fund major transport projects across the regions between 06/07 and 2015/16" - DfT Press Release.
Adding the two together, this works out for the first three years at about £2 billion a year, with most of that being spent on things that do not benefit motorists or those who operate vans and lorries. The annual taxes for using the roads are £50 billion. The politicians are allowed to get away with this highway robbery, because the Government aided by the news media makes sure that drivers don't know how they are being milked.
Tory Tolls ahead
It has been clear for some time that the right wing of the Tories want a lot more toll roads. Now David Cameron has told big business bosses - "We need big changes: upgrading our road network, using tolls where appropriate." - Conservative PR - "David Cameron speaks at the CBI Conference".
Cambridge Toll - Lips still sealed
The Tory Party leader may have hinted at his road toll plans, but the Cambridge Evening News is still not getting answers - "Councillors told to come clean on tolls". Perhaps the lack of answers is not surprising as Tory support for tolls is like manna from heaven to a hard pressed Labour Government.
"DOUBLE THE PRICE OF THE CONGESTION CHARGE"
On Sunday ("BBC on Still going slow") we mentioned that the BBC as well as their usual link to TfL, had added in a plug for a "green" motoring website. Yesterday with this story - "Hi-tech helps pay penalty charge" they went one better. They have added a link to their "Action Network", which turns out to be a plea to "DOUBLE THE PRICE OF THE CONGESTION CHARGE".
The Netherlands is planning two road pricing pilots. It is reported that one scheme will use a carrot approach and "reward motorists who avoid this route" - Dutch News - "Two pay-as-you-drive trials planned".
USA round up
There have been a lot of stories about the New Jersey Governor's plans (partly secret) to either sell roads or to toll some existing free roads, but now someone has actually suggested that instead they could raise the gas tax - which has been 14.5 cents a gallon since 1988 - Newsday / AP - "Key N.J. legislator says gas tax hike must be considered".
A trucker says what's in store for other routes if I-80 is tolled - Republican Herald - "Trucking company opposes tolling I-80".
"Gap funding" is being promoted in North Carolina - Shelby Star - "Transportation needs could grow for N.C. residents in the future". This is a way for them to make even more money out of toll roads by being given both tolls and other taxes.
More on possible trouble for the Australians - Land Line - "U.S. representative wants Macquarie investigated".
Other stories -
California - "Schwarzenegger calls for new tack on infrastructure - He wants private firms to partner with the state in building and maintaining roads and other projects" New Jersey - "Nozzolio asks governor to stop Thruway toll hike".
New Jersey - "DeCroce Says Court Ruling on Toll Road Monetization Report Sets Dangerous Precedent" "Florida shouldn't give away highways" New Jersey - "Corzine toll plan could raise rates 50 percent" Massachusetts - "Turnpike director wants to cut waste" New York - "The pain of congestion (pricing)" Texas - "Toll roads way to unclog highways, congressman says" New Jersey - "Odious debt" New Jersey - "Court lets administration keep toll study private".
Florida - "Private Alligator Alley would be paved with fool's gold" Massachusetts - "High gas prices fueling more pooling by commuters" Michigan - "Public meeting to oppose fare hike".
Monday 26 November 2007
Norwich Toll - Conditions?
- Norwich Evening News - "Congestion charge battle stepped up".
Pushing from the side
Though the Government have tried to keep mum about their road toll plans, they continue to to push them using their regional quangos and IPPR (the Labour think tank) who say that to encourage economic growth you have to "discourage car use with congestion charging" - Yorkshire Post - "North set for long battle to close £30bn gap".
Big Business view
The CBI have issued a report - "Climate change - everyone's business". As you might expect they turn a blind eye to fuel taxes and instead say that - "Carbon has to be priced according to supply and demand" i.e. they want more artificial markets. But what we did not expect is that there is no mention of "tolls", "congestion charges" and "road pricing". Do they know something that we don't?
More on Authorities to create more congestion
Last Monday we mentioned an ABD Press release on the new Birmingham car share lane. Paul Biggs from the ABD now reports that it looks as if the authorities are taking measures to make it look as if the scheme is a success - "Birmingham City Council's A47 'Car Share' Lane Duplicity Exposed".
Lib Dem views
In today's Independent, the Lib Dem candidate for Mayor was asked - "Would you keep the congestion charge?". His answer was - "We need to reinforce the central zone congestion charge where traffic grinds to a halt on an almost daily basis. I want to look at scrapping the western extension, which most people did not want." Reinforce it? How? Make those who enter the toll zone wear hair shirts?
USA round up
More on possible Florida road sales - Miami The Ledger - "Leasing Roads Could Cost Drivers" Miami Herald - "Florida considers road leases to private entities for big money".
The firm advising on New Jersey road sales is the same firm that advises Britain's toll operators, and the state are stopping citizens from seeing what the firm's report says - Home News Tribune - "State using language to keep report under wraps".
Other stories -
New Jersey - "HOCKING the HIGHWAYS: Good, poor bets for cash infusion" New Jersey - "HOCKING the HIGHWAYS: No quick fix for state's fiscal woes".
New Jersey - "Big lies take their toll in New Jersey" DC - "ICC opponents can keep project honest" New York - "Protesters March Against Grand Island Tolls, Possible Increases" Pennsylvania - "'Tolls' is just another word for 'taxes'" Pennsylvania - "Corzine's remarks provide map of 'secret' toll revenue plan" Pennsylvania - "Better roads require more funding" New York - "Plan to hike NY Thruway tolls hits roadblocks" New York - "Forget Britney, global warming and the Knicks; Talking Island traffic matters".
Sunday 25 November 2007
Tolls in store
When Australians voted for a new Government, they will not have realised that they may have been voting for even more tolls - news.com - "Blair's mate Rod to advise Rudd"
Sydney Morning Herald - "A contest of ideas, not ideology".
USA round up
Florida's politicians are thinking of joining the live now pay later party - Florida - "Florida Looks At Selling Leases For Toll Roads And Bridges".
Other stories - Maryland - "All roads to Rocky Gap pass through our overcrowded roads" Florida - "Lake County panel will examine how to pay for road improvements" New Jersey - "HOCKING THE HIGHWAYS: Broken promises" New Jersey - "Corzine's program could cost Jerseyans" North Carolina - "Toll task eliminated, but problems remain" New York - "Toll story" New York - "Remember upstate in opposing toll hikes" New York - "GRAND ISLAND BRIDGES: Bell ‘tolls’ for Spitzer" Florida - "Expressway Authority scrambling to justify itself" Pennsylvania - "City's roving cameras rapidly scan license plates" Virginia - "Wolf, Chapman Press Greenway On Profits".
Wendy Grossman gives her views on the missing Revenue data disks and a recent conference of "experts" talking about the technology for road tolls - News wireless.
Cambridge Toll - Lips sealed
The Cambridge Evening News asked county councillors what they thought of their own toll plans, and got little response - "Tories won't say where they stand on charge". In our view it is more honest for them to say nothing. When they do speak most politicians just repeat nonsense they have been told to say and try to mislead the public.
London Hot Air Toll - views
From Saturday's Telegraph - "Low Emissions Zone: a lot of hot air?".
"Bus lanes only add to the problem"
- Letter in Newcastle Chronicle.
BBC on Still going slow
On Friday the BBC reported the story about traffic going slow, slow, slow. As usual they link into TfL, but this time they added in a plug for a "green" motoring website - "Congestion charge 'not working'".
Friday 23 November 2007
More stats - by local authority
These figures were published earlier this year -
DfT - "Road Traffic Statistics for Local Authorities: 1995-2006". The links to the data are on the right hand side of the page. They show that though there is a slight upward national trend in vehicle numbers, in some areas the 2006 traffic (particularly for cars only) is below the peak year.
DfT - "Road Statistics 2006: Traffic, Speeds and Congestion". The links to the data are on the right hand side of the page. A "key finding" in section 4 of the Congestion report is that in English urban areas "Like-for-like peak speeds across all areas in 2006 were virtually unchanged from 2004." (at 20.9 mph). Given the many measures that the authorities take which cause congestion by reducing road space, restricting traffic and generally slowing it down, it is amazing that it is moving at all!
USA round up
The Herald News in Illinois reports that a man is having to go to court to fight a bill for unpaid tolls. The car that was photographed not paying the toll is completely different to the minivan used by the driver but unfortunately has a license plate number which is only one digit different. Will they give him a 10 per cent reduction?
More tolls promotion - this time from a Turnpike boss and consultant - Allentown Morning Call (Pa.) - "Turnpike lease of I-80 is best way to fix roads".
Other stories - Washington State - "Prop. 1 vote puts more focus on 520 tolls" New York - "Speaking Out About Toll Hikes".
Thursday 22 November 2007
Manchester Toll - Referendum
MART, the group campaigning against the Greater Manchester Toll plans look as if they are going to win the battle to have a referendum in Bury - Local Transport Today - "Manchester TIF bid in jeopardy as opponents secure referendum". Two (Stockport and Trafford) of the other ten Greater Manchester authorities have already carried out some form of consultation and voted against the toll plans. Despite this the toll plan covering all 10 authorities in the Greater Manchester area was submitted to the Government at the end of July. A decision is expected just before Christmas - a good time to "bury" news that the Government is giving "permission" to authorities to introduce tolls that they don't want!
No Greenwich toll?
A story in the Wharf says that - "Road tunnel tolls ruled out" for using the Blackwall tunnel. But the Mayor has already created the congestion in the area by stopping the contra flow on "safety" grounds, and he may have just passed the buck to Greenwich Council to introduce tolls in the roads leading up to the tunnel.
Still going slow
Another story on London traffic being as slow as before the toll was introduced in 2003 - Evening Standard - "Congestion 'as bad as before the charge'".
USA round up
Streetsblog gives its view on the Quinnipac survey on the New York Toll - "Obvious, yet elusive, pricing poll question". This is the usual disinformation - the fact is that with a toll zone scheme almost all the money collected is needed to cover the cost of running the scheme. If people knew the truth, almost no drivers would support these toll plans.
Other stories - Pennsylvania - "The worst bridge in Clarion County" Pennsylvania - "Turnpike chief fails to sway opinions" New York - "Spitzer rapped as a fare-thee-not-so-well".
New Hampshire - "Tollbooths seemed like a good idea at the time" Washington State - "No excuses now, folks" New Jersey / New York - "Port Authority sets 7 hearings" Pennsylvania - "Lawmaker disputes big gas tax scenario" Florida - "I-75 tolls: Consultants refute claims projections are padded" "Pennsylvania meetings draw opposition to tolls" New York - "Rally Planned Against Thruway Tolls" Pennsylvania - "State Sen. Asks For Investigation Of PTC Head" New Jersey - "How Corzine's toll-road plan will affect you" Oregon - "For Whom The Bridge Tolls".
Cambridge Toll - Road show
The headline says "Have your say on road tolls", what it really means is come and listen to the sales pitch - CEN - "Have your say on road tolls".
It' alright for some
- Sydney Morning Herald - "Pollies can drive us round the bend and we foot bill".
Wednesday 21 November 2007
Storm in a teacup
Politicians and all the news media are getting into a tizzy over personal data for 25 million people going astray despite procedures which are supposed to stop it from happening- BBC - "Brown apologises for records loss". The only thing that is news about this is that it has been admitted. For all we know personal data is being lost and stolen every 5 minutes. And a lot of data, including that from the congestion charge is officially handed around using RIPA and other powers. What should be news is not this loss of data, it is that the politicians expect that the public will be daft enough to believe that road pricing data will be secure.
Road Pricing Bill
Yesterday the Lords had the second reading of the "Road Pricing and More Power for Transport Quangos Bill" aka "Local Transport Bill" - first part of debate second part of debate (The debate is in two parts as it was interrupted by a Government statement on the personal data being lost.)
In the debate the Conservative Party was accused by one of the Labour peers of "adopting the role of the motorist’s friend in these debates". If so then the Tories, (with a few exceptions including Viscount Simon who said - "With those cars owned by people who cannot afford to continue driving off the roads, congestion will be reduced, leaving roads clearer for the drivers who are not concerned about the cost. Maybe I am being cynical, but this Bill appears to pay lip service to the poor while encouraging the financially sound to continue motoring."), did not make a very good job of it as it seems that the Government has conned them about road pricing and the Tory Lords will not mount any serious opposition to the principles or detail of the bill.
The same Labour peer said - "One of the great weaknesses of the present charging system as far as roads and motorways are concerned is that once one has purchased a car, whether on hire-purchase or directly, and paid for the petrol, the insurance and all the other things, it does not make any sense to leave it on the drive and catch a bus. The sooner the cost of a journey is more accurately reflected in each journey undertaken, the better." Perhaps the noble Lord is not aware that the petrol does not last forever and that one needs to refill the tank!
Road Transport.com has a story which implies that the authorities in the Bristol area have submitted a TIF Congestion Charge bid - "South West considers road pricing". But it appears from - the Bristol Council website that all that has been submitted (so far) is a document indicating that they will make a submission "in early 2008".
National Toll - not yet
"The Journal" in the North East has three road pricing stories on one page - "Pay as you work parking proposal".
In the workplace parking part the man who helped with the "C" charge says of road user charging that “I think the ambition of Government is to see this as a national policy."
In the "Road pricing inevitable" part the former Roads Minister says why the Government is being "coy" about their road toll plans and says - "it would take just one successful campaign to help introduce road pricing in towns and cities across the UK.".
The third part is about the local authorities demanding even more road toll powers.
Euro Toll Orders
The Eurocrats are telling Bulgaria to change a toll road contract - News.bg - "EC's Recommendations for Trakia Highway Concession". The first new clause says that "Bulgaria will be obliged to refund the operator for about 50% of revenue lost due to low traffic". That should certainly encourage the Government to whip up customers.
USA round up
More on "Coffee" Day - PR newswire - "MULTIPLE U.S. CITY TOLLWAYS* ARE FREE ON THE MOST HEAVILY TRAVELED DAY OF THE YEAR". We could not resist this headline - "George Bush Turnpike in Plano to whore itself out to Maxwell House Wednesday".
Other stories - Illinois / Missouri - "McKinley's reopening, but other bridge on leaders' minds " Texas - "Tollway authority promises to meet deadline on Texas 161" Texas - "NTTA borrows $3.49 billion for toll project" New York - "A toll story - The Thruway has delayed increases, but not junked them" New Jersey / New York - "Building a better commute to New York" New Jersey - "Bankers will gain, motorists will lose" New York - "SPITZER'S MTA MESS" Pennsylvania - "Tolls on I-80 can't be justified" Pennsylvania - "Foe of tolls on I-80 asks an SEC inquiry" Pennsylvania - "How to oppose tolls on Interstate 80" Texas - "TXDOT looks to managed lanes on MoPac" Pennsylvania - "PA Congressman English on Interstate-80" New York - "Valesky objects to raising tolls".
Tuesday 20 November 2007
USA round up - some late stories
- New York - "16-mile tunnel to Rye proposed" Kentucky - "Senate boss touts highway bill" Washington State - "It's time to take public roadways private".
Ground breaking idea from DfT
The DfT want more people to use public transport and have announced that part of their research shows that "improving frequency and reliability of public transport services was a key concern" - DfT / GNN - "Research shows new routes to boosting public transport use". What a radical idea, maybe they won't need road tolls after all!
"Discounts" on toll to cross free bridge
The people in the Liverpool area are Britain's toll champs (or is it chumps?). They have paid more tolls for longer than anywhere else in Britain. The authorities now plan to toll a new bridge and bridge that has been free since it was opened in 1961, and they are being promised "discounts"! Northwich Guardian - "Cut-price tolls for local residents on Mersey Gateway".
A device has been announced which it is claimed will automatically pay the £8 London Toll when a vehicle enters the charge zone - Evening Standard - "Drivers' black box could end C-charge fines".
PS From C-net - "KenBuster: Auto Congestion Charge payment nonsense".
The Mayor has gone to India and is looking at suitable trees for when London weather shifts south - Press release from the Mayor - "London Mayor and Nobel prize winner Dr Rajendra K Pachauri urge city cooperation to tackle climate change". Presumably to minimise his "carbon footprint" the Mayor did not fly, so will he back in time for the election?
East Midlands Toll - More buses
"PLANS TO GET PEOPLE ON THE BUSES".
New tolls for Nigeria
Nigeria, which has no fuel tax, is to reintroduce road tolls - Financial Standard - "The return of toll gates ". As there is misuse of tolls even in developed countries, it is not surprising that in other areas tolls are little different to extortion from highway bandits. Nigeria got rid of the previous tolls, because almost none of the money came to the authorities. It is unlikely that farming toll taxes out to private road operators will be much different.
Root of it all
An Oxford councillor from the "Independent Working Class Association" points to the right wing economics background of road pricing - Oxford Mail - "Wreaking havoc".
USA round up
It seems that the increases in New York transit fares and Thruway tolls will be less than was proposed - NY Times - "Spitzer Directs M.T.A. to Keep Base Subway and Bus Fare at $2".
The report in yesterday's Chinese paper has reached one New York paper - NY Daily News - "New poll shows 61% of city voters opposed to congestion pricing".
More about tolls being "inevitable" in Washington State - Crosscut - "Washington lawmakers plan to pass a major highway-tolling bill".
Toll collectors to vote on joining the Teamsters - Munster Times (Indiana) - "Toll Road booth workers to vote on union".
FHA still selling the ever popular tolls - Bradenton Herald - "Finance creatively". Do they really need to sell toll roads in Florida?
Police arrest a driver who was acting supiciously by not patiently queueing at the toll booth - Union Leader (New Hampshire) - "Driver eludes police after tussle at Hampton tolls".
More on consultation on tolling I-80 in Pennsylvania - - "Crowd speaks out on I-80 tolls" "I-80 toll plan hearing draws little interest" "State officials hit with more questions about I-80 tolling" "State officials hit with more questions about I-80 tolling" "Many Drivers Oppose Proposal For I-80 Tolls" "I-80 Toll Hearing in E. Stroudsburg" (VIDEO).
Complaint that California is spending money on HOV lanes and other inefficient measures - North County Times - "Reject The Regional Transportation Plan ".
Other stories -
California - "Drivers say tollway is on road to success" New Jersey / New York - "Hearings set on toll hike plan" "Arizona legislator pushes for privatized toll roads" New Mexico - "State researches toll roads" Washington State - "Congestion pricing: tolls loom for Puget Sound" New Jersey - "Public still awaits asset monetization plan" Texas - "Group Says TxDOT Keeping Information on US-281 Toll Project Secret" Pennsylvania - "I-80 tolls could set precedent".
The BBC reports that the Northern Ireland Finance Committee which is chaired by Sinn Fein is recommending road charging is introduced.
Congestion? Move house or don't
Winnipeg Sun - "Live here, work there".
Suggestion for higher toll
The Mayor wants to take over all the overground lines, and the body that looks after passenger interests says that this could be partly financed through higher "C" charges - Times - "London mayor plans to take public control of rail services".
Monday 19 November 2007
USA round up - late story
This is a report from China not yet in US papers - Xinhua - "Poll: fewer New Yorkers support mayor's congestion pricing proposal" - Though as most of the NY papers support the New York Toll, they may give it a different spin.
Computerworld reports that the Information Commissioner has told the Lords Constitution Committee that he has various concerns including on the "plans to share road-charging data with police" - "'Government policies threaten data privacy, warns information commissioner". We have tried to see more on this but there is nothing on the Constitution Committee website.
As another PS to our report below on the Road Pricing Conference, the Guardian has a report on the new energy advice service and suggests that - "The approach signals a shift towards an approach using incentives to combat climate change, and a move away from more unpopular punitive measures such as road pricing." - "Benn launches climate change advice service". It is heartening that the authorities are so concerned about the opposition to road tolls that this is their latest spin. BUT the Government's wise men and women must have known all along that using road tolls to reduce CO2 emissions is just another illogical green delusion which would have the opposite effect to that claimed. If the Government have really changed their tune they will stop the road pricing pilot schemes which are reliant on a combination of TIF money and undemocratic powers which they plan to extend to the transport quangos.
PS A later report on the BBC covers the PM's speech on saving the planet. He does not mention tolls and other measures against drivers though that is part of the IPCC plan (see "New Climate report out" on Saturday)- "PM outlines climate action plan".
East Midlands Toll - Spin starts
The East Midlands is one of the 10 potential pilot areas for national road pricing. The prospects of this going ahead seemed slim, but it now seems that they will apply for TIF money, and the spin campaign of the authorities has started - Derby Evening Telegraph - "£2 CHARGE TO DRIVE INTO CITY" "FUTURE SHOCK AS FIGURES SHOW A DERBY CRAWLING TO WORK IN 2021".
Cambridge Toll - More power wanted
On Saturday we reported - "More power wanted for local authorities" to bring in road tolls. Unfortunately most of the news media have fallen for the spin and don't realise that the authorities, including Cambridgeshire, already have the power to bring in road tolls - "'Councils must get tougher on cars'". We are pleased to see that the story incidentally mentions that Cambridge Tories are opposed to the road tolls scheme - perhaps they could whisper in the ear of their comrades at the County who are the ones pushing this.
According to a group called "London Policy Institute", Ken is ahead in the polls. This report also says that "Livingstone's policy of making drivers pay a daily fee to enter the central city, isn't a significant issue for 44 percent of those polled" - Bloomberg (USA) - "London Poll Says Livingstone Leads, Transportation Is Top Issue". As most of those polled probably don't drive through or own retail businesses in the charge area, the surprise is that if you look at the other side then 56% per cent do think it's a "significant issue".
Road Pricing Conference report
On Thursday, under the heading of "Bad roads and more tolls" we mentioned the "Transport Times Annual Road Pricing Conference". Among the many friends of drivers who were due to speak were - a Transport Minister; the Tory Shadow Secretary of State for Transport; the Transport Commissioner for London who is also chairman of the "Commission for Integrated Transport"; the Managing Director of Planning at TfL; the Sales Director from "Q-free" (they are based in Norway and their website says that they are "Europe’s leading supplier of electronic toll collection systems" and their "focus is on Road User Charging"); the Account Director for Road Charging at T-Systems Satellic (part of Deutsche Telekom which on its website says it is "the global technology leader and service provider for the development and operation of electronic road charging systems based on satellite technology (GPS, Galileo)"); the RAC Foundation boss; the boss of "Transport 2000" (which changed its name in September to "Campaign for Better Transport" though it might be more aptly named the campaign to stop cars); and bosses from Cambridgeshire County Council and Manchester City Council.
There are no press reports of what was said at the conference but the DfT have published what the Transport Minister, Rosie Winterton said. The "David" that the Minister refers to is David Begg who chaired the conference and has been said to have been the man behind the attempt to toll Edinburgh.
PS Ruth Kelly, the Transport Minister's boss, was interviewed on the BBC yesterday. She tried to give the impression that the Government had no plans for road pricing and she was putting the onus on local authorities and the passenger transport quangos to come up with local road toll schemes.
Authorities to create more congestion
ABD Press release - "Birmingham`s A47 'Car Share' Lane Criticised
- Another road capacity reduction for Birmingham".
USA round up
Maxwell House, the coffee maker, is to pay the tolls for one day (this Wednesday) in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Miami, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. In Florida users of the Miami-Dade Expressway will pay no tolls on Thursday and Friday; the authority say that this is part of a "customer appreciation experiment".
A possible reason for all this largesse is that around Thursday's Thanksgiving Day holiday it becomes obvious to even the most blinkered drivers that the tolls are there just to add to congestion and their misery. Though there are some who are not blinkered - Baltimore Sun - "Dodging Delaware's tolls? Don't forget the road atlas".
There have been many reports following the rejection of Proposition 1 (mass transit plus roads package) in Washington State. Ideas now being put forward include more tolls (of course!), people moving closer to where they work, and not doing anything - as it will just encourage more development and more people moving to the state - Herald Net - "Readers have ideas to pay for road work".
The people of Pennsylvania are being offered a choice of more tolls and privatization or tolling the interstate. There is of course "no other choice" and various interests attack anyone trying to stop it, as here - Erie Times - "Specter, House save I-80 funding plan".
In New Jersey, the Governor (who used to run Goldman Sachs) appears to have come up with a new twist - replacing general debt with debt to be repaid from toll increases, though it is all still a secret - Home News Tribune - "Finding road to fiscal stability requires open minds".
Other stories - Pennsylvania - "Pa. puts a heavy stake on I-80 tolls" New York - "Lawmakers to take stand on Thruway toll hikes" New York - "Boaters should pay for canal maintenance" Maryland - "Can tolls work? Commissioner Thompson believes user fees will solve funding problems" New York - "Everyone should protest toll hike now" Pennsylvania - "Tolling I-80: Backward thinking" New York - "OUTRAGE OVER FREE E-ZPASSES".
Sunday 18 November 2007
A PR firm has an exacting test for job applicants, they have to - "make a presentation on “something unpopular” such as speed cameras or the congestion charge, then write a “letter to a Martian trying to sell them an Earth potato”" - Times - "PR machine that employs only the cleverest cogs".
USA round up
A rare case of a tolled bridge becoming free - Northwest Herald (Illinois) - "Updated bridge 'new life'".
Someone in Pennsylvania has not got the trolls message as they call for "a fair and efficient tax" - Morning Call - "Raising fuel taxes makes more sense".
One of many reports since Thursday's decision - Hudson Reporter - "Port Authority announces planned hikes at tunnels, bridges".
Other stories - New York - "Thruway overtime put under scrutiny" New Hampshire - "Can private sector bridge the way to Litchfield?" New York - "OUTRAGE OVER FREE E-ZPASSES" California - "State lacks vision for infrastructure" Virginia - "‘No room for error’" New Jersey - "Corzine needs clarity on toll-hike proposal" Pennsylvania - "English decries I-80 toll meeting" New Jersey - "Port Authority must heed the public" Florida - "City Employees Violating SunPass Tolls".
Saturday 17 November 2007
New Climate report out
Further to our report yesterday, the BBC have today updated their story - "UN challenges states on warming". It seems foolish to try and contradict the consensus view of "the thousands of scientists involved", and not forgetting their "recent award of the Nobel Peace Prize", but there have been a few heretics - "“The scientific consensus on climate change” - The letter Science Magazine refused to publish".
The draft IPCC report that was issued to the press has a lot of conclusions and recommendations. One of which is more - "Taxes on vehicle purchase, registration, use and motor fuels, road and parking pricing.". If the purpose was to reduce CO2 emissions there is only one tax policy that makes sense - fuel tax. So why do these thousands of experts endorse taxes that will have no direct effect and may actually mean that fuel taxes are lower in order to offset taxes that are paid no matter how little CO2 is emitted? Does IPCC stand for International Politically Correct Committee?
USA round up - today
- New York - "Thruway Authority delays vote on toll hike" Florida - "Orlando-Orange Expressway Authority wants to finish Wekiva River beltway loop" New York - "Toll hike plan takes detour" New Jersey - "Public denied look at toll plan" Florida - "City employees rack up tollbooth tickets"
New York - "Spitzer and the Backlash Heard Around the World" New Jersey - "Corzine fights GOP suits on Turnpike" New York - "'E-Z' Going for Some Motorists While You Dish Out More Coin!" New York - Streetsblog on the NY Toll.
Humber Toll - "TOLL IMPACTS TO BE CALCULATED"
- Scunthorpe Telegraph.
More power wanted for local authorities
A group called the "National Local Government Network" issued a report yesterday - "The Politics of Traffic - A local route to reduced congestion". They want more power and money for local authorities to tell the bus companies what they should do. They also want local authorities to be free to bring in road tolls - which is odd as they already have this power.
Norwich Toll - "Consultation"
- Norwich Evening News - "We need better public transport".
Euro Tolls - "Hauliers' views sought on EU road charging"
- Road Transport.
USA round up - Friday
- Florida - "Transportation secretary says law doesn't allow tolling of lanes 5 and 6 of Interstate 75" California - "South Bay Expressway Set to Open" New York - "No tolls for current and former Thruway employees" New York - "A Bronx view of congestion pricing" New York - "Thruway Toll Hike Vote Delayed; Audit Planned" New Jersey - "Judge: Corzine can keep toll road study private" Pennsylvania - "Turnpike chief: I-80 tolls the best option" Texas - "TxDOT Plans Toll Roads In Manor".
New York - "PA SEEKS 60% TOLL HIKE" California - "New era tolls for county's commuters" Virginia - "Public to get a say on roads taxes, fees" Pennsylvania - "Corzine hints toll plan worth $15 billion" Texas - "State threatens to cancel Highway 161 toll project" New Jersey - "Corzine’s New Equation: Tolls Up, Borrowing Down" "Ariz. Lawmaker: Toll Roads Best Option" Maryland - "Crime briefs"
Massachusetts - "How highway dollars are wasted".
An American is telling New Zealanders that they should have more tolls - Stuff - "Congestion charges 'needed in NZ cities'".
Boris not as hot for London Toll
The Tory candidate for Mayor backs away a little bit from his backing for the "C" tolls - Evening Standard - "Boris backs small shops campaign". A separate report says that Brian Paddick, the Lib Dem Mayoral candidate, is also backing away a tiny bit from his tolls support - he says that delivery vehicles should be exempt.
Friday 16 November 2007
Following yesterday's debate and vote in the Scottish Parliament, Scotland has moved closer to the abolition of tolls. There are more details on the Scotland News page.
The trolls know that they have lost but are still putting up a fight as they know that this will be a blow to their plans for road tolls and road privatisation throughout the UK.
New Climate report due out
BBC - "IPCC to warn of 'abrupt' warming". ABD Press release - "IPCC Climate Report - Synthesis or Synthetic?".
As might be expected the BBC is following the official line and distributing the "facts" that it is given. Who know, it may be that even though the science and the figures are selective and biased, the conclusions about the planet getting warmer due to CO2 may be correct. No one really knows either way. What we do definitely know is that the world is heading for a catastrophe because of rising population, but unfortunately though there is a climate change industry getting billions, the interests that control this planet want concerns about rising world population to be gagged. In the meantime all we get from the greenies is ideas that don't address the real problem of rising population and even in their CO2 focus area have an impact that will actually increase CO2 production through policies such as London's introduction of hydrogen fuelled buses or the switch from fuel taxes to road tolls.
Thursday 15 November 2007
Galileo is needed as present GPS is not accurate enough for road pricing
There has been a meeting to discuss Galileo - Cordis - "Growing Galileo: the technology is already in place, conference hears". The meeting was informed about the EU-funded "GIROADS" project, which "tested the implications of position integrity for road charging". The project found that - "drivers can be charged incorrectly using current GPS systems due to the technology's inability to pinpoint exactly which road a vehicle is on. The same errors were not made when EGNOS was used to locate the position of the vehicle in question."
Another green initative
The Mayor is to buy hydrogen powered buses, though they are eight times more expensive than other buses - "Mayor Ken buys hydrogen buses for London - Possible break with Chavez?".
This is a typical green idea. Burning the hydrogen will produce electricity, and the hydrogen is itself produced through electrolysis. This process loses about 50% of the energy from the original source. If this source was the usual "green" ones such as wind etc, this might not be crucial, but in fact all the renewable (and nuclear) sources go into base load and at the margin electricity is produced by throwing another lump of coal on the fire or burning more gas or oil. So whatever else the Mayor will do with this initiative it will increase the amount of CO2 emissions which the Mayor is so worried about.
Anti toll candidate
- Mayor Watch - "Anti-Congestion Charge Party Announces Candidate".
Mayor's plans to further improve traffic flow
If Top Gear repeat their race in a few year's time, then Richard Hammond will probably win without needing to break sweat - Times - "Cars out as London mayor clears way for Paris-style plage and cycle boulevards".
Waltham Forest Toll?
- East London Guardian - "Tories voice fears of local C-charge".
Bad roads and more tolls
Motor Trader reports - "UK roads the worst in Europe". The story seems to partly come from today's "TRANSPORT TIMES ANNUAL ROAD PRICING CONFERENCE" which was on the theme of "progess" towards road pricing. It included the RAC Foundation who seem to be the number one sales agency for road pricing. Is it only a coincidence that the "Road Users Alliance" issued their press release (Word doc) on the day of the road pricing conference?
USA round up
It seems that economic problems and particularly the high gas prices are hitting the trolls - Toldeo Blade - "Traffic decline stalls Ohio Turnpike work".
Where the tolls go - NJ.com - "PA giving $1B more to rail tunnel" NJ.com - "Drivers entering NYC will have to pay higher tolls under new plan".
New York Toll - Newsday / AP - "Bids: Bloomberg's congestion plan to take longer".
Other stories - "Fight Over New York Thruway Tolls Takes New Step" New York - "Port Authority To Vote On Proposed Toll Hike" Washington State - "Bridge plan includes talk of tolls" New York - "Lawmakers target free rides on Thruway - Toll flap highlights authority staff perk" Washington State - "DOT isn’t looking out for Narrows tollpayers" Washington State - "HOT lanes likely to cost drivers a cool sum" North Carolina - "Booths for tolls tossed - The Triangle Expressway will use an electronic pay system" Pennsylvania - "Toll hikes likely on DRPA spans early next year" New York - "Should Tappan Zee have congestion price?" Texas - "Planners narrow proposed I-69 corridor" Pennsylvania - "I-80 tolling plan still underway despite opposition" Texas - "Open Highway" California - "Long-term infrastructure picture not pretty" Pennsylvania - "20+ New Taxes Proposed to Pay for Roads, Bridges"
Pennsylvania - "Business Leaders Raise I-80 Toll Questions"
Georgia - "State proposes longer HOV lanes on I-20 east" North Carolina - "Despite lack of funding, plans for tolls continue".
Wednesday 14 November 2007
The presenters of BBC programme Top Gear had a race across London to the city Airport. James May went by car (aided by sat nav so that he wouldn't get lost), Richard Hammond on a £1,700 bicycle, the Stig by bus and train and Jeremy Clarkson went by speedboat along the Thames. The result was that the cycle won, closely followed by the speedboat. Third was public transport and the car was a poor last.
What does this prove? Possibly not much as if anyone other than Hammond had been on the bike, they may have come last. But it does reinforce the recent message that despite the claims made about the "C" charge, London has the slowest traffic in Europe.
USA round up - later stories
more - New York - "Thruway tolls prolong war" Texas - "Tolls: What to expect down the road" New York - "A simpler cheaper traffic fix" Pennsylvania - "Lawmakers worry I-80 tolls will increase I-81 traffic" California - "Transit projects hitting speed bumps" New York - "Open Thruway books" New York - "For Paladino, Thruway tolls prolong war" Texas - "I-69 likely to use area roadways - Existing lanes would not have toll, officials say".
And another report on "No" to a Greenwich toll
Bexley Times - "Drivers revved up over charging".
Cambridge Toll - Questions and Answers
What the Council says - CEN - "Council outlines the case for road tolls".
Near the bottom of the above report there is a section on - "OPPOSITION URGES PLANS TO BE SCRAPPED". The Lib Dems are making some token murmurs against the plans, but Labour councillors in Cambridge City have come all out against the plans. This is unlikely to influence the Labour Government as they are probably anxious to see the Tories grasp the road tolls nettle.
A suggestion that there would be no need for road tolls, if people got a bike! CEN.
USA round up - earlier stories
George's Transport Secretary, Mary Peters, is still doing the rounds trying to sell the twin ideas that tolls should replace gas tax, and that roads should be privatized using "public private partnership" deals - News OK - "Partnerships to bring change in transportation". She told the meeting of the "Council of State Governments" in Oklahoma City that - "These partnerships are a proven method of financing highways without adding to the tax burden of motorists." How many drivers will believe that a toll is not a tax?
- Baltimore Sun - "A gift of time, 'paid back' in $5 tolls".
A report on the part of Florida that recently switched to one way tolls - News Press - "New tolls shrink bridge traffic".
Congressman Anthony Weiner makes various suggestions to avoid a New York toll, including raising the gas tax - Streetsblog - "Weiner imagines paying for his traffic plan with a gas tax raise". The congressman is certainly brave as the NY news editors and other interests will not like what he is saying.
Other stories -
Washington State - "New contract for new bridge?" Pennsylvania - "Don't like putting tolls on I-80? Then come up with another source of funds" Pennsylvania - "Peterson again jabs turnpike agency" California - "Fight a fire, pay a fine?" Texas - "Valley highways in the running for I-69 designation?" New York - "Toll bump to be $2 for Hudson crossings" Pennsylvania - "Officials: I-80 toll money needed" Washington State - "Tolls on other highways could pay for 520 Bridge" Pennsylvania - "Residents pan state’s tolling plan" New York - "The fight against increased tolls".
""Bottleneck Britain" Turns into a Sales Pitch for Government Road Pricing Plans"
- ABD press release about Monday night's Channel Four prog.
Another report suggesting that the Government emphasis will switch from road pricing to workplace parking levy - Liverpool Daily Post - "Taxing times ahead". Assuming these stories emanate from the Government it is difficult to see the motive. It is already the case that a council making a TIF Congestion Charge submission can opt for a workplace parking levy instead of a road toll, but so far no one has accepted this alternate poisoned apple.
Tuesday 13 November 2007
Another soaking for the masses
A new lobby has started with the aim of introducing penal rates of tax on alcohol. Many people do have an alcohol problem, and banning alcohol advertising seems a fair idea (unless your name is Saatchi), but using this as an excuse for more taxes sounds just a bit like so called "congestion charging". It seems that at least one person has made the connection - Bits of News - "Calls For Higher Tax on Alcohol Don't Make Sense".
Welsh toll up again
The toll for driving into Wales via the Severn bridges increases again on the 1st January. Cars go up by 20 pence to £5.30. Other vehicles increase to £10.60 and £15.90.
Nationwide by 2015?
It is common knowledge that some of the pressure for road tolls comes from the Eurocrats. One of the green groups that helps to push the MEPs in the right direction is the - European Federation for Transport & Environment. During the summer they published "A price worth paying". It is mainly about lorry tolls but page 51 reveals what the British and European bureaucrats are discussing - "The British government is now investigating the case for nationwide road pricing based on full marginal social cost pricing... road charging would halve the additional kilometres of interurban roads needing to be built (including lane widening) between 2015 and 2025. Planners are working towards a provisional implementation date of 2015.(our underlining) Any proposed scheme will be distance-based and intended to minimise the environmental and climate impact of the transport system as well as reduce congestion. Congestion charges and motorway tolls are amongst the schemes likely to be considered. There are on-going discussions about interoperability and technical compatibility of local congestion charges and a nationwide scheme."
Toll tool trouble
An important part of the European road tolls plan is the Galileo system. Yesterday the Commons Transport Committee issued this report on it - "Galileo: Recent
Developments" pdf version. The DfT told the committee (page 48)that "the Commission has been quite keen to suggest that Galileo is essential for some policy uses, you know, road tolling is often mentioned". The committee do not appear to be Galileo fans, but the possibility that it might be needed for road tolling may have stopped them from completely damning it and they ended up saying "We are not opposed to the Galileo project per se, but we see no choice but to recommend that the British Government seek a debate on the future of Galileo." Though this is not quite the way most of the news media reported it - BBC.
Galileo was also in trouble today in Brussels - IHT - "Germany fails to get EU backing to get European Space Agency to help pay for Galileo".
Cambridge Toll - New Tory leader presses on
Following yesterday's resignation, the new Tory leader of Cambridgeshire County Council says that they will press on with the road toll plans - CEN - "Road toll plans are still on the table". This will be good news for the Labour Government, as tolls would have been identified with them, if Cambridgeshire had backed out.
Report in Wisbech Standard on the former leader - "Three weeks of woe culminate in councillors leadership resignation".
The Voters choice - tolls or tolls or tolls
The Lib Dems have picked ex police boss Ian Paddick as their candidate for Mayor of London. Like Ken and Boris he will keep the "C" toll if elected - ITN - "Paddick to stand for London mayor".
More on Go Slow
Another report on traffic in the zone being slower despite the London Toll charge - Fleet News - "Capital congestion gets worse". Though traffic is now travelling 6 per cent slower than before the charge was introduced in 2003, it is said that there is still an "improvement in congestion" of 8 per cent. Interesting arithmetic.
USA round up
The authorities deny that they are using the facility to determine the speeds of electronic toll users - 13wham - "Is Big Brother Watching Thruway Drivers?".
Developers of a casino are negotiating with the Kansas Turnpike so that punters will get their tolls reimbursed - Wichita Eagle - "MGM joins plan to build casino". This sounds like a very expensive way of avoiding tolls!
More on the removal of amendment that would have prevented tolling of Interstate - Land Line - "Amendment to stop I-80 tolls dropped from legislation".
Other stories -
New York - "Toll hikes look likely on the Thruway" Pennsylvania - "I-80 toll meeting: questions and concerns" New York - "Thruway Director Defending Spending" Pennsylvania - "New taxes for transit needed" Illinois - "Motorists give highway a thumbs-up - First drivers take to tollway" Pennsylvania - "Few new details emerge about I-80 tolls" Colorado - "GOP wants cities to take over highway repairs" Pennsylvania - "I-80 toll likely about $2.50" Pennsylvania - "Public far from convinced I-80 tolls a good idea" Pennsylvania - "Questions and concerns at I-80 toll meeting" New York - "Thruway should reconsider plan to increase tolls
Bus lane or not?
Jakarta has just opened its bus lanes to other traffic to ease congestion, but opponents want the bus lanes reintroduced and road pricing used to force less well off drivers out of cars and into buses - Jakarta Post - "City plan to open busway lanes to public 'absurd'".
Monday 12 November 2007
More tolls selling
Tonight on Channel Four, the Dispatches programme was an hour of "Bottleneck Britain". It covered various issues affecting drivers, including speed cameras and parking fines but mainly dealt with road pricing. The programme makers may have thought they were being fair, but unfortunately they ignored the massive costs of running road pricing schemes and said that the London "C" charge had been a big success as "all transport experts" agreed that it had. It seems that the programme makers may have been influenced by groups such as the RAC Foundation who's mission in life seems to be to try and outdo the Government in its efforts to sell road pricing.
The best laugh of all was the trial that was carried out to show how road pricing would affect 4 real drivers. The annual mileage of the 4 drivers was given as 4,000 miles, 7,000 miles, 15,000 miles and 73,000 miles (a van driver who made deliveries around Britain). At the end of the programme the 4 drivers were given their annual "bills" for road pricing. The annual bills were £315 (an average of 8 pence a mile), £115 (average of less than 2 pence a mile), £212 (average of less than 1.5 pence a mile), and £616 (average of less than 1 pence a mile)(for the van driver). The drivers could not believe how low their bills were. Why does anybody believe that drivers are so stupid that they will believe these figures? Charges of 2 pence a mile or less would not even cover the cost of collecting the charge. And why does anybody think that a charge of 1 pence a mile would have any effect on driver behaviour?
Cambridge Toll - Council publishes submission to DfT
We made a request to Cambridgeshire County Council for them to publish the TIF Congestion Charge submission that they made to the DfT last month. We expected to see it on the 12th of Never, but the Council have been uniquely open and it is today on their website - Cambridgeshire County Council - "Our bid to Government".
Cambridge Toll - Council boss quits
The leader of Cambridgeshire County Council is the main person who has been identified with the recent toll plans. She has now resigned for other reasons, but this may encourage Tory anti toll rebels - CEN - "Council leader quits after just six months".
The London Tories
Last Friday, Angie Bray was on the Tory blog talking about the "C" charge. Angie is the Tory leader on the London Assembly, and she was opposed to the charge. Though we now have Boris supporting the charge, her position seems to be the same. But as with any blog, the best points are made by those who join in to - the blog.
Autocar report - "Penalties keep congestion charge afloat".
Further report on "No" to a Greenwich toll
News Shopper - "Residents against congestion charge".
On the box
The Dispatches programme at 8 o'clock tonight on Channel Four is "Bottleneck Britain". It will cover road pricing etc.
China staying on toll road
A report in the South China Morning Post appears to confirm that China has abandoned its tentative plans for a fuel tax and will keep road tolls. There is a different report in the Shanghai Daily on - "Endless road toll taking a big rip-off".
USA round up
One way of avoiding tolls - Baltimore Sun - "It's time to refine the I-95 end run".
Some Americans are more equal than others - Buffalo News - "High tolls hit everybody - except agency’s employees". There are also these reports on where the money goes - Buffalo News - "The Thruway way: spend, spend, spend" Buffalo News - "Higgins wants audit of Thruway Authority spending - Says public should see how tolls are spent".
Other stories -
New York - "A simpler, cheaper traffic fix" New York - "ON E-Z STREET TO NYC - RICH NJERS ON TOLL ROLL" Pennsylvania - "Toll booth plans proceed, despite public's opposition" Pennsylvania - "Disgusted by plans to make I-80 a toll road" Pennsylvania - "New life for turnpike-lease plan" New York - "Have your say on the toll-hike plan" Texas - "Businesses split on tollway benefits".
More tolls pushing
Montreal Gazette - "Tolls make more sense than a meal tax".
"Canberra out to lure Sydneysiders"
People are urged to - "move to a better lifestyle, free of road tolls and traffic jams" - Sydney Morning Herald.
Sunday 11 November 2007
We have ways of making you slim
News of the World - "Take a walk, fattie - Car ban to force obese to exercise".
More on number plates
Times - "Attack of the clones".
More pleading from BMW
Times - "Don’t tax our cars out of UK".
ABD say their safety advice ignored
It seems that the Government have ignored Highway Code suggestions from the Association of British Drivers - "Drivers` Safety Advice Ignored in Highway Code Review". As a matter of principle the politicians seem to ignore anyone who really speaks on behalf of drivers, they only listen to those who want to restrict roads use and to those who collaborate with them in their anti driver measures.
USA round up
Campaign against existing tolls in New York state - WNY Media - "Follow the NYS Thruway Tolls Money Trail".
It seems that the natives of Illinois don't think it strange that a new toll road is dedicated as a memorial to veterans - Daily Herald - "New tollway promises major changes".
One of the side benefits of tolling interstates - Standard-Speaker (Pa.) - "Fees could send truck traffic onto secondary roads".
Most of the big circulation papers are pro tolls, thouigh ocassionally other views get in - letter in Washington Post - "We Need the Road, but Why the Tolls?".
Other stories - New York - "Manhattan congestion pricing plan to be discussed at Rockland meeting" Pennsylvania - "Tolls for thee? Public session set" Florida - "Group takes toll review on the road" Massachusetts - "Protesting tolls the easy part for legislators".
More Dublin tolls?
Sunday Business Post - "Dail to consider congestion charge for Dublin city".
Montreal Toll ring to be built
Financial Post - "'It's just sucking up people and money'".
Saturday 10 November 2007
Greenies plan further attack on plant food
According to the Times, the great brains that control the country are planning to put extra annual licence tax on cars that they say are not "low carbon" - "Green tax puts extra £1,000 on family cars". The aim is to force these cars out of existence - no matter whether they are essential to their users or how much of the dreaded carbon that they actually produce in a year.
Today there is also another story claiming that the supposedly low carbon alternative fuels may not be good. This time the story is not from anti-social drivers or heretical scientists, it is from George Monbiot, a founder of the environmental movement - Alter Net - "Biofuels Could Kill More People Than the Iraq War". George is no friend of road users, but he points out that growing bio-fuels reduces food supplies, and that the overall impact of growing bio-fuels is that there is actually a greater "greenhouse gas" effect. George presumably does not realise that he might as well not put pen to paper, because most greens and politicians seem to be incapable of any logical thought and like lemmings follow the latest green fad.
Bit more on the updated Bill
Some papers, including the News & Star in Cumbria, have interpreted the Government's spin on the Bill as meaning - "Minister backs tax for work car parks". There are various reports about the effect on Wales - Daily Post - "Assembly will get congestion charge powers". The "Welsh" Secretary, Peter Hain, said "Welsh Ministers have yet to decide what role, if any, road pricing may play in addressing current and future transport challenges, but would wish to have the powers available that would allow them to adopt a coherent approach towards any UK-wide scheme within Wales."
USA round up
The Trolls in Washington have had a major victory by having struck from a bill the provisions that would have prevented tolling of interstates - Allentown Morning Call - "Roadblock to I-80 tolls in U.S. bill is lifted" Centre Daily Times - "Bill to block tolls dies" Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - "I-80 toll backers outmaneuver foes in Congress".
Other stories - New York - "Higgins calls for state audit of Thruway Authority" "Texas lawmakers thwart bid to strip tolling ban from bill" Maryland - "Man loses tags over unpaid tolls" Pennsylvania - "Don’t miss your chance to weigh in on I-80 toll proposal" New York - "Thruway Authority moves closer to toll hike" Texas - "NTTA to borrow $3.75 million for Highway 121 toll road" (million should be billion) North Carolina - "Group Pursuing New Ways to Fund N.C. 540" Washington State - "State transporation meeting will focus on tolls" New York - "MTA finally links-congestion-pricing to fare and toll hikes" New Hampshire - "Executive council nixes toll relief".
Texas - "Belt and suspenders" New York - "Thruway Authority plans big increase in tolls: 10% in January, 10% more over next two years" Texas - "Key road projects move onto on-ramp" Pennsylvania - "I-80 toll opposition not based on facts" Massachusetts - "Turnpike Authority is told that credit rating may be lowered" Washington State - "Roads, transit -- Crafting Plan B".
Fun & Games
Singapore's latest increase in road pricing charges added to the usual effort to dodge the tolled times - Electric New Paper - "Reckless motorists pop up at new ERP gantry along CTE near Jalan Bahagia".
TfL must be getting hard up as a truck that it billed for the "C" charge was apparently in Italy at the time - Road transport.com- "TfL admits bills blunder".
Friday 9 November 2007
The updated Bill
Earlier this year the Government published a draft "Local Transport" (aka "more power for bureaucats and more road tolls") Bill. Yesterday they published the real version - DfT Local Transport Bill page, includes link to bill. Story on Transport Briefing and in the Guardian - "Local transport bill attacked over road-pricing and bus plans". The bill includes provision for Europe wide enforcement of tolls and other charges and fines - Times - "Law reaches out to foreign drivers who dodge fines". It also includes provision for the London boroughs to emulate the Mayor and bring in their own "C" charges - Evening Standard - "Boroughs 'to set own road tolls'".
Oxford says "no" to tolls
Oxford Mail - "Unfair' road pricing schemes ruled out".
USA round up
Tolls diplomacy - Inner City Press - "UN Diplomats Contest Congestion Pricing".
Where the money goes - Times Herald-Record - "Canals supported by Thruway dollars".
Other stories - Pennsylvania - "Voters oppose private turnpike, I-80 tolls, poll finds" New York - "Thruway Authority Moves Closer To Toll Hike" DC / Maryland - "Federal Judge Denies Request to Block ICC" DC / Maryland - "Federal Judge Denies Request to Block ICC" New York - "Tappan Zee Bridge toll might go up $1 by 2009" Washington State - "How to fund transportation without raising taxes" Washington State - "Admit It or Not ,Transportation Policy Is a Train Wreck" Texas - "Financing details for 121 toll road disclosed" Pennsylvania - "PTC Moves To Quell I-80 Critics".
Another report on "No" to a Greenwich toll
The Wharf - "Congestion charge anger".
Thursday 8 November 2007
Car traffic down
The DfT have issued some more stats - Road Traffic Q3 (inc links to data). For various reasons DfT stats are not a completely reliable guide to long term trends. It is however interesting that the high growth in van and goods traffic is continuing, and that apparently car traffic is down 1% year on year - how come they did not manage to hide this?
The DfT have also issued a press release on the so called "Local Transport" bill (which includes road toll provisions) - "Bus passengers to benefit from local Transport Bill - new Passenger Champion to be created". The PR does not spell out who this "passenger champion" is. It must be the unelected Passenger Transport bodies who will be able to tell the private bus operators what to do and prevent any competition with operators that make deals with the PT bosses. Who apart from the bureaucrats and politicians thinks that this will help bus passengers?
PS One area already has the politicans controlling the buses - London - here is a story from Computing today - "Bus system chokes at startup - Crashes and "ghost calls" causing problems for drivers and controllers".
Cambridge Toll - Some Tories may rebel
It seems that some Tories can recognise a bad idea that will "turn hardworking families into hard-pressed ones" - CEN - "Tory rebels in ranks 'will fight road tolls'".
More on "No" to a Greenwich toll
South London Press - "Majority say 'no' to congestion charge".
USA round up
More New York Toll views from a public meeting - Queens Gazette - "Congestion Pricing Pros, Cons Aired " Queens Ledger - "City Says Mitigate, Borough Will Communicate".
Commuters hope that a New York Toll would remove the need for fare increases - WCBS - "MTA Exec: Congestion Pricing May Stop Hike". This prospect is based on the fantasies spread by Michael's men. Based on the London experience New York would be lucky if the toll income met the cost of collecting it.
Editor of Brooklyn Daily Eagle wants more bridge tolls and a toll cordon instead of a London type charge on anything moving - "Bridge Tolls, Traffic Cordons Cost-Effective Against Congestion".
Following the rejection in Washington state of the mass transit and roads proposition, there is a call for tolls - lots of them - Herald Net - "Transportation fixes still need to be made" Seattle Times - "Roads and transit, post-Prop. 1: Where do we go from here?".
Land Line mag - "Election Day results from across the nation".
On the privately owned toll link to Canada - Metro Times Detroit - "Enjoy the dark ages"(scroll down to "Coming a Cropper").
Other stories - Pennsylvania - "Pitch for I-80 tolls leaves them cold" Pennsylvania - "More than 250 tell officials why they oppose I-80 tolls - Residents fear plan will choke alternate roads, hurt businesses" Pennsylvania - "I-80 toll hearing spurs heated remarks" Pennsylvania - "Voters: don't lease 'Pike or toll interstate".
Daily Commercial News - "Quebec signs private-public partnership agreement for Highway 25 extension".
"Traffic Pollution Kills: Study"
A Canadian report says that large numbers are being killed each year because of vehicle emissions - Health Sentinel. Is there any reason that reports like this often call for road tolls rather than for better regulations for manufacture of vehicles and a switch to gas taxes from other taxes on roads use?
A little piece of Oz in China
The Australian group that has worldwide toll interests has now bought a Chinese road - Finance Asia - "Macquarie buys stake in Guangzhou toll road". Traffic growth in China is stimulated by the lack of any fuel taxes. Presumably the Chinese have reassured the Australians that they have no intention of introducing one.
Wednesday 7 November 2007
Removal of Scottish tolls takes a big step forward
The committee of MSPs looking at the Tolls Abolition Bill today endorsed it, albeit that many of them were reluctant to do so - BBC - "MSPs support bridge tolls removal" Midlothian Advertiser - "Ministers debate scrapping toll" Edinburgh Evening News - "MSPs warn end of tolls will worsen pollution".
Those livid at the news include the editor of the Evening News. The Scotsman group papers had campaigned to keep tolls, they seem to prefer to keep those north of the Forth at a distance - Edinburgh Evening News - "'Taxpayers will bear the cost of bridge toll axe'".
The abolition of the tolls was proposed by the SNP and got 100% backing from the Scottish Tories. The party that seems to be most upset that the tolls will go is the Lib Dems.
- Road Transport - "CM conference looks at alternative fuel technology".
BMW UK boss criticises Mayor
- Channel Four - "Get back in your box, BMW boss tells Mayor Ken". The BMW boss says - "We all have a duty to use resources more efficiently in the best interests of our planet." A sentiment that most people would agree with, but unfortunately the green tendency have taken control and they are obsessed with CO2 and will generally support any measure that will drive poorer drivers off the road, while they keep silent about the effects of increasing world population.
"Why city tolls make London traffic worse"
- Car Magazine.
More green spending
Today we had another "green" initiative from the Government - DfT - "Multi-million fund for low carbon vans". What organisations with vans and the rest of us want is more fuel efficient vehicles, not "lower carbon vehicle models". This latest scheme is just more money wasted in following the greens down the wrong road.
More Liverpool tolls
In what will be the first case in Britain, a toll is to be placed on an existing untolled bridge. The local paper seems to be helping to sell the idea - Liverpool Daily Post - "New bridge a gateway to region’s prosperity".
USA round up
Yesterday we reported that some Florida tolls were being temporarily suspended due to construction work. Today we have - CBS - "No Tolls, No Traffic, No Hassle On Turnpike".
The reporter is surprised to find - "traffic zipping through the toll plaza without even the normal rush-hour delays that can stretch 80 blocks". Are Florida drivers so conditioned to tolls that they had forgotten what toll free roads are like?
Texas may have differential speed limits to "encourage" drivers to use the tolled roads - Austin Chronicle - "Toll road 85, free road 50?".
Despite concerns about high taxes, corruption and likely toll increases, the Democrats kept control of New Jersey following yesterday's elections - MyfoxNY- "Democrats retain control of NJ Legislature".
In Washington State, voters rejected a massive combined spending package on mass transit ($11 billion) and roads ($7 billion). It seems that roads users did not like paying for mass transit, and the green tendency wanted nothing at all spent on roads - Seattle Post Intelligencer - "Proposition 1 Analysis: No vote won't make traffic woes go away". Later reoprt - The Olympian - "WA regional voters rejecting roads & transit taxes".
More tolls sales talk - Community Press (Kentucky) - "Traffic congestion won't fix itself".
Other stories -
Massachusetts - "Protesting tolls the easy part for area legislators" Pennsylvania - "Poll: I-80 toll less popular than leasing the Pa. Turnpike"
Texas - "Toll Trinity toll road completion faces long, winding road" New Hampshire - "Merrimack toll effort earns Pignatelli praise".
Shanghai on the road to Singapore
It seems that Shanghai like Singapore has a car licence auction systems. It also seems that like Singapore the system is ineffective in controlling traffic. The city is also planning to copy Singapore's road tolls system, which will be another failure - China.org - "Measures needed to limit cars on roads". The main effect of all these measures is to keep those with lower incomes off the road, but in the absence of a gas tax in China, there is little incentive for those on the road to reduce their roads use, fuel use and vehicle emissions.
Tuesday 6 November 2007
Tolls Bill still on the Queens' list
The Queen today told the Lords what bills her Government has planned for the new session. As expected it still includes the so called "Local Transport" Bill. This bill gives power to the unelected Passenger Transport organisations to order bus companies what to do. The PT organisations will also be allowed to get involved in road toll schemes. The bill also withdraws the mininal constaints that there were on local councils introducing road toll schemes.
The Lib Dems and Tories are criticising the Government for "blackmailng" councils in an effort to encourage the introduction of road tolls. Not that it makes much difference as both Lib Dems and Tories also want to toll drivers.
A report in the Telegraph who appear not to realise that councils have had powers since 2000 to introduce road tolls (1999 in London and 2001 in Scotland); the powers are already being used (Dartford and Durham)- "Bill paves way for local road pricing". The Telegraph are not alone, the Government has done a good job of keeping journalists in the dark.
London getting closer to zero speed target
We have previously reported that traffic speeds in the con zone were the same as before the London Toll was introduced, it appears that TfL have now done even better - Evening Standard - "Rush-hour is slower than before C-charge".
Yet more on well padded taxis
It seems that some of the cars that it was thought may be evading the "C" charge by incorrectly registering for taxi exemption are still exempt from the toll as they are owned by hotels and chauffeuring firms - Evening Standard - "TfL targets supercar drivers in minicab con". Well that's OK then, after all the toll is supposed to drive the plebs off the road, not the well heeled.
The "Lorry Road User Charge" scheme was abandoned, but - Road Transport have written this piece on it.
USA too democratic?
Like most NY papers, Streetsblog, has been trying to sell the New York Toll and is a bit miffed that not everyone is buying it - "Gridlock Sam's compromise plan". Today's story refers back (click on where it says "told me a while back") to one that they had on 14th June - "....It's no coincidence that London's congestion pricing system was implemented "during a singular political moment" in which the national government gave Mayor Ken Livingstone "near-dictatorial powers" to take over and reform the city's transportation systems, said John Kaehny, former executive director of Transportation Alternatives. Transport for London spokesman Alun Shermer agreed with that assessment, adding, "If congestion pricing had to go through a legislative process it probably wouldn't have happened." It is worth noting that the world's first major urban congestion pricing system was set up in Singapore, a city-state under the rule of a benign dictatorship."
USA round up - earlier stories
Best bit of this story is the comments - NY Times - "“Motionless in London” on Congestion Charging in Manhattan".
"Free" enterprise in a tolls state - San Antonio Express - "Noncompete clauses ensure toll operators will be richly rewarded".
From Staten Island Advance - "Mayor's congestion plan spurs the question: What's in it for Staten Island?".
On one road Florida is suspending tolls each morning till the peak period is over, so as to reduce congestion while work is carried out - Miami Herald - "Turnpike plaza suspends tolls during project". Believe it or not the work which is causing the delays is part of the switch to "open road" tolling.
Other stories - California - "Commuters adjust to new Bay Bridge FasTrak lanes" Pennsylvania - "GOP senators look to avoid I-80 tolls" New York - "Hearing on fare and toll hikes draws few commuters but raise much ire" New Jersey - "DISTRICT 37 ASSEMBLY CANDIDATES UNITED IN OPPOSING TOLL INCREASES" Pennsylvania - "Public meetings begin Wednesday for I-80 tolls" New Jersey - "Judge to review secret study on NJ toll roads".
London Town says no to Geordie boys
Complaint about not getting any Transport Innovation Fund money - Journal - "North misses out on £9bn cash pot". (There are two TIF pots. One pot is money to induce areas into bringing in road tolls. This story relates to the other pot which is for "productivity" schemes; so far most of this pot has been allocated to schemes for transporting goods on the railways.)
Truckers and Dublin tolls
See third item - "Credit due to our truck operators" - Independent.
Mad Max wants to bike it
It is claimed that 20% of drivers would switch to motorbikes if it freed them from tolls - Cars Guide - "Bikers unhappy with toll rip-off".
Singapore Tolls up
Singapore's road pricing charges went up yesterday - Channel News Asia - "Quicker CTE rides with new ERP fee". The story says that - "The LTA added that it usually takes a few days for traffic to stabilise after ERP rates are revised". In plain English this means that any effect on traffic is shortlived - one reason why this is the third increase in tolls this year.
Monday 5 November 2007
"No" to toll
Roger Lawson from the Association of British Drivers has managed to get the results of an official survey - East London Advertiser - 77% opposed to Blackwall Tunnel-Greenwich toll charge, says TfL's own survey!".
Ken paints the planet green
- Guardian video - "Ken Livingstone on climate change" scenta - "London calling the shots". If you wonder why they always refer to "estimated" fall in air pollution, the reason is that that actual measured air pollution has risen since the London Toll was introduced.
More on well padded taxis
On Friday we had a story about "well padded taxis". TfL are now looking into it - Evening Standard - "£80 trick to avoid paying C-Charge".
MPS lead by example
- Fleet News - "MPs rack up the miles - and expenses".
A new quango
The Government are setting up a new agency to be responsible for seeing that more bio-fuels are used - DfT press release - "Renewable Fuels Agency starts up". In the long run we might have to use bio-fuels, but in the short run there must be great doubt as to whether when all factors are considered it is better for the "environment" than existing fuels. But if the Government really believe that it is, then why are they setting up another quango rather than reducing the tax on bio-fuels which is almost as massively high as that on petrol and diesel fuels used for cars and commercial vehicles?
USA round up
"Other states watching to see how Texas pays for roads" "The invisible 'double tax' tollway- Texas 45 Southeast will have tolls even though tax and fee money is paying for all of it." "The invisible 'double tax' tollway- Texas 45 Southeast will have tolls even though tax and fee money is paying for all of it.".
Not so free information
- ABC - "Melbourne tollway FOI request rejected".
Impact of low emission zone charge
From Telegraph - "School minibuses to be hit by pollution charge".
Sunday 4 November 2007
USA round up
(Next to) no news is good news? New Jersey - "Don't expect Corzine to block toll increases" California - "Bay Bridge tinkering with FasTrak lanes to speed up commute".
Saturday 3 November 2007
Traffic and Population
Mike Rutherford gives his views on the DfT "Sustainable transport" report issued on Tuesday - Telegraph - "Cash-hungry Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly is missing a trick".
USA round up
Tolls and road sales is just one of many election issues. Here is a selection of reports from New Jersey where those in favour of tolls are trying to kick the issue out of play - northjersey.com - "Road sale, lease not big voter issue" Press of Altantic City- "As time runs out, candidates run faster" Newsday - "Corzine keeps giving with elections nearing" PoliticsNJ - "Republicans take a stand on monetization, again".
Transport businesses speak out against tolls - "Tolls are inefficient. You probably spend 15 to 18 percent of every dollar you collect on administration alone. And, tollbooths are unsafe-a lot of accidents occur around tollbooths. Then, you eat up a lot of gas due to folks sitting in their vehicles in line at the booth.". Though the President is pushing for the opposite - no more fuel tax and lots of tolls and private roads - World Trade Business - "Staying in High Gear During a Slowing Economy" Logistics Management - "Shippers need to join users in developing strategic plan to rebuild America".
Another story that must have escaped the trolls with the blue pencils - Inside Tucson Business - "Majority would pay higher
taxes, not tolls, to fix roads".
More on possible alternatives to the Mayor's plan to toll New York - Streetsblog - "Push for congestion pricing spurs parking reform".
Other stories - New York - "Transit fixes are a rough road" Massachusetts - "Lawmakers try to block toll increases" Florida - "Tax or toll? Both options under consideration to pay for new Jolley bridge" "Privatization of roads and bridges weighed in Massachusetts" New York - "Trash Trucks Trouble Geneva".
China to go down "green" road
China has no fuel tax, but has road tolls. A year or so back it seemed likely that China would scrap tolls and introduce fuel taxes to encourage less use of fuel. But it now seems that China will follow the western "green" route, which means no taxes on fuel, but more road tolls - China Daily - "Measures needed to limit cars on roads".
Friday 2 November 2007
Well padded taxis
From BBC - "Luxury cars 'avoiding c-charge'".
Cyclists ask Mayor for more money
From Wired - "London Mayor Claims Responsibilty for Increased Bike Use: High Tube Fares Tell Different Story". The story says that £122m ($250 m) was "earned" by the London Toll in 2005/6. After the cost of collecting this sum is deducted the Mayor would have had little left to spend on cycles or anything else.
"Six Point Plan to End Crazy Road Closures"
Increasingly the authorities in Britain are closing major roads following various incidents. There are various resaons for this including the famous "health and safety", though the authorities sometimes seem to be indifferent to the chaos caused by closures, and the possible accidents and deaths that may arise indirectly from the closure. The Association of British Drivers have now made a plea for a change - ABD Press release.
USA round up
News-Press (Florida) - "Switch to one-way bridge tolls yields no real change" - Despite the headline there were others who thought that the removal of the tolls one way had eased traffic flow and that any delays were due to drivers conditioned to slow or stop at toll booths.
A contrary view on the plans to toll New York - NY Sun - "In Praise of Congestion". And another one or two - Gotham Gazette.
CBS (Massachusetts) - "Fast Lane Spying".
The Wall Street Journal reports on the problems that London has with false license plates used by drivers trying to beat the London "C" charge - "London's Congestion Fee Begets Pinched Plates". False plates is a relatively minor problem compared with the fact that London traffic "speeds" are as low as before the toll was introduced and that most of the £8 ($16) toll is spent on collection and enforcement. But then we wouldn't expect the WSJ to print that, particularly as Big Blue are due to take over the running of the London Toll.
Other stories -
Massachusetts - "Lawmakers Try To Block Toll Hikes" New Jersey - "Corzine renews assertion for toll increase".
New Hampshire - "Executive council nixes toll relief" Texas - "Transportation Chairman says Toll Road "Not the Most Attractive"" Pennsylvania - "Venango OKs resolution opposing I-80 tolling" Washington State - "New Narrows Bridge drivers contesting unpaid tolls".
Toronto Sun - "Sue Kojic needs a car for her care worker job. But a $10 407 ETR bill that ballooned to $1,200 may cost her both".
Tolls no longer just a shadow
ABCmoney - "Brisa in talks with shadow toll road operators" - At first sight this little story is strange - erecting toll booths on a "shadow toll" road, as shadow tolls are paid by the Government and not the driver. But it seems that the Portugese Government is now paying so much in tolls it is going to make the drivers pay instead.
Thursday 1 November 2007
USA round up - later stories
New York - "Engel Blasts Congestion Charge" New Jersey - "Corzine remains mum on potential toll hikes as election looms" Pennsylvania - "Funding for bridge tied to I-80 toll plan" New York - "Port Authority Toll Hike Could Hurt Congestion Pricing" (sound clip) New York - "Greenway Tolls Are Lead Issue In Campaign".
Drivers want road tolls - it's official!
The DfT in their report on "Sustainable transport" that was issued on Tuesday suggested at para 2.17 that "The latest Department for Transport attitude survey" found that the majority of people supported a change from the present system to one of road tolls. The report gave no details of what this survey was, but it seems that it can only be this one that the Government published (quietly) at the end of last week. It gives the results of the latest "attitudinal research" into road tolls - DfT - "Public attitudes to congestion and road pricing". The claimed support for road pricing is detailed at chapter 4.
Previous research, and particularly the research commissioned by the DfT and published (again quietly) in March 2006 - DfT - "Consumer Behaviour and Pricing Structures: Final Report on Qualitative Research" has indicated that drivers are overwhelmingly opposed to road tolls and believe that fuel taxes are better and fairer. It is therefore interesting to see how the DfT have managed to come up with a different answer.
The paper released last week carries no indication that it was written by a research body but says that it is based on NS Omnibus Surveys carried out in November 2005, October and November 2006, and January 2007. This means that the surveys were carried out by the Office for National Statistics, though the ONS themselves appear to have not published anything on this. It also means that most of these answers were obtained before Peter Roberts highlighted the issue with his petition to the PM which closed on 20 February 2007.
As with many surveys, the interviewees have been primed as to the required answer by being told that - "a number of experts felt that alternative methods of charging for road use were necessary to tackle congestion". It is perhaps not surprising that 55% of the interviewees then gave the desired answer to the question on "changing the system for paying for road use so it relates more closely to how often, when and where people use roads. But when it came to more detailed questions on road pricing, there was no majority support.
As usual the interviewees were misled about the MASSIVE cost of collecting and enforcing road tolls - they were told nothing about it. Instead they were asked questions like would they support road pricing - 'as long as there were no overall increase in the amount of taxation paid by motorists as a group" and "as long as any extra money raised was spent only on roads and transport".
This survey is worthless, and the DfT and the politicians will know that. The question is whether they still think that they and their allies will be able to mislead the voters on this issue when it comes to an election.
Official Transport Statistics
Published today - DfT - Transport Statistics Great Britain - 2007 edition" (pdf file). As usual we give a health warning - just over a year ago, the figures for amount of car travel backdated to 1995 were increased, the reason given was to allow for "non responses" - so it is possible that the figures from 1995 onwards are high and do not show correct trends.
USA round up - earlier stories
From the Boston Globe - Excuse #1007 for charging the suckers tolls - "Toll hikes could help alleviate flooding".
More NY Toll "consultation" - Metro - "Bronx cheer for traffic fee" Streets blog - "Bloomberg visits the Bronx. Dinowitz anti pricing rally fizzles".
A report on the recent survey which suggested that Americans don't want more roads - Realty Times - "Survey: Repair Roads, Don't Build New Ones".
Other stories -
New Jersey / New York - "Toll plan angers motorists" New York - "CONQUERING CONGESTION" New Hampshire - "Executive Council doesn't touch tolls" New Hampshire - "DOT chief: We've been on a bender" New Hampshire - "Merrimack hasn't given up on lawsuit" Pennsylvania - "Turnpike proposal draws 14" California - "South Bay Expressway in San Diego scheduled to open Nov. 19" Florida - "One-way tolls to Cape Coral start Thursday" Washington State - "Transponders' Popularity Adds $5 Million to State's Bridge Tab" Arizona - "Survey reveals many Arizonans frustrated with traffic congestions
No to tolls extension
It is not a surprise that a politician wants to keep a toll that is due to expire in 2010. The surprise is that the idea has been rejected - for now - Sydney Morning Herald - "Keep M4 toll and scrap cashback:".
Newcastle Toll - looks like no
Evening Chronicle - "Road charge not for us- city chiefs".