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Wednesday 31 October 2007

britain" Humber Toll - Support for removal
Views on the bridge tolls et al - Yorkshire Post - "A bridge too far in our long wait for a better rail route".

wales chimaera More on the ever popular road pricing
We reported yesterday on the Ipsos MORI poll (see "Turkeys vote for Christmas"). It seems that the Welsh believe it - Western Mail - "Poll boost for city driving charge".

britain" chimaera Cambridge Toll - Done deal?
Following yesterday's Transport paper from Ruth Kelly, it seems to be assumed that the Cambridge toll scheme proposed by the Tory Cambridgeshire County Council will be rubber stamped by the Labour Government - CEN - "Seven years to road tolls".

usa USA round up
  • NJ Blog reports that Governor Corzine says that - "Hudson toll increases may be needed for safety".

  • More on Bills to try and stop tolls and roads privatization - eTrucker - "Federal bills introduced to prevent tolls".

  • A move to fund more bridge spending from an increased Federal gas tax has been abandoned - Star Tribune (Minnesota) - "Bridge bill pared from $25 billion to $2 billion".

  • Other stories - Maryland - "Tolls would punish ICC users unfairly"   New York - "The Tolls, One Year Later"   New York - "Port Authority wants you to pay more"   Massachusetts - "U-Turn - Authority staff squelches turnpike toll alternative"   Pennsylvania - "PennDOT gets $229 million check from turnpike"   New Jersey / New York - "Bridge, tunnel tolls - and PATH fares"   Florida - "One-way tolls on Lee bridges begin tonight"   Massachusetts - "Editorial: Incompetence on the Pike"   NY - "Fight Continues to Bring Down More Western New York Toll Barriers"   Pennsylvania - "Truckers Speak Out About Tolling I-80"   Minnesota - "Five simple strategies for roads, bridges and transit"   New York - "Schumer to meet about waste trucks"   Massachusetts - "Toll Hike Means More Traffic On Local Roads - Residents Concerned About Choked Streets".

    Tuesday 30 October 2007

    usa london Lifting the veil - just a little
    Like most of the New York papers, the NY Times is behind the Mayor's plan to toll the city. Suprisingly today the paper revealed a little bit of the reality of the London Con - "Revisiting London’s Congestion Charge".

    britain" chimaera The toll road ahead
    Ruth Kelly, the Transport Secretary, today gave out her thoughts on the future of transport - DfT - "Framework to deliver a new low carbon transport system". The DfT has got the endorsement of the flying knight, so we assume that millionaries who live in Oz and fly a lot will be affected very little by establishment plans. The DfT report - "Towards a Sustainable Transport System" (pdf file).
    Some clue as to who will be affected by the 21st Century vision of travel for the rich is that though the DfT deny that they have made up their minds on road tolls, the phrase "road pricing" appears 25 times in the document and there are also references to congestion charging and tolls. Here are some of them (our underlining) -
    7. "London has shown what can be done to promote bus use and cycling, as part of a co-ordinated transport package of congestion-charging and investment."
    10. "The Department has been working closely with ten local areas as they have looked at the problems they face and what package offers the best solution for their area. Greater Manchester and Cambridge have submitted Congestion TIF proposals to the Department. The authorities in the Bristol area have published their outline ideas for a TIF package and are working these up to submit early in 2008."
    31. "Urban congestion charging, backed by investment in public transport, is our priority."
    2.16 "The congestion charge has been an essential element in the improvement of transport in London."
    2.17 "Londoners (who have first-hand experience of a congestion charge) are more supportive of road pricing than people elsewhere. This reinforces the Government’s view that the best next step is to see whether road pricing is equally effective in other cities."
    3.11 "One of Sir Rod Eddington’s strongest conclusions was that the case for exploring the scope to use pricing to address the growing road congestion challenge was compelling. In fact, the Study argues that the potential benefits from a well-designed, large-scale road pricing scheme are unrivalled by any other single intervention. Getting the prices right on roads, as on other modes, is a major prize."
    4.7 "Pricing signals (for instance, road pricing can help cut congestion by reducing the number of non-essential car journeys at peak times)"
    4.43 "One key strand of this is the scope for greater involvement of the private sector in the delivery of projects, building on experience with the M6 toll road and of the use of PFI for national road schemes."
  • Some later press reports - Telegraph - "Road charging main pillar of transport plans" (The Telegraph invites its readers to say whether they would "support pay as you drive on motorways", the paper will want a "yes" answer as John Redwood & Co want to privatise the motorways)   BBC - "Kelly calls for transport debate" (the BBC has the usual web links to DfT and anti roads groups)   Guardian - "Transport growth will not increase emissions, government claims".
    Some earlier press reports - Evening Standard - "Motorists face national pay-as-you-drive scheme as Ruth Kelly unveils new transport plans"   Telegraph - "Tolls planned for major motorways"   Daily Mail - "Motorists face national pay-as-you-drive scheme as Ruth Kelly unveils new transport plans".
  • The Lib Dems say that the Government should press ahead more quickly with road tolls. They also say that it would be "Fairer to drivers as money raised would go on cuts on fuel duty." This is one "green" vision that the oil companies will gladly back!!   Lib Dem PR. The Tories have not issued a press release, possibly because the Government plans are very similar to their own, and one of the two Congestion charge submissions is from a Tory council - Cambridgeshire.

    britain" chimaera Cambridge Toll - "Consultation"
  • - CEN - "Public to have say on congestion charge plan". If this is anything like what happened in Manchester then it will be a farce.

    britain" An ingenious way of creating more congestion
    Aberdeenshire is considering removing road markings. The intention is that drivers will be confused- BBC - "Road white lines could be removed". This could be the start of something big - How about having no entry signs at both ends of roads?

    britain" chimaera Turkeys vote for Christmas
    Another survey saying that drivers support tolls was published last week - Ipsos MORI - "Support For Road Pricing If Revenues Used For Public Transport". As usual the results are misleading as the people surveyed are all those over 16, whether they drive or not. Whether the people drive or not, they are asked questions which include statements like "All revenues raised would be returned to the road user through cheaper petrol." It is impossible that all revenues raised would be used for this or anything else due to the cost of implementing road pricing and then collecting and enforcing it. The Government themselves admitted that the cost of implementing the road tolls scheme could be up to £62 billion, and the running costs will be many billions a year on top of that. The cost of collecting fuel tax is almost nothing. How many people would vote for road tolls if they knew these facts?
    PS It has been reported to us that "recent transport clients" of the company include TfL, train operators and the Government (DfT agencies and Network Rail).
    britain" Rubbish!!
    The on / off plans for charging for the amount of refuse are back on - BBC - "Rubbish charging given go-ahead". This idea is similar to that of road tolls and comes from the same great minds. It ignores the cost of calculating, collecting and enforcing the charges. It also ignores the negative impacts such as fly tipping.

    britain" 'Good morning madam, I'm your green personal transport co-ordinator'
    Richard Littlejohn gives his views on last week's plans for "personal travel coordinators" - Daily Mail.

    usa USA round up
  • New York transit users are complaining that they pay too much. Bus users pay 42% of the costs and subway users pay 68%, while in some other cities transit users pay as little as 21% - NY Daily News - "New Yorkers taken for a ride with transit costs". Why is that mass transit systems are vital to big cities, but the income from users can not cover the running costs?

  • Apparently the price of water is too low and needs to be raised to reduce demand. The writer gives the example of roads - "Central London has been able to solve its traffic congestion difficulties through the introduction of a congestion charge" - Grist - "Let us pay". When they will get round to the idea of charging for rubbish?

  • On Monday there was a meeting to discuss congestion on routes from Staten Island. it was sugested that removing tolls would help - Staten Island Advance - "Pols, transportation officials meet to solve traffic crisis". Here is one place in New York where this miracle of tolls removal materialised - WIVB - "190 Toll Elimination Anniversary in Buffalo".

  • Other stories - Massachusetts - "Fitch Comments on Massachusetts Turnpike Authority Metro Hwy Sys Financial Challenges"   Massachusetts - "Toll hikes OK'd after tumultuous Pike board meeting"   Florida - "Tolls needed to fund I-75 widening".
    Florida - "Opinions sought on one-way toll plan"   Massachusetts - "Toll hikes get green light"   Connecticut - "Transit groups push alternatives for DOT"   Connecticut - "Transit groups push alternatives for DOT".

    Monday 29 October 2007

    usa USA round up
  • Mass Turnpike toll up - Boston Globe - "Turnpike boad approves toll hike"   Worcester Telegram / AP - "Turnpike board to vote on toll increases".

  • Other stories - New Hampshire - "Council in town, will talk tolls"   Maine - "Turnpike project delayed".

    usa london Ken from coast to coast
    It is well known that the London Mayor is a lover of all things American, so much so that after selling his big con idea to the Big Apple he has gone west - SF Examiner - "London loves it but will it work in S.F.?". There is no question that the Americans will fall for it, but how hard?

    singapore chimaera Singapore on the up
    Singapore's road pricing charges are going up, again - Channel News Asia - "ERP rates going up again for third time this year". The charges are complex and vary from one gantry to the next and from one minute to the next, it is not suprising that they seem to have no effect on drivers.

    britain" Call for more officials to turn the CO2 tide
    The Environmental Audit Committee of MPS have issued a report on "The structure of Government and the challenge of climate change" - BBC - "MPs in call for new climate body"   The report   pdf version of report. The MPs say Britain will fail to meet its 2010 target for reduced CO2, and their answer is to increase the climate bureaucracy. The committee are concerned about the growth in car use. They don't in this report say what they would do about it, but it is implicit that they back what the Chairman refers to as "mildly controversial areas like road pricing".
    PS Yesterday the ABD issued a press release on the Climate Bill - "New Climate Change Bill Ignores Reality".

    wales Plastic politicians
    On the 18th we had a story about the Tory Shadow Transport Minister in the Welsh Assembly calling for a facility to pay Severn tolls by card. It is now reported that one of the men hoping to replace Ming has made the same call - Western Mail - "Lib-Dem leadership hopeful visits Wales". Perhaps we need some of the Scottish politicians here, at least they understand that removing tolls is what people want, not worrying about whether you can pay by card.

    Sunday 28 October 2007

    usa USA round up
  • The usual farce of toll lane changes to try and reduce queueing - Marin Independent Journal - "Lane changes on Richmond-San Rafael Bridge slow drivers". Why is is that the papers rarely mention the fact that all these toll lanes increase the chance of accidents?

  • More on the "American" way - Tribune Democrat (Pa.) - "Relieving traffic nightmare: Road tolls can help everyone".

  • Other stories - North Carolina - "Tolling a reality on I-95, secretary says"   Texas - "Anyone got a map?"   New Jersey - "Vote to end mismanagement, corruption in state"   New Jersey / Pennsylvania - "One state over, tolls on road to reality"   Massachusetts - "Editorial: Toll options"   Pennsylvania - "Getting Around: Funding transportation with higher tolls a gamble"   California - "Golden Gate Bridge directors reject sponsorship proposals"   Florida - "Big changes on tap at expressway authority"   California - "Bay Area facing lifestyle changes to achieve greenhouse gas goals"   New Jersey - "State asks judge to toss GOP 'monetization' suit"   Pennsylvania - "I-80 tolls draw more fire at hearing"   New Hampshire - "Talking tolls"   Tennessee - "Bridge Connecting Soddy-Daisy/Harrison Cost Put At $350 Million".

    south Update on South African toll plans
    South African drivers are going to have to pay tolls to use about 5,000 miles of main roads, while their taxes are spent on trains, airports, and anything but roads - Independent Online- "Commuters get ready to tighten seat belts".

    britain" Four wheels bad, two wheels good
    According to the Observer the Government are to appoint "personal advisers" to stop people using their cars - "Coming soon to your home: a personal adviser on how to get to work by bus".

    britain" chimaera Two from from Saturday's Telegraph
    "The insanity of road charging is doomed, says Mike Rutherford". But, maybe not- "Cameras to catch car-share cheats".

    Friday 26 October 2007

    britain" A bum steer
    Yorkshire folk are supposed to be canny but that apparently does not stop them from being fed a piece from the right wing Institute of Economic Affairs, which advocates privatising roads - Yorkshire Post - "Private enterprise will steer us to better roads".

    britain" Watching
    More on "active" traffic measures - The Register - " plans more active-traffic motorway ANPR cams".

    usa USA round up
  • Mary Peters delivers her speech - the one about how gas taxes are bad and instead we should have tolls - this time the lucky listeners were the House of Representatives’ Committee on the Budget - The Trucker - "Peters’ address to House Budget Committee favors electronic tolling, congestion pricing".

  • More New York tolls pushing - Earth times - "Congestion Pricing is Key to Solving NYC's Growing Traffic Crisis".

  • Other stories - Texas - "Don't let toll road ruin our defining parkland"   Alabama - "Toll roads? Maybe, but public ones"   Pennsylvania - "Rendell pursues leasing turnpike"   Pennsylvania - "Prepare now for tolls' effect on Poconos"   Pennsylvania - "Eight hearings set on turning I-80 into a toll road"   New Hampshire - "In toll fight, remember greater context"   Texas - "What happens if the toll road needs repairing? ".

    london More on New contract
  • Guardian - "Blow for Capita as IBM wins London congestion charge scheme".

    london Wrong pollution
    The makers of an electric car are upset that all cars with low CO2 emissions will be exempted from the London Toll - Easier Motoring - "GoinGreen calls for rethink on London congestion charge plans".

    london "Why London continues to grind to a halt"
  • Times.

    Thursday 25 October 2007

    london New contract
    IBM are to be given a 5 year contract replacing Capita as managers of the "C" charge - BBC - "Capita to lose congestion charge"  Guardian - "IBM snatches C-charge from Capita". The main point is not which private firm will be chasing drivers or that Big Blue will become a target; the main point is that as the present contract has two years to run, London will effectively be locked into the "C" charge till 2014 even if Ken is replaced.

    london A foggy day ...
    Westminster Council say that the Loon Mayor's tolls will do nothing to reduce air pollution - 24Dash - "Transport bosses hit out at c-charge plans".

    britain" Lessening congestion
    In 2005 and 2006 the DfT implemented new traffic management measures to reduce congestion on the M42. The ideas, including hard shoulder running, are to be extended to some other motorways in the Midlands area and possibly nationally - BBC - "'Extra lane' plan to be extended"   DfT - "Kelly announces new ways to beat motorway jams".
    Ruth Kelly was asked on the BBC whether the new measures were instead of Government plans for road tolls, but she said that tolls was still a possibility and would be "essential" in some areas.
    The Tories said that using the hard shoulder indicated that the Government was abandoning plans for widening motorways. Though the Tories did not mention their own proposal to privatise and toll motorways.
    It was also announced today that Birmingham is to introduce car share lanes - BBC - "City's first car share lane nears". Car sharing is a good idea and should be promoted, but car share only lanes is an inefficient use of road space and will increase congestion and increase driver frustration - is that the real aim?

    usa USA round up
  • Orlando Sentinel - "Political consultant Guetzloe files suit against Sentinel, alleging defamation".

  • Apparently tollless roads are "Soviet-style" and true American roads are privately owned and tolled - American Chronicle - "Reduce Traffic Congestion, but Keep Out Government".

  • Suggestion that the "right" to build new tolled roads should be sold - Asbury Park Press (NJ) - "Sell investors right to build new roads". This idea has already been put into practice, it has two effects, the first is that the politicians and officials get a winddfall to spend on their pet projects, the second is that drivers and truckers have to pay higher tolls to finance this windfall.

  • Other stories - Florida - "Road-agency setbacks grow as court thumps effort to save on debt"   New Hampshire - "Stop the raid on gas tax revenue"   Pennsylvania - "Clarion industry fears toll losses"   New Hampshire - "Merrimack toll cut on their minds"   Pennsylvania - "Peterson rips turnpike's 'fat-cat' costs"   Florida - "Expressway Authority Audit Reveals Wasted Millions".

    Wednesday 24 October 2007

    usa USA round up
  • The Consumerist - "The case of the phantom I-pass transponder".

  • Another report on the Central Florida toll agency - Orlando Sentinel - "Audit: X-way money mess is 'shocking'". Wherever drivers hand over money there is bound to be waste all along the line of hands held out for a share of the loot.

  • More "educating" on tolls - Martinsburg Journal (West Virginia) - "Traffic crisis looming"   Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (California) - "State can't afford infrastructure without some new ideas".

  • We recently said that The Terminator plans to toll California. It seems that we may be wrong - SF Chronicle - "Schwarzenegger vetoes Treasure Island toll plan".

  • Another sad road sale tale - Your hub (Colorado) - "Beltway Boondoggle".

  • Other stories - New York - "Congestion Pricing: We Need To Focus On Primary Aim"   Texas - "Terri Hall comments on her TURF lawsuit"   New York - "Public can speak out on congestion toll plan tonight in White Plains"   Pennsylvania - "Grove City Council opposes Interstate 80 toll"   Maine - "Turnpike authority scraps idea of interstate tolls"   Pennsylvania - "PSU travelers split on new I-80 partnership"   Massachusetts - "Push made for alternative to Pike toll increase".

    britain" York and traffic congestion
  • York Press - "Getting York out of a traffic jam".

    Tuesday 23 October 2007

    britain" Britain getting snugger
    The population of Britain is rising. There is no suprise there, what is surprising is the amount of increase in the official predictions - National Statistics - "UK population to rise to 65m by 2016". The population by 2031 is predicted to be 10 million higher than now. The continuing population increase, combined with an almost complete lack of spending on roads will increase the pressure to impose tolls on roads in order to force less well off drivers to get out of the way.

    london Street traders complain
    Some street traders say that they are being affected by the "C" charge- Freshinfo - "Street market traders call for change".

    britain" The shape of things to come
    Anyone going to Olympics events around Britain in 2012 will find it very difficult to leave home by car, as the event is to be used as a trial of forcing people to use public transport for the whole of their journey - Times - "Olympics chiefs set to ban all car travel"   Times - "Next train departs in 13.87 seconds . . . how the capital will cope without cars".

    usa USA round up
  • Another report on the tolling of Interstate 80 - Land Line - "Pennsylvania plan to toll I-80 faces uphill climb". The story includes a link to the Federal Highways Administration's - "Tolling and Pricing Opportunities".

  • From The Daily - "Propositioning Seattle" to pay more road tolls. And in "World Changing - changing your thinking" - "Tolls to Pay for Transit: An Idea Whose Time Has Come?".

  • Other stories - Florida - "County audit blasts X-way Authority"   Pennsylvania - "Truckers Express Concern Over I-80 Tolling"   New Jersey - "PAC money gushing into campaigns"   Massachusetts - Tollpayers seem resigned to hike, pols still fighting"   Texas - "NTTA will build remainder of Hwy. 121"   Florida - "Expressway Authority Mistake Means Drivers Pay More"   Florida - "Expressway Authority Mistake Means Drivers Pay More".

    britain" chimaera Bikers Demo - another report
  • MCN - "A grand day out".

    Monday 22 October 2007

    britain" Number Ten at Number Ten
    Our petition "to Scrap all existing and planned tolls, "road pricing" and so called "congestion charging" has slowly racked up numbers on the PM's website and has just reached 10th position.

    britain" chimaera Bikers Demo
    Saturday's demo in London, with the aim of getting bikers exempt from road tolls - MCN - "Whitehall becomes motorcycle-only zone as thousands join Ride for Rights demo"   BBC - "Bikers rally in congestion demo". The organisers, Rider Connect, say that they will be organising a lobby of Parliament in November and have plans for "direct action protests" on congestion charging in Manchester, Bristol and Cambridge from early next year.

    london Go green
    The Green Guardian reports on the Lexus GS 450H hybrid. It is exempt from the Mayor's toll charges, though only the Mayor's more well off friends could afford the £41,000 ($84,000) price ticket - "Peace in our time".

    usa USA round up
  • For a change here is a New York report on the London tolls which is not completely inaccurate. Though if it were totally accurate then it would say that the London toll just about wipes its face - the money collected is all spent on the cost of collecting it - NY Daily News - "Mayor says congestion plan will raise $390M for mass transit".

  • Suggestion that the plan to carve some toll lanes out of Florida's I-95 is dangerous - NY Daily News - "Managed lanes project should concern drivers". Another view in Palm Beach Post.

  • This may be just to fool the turkeys, but the Federal authorities are now saying that they will not rubber stamp the plan to toll the Interstate in Pennsylvania - Pittsburgh Post Gazette - "Feds tell state that I-80 tolls are not a done deal"   Patriot News - "Congress or FHA likely to halt mistake of tolling Interstate 80".
    It certainly seems that the state already knows what the Federal decision will be - Pittsburgh Post Gazette - "Loans to fix roads begin". Tolling also has some backing, though mainly from those who don't want the Turnpike privatized - Philadelphia Inquirer - "Rendell's turnpike plan would sell out the public". And some more opposition - Erie Times - "Reader urges alternatives to I-80 tolls".

  • Other stories - New Hampshire - "Car trouble in NH"   Washington State - "Proposition 1: Free-for-all over roads, transit"   Illinois - "Task force to talk tollway"   Massachusetts - "Missing from Pike hearings"   Virginia - "For whom the road tolls? It tolls for us"   California - "U.S.-Mexico toll road set to open ".

    japan Toll blips
    Due to concerns over corruption Japan's toll road "corporations" have been privatized (this may not affect corruption, but it makes it even more invisible). It seems however that some Japanese don't want to pay the tolls - whoever gets the money - Daily Yomiuri Online - "Toll dodging at record level". Given that Japan is heavily depended on fuel imports, one might think that if there was a Government in control they would scrap the tolls and raise the fuel tax.

    earth Fuel for greens
  • - IPS (Italy) - "Biofuels - Great Green Hope or Swindle".

    Friday 19 October 2007

    london Car Makers and CO2
    The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders have issued a press release saying - "SMMT has called for an extension to the mayor's consultation on proposed changes to the congestion charge. In an initial response to Transport for London (TfL), the motor industry body has made clear that current proposals will neither significantly cut CO2 nor reduce congestion in the capital and that, given the complexity of the scheme, more time is needed for discussion.

    TfL's own figures claim a CO2 saving of up to 8,100 tonnes under the plan to base central London charges on car CO2 emissions. That compares to total ground-based transport emissions in London of 9.7 million tonnes. In other words, the maximum benefit for the capital would be a CO2 reduction of just 0.084 per cent.

    To put this in context, improvements at UK car and commial vehicle manufacturing sites have cut CO2 from 2.14 to 1.36 million tonnes in just four years, a saving of 36.5 per cent. Average new car CO2 emissions have also come down by 12 per cent in a decade, saving an estimated one million tonnes of CO2 each year in the UK.

    Concerns about environmental improvements come after an independent report suggested that changes could encourage between 4-10,000 additional cars onto central London roads. That means more congestion and delays for drivers within the zone, as well as minimal benefit for the environment, if the plans proceed.

    'The motor industry has asked the mayor for an extension to the consultation period to work with Transport for London,' said SMMT chief executive Christopher Macgowan. 'The issues are complex and TfL must be absolutely clear about the scheme's aims. Its execution must also deliver the greatest benefit both in terms of congestion and CO2 reduction and the charges to drivers must be proportionate.'"
    The SMMT also says that - "Each vehicle made in Britain requires half the energy to produce than it did just five years ago, saving an estimated 700,000 tonnes of CO2 a year. Total combined waste to landfill down by more than half, from 80,399 tonnes in 2000 to 39,862 tonnes in 2006." For more details - SMMT's eighth annual Sustainability Report (pdf file).

    usa USA round up
  • More promotion of New York tolls on Streets Blog - "RPA refutes anti-pricing "Alternatives" study".

  • Burt Reynolds II avoiding tolls - Fox - "Transcontinental Driving Record Claimed to be Broken".

  • Selling roads 1 - Spero - "Assault on the commons".

  • Selling roads 2 - Time - "They Really Do Own the Road".

  • The benefits of private tolls - - "Texas: Speed Limit May be Lowered to Boost Toll Revenue".

  • Another bridge is switching to one way tolls in order to halve the queuing at toll barriers - News-Press (Florida) - "Toll change on bridges".

  • A story on congestion charging, but at airports. The airlines argue against it - ATW - "IATA lobbies against 'peak pricing'".

  • Other stories - Pennsylvania - "Lawmakers fight I-80 tolls"   Pennsylvania - "I-80 tolls opposed"   Oklahoma - "Council resolution opposes toll bridge"   Washington State - "Crossings stay brisk despite bridge toll"   Virginia - "Tolls aren't way to ease traffic flow"   Pennsylvania - "Lease's timing adds to dispute over I-80 tolls"   Maine - "Turnpike officials are still being financially wasteful"   New York / Canada - "New prepay system for tolls begun at Rainbow and Lewiston bridges".

    britain" chimaera Cambridge Toll - some reaction to the Government response to Transport Committee questions on road pricing
  • - CEN - "Kelly rejects claim of roads blackmail". Drivers are really stuck between the Devil and the deep Blue Sea. It is a Tory Council that is putting forward the Cambridge "C" charge plans, and a Labour Government that will agree it. All the Lib Dems can do is ask for discounts!

    usa USA round up
  • - Time - "They Really Do Own the Road".

  • Another bridge is switching to one way tolls in order to halve the queuing at toll barriers - News-Press (Florida) - "Toll change on bridges".

  • A story on congestion charging, but at airports. The airlines argue against it - ATW - "IATA lobbies against 'peak pricing'".

  • Other stories - Pennsylvania - "Lawmakers fight I-80 tolls"   Pennsylvania - "I-80 tolls opposed"   Oklahoma - "Council resolution opposes toll bridge"   Washington State - "Crossings stay brisk despite bridge toll"   Virginia - "Tolls aren't way to ease traffic flow"   Pennsylvania - "Lease's timing adds to dispute over I-80 tolls"   Maine - "Turnpike officials are still being financially wasteful"   New York / Canada - "New prepay system for tolls begun at Rainbow and Lewiston bridges".

    canada Tolls "Tres Bon"
    More tolls pushing in Quebec, with the serious suggestion that private firms take over the roads and bridges and charge tolls - The Gazette - "Toll roads a stable investment".

    portugal Tolls may be charged on existing roads
  • Forbes - "Road operator Estradas de Portugal allowed to charge tolls".

    australia Only one Ned
    The drivers of Sydney must be very law abiding, it appears that only one driver is trying to evade the tolls - Live News - "Toll dodging motorist caught by police"   New South Wales Police".

    Thursday 18 October 2007

    usa USA round up - later news
  • Georgia - "Road Privatization: Explaining the Trend, Assessing the Facts, and Protecting the Public"   Pennsylvania - "I-80 Toll Plan Should Be 'Null And Void'"   Virginia - "Attorney General to Lead Inquiry of Greenway Investor".

    london London Two
  • London to go even slower - Having achieved a zero increase in traffic speeds with his Congestion charge, and having this week received the accolade of being responsible for Europe's slowest roads, the Mayor now proposes to reduce the "speed" limit throughout the capital - The Register - "No-humping 20mph limit for London" (with plenty of comments!).

  • London CO2 toll and congestion - A report commissioned by Land Rover suggests that the effect of the £25 a day CO2 charge will make congestion worse - BBC - "Warning over pollution c-charge".

    britain" M4 Toll
    More private enterprise - icBerkshire- "MP sets up Commons meeting as travellers return".

    britain" chimaera Road pricing marches on
  • It was reported this week that road pricing was to be abandoned by the Government, and in particular that the Road Pricing section of the Local Transport Bill would be dropped. Despite these reports it seems that more authorities, including Bristol, are submitting Transport Innovation Fund Congestion Charge bids, though we don't know whether all these bids will be "compliant" (to be compliant the bid should include either congestion charging or a workplace parking levy).
  • Here is a more accurate report of the situation from Motorcycle News who have organised a protest in London this Saturday, they want bikers to be exempt from all charges - "Local road pricing to inform Government decision on national scheme". Here is another report from Kable - "Government denies road charging 'blackmail'".
  • This is the Government Response: to the Transport Committee views on the Draft Local Transport Bill and on the Transport Innovation Fund   (pdf version) that was published yesterday. The part dealing with road pricing starts at para 40 on page 12. There is little that is really new. It is difficult to see why there were reports that road pricing had been abandoned as the Government make it quite clear that they intend to proceed with the Bill with the aim of making it easier for local politicians and officials to introduce road pricing whether this is supported by local people or not. A few details - At para 46, the Government say that they want the local schemes to have compatible systems - this will make it easier when they move to a national scheme.
    At para 47 the Government tries to allay concerns about the provisions in the Bill on data sharing - this is nonsense as the whole system will depend on surveillance and the Bill would make it legal for data to be provided to the Government.
    At para 50 the Government boasts that it plans to spend £1.7 billion on roads over the next 2 years - this is a derisory amount as the Government over two years will collect £100 billion from drivers for using the roads, and road pricing will add even more to the amount that drivers have to pay.
    At para 51 "The Government rejects the suggestion that local authorities are being blackmailed and forced to introduce charging schemes against their will. The Government has consistently made clear to local authorities considering charging schemes that they need to be sure that they have a congestion problem that is receptive to being tackled by charging, and that charging as part of a wider package is the right solution. While local pricing schemes will inform the wider debate about road pricing we are not looking at road pricing trials or experiments; indeed we will not support schemes unless there is robust modelling to show that schemes will be beneficial." - Does anyone beleieve that any local authority would be stupid enough to introduce road tolls unless they believed that it was the only way that they could get Government money?
    At para 52 the Government makes it clear that to get money the authorities' "proposals must include an element of hard demand management".
    PS Another indication of what is planned on road pricing came in a speech today on democracy and constitutional reform, given by Michael Wills, Minister for Jusice referring to - "policies such as road pricing and the Iraq war", the minister said that the Government had "to make unpopular decisions and face down vested interests".

    wales Wrong tack
    The Tory Shadow Transport Minister in the Welsh Assembly wants to be able to pay tolls by card - BBC - "Bridge toll plastic payment call" (Note that BBC Wales ignores opposition to the tolls and though they have published comments on this story there are none opposing the tolls). The call to allow the use of credit and debit cards misses the main point - it is an anachronism that there is a toll to enter Wales via the Severn Crossing. Drivers around Britain pay £50 billion a year in taxes on roads use, there is no justification for an extra toll tax. Whether drivers pay by cash or card, tolls cause delays and are also a safety hazard as on the approach to the tolls drivers have to slow down, fumble to find the payment (whether cash or card), and possibly manoeuvre between lane queues.

    usa USA round up - earlier news
  • Some New York toll advocates seem to realise that a London style "C" charge would only generate enough tolls to cover collection costs, and seem to prefer a cordon based on tolling all bridges including those that are currently toll freee - Streetsblog - "Pricing advocates call for impact study and new parking policies".
    It seems that New York is to be tolled one way or another. Here is an attack on the suggestion that high car parking charges limit traffic and thus congestion - Room Eight - "If Your Policy Has Failed Do It More?".

  • On Tuesday we had a story that Illinois and Missouri had reached an agreement on the new Mississippi bridge, apparently this is not so - KWMU - "No bridge agreement yet, despite some reports".

  • Other stories - Virginia - "Transportation group to study possibility of highway tolls"   New Hampshire - "Wieczorek backs off toll hike challenge"   Texas - "Highway 121 project receives federal environmental clearance"   (Land Line) - "OOIDA questions ethics of Pennsylvania I-80 lease"   (Logistics Management) - "Pennsylvania DOT, Turnpike Commission get on the road with I-80 tolling plan"   North Carolina - "Lack of State Money No Barrier to Toll Road Planning".

    britain" chimaera Cambridge Toll - Interview - "The gun that is being held to our head by government"
    The Leader of Cambridgeshire gives an interview on Congestion Charge and other matters - Hunts Post - "Shona Johnstone Interview". She says that "I don't want a congestion charge." and implies that the Government is forcing the Council to introduce one. Strange that nearly every other Council in Britain doesn't feel so compelled.

    Wednesday 17 October 2007

    britain" More on Slow and slow Britain
    Further to yesterday's story of Britain's cities having the slowest moving traffic in Europe, here is the original PR from "Keep Moving" - "Europe's Slowest Cities".

    south More on South African toll plans
    It seems that those who want to make it a bit harder to be tracked will be charged 40 per cent higher tolls - IT Web - "The toll gates, they cometh!".

    europe spain denmark Tolls too low
    The Eurotroll action against Spain over toll discounts is proceeding - slowly - Focus News - "European Commission refers Spain to Court of Justice".
    Another story says that Denmark has also been reported to the courts for failing to "transpose" EU laws on tolls.

    britain" Humber Tolls - Councils support removal
  • Grimsby Telegraph - "LINKING UP TO AXE 'RIDICULOUS' FEE".

    britain" chimaera The toll sale goes on
    It seems that the RAC Foundation have not given up on their efforts to sell road pricing. They are suggesting a voluntary scheme where those who join pay lower fuel taxes - Auto Industry - "RAC Foundation suggests voluntary road pricing". If nothing else this would keep the oil companies happy!

    britain" chimaera Cambridge Toll - Application goes in
    Cambridgeshire has submitted its Congestion Charge application - CEN - "Council puts in bid for charge funding". The council say that they have not decided to have a charge. This is the same as telling the animals on the way to the slaughterhouse that no decision has yet been made on their fate.

    usa USA round up
  • NY Streetsblog asks - "What is-congestion pricing?". They say it is what the Federal Government says it is. The real answer of course is that it is a scam.

  • We reported yesterday that Mary Peters had been in Oregon selling tolls and arguing against gas taxes. It appears that she must be on a national sales tour - San Francisco Chronicle - "Transportation secretary praises Bay Area congestion-relief plan".

  • More on the signing of the deal handing over the Interstate 80 to the turnpike (see "USA latest" yesterday) - Centre Daily Times - "I-80 tolls spark war of words"   Erie Times - "Toll opponents criticize turnpike's lease of I-80"       Williamsport Sun Gazette - "Future of I-80 now in hands of Washington"   Morning Call - "PennDOT, Turnpike sign lease agreement"   Pocono Record - "Turnpike Commission begins making plans to charge tolls on I-80"   Pittsburgh Post Gazette - "State takes first steps for tolls on I-80"   Land Line - "Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission to control I-80".

  • A plea for more taxes!   Star-Tribune (Minnesota) - "I want to pay for a bridge".

  • Other stories - California - "Goal is to push FasTrak use to 70% in Bay Area"   New Hampshire - "A toll compromise to rescue Merrimack and Rochester"   Virginia - "Wolf Presses AG Review Of Greenway Increases"   New York - "Brown’s ideas".

    australia More of the Government giveth
    We reported on the 9th that Sydney was proposing to use up to $5 billion of public money to subsidise toll roads. Now it's the turn of Brisbane though in this case it is only $500 million - Brisbane Times - "Rudd pledges $500m to Toowong tunnel".

    Tuesday 16 October 2007

    usa USA latest
  • The deal handing over the Interstate 80 to the turnpike has been signed. It is expected that the Federal government will authorise tolling it - Morning Call - "PennDOT, Turnpike sign lease agreement"   Patriot News - "PennDOT and Turnpike sign agreement to toll I-80".

  • Just in case there is any doubt about whether the Federal government will allow tolls on the Interstates, here is what Mary Peters said about tolls yesterday in Oregon - DOT - "REMARKS FOR THE HONORABLE MARY PETERS SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION". Her speech also included - "Americans are also growing increasingly concerned with our reliance on foreign sources of oil, saving fuel, and a cleaner environment. So, it also makes absolutely no sense to raise the gas tax at a time when we are exploring every feasible way to increase energy independence, promote fuel economy in automobiles, stimulate alternative fuel development, and reduce emissions." If anyone can see any logic between the first and second sentence, then George W is looking for people like you!

    britain" Slow and slow Britain
    Britain's cities are said to have the slowest moving traffic in Europe - Daily Mail - "Traffic jam Britain - UK cities have slowest-moving traffic in Europe". It is interesting that the city with the "C" charge is the slowest of them all. If the figures indicate anything at all, it is that British drivers are the only ones in Europe who would pay extortionate amounts in road taxes and at the same time let the politicians and bureaucrats do their best to bring the traffic to a halt.

    london London Three
  • Argument over effect of C charge on retail sales - Mayor Watch - "'Livingstone Spinning Retail Figures'". The obvious point is not made - the main damage from the charge is when it was introduced and again when it was increased to £8. Any recent sales improvement is starting from a lower base.

  • ABD and "Facebook" opposition to a Greenwich Toll - News Shopper - "Congestion charge an option".

  • Yesterday we reported on a story in the Evening Standard which said that "Londoners" backed £25 C charge. Today the paper has a report of another survey which says - "75% of small businesses to oppose £25 C-Charge".

    britain" chimaera More on No Road pricing??
    According to the Government this is a non story, but there has been more reaction to the report that the Government has filed its national road pricing plans in the attic - Birmingham Mail - "End of the road for pricing plan"   Auto Industry - "RMIF applauds dropping of national road pricing from local transport bill; BVRLA doesn’t".

    britain" chimaera Cambridge Toll - It's cheaper by bus
    It is revealed that Cambridgeshire which wants to spend hundreds of millions on public transport (with the cash coming from drivers and national taxes) currently spends only £4 per head of its own money on public transport - CEN - "Low buses spending may hit toll scheme". The county has the second lowest council tax in the country. What are the chances that the Government and their advisers will realise that the road pricing pilots will achieve nothing other than to rip off both local drivers and national taxpayers?

    britain" Go slow
    A group that advises Parliament on road safety issues wants the speed limit in urban areas reduced to 20 miles per hour, with the limits strictly enforced using cameras - BBC - "20mph limit called for in towns"   Mirror - "Road group calls for 20 mph town limits". Any bets as to whether the people who support this also support tolling all roads in order, so they say, to reduce congestion? The answer to this is covered in the report just issued by the group. It refers to the increased safety risks that will be caused by traffic diverting onto less suitable roads, by more collisions due to "fatigue and reduced visibility" off peak, and switches to less safe means of transport. Despite this they implicitly welcome tolls.
    PSABD Press release.

    wales chimaera "M4 relief toll will be highway robbery"
    One view on the planned new toll road - Western Mail.

    usa USA round up
  • A Virginia state rep is unhappy about the agreed increase in the Dulles Greenway tolls - WTOP - "Wolf Calls for Investigation Into Greenway Finances". If it is a case of a toll firm's accountants and lawyers versus those from a state, there is little doubt who is likely to come off best.

  • It is not confirmed but apparently the long dispute over the new Mississippi bidge has ended, and it will be built - free of tolls - Lake Expo - "Illinois, Missouri have agreed on new Mississippi Bridge, media reports say".

  • Criticism of American Civil Liberties Union for opposing the use of tagging and cameras to toll drivers - Government Technology - "Can the ACLU Stop The Benefits of IT and Electronic Cameras?".

  • Update on the Bill that would require Federal Government to be paid back if an Interstate is tolled - Land Line - "Bill would force states to pay if they want to toll interstates".

  • Other reports - Pennsylvania - "Rendell defends I-80 plan to Clarion council"   New Jersey - "Secret plans"   Pennsylvania - "U.S. rep blasts PA turnpike chief for I-80 toll rhetoric".

    south "Consultation" on South African toll plans
  • Business Day - "Tollgate plan for Gauteng roads gathers steam".

    australia Banking
    FT report on the Australian bank whose funds control assets round the world including Britain's M6 Toll road - "Macquarie disputes claims funds at risk". What this article does not mention is that some of these deals are PFI or PPP, which means that there are usually very large amounts owing to other banks or separate arms of the same bank.

    Monday 15 October 2007

    britain" chimaera No Road pricing??
    See PPS to story below.

    usa USA round up
  • "Transportation Alternatives" (a group of cyclists) wants bigger toll increases in New York - NY Post - "MTA IS UN-FARE".

  • A view from the right on the NAU Super (toll) Highway - "Anti-NAU warriors beginning to move the rock uphill!".

  • NJ Voices - "Ask not for whom the Guv tolls".

  • Other stories - Pennsylvania - "Another mess caused by secrecy"   Illionois - "Travel tales"   New Hampshire - "Toll hike due to high spending, bad management"   DC - "Moran, Davis Don't Support Bridge Tolls"   Florida - "Cut taxes, add fees"   Oklahoma - "Future highway grid may have more tolls".

    belgium netherlands Neighbours
    The BENELUX countries want to introduce tolls, mainly to charge those who come from across the internal frontiers. Though oddly they want to have the same system - Expatica "Dutch want joint km charge for Benelux".

    london Londoners back charges
    A survey in the Evening Standard says that "Londoners" - "back higher charges for 4x4s" and for low enmission zone. As one reader comments - "As long as they are not affected personally, a majority will always be happy to impose taxes on a minority (irrespective of the merits of the argument)."

    vietnam "Potential investors reluctant to build transport infrastructure"
  • Vietnam Net.

    canada Tolls "Non"
    On Friday we reported that a Quebec poll said that two out of three people want to see the tolls reintroduced. Here is a contrary view - The Gazette - "An increased levy on gas would be best way to pay for roads".

    britain" chimaera No Road pricing??
  • This suggestion was first floated in the summer, but here it is in the Telegraph - "Labour to scrap national road pricing plans"   "Road pricing decision is long overdue"   Leader "Some U-turns are good, Gordon Brown".
    The Telegraph claims to have led a campaign against road pricing. This is fantasy. They fully backed national road tolls till they saw how many people were signing the Peter Roberts petition. Since the petition closed they have ignored the subject and now attempt to rewrite history by saying that not all those who signed Peter's petion "were opposed in principle to the idea of road pricing.".
    The Telegraph makes it clear that it wants more tolls - "This newspaper approves whole-heartedly of using tolls to fund the private construction of new roads: in other words, to allow contractors tooffer an entirely new service, and then recoup their costs by charging users of that service. We can see the case, too, for local congestion charge schemes, imposed at the discretion of elected councils."
    Given that the next election is at least a year away, it would make sense for the Government to abandon a policy which by then would be electoral suicide. But it remains to be seen what they will do. If Gordon Brown was as clever as people thought that he was the Government would completely abandon the idea of all forms of road tolls and leave the Tories out on a limb. As he probably is not that clever he will probably just slow down plans for national road pricing while proceeding with road pricing pilots in Manchester, Cambridge and elsewhere.
  • William Hague was in Manchester at the end of last week and said - "It is wrong for the Government to blackmail Manchester by only offering money for public transport if the city introduces a congestion charge. Local road pricing would bring major disadvantages." Will David Cameron listen to William Hague or to John Redwood and the Telegraph?
    PS Story in Daily Mail - "Labour 'does U-turn on national plan for road tolls'" the Guardian - "Road-pricing plans 'to be shelved'" and the Register - "Road pricing 'back-burnered' by Brown gov't".
    PPS This is what the PM's spokesman told the press - Re the Telegraph's story this morning, it was asked if the subject of transport and road prices in the Queen's speech would be different to what was expected. The PMS said that there was a certain amount of bafflement regarding the Telegraph's story this morning; the whole premise seemed to be that it was the existing Government's position that there would be legislation to be brought forward to enable a national road pricing scheme, but actually the draft legislation, which was published in May, did not include any such provision. The whole premise of the story was wrong in the sense that its depiction of the Government's existing position was not an accurate one; there had been no change in that position. What the Government wanted to see was road pricing working in local and regional pilots before making a decision about whether or not a national scheme was needed; that was no more than a re-statement of the existing policy so nothing had changed.

    Friday 12 October 2007

    earth Global or bigger?
    Al Gore and the UN panel that promotes global warming have won the Nobel Peace prize - BBC. Meanwhile there are suggestions that other planets are getting warmer - The People's Voice - "Global warming caused by man-made activity? -A Convenient Lie!".

    britain" Humber Tolls - More support for removal?
    A local MP gives some support to removing the Humber Bridge tolls but says - "But at the same time, we need to be engaging other parts of the country with similar problems, otherwise we will struggle to convince people the tolls should be lifted here, when they exist all over the country. It is always going to be difficult saying 'do something for this region'. What we should be saying is 'do something for all regions in this position'." - Scunthorpe Telegraph - "TOWN MP BACKS HUMBER BRIDGE DEBATE".

    london usa Parking up the wrong tree
    A Brooklyn Eagle report on the New York Toll plan includes what is said to be an off the record remark by Ken's deputy that it is the high parking charges which discourage traffic- "Pricing Parking Needed To Get The Full Payoff From Congestion Pricing". The reality is that based on the official figures the punitive Congestion charges have had no effect on increasing traffic speeds - they are the same as before the London C toll was introduced.

    usa USA round up
  • US DoT is sponsoring new research into how truck traffic in New York can be reduced - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute - "Freight Management in Manhattan: Tax Incentives and High-Tech Tools for Night Owls". The story says that "Research shows that after the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey increased tolls in 2001, only 9 percent of trucking companies passed on the increased costs to customers .... the only impact of increasing tolls is to eat away the truckers’ profits, with no real impact on traffic congestion.".

  • Various states are considering truck toll lanes on the Interstate 70 - New Hampshire - "Truck-only lanes on I-70 to be studied in 4 states". Roads are the way that 99 per cent of goods are moved. Tolling trucks for using the main roads, encourages them to use inferior roads and benefits no one but trolls. It is far better to tax fuel as it encourages freight firms not to speed and to use the most efficient vehicles and routes for moving their loads.

  • Update on what will be one of the first conversions of Interstates to toll roads - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - "I-80 toll conversion speeds on".

  • The Texas Transportation Institute tolls propaganda is still doing the rounds - Florida Times-Union - "Riding a snail".

  • Some of the loot from selling the rights to tolling is being shared out - Dallas Morning News - "Counties compromise as Highway 121 funds split up". Strange that no one asks where all this "free" spending money is coming from.

  • Mayor Michael is not getting it all his own way with the New York Toll - NY Times - "Study Gives Alternatives to City Plan for Traffic".

  • Kitsap Sun - "Questions Raised Over Narrows Bridge Tolls".

  • Other stories - New Hampshire - "Toll hikes just a first step"   Massachusetts - "Gain from toll hike more than estimated"   New York - "Latest talk of toll hike comes under fire"   Massachusetts - "Pike officials must do more than listen"   Maine - "Legislature should not look for 'quick fix'"   New Hampshire - "Put the toll hikes in reverse"   DC - "HOT Lanes on the 14th Street Bridge?".

  • More - Texas - "Toll Bridge expected to open on time despite delays"   DC - "HOT Lanes on the 14th Street Bridge?"   Washington State - "State audit proposes adding tolls, lanes"   Florida - "Keeping them public"   Massachusetts - "Pike plan prompts traffic concerns"   Rhode Island - "Bridge authority hires new public relations and marketing firm"   New York - "Fare and toll hike hearing planned"   Massachusetts - "Toll hike a drop in the bucket"   Maryland - "Police Cameras Catch More Than Toll Violators".

    colombia venezuela More on Border Toll dispute
  • vheadline - "Colombian border tolls violate Andean Community rules"   el Universal - "Protesters threat to build walls on border bridges".

    south One view on South African road pricing plans
  • The Times - "Getting a grip on gridlock".

    canada Tolls "Oui"
    Some years ago Quebec got rid of its road and bridge tolls. A "Leger" poll now says that two out of three people want to see the tolls reintroduced.

    united More tricks to try and beat the Salik tolls
  • - Gulf News - "No trick can cheat Salik system: RTA".

    britain" Travel plan
    The Government is encouraging "personal travel planning" which it says could reduce car use by 10 per cent - DfT press release. Further details - DfT - "Making Personal Travel Planning Work: Case Studies" (pdf file).

    britain" You are doing well!!
    Local councils around Britain are doing their best (worst?) to create congestion and slow traffic down. Despite this at the beginning of the week at a Local Government Association conference on integrated transport, the Transport Minister "congratulated the successful local authorities for developing plans to beat traffic jams and keep roads flowing". The DfT then issued separate press releases in each region singling out the authorities in that area for doing so well!   this is the one that was issued in the North West area. Further details - DfT - "Assessment of Network Management Duties within Local Transport Plans".

    Thursday 11 October 2007

    britain" Humber Tolls - Support from Councils
    Local councils are to sponsor new research into the effects of the Humber Bridge tolls - BBC - "New push for cut in bridge tolls"   Scunthorpe Telegraph - "NEW BRIDGE TOLL PROBE TO START".

    britain" chimaera Cambridge Toll - More on jobs moving
  • CEN - "A mass exodus fear for the city".

    britain" chimaera York Toll - "Politicians should stop treating climate change as a free cash machine and the electorate as fools and imbeciles"
  • The Press - "New road waste".

    london Facing up to the Con
    A new group on Facebook - Bexley Times - "Internet fight to stop congestion charging".

    britain" chimaera Some reactions to Chancellor's speech on Tuesday
  • Channel 4 - "Chancellor's transport plans: more questions than answers"   Transport Briefing - "Darling safeguards transport budget rises until 2019"   Road Transport - "Pre-Budget report disappoints industry".

    wales chimaera Welsh suicide pact
    A quango of local authorities in South East Wales aims to go for the jugular - they want to increase tolls on the Severn bridge and extend them into the distant future - Western Mail - "Your big Welcome to Wales road tax"   Western Mail - "New M4 funding options".

    wales chimaera Welsh bosses view
    As a surprise there is a fairly balanced view on road pricing from the Welsh CBI - one of the main proponents of the plan - Western Mail - "Paying for no jam tomorrow". Though of course as usual it is completely ignored that many many billions would be wasted in setting up, running and enforcing the system.

    britain" chimaera Green councils
    Councils are being urged to go in for "carbon trading" and "congestion charging" - BBC - "Councils urged to use green ideas". Are two scams better than one?

    Tuesday 9 October 2007

    britain" chimaera "Meeting the aspirations of the British people"
    This was the title of the 282 page document issued today following the Chancellor's Pre Budget report and Spending Review. The roads bit of it might as well have been titled "We will continue to do next to nothing to improve the roads while at the same time seeing how much more we can tax drivers even if nearly all the extra tax is wasted on the cost of collection."
    These are the few bits in the report that referred to roads or road taxes-
    4.33 The Local Transport Bill will increase flexibility for local authorities to introduce road pricing schemes as part of packages of measures to tackle local congestion problems. The DfT continues to work with local authorities who have submitted or are considering a bid for Transport Innovation Funding to support such packages. The DfT is also inviting industry to demonstrate the feasibility of distance-based road charging where the charge varies according to time of day and place. A number of companies ve expressed interest in participating in these demonstrations.

    4.36 The DfT has published a progress report on other ways of delivering more targeted enforcement on foreign vehicles alongside the 2007 Pre-Budget Report.8 One option under consideration is a ‘vignette’ - a time-based charge for the use of UK roads designed to ensure foreign hauliers help pay for the wear and tear inflicted by their vehicles.

    D3. DfT to take forward road pricing, including support for local schemes and work to establish whether large scale distance-based charging is technically feasible while safeguarding privacy.

    D3.9 The 2007 CSR provides for significant investment in roads, consistent with the conclusions of the Eddington Transport Study, to support the needs of a growing economy. It allows provision for increasing capacity on a number of the nation’s most congested roads. Furthermore, the 2007 CSR confirms the Government’s commitment to use resources from the Transport Innovation Fund to tackle congestion through supporting local road pricing schemes, subject to appropriate proposals coming forward. The Government will be looking in detail at proposals received, including for accompanying public transport."

    britain" chimaera Cambridge Toll - Jobs move
  • CEN - "Road charge sparks move".

    britain" chimaera Update on Great Escape
    The Bikers "Not us" demo - MCN - "Whitehall to be bike-only zone".

    usa USA round up
  • From the - "Plans to Toll Interstate Highway System Expand".

  • A big victory for Texan Trolls - KLBJ - "After Meeting Their Opposition CAMPO Approves More Toll Roads"   Daily Texan - "Plan's approval creates 5 toll roads"   Austin American Statesman - "Board approves five new toll roads"   MyFox - "CAMPO Votes to Toll Five Existing Austin Roads".

  • The American Automobile Association have published the results of a poll that they did in eastern states. They say that drivers want more toll increases, that nearly half want more sale of roads, and nobody wants the gas tax increased. Good news for trolls and oil suppliers!

  • More dreaming in the New York Times - "M.T.A. Says Mayor’s Plan to Ease Traffic Will Cost $767 Million to Accomplish". The reality is that the London Con has so far generated about $2 billion in tolls and penalties from drivers, but this has so far cost about $2 billion to collect and enforce.

  • Other stories - Massachusetts - "Public hearings to be held on proposed toll hikes"   New Jersey - "Guv's silence on tolls deafening"   Virginia - "It's all timing"   Massachusetts - "The battle is on for toll equity"   Massachusetts - "Commuters to take aim at toll hikes"   Massachusetts / New Hampshire - "States turn to drivers for road repair funds".

    south More South African tolls planned
  • Business Day - "Radebe’s R60bn pill for Gauteng gridlock".

    australia The Government giveth ..
    Up to $5 billion of the $7 billion cost of a new tollway would be given to the private operator by the Government - Daily Telegraph   Live News.

    australia .. and the Government taketh away
    Sydney's Cross City tunnel is reported to have generated $2 million in speeding fines while the toll operators are struggling - Daily Telegraph - "Cross City tunnel speed trap roulette".

    spain italy Engagement back on?
    Speculation that the marriage of the trolls may happen after all - Forbes - "Abertis declines to make any evaluation of Italian govt-Atlantia accord".

    britain" chimaera Cambridge Toll - Gap
    It is reported that despite a large gift from the taxpayers the Cambridge Toll may not generate as much as thay plan to spend - CEN - "Taxpayers 'will not fund' road toll scheme". A strange story, as if they don't get enough money, they will do a London and increase the tolls.

    wales londonchimaera Cambridge Toll - A tales of buses and three cities
    A report in the Western Mail compares bus growth in a Welsh area with that in Cambridge. The interesting point is that despite the massive bus subsidies and the congestion charge in London, there has been more growth in bus use in Cambridge than in London - "Getting Cowbridge back on the bus".

    britain" Humber Tolls - Demo 2
    Report on Saturday's protest against the Humber Bridge tolls - Grimsby Telegraph - "TOOTS OF SUPPORT FOR BRIDGE TOLL PROTEST".

    Monday 8 October 2007

    britain" chimaera What Gordon says about road pricing - "Erm .."
    At todays' press conference the PM was asked - "Given the new era of consultation seeking and listening to public concern that you have announced, are you prepared to look again at the government's intention to introduce pay as you drive road tolls?". His "answer" was - Well this is an issue that is being debated all the time. The issue of transport charging is something that is not resolved at all, these are issues that people are looking at in detail all the time. We have congestion charging in London, we have had ballots in other cities, but this is an issue that people will continue to look at and it will take time of course to make these decisions implemented anyway."

    britain" chimaera Norwich Toll - No?
    Norfolk County Council which is Tory controlled is one of the ten potential areas for a road pricing pilot. The charges would apply in Norwich, but the Labour controlled Norwich City council, with Tory support, says that the County should abandon the plans - Norwich Evening News - "City congestion charge rejected".

    britain" Oxford Toll
    Oxford is not one of the ten potential areas for a road pricing pilot, but the local paper tells is readers that "The congestion charge has been a huge success in London and Durham. How long before it appears in Oxford?"   Oxford Mail - "Bus gate cash bonanza".

    scotland chimaera Scotland leads the way on road tolls
    Yesterday's Scotland on Sunday said - "SNP vows to block road tolls north of Border".
    The position in Scotland is that both the SNP and the Scottisn Tories made it clear during the May election that they are opposed to all forms of tolls. The Greens are of course in favour of anything which is anti roads user, even if it means road tolls replacing fuel duty. Scottish Labour seems to follow the policy that was first set out by Alistair Darling and then briefly carried on by Douglas Alexander. The Scottish Lib Dems are in favour of road tolls, but in practice this mainly seems to mean tolls that apply to other people and other areas and the Lib Dems opposed the Edinburgh Toll.
    Could the Scots torpedo road pricing in England? They could if some of the other parties at Holyrood came out and took the same stand as the SNP and the Scottish Tories. The voters in England would never accept an England only toll tax, whether or not the person at number Ten lives at Queensferry and when he was an opposition MP campaigned for removal of Forth Road bridge tolls.

    britain" RIP does not mean "Rest in Peace"
    Henry Potter in yesterday's Observer says - "The government trumpets free speech while trampling on it". This story is the tip of the iceberg as there seems to be a "D" notice on papers reporting on the RIP Act powers that are already being exercised by hundreds of authorities to get transcripts of your phone calls and intercept mail.

    Saturday 6 October 2007

    britain" From the Land of Make Believe
    A lengthy article from the Telegraph on the problems of taxing cars according to CO2 emissions - "Fuel's gold". It is amazing the extent to which certain interests have fooled the public with all this nonsense. If you want to reduce fuel use, then you tax it.

    britain" Humber Tolls - Demo 2
    Another demonstration against the Humber Bridge tolls takes place today - Scunthorpe Telegraph - "PROTEST ON TOLLS".

    britain" Tories and drivers
    Mike Rutherford's column in Auto Express - "Mike shares his opinions of the Tories, David Cameron, and car-hostile proposals.".

    britain" chimaera Cambridge Toll - Tories say "Get on your bikes"
    The latest report says that £55 miilion of the tolls to be paid by drivers will be spent on facilities for cyclists - CEN - "Here we go with bid".
    More on the plans - Ely Standard - "More buses in Ely but no congestion charge".

    britain" Transport priorities
    It has been announced that £16 billion is to be spent on "Crossrail". The benefits of the new railway line are said to include that "businessmen jetting in to Heathrow will take only 43 minutes to reach Canray Wharf, instead of taking one hour" - BBC - "Crossrail splits fans and foes".

    britain" chimaera "Ticking bomb"
  • Edie - "Road pricing is a "ticking bomb", LGA warns".

    Thursday 4 October 2007

    london usa London selling tolls to New York
  • NY Daily News - " A congestion pricing plan can refuel this city's future".

    canada Toronto to toll?
    From The Star - "City takes `anti-car' report out for a spin".

    usa USA round up
  • Virginia is considering scanning all vehicles to detect how many people are in the vehicle - Freelance Star - "Infrared technology could catch cheaters on I-95 lanes".

  • Tolls sales pitch - Cascadia Prospectus - "Tolling goes mainstream".

  • Other stories - Washington State - "Smooth, safer commute with second bridge"   Pennsylvania - "Turnpike chief limits I-80 toll use"   New Hampshire - "Toll increase okayed"   Maine - "Turnpike officials to travel to Austria"   "Millstone against selling off New Jersey's toll roads "   Texas - "Crosstown Expressway may soon see toll road"   Massachusetts - "Mass. Pike Tolls Set To Increase"   Massachusetts - "Fraud on the Pike".

    Wednesday 3 October 2007

    britain" chimaera Drivers support road pricing!!
    What Car says that 55 per cent of drivers support pay per mile road pricing - "Pay-per-mile charges are 'fairest'". What they don't tell you is what choice the drivers were given. Unbiased surveys show that in reality the vast majority of drivers oppose any form of road pricing and prefer a system of fuel duty.

    wales Three from Wales
  • South Wales Echo - "‘Better transport to airports’ is promised".
  • South Wales Echo - "Charges hit poor hardest".
  • South Wales Echo - "Traffic policy piling agony on motorists".

    usa USA round up
  • Though the trolls still dominate in many states, there are some voices who realise that the gas tax is a better way of funding roads. In Massachusetts there is a big discussion on the dependance on gambling and tolls. A Boston Globe writer says that there is - "Another way". He ends - "No tax is perfect. A gas tax is regressive for working stiffs who have to drive to work, but not nearly as regressive as the lottery. It puts all the incentives in the right places. It is a user tax; those who use the roads pay. It costs nothing to collect and is far fairer than raising the tolls on Massachusetts Turnpike commuters forever. Most importantly it squares with what should be our national policy of energy independence. Former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan has proposed a $3 gas tax phased in over time. Is no one willing to stand for another way?".
    The House Speaker has made the same suggestion - WHDHtv - "Patrick plan would create new, massive transportation authority".

  • Other stories - Pennsylvania - "Deep pockets show turnpike interest"   New Hampshire - "Officials blamed for cash-strapped system"   Massachusetts - "Tolls going up"   Texas - "Tolls, tied-up traffic seen for future"   New Jersey - "bridges need $13.5B makeover"   Delaware - "That will cost you one arm, one leg"   Arizona - "Legislature looks for ways to pay for new highways"   Arizona - "Toll Roads, Tax Hikes Eyed as Road Funding Options"   Louisiana - "Bridge chief slated for 24% raise"   Maine - "For whom does the Turnpike toll?"   Texas - "Wait times, hike in bridge fees a double whammy"   Pennsylvania - "30 firms show interest in turnpike"   New Hampshire - "Toll hike looks like it's a go"   Washington State - "Environmental groups split on Proposition 1".

    colombia venezuela Casualties in Border Toll dispute
  • Venezuela Analysis - "Protesters Block Colombian-Venezuelan Border Crossings"   El Universal - "Riots in Colombia-Venezuela border".

    Monday 1 October 2007

    london usa Ken & Mike get together
    Yesterday Mike was addressing the Tory Party conference. Today he met a blue in green and red clothing to discuss Con charging - International Herald Tribune / AP - "New York's Michael Bloomberg meets London mayor to talk green charges"   London Mayor's press release.
  • Mike praises the "effectiveness of London's congestion charging scheme" - BBC - "New York mayor praises c-charge". Who's the sucker? Is it Mike or the people back in New York who are fed myths and not facts?
  • Mike and Ken go by bus and get their picture taken - US Today - "NYC mayor: Get used to surveillance cameras".

    london Ken goes Car
    Thanks to Brian for pointing out this story last week in Local Transport Today. At a recent meeting of the London Assembly, the Mayor appeared to back more roads as cars were getting even cleaner - "Clean cars will cancel climate case against new roads - Mayor".

    britain" chimaera Exeter Toll
    What to us at least is new - Devon County Council are preparing a TIF Congestion bid based on a workplace parking levy or congestion charging - The Cornishman - "PAY TO PARK AT WORK PLAN".

    britain" Fuel tax up
    Fuel taxes increase today. At least they do for roads users, everybody else pays little or no tax on fuel use - BBC - "Tax rise fuels petrol price fears". The new rate that applies to most vehicle fuels is 50.35 pence a litre. Assuming that average pump price for petrol will now be 97 pence a litre, then the VAT element will be 14.45 pence, giving total tax of 64.8 pence a litre (equivalent of a tax of 200 per cent on the untaxed cost).

    usa USA round up
  • "What’s interesting .. is the presumption that people who use mass transit paid for by the taxpayers are somehow more virtuous than those of us who buy our own vehicles, pay to maintain them, and pay all manner of taxes for the privilege. Indeed, this may be the only case where those who rely on government for something feel smugly superior to those who pay their own way." - Outside the Beltway - "Commuting ressentiment".

  • Another World Net Daily report on the roads privatization conference - "A promise kept".

  • The recent Texas Transport Institute report on Congestion is still sparking a lot of "we must do something about it, like more tolls" stories, here is a different one - Cincinnati Post - "Traffic and the human condition".

  • One man's response to pro tolls views - Nashua Telegraph (New Hampshire) - "Merrimack man replies to ‘stop whining’ letter, defends toll actions ".

  • Other stories - "More toll trouble for Pennsylvania"   New York - "No toll hike"   California - "South Bay toll lanes plan moves ahead"   New Jersey - "On the road with Bob, Bing, Dorothy and Jon"   New York - "No new tolls - Thruway Authority again reaches for motorists' wallets"   New Jersey - "Release report - State Republicans right about toll study"   New York - "Thruway tolls to rise; EZ Pass rebate to be cut"   "Maine's toll-free Interstates should stay that way"   Virginia - "Tolls studied to ease Hampton Roads traffic"   Pennsylvania - "More toll trouble"   Illinois - "Top Ill. toll cheats owe millions".

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