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Friday 31 October 2008

britain" chimaera Denial that - Road pricing moves closer
Following yesterday's Daily Telegraph story that plans for toll lanes on motorways would be speeded up, some other papers report that the DfT deny this - "We have made it clear that we are at a very early stage of looking at a range of options for managing demand on new motorway capacity, including tolled lanes and car sharing lanes. We would need new primary legislation before any tolled lanes could be introduced – even on a trial basis.".
The Government through the Transport Act 2000 already has some powers for tolling trunk roads (though they are limited to where there is a bridge or a tunnel), and following the Commons third reading of the Local Transport Bill on Monday the Welsh Assembly will sonn have the power to toll any Welsh trunk road. If further powers are needed in England, then no doubt the UK MPs will grant then without a murmur. (There is no chance that the Scottish Government would agree to any tolling.)

bangladesh More on Rougher side of tolls (see 20 Sep)
  • New Nation - "2 alleged toll collectors killed in city encounter".

    britain" chimaera Wording of the Manchester "referendum" agreed
  • Local Government Chronicle - "Manchester c-charge vote backed". For more details and comment, see the Manchester news page.

    australia chimaera News South Wales Premier wants road pricing
  • Sydney Morning Herald - "Congestion tolls to stem city chaos".

    finland chimaera Helsinki looking at Con charge again
  • Helsingin Sanomat - "All main arterial roads in Helsinki area under threat of becoming blocked in coming years".

    usa USA Roundup
  • So far today there are virtually no stories. After the election, normal service will resume, but as American politics seems to go green there will be far bigger subsidies for mass transit and the likelihood that it will be roads users who will provide the money.

    vietnam Pavement Toll
  • Vietnam News - "City gears up for new pavement, road rules". Presumably this toll won't apply to the owners of the pavements - cyclists!

    canada london Hero
    "It took a leader of courage and vision – in London's case, former mayor Ken Livingstone – to introduce road tolls." - Toronto Star - "English transit boss compares TTC to London".

    singapore chimaera Singapore toll may move to satellites
  • Asia One - "Predicting traffic jams".

    britain" chimaera Volunteers needed for road tolls trial
  • EADT - "Pay as you drive trial for region?".

    australia chimaera National Transport Commission wants road pricing
  • Supply Chain Review - "Time to reconsider road pricing: NTC".

    australia Trolls "confident" of traffic growth
  • Herald Sun - "Toll confusion sees drivers steer clear of EastLink"   The Age - "ConnectEast in slow lane"   Live News - "ConnectEast confident despite poor traffic".

    britain" chimaera "Road pricing – Manchester and beyond"
  • Politics. An odd story. Doctor Ladyman seems to be doing a selling job for the Government, though he has not been "minister of state for transport" since the Brown reshuffle in the summer of 2007. After he left the Government, the Doctor became a director of ITIS Holding, a company that provides electronic traffic data, though he may be better known for his appearance on Top Gear.

    Thursday 30 October 2008

    britain" chimaera Road pricing moves closer
    The Daily Telegraph reports than the new Transport Sectretary WMD Hoon has ordered that plans for toll lanes on motorways should be speeded up - "Motorists face paying tolls to drive on hard shoulder"   "Toll lanes: Your questions answered - Britain's roads are getting busier and the Government needs to introduce measures to keep the traffic flowing".
    That the Government should ignore the fact that these schemes are dangerous and cause accidents is no surprise. They are expert at believing ten impossible things before breakfast. Neither is it surprising that the Telegraph seem to back tolls, and that the only criticsm (quoting the AA) is about "when a slow driver gets into the toll lane and people resent having to pay to be stuck behind a snail."
    PS The above was written before this appeared - "Motorists don't need more charges". It seems that we were wrong about the Telegraph supporting this particular scam though they boast that - "This newspaper approves whole-heartedly of using tolls to fund the private construction of new roads: in other words, to allow contractors to offer 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." We must assume that this is also Tory Party policy, i.e. despite the fact that the Government is taking £50 billion a year from drivers, the Tories will not build any new roads, just let the private sector build more economic white elephants like the M6 Toll; and they will allow local councils to impose road tolls no matter what local people might think. It seems that drivers are to be bled dry whatever the colour of the party in power.

    usa USA Roundup
  • Tolls are one of the issues in the Congressional election campaigns, but there is currently a dearth of other tolls stories. Are the trolls keeping tolls out of the news till after November 4th?

  • Other stories - Florida - "Bridges used less; Lee County pays toll"   Washington State - "Tacoma Narrows Bridge toll may go up again".

    canada usa Bridge campaign
  • Freep - "Contributions add up for Ambassador Bridge opponents".

    britain" chimaera Road pricing moves closer
    The Daily Telegraph reports than the new Transport Sectretary WMD Hoon has ordered that plans for toll lanes on motorways should be speeded up - "Motorists face paying tolls to drive on hard shoulder"   "Toll lanes: Your questions answered - Britain's roads are getting busier and the Government needs to introduce measures to keep the traffic flowing".
    That the Government should ignore the fact that these schemes are dangerous and cause accidents is no surprise. They are expert at believing ten impossible things before breakfast. Neither is it surprising that the Telegraph seem to back tolls, and that the only criticsm (quoting the AA) is about "when a slow driver gets into the toll lane and people resent having to pay to be stuck behind a snail."

    britain" chimaera PS on Black Monday
    On Tuesday we said that the news media had completely ignored the passing of the anti-roads users Bill. One report has now appeared, though 99% of the country will not see it - Bristol Evening Post - "New powers that could transform Bristol's bus services".

    britain" Humber tolls
  • Scunthorpe Telegraph - "Minister to be quizzed on bridge".

    japan Some details of latest toll cut
    As a further move to help the economy, most tolls are to be cut by 30% and on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays, there will be a maximum daily rate of 1,000 yen. This latest package will cost 500 billion yen ($5 billion or £3 billion). The Opposition have said that they would remove all tolls.

    Wednesday 29 October 2008

    britain" Bit more on - Hampshire County attacks Government Quango's plan for New Forest tolls
  • This is Hampshire - "County Council says NO to road pricing".

    britain" MPs think warm
    Having on Monday passed the anti-driver's Bill. Yesterday it was the turn of the MPs to change the weather with the third reading of the Climate Change Bill which brings in a mandatory target of an 80% reduction in Carbon Dioxide by 2050. There were 463 votes to make the Bill law, with only three heretics voting against it, all Tory MPs - Christopher Chope, Peter Lilley and Andrew Tyrie.   Register - "Snow blankets London for Global Warming debate - How Parliament passed the Climate Bill"   The debate in Hansard.

    britain" Rogues Gallery
  • BBC - "Track record: Transport secretaries".

    britain" Ideal green machine?
    October's Which magazine has a report on wind turbines - "Wind turbine blows cold". They installed one in a house and monitored it from December 2007 to June 2008. They found that it used more electricity than it generated. This surprising result is because the machine includes an "inverter" that converts the energy into electricity to go into the mains, and the inverter needs power which it draws whether the wind is turning the turbine or not. If the greens want to save the planet they have to make sure that they live somewhere windy. Though given the cost of manufacturing, installing, maintaining and eventual decommissioning - there may not be anywhere that is windy enough.

    britain" More on - It's a Mad, Mad World
    One reaction to Monday's announcement that the Government is to spend on the promotion of electric vehicles - Register - "UK Govt claims lead in 'green motoring revolution'".

    usa USA Roundup
  • News Transcript (NJ) - "Doing away with tolls would carry benefits" letter.

  • Other stories - "ACS-led group wins $1.8bn Florida toll road bid"   Texas - "Katy Freeway expansion declared done"   Colorado - "Late Toll Fee Shocks Driver".

    britain" chimaera "Parking hike 'could help cut congestion'"
  • Plymouth Herald. Which is more amazing - is it the transport expert who says that a "congestion charge" would not work - or the Council who say that they won't raise the parking charges?

    britain" Humber toll increase to go to Inquiry
  • Grimsby Telegraph - "Bridge tolls inquiry victory"   Hull Daily Mail - "Double lift for campaign against Humber Bridge tolls"   Scunthorpe Telegraph - "Telegraph campaign leads to tolls inquiry"   Scunthorpe Telegraph - "Campaigners welcome inquiry"   Hull Daily Mail - "Public inquiry into Humber Bridge tolls"   BBC - "Bridge toll rise goes to inquiry".

    canada More taxes
  • Vancouver Sun - "TransLink's options include new vehicle levy".

    europe Cautious?
  • HGV Ireland - "EU Ministers cautious about road user charge changes".

    china Not likely
  • Shanghai Daily - "Expressway charges may be slashed by next year". It is amazing that toll reductions have been proposed, though the logic is strange - if the problem is queues at the toll barriers, then how does halving the toll help? In any case the interests that prevent China from moving to a fuel tax will kill this proposal.

    Tuesday 28 October 2008

    usa USA Roundup
  • Story about the Washington State ballot proposition from Tim Eynam - the - "Washington: Camera Companies Oppose Congestion Reduction Measure".

  • Many Americans are beginning to believe in Global Warming, perhaps not surprising when so many think that Genesis is scientific fact. To combat this man made menace the Governor of Oregon's manifesto includes "congestion tolls" and $5,000 for anyone who will buy an electric car ($10,000 if you buy two??) - Valley Times - "Governor’s legislative package takes aim at climate change"   Forbes / AP - "Oregon governor outlines climate change agenda".

  • Other stories - Rhode Island - "R.I. gets $500K to help with E-ZPass launch"   "Michigan Toll Road?".

    london australia A break in the warmth
    The selling of the London con continues - Sydney Morning Herald - "How to get a big city moving".

    britain" Tory Shadow suggests less tolls in Liverpool to boost business
  • Liverpool Echo - "Suspend evening tolls in tunnels".

    earth The Interplanetary Bank Robbery
  • BBC - "World credit loss '£1.8 trillion'". Presumably we have not been careless and this money is not buried somewhere and we have lost the map. Neither was it consumed in a VERY large bonfire. So if "we" have lost this money, who was the gainer from all the bad trades, loans and guarantees? And can these aliens from outer space let us have some of it back?

    earth The people with influence
  • The Register - "The New Green Aristocracy - They don't work for you". Interesting how some global warming advocates have "interests" in the global warming industry.

    britain" Hampshire County attacks Government Quango's plan for New Forest tolls
  • This is Hampshire - "Hampshire County Council lands new blow to NPA plans"   BBC - "Council attacks New Forest plan".

    australia Make me pure, but not yet
    Bus operators want road tolls in the long term, but they can't cope with existing demand - Australasian Bus & Coach - "Call for light vehicle pricing debate welcomed".

    scotland Scots want to stay cool
  • Scotsman - "Cleaning up the world's act on pollution". Scotland has a powerful green lobby wuth the Green Party in coalition (nominally at least) with the SNP. Groups such as the Word Widelife Fund in this story press the case for all forms of road tolls and against roads.

    britain" More on Humber tolls
  • Scunthorpe Telegraph - "Barton residents speak out on bridge".
  • Prior to last night's debate on the Local Transport Bill an amendment had been put down to reduce the tolls on the Humber bridge (e.g. the toll for a car would be reduced to 60 pence from £2.70, and tolls for lorries which currently range from £4.90 to £18.30 would go down to the range £1.20 to £4.50). Despite being signed by six local MPs (Greg Knight, Ian Cawsey, Graham Stuart, Austin Mitchell, Elliott Morley and Shona McIsaac), the amendment had gone before the debate started.

    britain" chimaera Black Monday - even worse than expected
  • Hansard report on the debate. There were a large number of amendments (first page, you have to click on "Continue" at the bottom till you reach the end). Some of the amendments disappear, many of them are grouped together and some are agreed without a division. Where there is a division on amendments, the vast majority of the MPs voting will not have attended the debate and will not understand what any of it is about. They vote as the Whips tell them.

    Yesterday's debate on the Bill lasted over six hours. The clause amendments that would have been in the interests of roads users all disappeared. There is no way of knowing why or how as this is part of the British democratic system whereby the Opposition in effect collaborate with the Government so that new laws can be passed without too much inconvenience. Among the items that disappeared were "New Clause 1" that had been put down by a cross party group and would have substantially reduced tolls on the Humber bridge; and New Clause 20 put down by Graham Stringer and seconded by Greg Knight that would have required a proper "referendum" before local road user charging was implemented. One of the amendments that disappeared was a Tory one that would have taken out a new power for the Welsh Assembly to introduce tolls on Welsh trunk roads. There were numerous amendments mainly from the Government which concerned the governance of the transport authorities. There was also a meaningless amendment from Geoff Hoon which requires local authorities to "consult" before they introduce road user charges.

    Towards the end o the debate, Stephen Hammond, who was leading for the Tories, said he wondered if MPs would "ever get to the clauses that deal with road charging". At the end of the debate, a Tory MP asked Stephen Hammond "Does my hon. Friend agree that the British public will be mightily disappointed about how little time has been given to debate the important issue of road charging throughout our country?" The answer was "Indeed. The Government have performed U-turn after U-turn on national road pricing so that they are going round in circles. It was interesting that the Secretary of State refused to confirm whether the Government were prepared to use local road pricing as a Trojan horse for further stealth taxes. New clause 3 would have made it impossible for local government to impose local charging schemes without local validation." In fact it was not a "little time", it was NO time, as the only references to it are the ones we have just quoted. The new clause 3 was a clause put down by the Tories that would have had no effect as all it did was to give the power to have a "referendum" on local road user charging. There was no compulsion, and it was not specified what was meant by a "referendum" so it was no different from the "local poll" power which already exists. Though in any event "New clause 3" was one of those which disappeared before the debate.

    Having failed to stand up for roads users during the debate or even mention the possible effect of the powers that transport authorities will have over highway authorities, the Tories did at least at the end of the debate vote against the Bill as a whole. They were defeated by the Government and the Lib Dems (313 votes to 143).

    How was this anti roads users Bill reported in the news media? Virtually not at all. This demonstrates that the anti-roads interests have all the power and that roads users have no voice at all.

    Monday 27 October 2008

    britain" chimaera Black Monday Update
    The debate will start about 3.30 and go on till 10.00 if necessary. The Tories have put down this motion -
    "That this House declines to give a Third Reading to the Local Transport Bill [Lords] because it encourages the introduction of quality contract schemes to re-regulate bus networks thus undermining service quality for passengers and jeopardising the partnerships between operators and local authorities that have helped to improve service quality, makes provision for the introduction of local congestion charging without adequate consultation and local consent, would pave the way for the introduction of a national road pricing scheme and because it transfers revenue-raising powers to the National Assembly for Wales without proper constitutional justification."
    PS As usual the Commons Chamber was almost empty for the debate. You will be able to see the report on this link as it is written up for Hansard (about 4 hours behind).

    australia "Sydney Harbour Bridge toll may rise"
  • Daily Telegraph.

    britain" It's a Mad, Mad World
    The Government are putting money into promotion of electric vehicles - DfT press release - "New jobs on the horizon as Britain leads green motoring revolution". It is perhaps just as well that this scheme will be a dud. If there were more electric powered cars, then this would add to the problem that Britain already faces of a looming shortage of generating capacity. The Ministers know all this, so have they been infected with collective insanity or are they just mouthing the words from the script?

    earth More gloom
  • BBC - "Global financial crisis". The really bad news in Britain is that the cure may make things worse. The Government is being encouraged to substantially cut interest rates and to go on a big spending spree. Cutting interest rates will boost consumer spending, but if the main beneficiary is the housing market and importers, then the next time the housing bubble starts to deflate there will be a really big bang. Government spending directed to investment that benefits the future such as providing more residential accommodation, roads and other infrastructure could be a benefit, but the expenditure has to be directed into areas where there is spare capacity at the time that the money will be spent and it is almost impossible to get the timing right - so action has to be flexible and long term.
    The Government could also of course give a quick boost to the economy by cutting unpopular, uneconomic and inefficent charges and taxes - such as tolls!

    usa USA Roundup
  • Washington State continues its drive towards tolls, egged on by some of the local papers - News Tribune - "HOT lanes have only begun to prove worth". Could it be that all these drivers work for Bill Gates?

  • Other stories - Maryland - "Bay Bridge bill in the mail shocks local woman"   New Jersey - "Students, Commuter Share Concerns over Toll Hikes"   Michigan - "Put toll roads on transportation agenda"   New York - "Thruway toll increases must be justified or rescinded".

    britain" chimaera Black Monday
  • Telegraph - "Voters to get right to block road-pricing schemes". The headline is somewhat optimistic, the Bill may not be amended, and even if it is the words used may mean little in practice.
    This was our press release-
    THE WAR AGAINST DRIVERS will step up a gear if the Local Transport Bill is passed today.
    The Bill gives more power to the Passenger Transport Authorities and makes it easier for road tolls to be introduced.

    The existing Passenger Transport Authorities, which many regard as undemocratic and anti-motorist, were set up at the end of the 1960s in the big cities outside London. They are to be renamed "Integrated Transport Authorities" and installed in more large towns and cities.
    These new authorities will have more powers including the re-regulation of bus services - i.e. bureaucrats rather than market forces will rule.

    But most crucial for drivers are the powers that the new authorities will have over highway authorities under Clause 81 (Conferral of a power to direct). The Minister will be able to make an Order giving an Integrated Transport Authority the power to make directions over the roads. The first version of the Bill explained that "....These powers include for instance the ability to install traffic management measures (such as bus lanes), traffic calming measures and the carrying out of maintenance works on their roads....". This will put the anti car lobby even more in control than now, and it is likely that there will soon be engineered gridlock in most towns and cities. Though it seems that the Government also have the answer to the gridlock that they will have created as the Clause 81 power seems to include the possibility of the new transport authorities instructing local councils to introduce road toll schemes.

    The powers for the Government and local authorities to introduce "road user charges" are already quite extensive under the Transport Act 2000. What the Bill does is to remove the few restraints in the 2000 Act, while at the same time giving more power for the Government to specify a standard charging system and widen the criminal offence of not paying road tolls to include anyone who interferes with tracking devices in cars.

    The MP who at the Committee stage seemed to be most concerned about the Bill was Graham Stringer, the Labour MP from Manchester (and ex city council leader) who has been one of the main opponents of the Manchester "congestion charging" scheme. He has put down an amendment which would require a proper referendum before road tolls were introduced.
    At the beginning of December, a "referendum" is due to take place on the Manchester scheme, but the vote will not be subject to the referendum rules (Political Parties, Elections And Referendums Act 2000). This means that the authorities are free to spend millions of pounds of taxpayers money to get the poll result that they want.

    While the Government gives out billions of pounds to the banks, drivers will face worse roads and more tolls. It is a pity that none of the major parties is prepared to stand up for roads users and agree to provide an adequate road system in return for the fifty billion pounds that the Government takes from drivers each year.

    Sunday 26 October 2008

    usa USA Roundup
  • New Jersey - "Toll road users to pay more to feed bureaucracy".

    britain" chimaera Looking forward to Black Monday

    britain" chimaera Labour criticised for being pro roads users
  • BBC - "Labour transport policy 'failing'"   Telegraph - "Labour's 10-year transport plan has failed". Other reports have the authors complaining that instead of spending on Transport and introducing more road tolls, Labour is building 200 kilometres of roads a year. Where? And has this story been timed to coincide with Black Monday for drivers?

    Saturday 25 October 2008

    britain" chimaera Black Monday
    On Monday the Road Tolls aka Local Transport Bill reaches its final stage. It is expected to pass with 100 per cent backing from the Lib Dems and almost no resistance from the Tories.
    There are two main parts to the Bill, the first deals with Passenger Transport Authorities and the other with "Road User Charging".

    The Passenger Transport Authorities were set up at the end of the 1960s in the big cities outside London. They are regarded as being undemocratic and anti-motorist, and two of them (in Liverpool and on Tyneside) operate toll undertakings which were given to them by the Tory Government in 1986. The authorities are to be given more powers and renamed "Integrated Transport Authorities" which will be set up in most larger towns and cities. The new powers include the re-regulation of bus services - i.e. the bureaucrats rather than market forces will rule. But more crucially for drivers are the powers that the new authorities will have over highway authorities under Clause 81 (Conferral of a power to direct). The Minister is given the power to make an Order giving an ITA power to make directions over the roads. The first version of the Bill gave an explanation - "....These powers include for instance the ability to install traffic management measures (such as bus lanes), traffic calming measures and the carrying out of maintenance works on their roads....". This seems to put the anti car lobby even more in control than now, and it is likely that there will soon be engineered gridlock in most towns and cities. Though it seems that they also have the answer to the gridlock that they will have created as the Clause 81 power seems to include the possibility of the new transport authorities instructing local councils to introduce road toll schemes.

    The powers for the Government and local authorities to introduce "road user charges" are already quite extensive under the Transport Act 2000. What the Bill does is to remove the few restraints in the 2000 Act while at the same time giving more power for the Government to specify a standard charging system and make it a criminal offence to try and evade the charges.

    Parliament - "Links to the Bill, debates, amendments etc"   DfT material on the Bill.

    usa USA Roundup
  • Probably just election hype for a local paper, but the Democrat chairman of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee criticises the Republicans who he says take the - "existing federal law and shape it to their far right-wing conservative viewpoint, which is congestion pricing, tolling, privatizing, selling off public assets to the private sector, and undermining existing federal programs."   "Oberstar: Democrats need filibuster-proof majority in Senate".
    Meanwhile Mary continues with her sales pitch - KERA (Texas) - "Local Transport Bill".

  • The Spanish are coming - Miami Herald - "Spanish conglomorate will run I-595 toll road".

  • Other stories - Massachusetts - "Turnpike Authority postpones its meeting as debt woes mount"   Virginia - "Prince William supervisors turn up heat on HOT lanes"   Land Line Mag - "Tolls will likely be needed to build portions of I-73 in South Carolina"   Virginia / DC - "Fitch Affirms 'BBB' on TRIP II (Dulles Greenway) Toll Road Revenue Bonds".

    china Chinese fuel tax - you gotta be joking
  • Alibaba - "CHINA ENERGY WATCH:Fuel Tax Plan May Run Into Problems Again". Where you have tolls you will find waste, patronage and even outright theft. As we have said before the chance that those who gain from tolls will allow China to switch to a fuel tax is very thin.

    britain" Humber tolls - government congratulated!
  • Scunthorpe Telegraph - "Bridge debt raised in Parliament".   This is the full written question and answer from Hansard for 22nd October. It is "interesting" that the Minister does not say how high the interest rate was before 1998.

    canada Extreme way of avoiding toll bill
  • Toronto Sun - "Protest lawns him in trouble".

    Friday 24 October 2008

    britain" Good news?
    The Government is allowing people, mainly women, to buy added pension years at bargain prices - BBC - "State pension benefits improved". This seems to be the Government making use of the dishonest national accounting system that is condoned by all the political parties. The receipts will in the short term reduce Government spending, but the related increase in pension laibilities will not be accounted for as the Government does not fund any of its pension liabilities for the state pension or those for civil servants, teachers, nurses, police etc.

    usa USA Roundup
  • Texas - "CTRMA offers scratch-offs to promote cashless Toll 183A"   New York - "Comptroller's audit leery of need to raise Thruway tolls"   Georgia - "DOT discusses tolls, sales tax"   Massachusetts - "Pike: It’s Mel Gibson’s mess".

    britain" "The war against the motorist"
  • The Freedom Association - "On how the Government and the EU are making life tough for drivers".

    britain" Bad news
  • BBC - "The downturn".
    The BBC feature includes - "Q&A: What is GDP?". It says that GDP is - "the sum of incomes received by the various wealth-creating sectors of the economy". This is not correct. GDP is the sum of all economic activity which involves the production of goods and services, excluding transfer payments. Much of this economic activity may be on things which indicate that the system is not working (eg. prisons, benefit clerks) or which people might not want or don't approve of (e.g. wars, tobacco and tolls collection!).   Wikipedia - GDP   ONS - "Understanding government output and productivity".
    PS ONS - today's official releases. If you look at the graph on the first page of the briefing note, the real worry is the trend which started a year ago and is steeply down.

    britain" Mixed news
    The oil price has today dipped below $67 a barrel after reaching nearly $150 during the summer. For those in Britain the fall in the dollar price will be partly offset by the fall in the value of sterling. But despite this offset and despite likely production cuts by OPEC, those who use fuel for heating, manufacturing and air travel etc will still be better off than seemed likely in the summer. One group that of course is unlikely to see the full gains is drivers, as the fall makes it more likely that the Government will increase fuel duty.

    japan Toll cut
    Over the last couple of weeks there have been various reports that as one of the planned anti recession moves, the Japanese Government is to reduce "Expressway" tolls. There are no details of the size of the cut. (We reported on the 22nd September that the opposition party had said that it would completely remove the tolls.)

    canada No charity tolls allowed "as they interfered with traffic flow"
  • Community Press (Ontario) - "Firefighters' road toll request turned down".

    britain" Bit on Humber tolls
  • Scunthorpe Telegraph - "3,000th name signs petition".

    Thursday 23 October 2008

    newzealand More about tolls in NZ elections
  • New Zealand Herald - "Time for National to come clean on tolls".

    usa USA Roundup
  • On November 4th, Americans will not only be voting for a President, they will also vote for all 435 members of the House of Representatives and for 35 (out of 100) senators. There are many stories at the moment where the candidates are stating their position on tolls, as most of them cover other topics, we have not been including them in our roundup - New York - "Dinapoli: Thruway Capital Plan Not Clear - Audit Raises Troubling Questions Whether Recent Toll Hikes Justified"   Illinois - "Skyway considers open-road tolling "   Florida - "Drivers' satisfaction with E-Pass slipping, poll finds"   Texas - "Agency eyes doing toll study"   New Jersey - "Doing away with tolls would carry benefits" letter   Washington State - "Commission Proposes Tolls On Both I-90, 520 Bridges"   Land Line mag - "Virginia legislation addresses mileage-based tax, toll tax break".

    scotland A cost too far?
  • Courier - "Will we pay Skye-high price for Forth bridge?" letter   Courier 22nd - "Bridge cost called into question". The NAAT applauded the removal of the last two of Scotland's tolls in February and were pleased that the Scottish Government said that a new Forth road crossing would also be toll free, despite pressure from the usual interests. But we have consistently queried the astronomic costs being quoted for the new bridge - (More about a new crossing from our Scotland page).

    britain" More on "A Toll Too Far"
  • Scunthorpe Telegraph - "Posters to boost bridge tolls battle".

    vietnam chimaera Crowded roads
  • Vietnam Net Bridge - "City eyes road price scheme to facilitate transportation". By the time that the war with America ended in 1975, there were three million Vietnamese killed and 48 million living. There are now 86 million Vietnamese - apparently all riding motor scooters!

    china london China's capital may do a London
  • Xinhuanet - "Time for congestion charging in Beijing?". It is not suprising that China, like many other countries, has fallen for the myths about the success of the London charge, but it is amazing that they are so naive that they are copying the idea of annual vehicle taxes based on engine sizes in order to reduce air pollution. A five year old child would know that you would do that through vehicle regulation and through fuel taxes - something that China does not have.

    britain" chimaera Cambridge Toll post
  • CEN - "£1,000 a day salary slammed". The main worry is who will be appointed to this post, as some consultants will have written out their tolls recommendation before they start "work".

    Wednesday 22 October 2008

    britain" More gloom
  • BBC- "Global financial crisis". Unfortunately none of the political parties or the "experts" have any idea how to run a system to the benefit of the people. They tinker with the totem of the Bank of England base rate, and they churn out hundreds of regulations which do little more than create more bureaucracy. What we need is simpler more efficient systems and an end to the spiv economy where some people can "earn" millions and produce nothing. A good start would be to announce that they were abandoning any idea of spending billions on a road pricing system that the people do not want and which will have little effect other than to feed the vultures and bureaucrats that got us into the present mess.

    usa USA Roundup
  • Indiana / Kentucky - "I-69 bridge impossible without tolls, official says"   Texas - "Toll runners can face big fines"   Florida - "Land swap may bring Fort Hamer toll bridge"   Land Line Mag - "Wyoming legislative panel nixes talk of tolling I-80; DOT presses on"   Oklahoma - "Economy Takes Toll on Toll Roads"   California - "OC Toll roads: Why not have a sale?"   New Jersey - "Township Council rebukes Proposed Parkway Toll Hike"   Texas - "Editorial: Collaboration on road issues".

    britain" Humber tolls
  • Yorkshire Post - "'Scrap bridge debt' call to Hoon"   Scunthorpe Telegraph - "Councils boosting business case against tolls"   Scunthorpe Telegraph (Tuesday) - "New Humber Bridge booths?".

    australia usa m6toll More profits expected
    The Australian bank which owns tolls roads in Oz, US, and the M6 in Britain expects to increase profits through toll increases - The Australian - "MIG sees one-way traffic for earnings"   Sydney Morning Herald - "MIG predicts profit boost as tolls rise". Though in the strange accounting of some trolls, the cash dividends are often financed by further borrowing, which makes the toll road operators one of the main beneficiaries of the recent bail out.

    britain" Liverpool Chinese
    A new tolled bridge at Liverpool is likely to be financed through the infamous PFI and Chinese banks - Liverpool Daily Post - "Bridge developers look east". The people in Liverpool will probably not care as it has also been announced that the existing free bridge across the river will be tolled to force drivers to pay tolls whichever way they cross - and hardly a soul has complained.

    ireland More on Irish toll increases
  • HGV Ireland - "IRHA condemns toll increases".

    Tuesday 21 October 2008

    britain" chimaera Still living on another planet
    Apparently 95 per cent of hauliers oppose the Lib Dem plans for road tolls. The Lib Dems now say that they will reduce fuel duty to compensate - Road - "Lib Dems dismiss lorry road user charge fears". Very green of the Lib Dems to reduce fuel duty, though it is not clear how they will reduce fuel duty for hauliers but no one else.

    usa USA Roundup
  • The "Reason" Foundation have come up with a new way to sell privatizations and tolls -"THE Wall Street companies being bailed out by taxpayers"   The New York Post - "THE RIGHT WAY TO 'SELL THE ROADS'". Toll roads are financed by the banks - who have been given a trillion or so of dollars by the taxpayer. So these banks are now to use this money to buy roads and charge tolls - if drivers and taxpayers fall for this then they deserve to be bled dry.

  • San Francisco Chronicle - "Bay Area gets funds for congestion pricing". Is this really "congestion pricing"? And after all the fuss is this really what Mary Peters regards as a victory in the campaign to abolish gas taxes and have tolls on all roads?

  • Other stories - Oklahoma - "Turnpike expansion sought despite sagging revenue"   Oklahoma - "OTA studies pike expansion"   Land Line Mag - "New York forced to review truck ban after feds challenge plan".

    earth Still looking on the hot side
    The British weather establishment, known as the Met Office, have given their official summary of the temperatures in September - "Mean temperatures generally close to average across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but slightly above average across Scotland.". How long will they be able to keep churning out statements like this while people can feel that it is colder?
    Following the Government announcement on Thursday 16th that the CO2 reduction target would be increased, this appeared on the Met Office home page - "The Met Office welcomes the announcement by the new Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Ed Miliband, to increase UK targets to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from 60% to 80% by 2050. Dr. Vicky Pope, Head of Climate Change Advice at the Met Office discusses emission targets" - "The scientific evidence for early action on climate change".

    newzealand More elections toll talk
  • National Business Review - "Waikato expressway in 10 years - Key"   National Business Review - "Williamson told to keep quiet about tolls"   Newstalk - "Heavy toll likely for Williamson".

    britain" Humber to do a Dartford?
  • Scunthorpe Telegraph - "Bridge toll cuts for local residents?".

    Monday 20 October 2008

    britain" More "News" on the economy
  • BBC- "UK government in borrowing record"   Telegraph - "Financial crisis: Government borrowing at highest level since 1946"   ONS story. That the increase in borrowing is the highest since 1946 may not be the worst of it. Do these figures include the cost of building schools, hospitals etc under the PFI scam (started by the Tories and adopted on a massive scale by Labour)? Do the figures include the latest capitalist dole from the Government? Has this money been invested in infrastructure assets such as roads? The answers are no, not yet and you must be joking.

    usa USA Roundup
  • On Friday, a judge dismissed the Dulles Toll road case and said that tolls are not a tax - Rich - "Judge puts Dulles Toll Road transfer back on track"   Washington Post - "Transfer of Dulles Toll Road To Airport Agency Is Upheld". The road is being transferred to the Airports Authority so that the road tolls can subsidise their schemes.

  • Other stories - Tennessee - "Gas tax shortchanges roads"   "Florida won't have to repay lost revenue from suspended Alligator Alley tolls"   Washington State - "Would ballot measure relieve traffic jams or worsen them?"   New Jersey - "N.J. toll discount for seniors discriminates, some say".
    Sunday - Texas - "With upfront payments, toll operators gamble on more money down the road"   Indiana - "After privatization, Indiana Toll Road's biggest difference is the price"   Indiana - "Political toll?".
    Saturday - Florida - "Judge: Seminole toll battle a 'nightmare' for drivers"   New York - "A Parking Experiment, With the Village as the Lab"   New York - "A Parking Experiment, With the Village as the Lab".
    Friday - Land Line Mag - "Maine Turnpike tolls to increase ahead of schedule"   California - "For whom the road tolls".

    britain" More on Humber tolls
  • Scunthorpe Telegraph - "Prospective MP sends toll campaign to 3,000 voters"   Hull Daily Mail - "Humber Bridge to get electronic tolls?"   Scunthorpe Telegraph (Saturday) - "Readers throng to join tolls campaign". Perhaps it is a good sign that they are looking at spending on a new toll system. They wasted money in the same way on the Forth bridge - just before the tolls were scrapped.

    singapore As traffic increases, some ERP tolls to go up
  • Asia One - "COE system not working to plan"   Asia One - "Selected ERP rates to go up by 50%, new gantry at PIE".
    Singapore is concerned about the number of cars, but ignores population growth. In 1975 when they introduced the central "Restricted Zone" the island's population was 2,260,000. When they introduced the ERP tolls system in 1998 the population had grown to 3,900,000. Today it is 4,600,000 - more then twice as many people compared with 1975.

    afghanistan Western culture
    We generally don't cover "tolls" in third world countries, but here is a report from David Davis in Afghanistan which mentions the road tolls which are collected by the western backed forces - Independent - "We are losing Taliban battle". What David does not mention is that there are apparently no road tolls at the road blocks which are controlled by the insurgents, though you are at risk of being killed if they think that you are on the Government side - Globe and Mail (Canada) - "Reversal of fortune leaves Kabul under Taliban's thumb".

    pakistan Eastern culture?
  • The Nation (Pakistan) - "Toll taxes an extra burden on masses".

    ireland Irish fun to increase
  • Herald - "Now drivers face double rise in tolls in wake of Budget"   Irish Times - "Motorists to face road toll increases".

    newzealand New Zealand toll talk
  • National Business Review - "Williamson says tolls could be $3 on some roads"   Scoop - "National evades tough questions over toll roads".

    Friday 17 October 2008

    usa britain" chimaera America importing fatal ideas
    Having experienced the earthquake in the financial markets, the trolls are still pushing tolls, and looking forward to the end of fuel taxes. A lot of these crazy ideas will be familar in Britain, such as higher fixed licence costs for "gas guzzlers", congestion pricing and tracking devices - Post Standard (NY) - "Gas tax 'broken'; state explores better ideas".

    usa USA Roundup
  • the - "California Toll Road Needs Billion Dollar Bailout"   Los Angeles Times - "O.C. toll road agency seeks federal bailout".

  • City Watch (LA)- "What's not to like … ? Everything!".

  • One third of Indiana road sale money was "invested" in junk bonds - Reporter Times (Indiana) - "Wisdom of investments at issue".

  • A toll worker is accused of theft following a sting where she pocketed $900 from one toll fine - Daily Herald (Illinois) - "Tollway worker charged in theft". The real Grand Larceny is the tolls system and its fines of over $900. With a racket like this it is not surprising that occasionally a worker is caught with sticky fingers.

    Other stories -   New Jersey - "Toll hike: Bayshore pays, but what received?"   New York - "Truck Ban Plan Hits Roadblock"   Washington State - "Debate rages over I-985"   Land Line Mag - "New Jersey lawmakers and truckers blast toll plan"   Washington State - "Tolling Interstate 90 — the good, the bad, the penalty".

    china 'avin' a laugh
  • The Observers - "How to protest road tolls in China: pay in coppers".

    britain" chimaera Reading waters down road pricing proposal
  • Reading Evening Post - "Council forced to say sorry over IDR".

    britain" Bit more on Humber tolls
  • Scunthorpe Telegraph - "Bridge toll pressure on"   Scunthorpe Telegraph - "Authority to decide next bridge tolls move".

    australia chimaera New South Wales proposal for "congestion" tax
  • National Nine News - "NSW Tribunal recommends congestion taxes".

    newzealand New Zealand getting ready for tolls fun
  • NZ Herald - "Toll dodgers face a $60 fine".

    Thursday 16 October 2008

    britain" MP's priorities
    The House of Commons was virtually empty for yesterday's debate on the Supplementary Estimate to approve another £42.2 billion spending out of the Consolidated Fund as part of the bail-out. MPs must have been saving their "energy" so that they could turn out in force for today's crucial debate - on global warming - BBC- "Tougher climate target unveiled"   Department of Energy and Climate Change press release.

    usa USA Roundup
  • One of the "voices" that thinks toll increases and drivers paying for "sufficient mass transit capacity" is a good idea - Star Ledger (NJ) - "Toll hikes are justified".

  • Other stories - New Jersey - "Freeholders: Postpone toll hike".
    Maine - "Turnpike may raise tolls a year early"   Texas - "Deal paves way for State Highway 161, two other projects"   New Jersey / Pennsylvania - "DRPA OKs $510M bond sale"   "State gas taxes to back loans for Texas 161 toll road"   South Carolina - "Panel to consider Johns Is. toll road"   Wyoming - "I-80 tolling off the table for now"   Alaska - "Much ado about Nowhere"   North Carolina - "Troubled economy could delay toll road construction"   Arkansas - "If bypass becomes reality, officials might impose tolls".

    scotland Forth bridge board to stay
  • Edinburgh Evening News - "Feta insists it will remain in control of Forth Road Bridge". Last week (8th) when the BBC reported on the Forth bridge tolls in the context of the campaign to remove the Humber bridge tolls, the impression was that FETA would like to see a return to tolls in Scotland. It would be far better if FETA was wound up and the management of the bridge fully integrated into Scotland's main road system.

    ireland Irish fun continues
  • Independent - "Road rage as 200 a day still wrongly billed for M50 toll".

    london Two seconds off
  • Daily Mail - "Every traffic light in London to be re-programmed in drive to cut jams". Odd the way that the Daily Mail goes to the RAC Foundation for comments. On the Foundation website there are various references to them supporting the principle of charging and saying that the scheme is a success, including a letter written to TfL in 2005 which says that the charge delivers "the anticipated benefits" including "a significant reduction in ... congestion within the zone".

    china "City will test new toll collection system"
  • Shanghai Daily It now seems clear that the usual interests have killed off the Chinese plan to replace tolls with fuel taxes.

    britain" Another bundle of Humber tolls stories
  • Scunthorpe Telegraph - "Bridge campaign latest"   Grimsby Telegraph - "Bridge toll rise put on hold amid calls for crunch talks"   Scunthorpe Telegraph - "Bridge tolls rise on hold"   Hull Daily Mail - "Humber Bridge toll rise delayed".

    britain" More of the same and living on the Dole
  • BBC - "Global financial crisis". Owners of British stocks may have mixed views of what politicians from all parties are saying, they say that the Government should borrow on a massive scale and at the same time should somehow force the banks to cut interest rates down towards zero. This strategy has a logic to it for Governments (or those who hope to be the next Government) as the Government will in effect be levying a capital tax on those who have savings and boosting house prices (and most voters are home owners), but it also a slippery slope to an even greater fall.

  • The one blessing for the Government is that British trade unions are completely emasculated. They are accepting low pay rises as they touch their forelocks. Margaret Thatcher started this process by her laws restricting trade unions and by economic policies which destroyed the big manufacturing and processing industries. This has meant that instead of the unions and management fighting over shares of a sorry looking cake, the cake has grown albeit that the workers have got a smaller share while the spivs benefit. Mass immigration has also played a part as the cost of labour falls as the supply increases. But the card that the Government has played and the Tories will find difficult to copy is the Social Contract. In a situation which is similar to the Speenhamland system, people have accepted low pay as the Government has handed out large amounts of cash to those on low pay or with large families, and has also expanded public services which particularly benefits those on low incomes.

    Wednesday 15 October 2008

    britain" chimaera Living on another planet?
  • New Civil Engineer - "Liberals support road-user charging". The Lib Dems must be living on another planet if they believe that road tolls will win them votes.

    usa USA Roundup
  • It has been proposed by some of the Democrat Governors that there is a Federal transportation "bail-out" - Dallas News - "Pouring billions into aging U.S. infrastructure urged to help avoid recession"   SF Gate - "Pelosi, Democrats push economic stimulus plan". Going by the track record of the authorities, a large part of this money would be wasted with uneconomic pork barrel schemes, inefficent mass transit projects and bloated construction costs, and of course there would be more tolls. A better stimulus to the economy would be to scrap all tolls and to more closely link Federal and State gas taxes to roads spending.

  • Other stories - Massachusetts - "Who should pay turnpike and MBTA’s debts?"   Illinois - "Blagojevich wants to establish 'free-flow' toll lane"   Massachusetts - "Editorial: Alternatives to raising Pike tolls".

    britain" Government slows move to "bio fuel" mirage
  • DfT - "Adonis sets out more cautious approach to Biofuels".

    britain" "Road overcrowding to get worse - Government to increase investment in the network"
    That is of course a fantasy, here is the real story - BBC - "Rail overcrowding 'to get worse'".

    europe "High oil prices: The EU's response "
  • Euractiv.

    britain" More on Humber tolls campaign
  • Hull Daily Mail - "Minister to be quizzed on tolls"   Scunthorpe Telegraph - "Businesses support bridge campaign"   Hull Daily Mail - "Thousands sign up to tolls campaign".

    london ICE answer to congestion
    Yesterday we had the report from the trolls at the Institition of Civil Engineers who thank that road tolls are the answer to congestion and claim that most people support them. Laughably they are pushing this in London - Evening Standard - "Transport in London 'under severe stress'".

    britain" chimaera Cambridge Toll advocate joins Quango
    The ex Cambridgeshire leader is to join the CFIT - the Government body that promotes "Road User Charging" - Hunts Post - "Guided bus champion joins transport commission".

    wales britain" Severn Toll "fears"
  • South Wales Echo - "Severn Bridge tolls to rise to £5.60"   Bristol Evening Post - "Drivers fear 'hammer blow' rise in toll fees at Severn bridges"   Western Mail - "Severn Bridge toll expected to hit £5.60". Odd that the Welsh Lib Dems are worried about toll increases when they have as a party done nothing to get the tolls removed and support the tolling of the proposed M4 relief road at Newport, despite the fact that John Warman (the leader of the Welsh anti toll campaign) is a Lib Dem councillor.

    canada "Road tolls a double standard"
  • Letter in Surrey Leader (British Columbia).

    scotland Gordon joins battle
  • Times - "Gordon Brown confirms he will join Glenrothes by-election fight". The SNP will partly be campaigning as the party who removed the bridge tolls. Gordon might remember that he also fought on that issue and that Labour would still be in power in Scotland if he had not abandoned his principles.

    britain" More bad news and the bits that don't get reported
  • BBC - "UK unemployment increases again". The increase in official unemployment is bad news, though it is questionable whether all those who are in employment produce useful goods and services - much of the British economy seems to consist of middle men who resell something produced by someone else or who sell almost phantom services. The Governemnt yesterday scrapped some of the national SATS tests, but how much more wasteful unwanted services (e.g. toll collection) and pretend competition (things like phones, gas etc) could also be scrapped?

  • While the politicians and the news media are obsessed with the minor deflation in the housing price bubble, many of the facts about the dire state of the economy are not reported -

    Money supply (in Britain we mainly refer to M0 (the narrowest measure which is physical cash plus bank's deposits at the Bank of England), and M4 (the broadest measure which is physical cash outside the banks plus non Government deposits at the banks). Though what is usually ignored is the velocity of money - if there is high inflation, then people will spend faster. At the moment despite high inflation, the velocity of money is probably low, as the Government is flooding the system with money at the same time as granny (and the banks) in effect have their money in a sock tucked under the bed.
    The authorities make it difficult to make long term comparisons, but even before the recent Government action the broader money supply had been growing at an annual rate of 11 to 12% - Bank of England - Broad Money Stats. There is no overall figure published for narrow money supply and the latest figures are for December 2007, but it seems that it was growing at about 10% - Bank of England - Narrow Money Stats.

    When Britain had a fixed exchange rate, the Balance of Payments was in the news every month. Since the pound floated (Black Wednesday 1992, when we left the ERM) the figures have largely been ignored. In 2007 we had a current account deficit of £52 billion - nearly one thousand pounds for every man, woman and child. Britain is a chronic invalid financing its consumption of goods and services by borrowing and by selling the family silver. ONS - Balance of Payments Stats. Though America is of course in an even worse state!

    Tuesday 14 October 2008

    britain" Bit more on New Forest toll proposal
  • Telegraph - "New Forest: Anger over proposed changes to how it's run".

    china 800,000 less cars in Chinese capital but still jammed
  • China Daily - "Traffic eases on car ban's first day"   Shangai Daily - "The number is up for Beijing's cars".

    britain" A cynical view of the Global warming forecasts
  • ABD - "Mystic Met: A Chronology of Failed Met Office Predictions - How Accurate are the Met Office Climate Models?".

    britain" Inflation
  • BBC - "Consumer inflation reaches 5.2%". This level of inflation means that most savers will be getting negative returns - and paying tax on it. Despite this there is the usual pressure to cut interest rates and encourage more borrowing. The expected slow down in economic growth means that retail price inflation is likely to ease, so all this credit will go into the asset price bubble. Surprisingly there are a few rogue economists who have expressed some doubt as to whether this is a good idea. In the meantime the safest place to save or invest may be on another planet.

    britain" chimaera People want road pricing
    The trolls at the Institution of Civil Engineers have issued a press release saying that 60% of drivers support congestion charging - Birmingham Post - "Motorists prefer road charging to road tax, survey finds"   Channel Four - "Public 'backs road charging'". Here is the ICE report which accompanied the press release - "The State of the Nation".
    PS The full press release has now appeared - "60 per cent of UK population think road user charging is fairer than car tax", but it does not show any details of the poll. On this basis anyone could issue poll results claiming anything that suited them.

    usa USA Roundup
  • Florida - "Free Ride On I-95 Express Lanes Coming To An End"   Pennsylvania - "Interstate 80 toll plan rears ugly head"   Massachusetts - "Inaction and poor decisions multiply burden on Pike users".
    Florida - "Toll violators back on the hook"   Washington State - "I-985 saves taxpayers"   Land Line Mag - "New Jersey toll increases will subsidize mass transit rail"   Texas - "SH161 Toll Road Could Be Developed By Private Firm".

    britain" No traffic lights campaign
  • Fit Roads.

    britain" More on Humber tolls campaign
  • Grimsby Telegraph - "Big lift for Humber Bridge toll campaigners"   Scunthorpe Telegraph - "More than 1,200 back tolls campaign"   Hull Daily Mail - "MP calls for Humber Bridge debate".

    Monday 13 October 2008

    australia More on the varying fortunes of Australian owned Tolls
    The pattern seems to be that they are still coining it at home but not abroad - The Australian - "Transurban (TCL) $5.05"   The Age - "Fall in traffic flows hurts Macquarie and Transurban"   The Australian - "Toll road operators' fortunes take global detour"   The Australian - "Transurban Group income grows on higher tolls".

    m6toll M6 Toll traffic decline continues
    The Australian bank who own the M6 Toll have today published the traffic figures for the third quarter. The average daily traffic was 43,064, which is 12% down on a year ago. This is the fifth quarter in a row where the traffic has been lower than the same quarter a year earlier.
    Because of price increases, revenue is only down 1%. The bank appear to be expecting increased traffic and revenue as the Government are to start installing "Active Traffic Management" between junctions 4 and 5 of the untolled M6 and will impose 50 mph limits that will last from October 2008 to October 2009 - more Government help for the banks?
    PS The trend - Our M6 Toll traffic page.

    chile Chilly reception to cameras
    On the 8th we had a report on "Chilly reception to electronic tolling", it appears that "smile please" also is a problem - El Mercurio - "Concessionary companies decide against use of photographs to charge highway toll".

    britain" Government's latest wheeze
    Hazel Blears is doing her bit to ensure housing profits by saying that developers of new estates need not provide new roads, instead the local councils "could make roads less busy by bringing in measures such as tolls or charging businesses to allow their employees to park on their premises" - Portsmouth News - "Anger over change in plans to build homes".

    usa USA Roundup
  • Washington State - "Initiative 985: Would it help or hurt traffic?"   New York - "Commuter tax call may grow louder"   Massachusetts - "For whom the Pike tolls?"   New Jersey - "Governor's toll hikes defy good sense and the people".

    britain" Latest on capitalist dole
    The Government is giving £37 billion to banks which are largely based in Scotland. The Government is urging other countries to follow the British example. It is also reported that all British banks have been told that they have to restart their excessive lending in order to reinflate the asset valuation bubble, though the Chancellor denies that the Government will give any directions to the banks - BBC - "Global financial crisis".

    britain" More on Humber tolls
  • Grimsby Telegraph - "Fantastic support for bridge toll campaign"   Scunthorpe Telegraph - "Humber Bridge twice as costly as London 'Crossing'"   Hull Daily Mail - "'Time for action on Humber Bridge tolls'".

    Sunday 12 October 2008

    usa USA Roundup
  • New Jersey / Pennsylvania - "E-Z theft: Cheats get pass"   New Jersey - "For this sow's ear, a relining "   New Jersey - "E. Windsor fears sting of toll hikes".

    britain" New website covering transport and roads issues
  • Transport Crucible.

    malaysia Traffic jams at the toll booths, so build another road
  • The Star (Malaysia) - "GGovt studying proposal for alternative highway to LDP".

    Saturday 11 October 2008

    usa USA Roundup
  • More New Jersey road toll increases partly to pay for a new rail tunnel - Gloucester County Times - "Authorities OK increases in road tolls"   Daily Record - "Toll increases approved"   Press of Atlantic City - "Authorities pass toll hikes on state's major highways"   NY Times - "Tolls to Rise on Three New Jersey Highways"   Bloomberg - "Tolls to Rise on Three New Jersey Highways"   Staten Island Advance - "Drivers in Jersey get Scrooged".

  • A Florida court has overturned a previous ruling and said that alleged toll defaulters can be prosecuted even though the system is faulty - Orlando Sentinel - "Thousands of drivers are back on hook for unpaid tolls".

  • A lawyer is claiming that New Yorkers are discriminated against at Massachusetts tolls - NY Daily News - "Lawsuit: New Yorkers with E-ZPass getting scammed in Massachusetts"   Boston Globe - "Pike sued for Fast Lane, E-ZPass toll differences".

  • Other stories - Florida - "Private funds for a bridge?"   Massachusetts - "There's a better solution than raising tolls"   Land Line Mag - "New York bills would kill some tolls ".

    britain" Interview with new Transport Secretary
  • Daily Telegraph - "Geoff Hoon interview". No clues as to which way he will jump on tolls and road pricing.

    britain" More on Humber tolls
  • Grimsby Telegraph - "Local MPs back calls for Commons bridge toll debate"   Scunthorpe Telegraph - "National backing for bridge tolls protest"   Hull Daily Mail - "Hundreds object to Humber Bridge toll rise".
    One of the petitions (there are separate ones from each local paper) - Scunthorpe Telegraph - "A Toll Too Far".

    canada Crazy Canadian Carbon Trading
  • National Post - "The folly, and lesson, of B.C.’s carbon tax". The plan includes forcing local authorities to reduce carbon emissions to zero or to buy "carbon offsets". As Canada is one country that might gain from global warming (if it is really happening), why should they take part in the charade of carbon trading?

    Friday 10 October 2008

    usa USA Roundup - update
  • It was agreed today to increase Atlantic City Expressway tolls to pay for improvements to the airport - Florida - "Atlantic City Expressway tolls climbing 50 percent".

  • Latest reports on the other planned New Jersey toll hikes - Daily Record - "Vote expected on NJ toll hikes"   Newsday - "Public weighs in on NJ's proposed toll increases".

  • Other stories - California - "Governor Signs Authorization Bill - Sandag to Collect Tolls for Second Otay Border Crossing".

    london Another London Toll?
  • Evening Standard - "Now London borough thinks of starting its own congestion charge".

    ireland Irish eyes are watching
  • Herald - "Big Brother has his eye on us at every toll road - Tag system: Not only is it a real headache, it also puts our personal details online for all the world to see".

    london "Consultation" ends
    The consultation on removing the western extension closed last Sunday - TfL - "Consultation on the Western Extension of the Congestion Charging zone". It seems likely that the new Mayor will ignore the views of most people and small businesses who want the charge removed. He will instead bow to the wishes of the TfL Politburo and various big business interests by keeping the zone with minor changes to to the charge rules.

    australia Toll tunnel going under
  • Daily Telegraph - "Crisis hits Lane Cove Tunnel bid".

    usa USA Roundup
  • Florida - "Editorial: Alley toll plan blurs leasing issue"   New Jersey - "Governor following script on toll hikes"   Washington State - "Critics fear traffic backup with I-985"   Texas - "Toll funds may underwrite new toll roads"   New Jersey - "GOP attacks latest toll hike plan"   Land Line Mag - "Comments due Friday on New York plan that could cost truckers millions"   Land Line Mag - "New Jersey officials to vote Friday on toll increases; still time to comment"   Land Line Mag - "Some California toll bills hit; others miss"   New Jersey - "Editorial: Find new ways to fix state's infrastructure"   New Jersey - "Lance Challenges Kolluri Demonstrate Toll Revenues Can Be Used Trans-Hudson Tunnel".

    britain" Who's hurting the most?
    BBC - "Global financial crisis" - One of the main reasons for the credit crunch in Britain has been the housing price bubble in Britain and America, which was going to burst sooner or later. The effect on the real world need not be that great, but those who borrow to get gains from asset inflation have considerable influence. Bizarrely this means that, though house prices in Britain have only fallen back to the levels of early 2006 Price graph (the price fall in America is greater, but even there house prices are still higher then at the start of 2004 - S&P Home Price indices), the best proxy for the real economy - the Stock Markets - are crashing around the world. Perhaps the markets are crashing because investors and bankers realise that Governments are pumping so much cash into the system that the next crash will be worse - this may make them reluctant to lend to even safe businesses.
    One of the main beneficiaries of the extra £400 billion that the Government pumped into the system on Wednesday was the share price of HBOS - the bank that is based in the Chancellor's home city. It was of course the Chancellor when he was Transport Secretary who launched the road pricing plan in July 2004. Though he was no longer Transport Secretary he was enthusiastically backing the tolls idea as recently as June. Perhaps he will now try and kill two birds with one stone - by making roads users pay for the bail out of the system.

    britain" More on Humber Tolls
  • Hull Daily Mail - "Firms urge 'end the toll trade barrier'"   Scunthorpe Telegraph - "Bridge builder joins battle over tolls".

    Thursday 9 October 2008

    britain" chimaera Government's "Low Carbon" adviser favours road pricing
  • Telegraph - "Why motoring will only get more expensive: The car makers fight back".

    usa USA Roundup
  • More on New Jersey's revised proposals for toll increases - Asbury Park Press - "Redo toll hike plan"   Courier Post - "Turnpike authority to vote on toll hikes"   Land Line Mag - "Toll proposal in New Jersey still hurts truckers, officials say"   Politicker - "Toll hikes unneccessary"   Press of Atlantic City - "Expressway plans special meeting to review proposed toll hikes".

  • An attempt to stop the giveaway of the Dulles Toll Road (the aim of the giveaway is that the funds would pay for a rail line) - DC / Virginia - "Toll Road Transfer Case Heard Again".

  • Other stories - Louisiana - "Keep toll roads as a state option"   Florida - "Bitten by the alligator tax"   Indiana - "The Road to Indianapolis "   Washington State - "Congestion conjecture: Eyman's I-985"   Florida - "Alligator Alley tolls to increase under proposed lease to private contractor"   Washington State- "No traffic, no problem?"   Florida - "Hearings to be held on proposed Alligator Alley toll increases".

    britain" More on removing Humber tolls
  • Hull Daily Mail - "Hauliers support Mail fight against Humber Bridge tolls". As lorries pay up to £18.30 each way, it is surprising that hauliers were not complaining before. Other stories - Grimsby Telegraph - "Support builds for bridge tolls campaigns"   Scunthorpe Telegraph - "Hundreds back tolls battle".

    britain" chimaera Get on yer bike
    The Bristol establishment have long been an advocate of "congestion charges", though so far nothing has happened. The latest twist is a car ban - Bristol Evening Post - "'Let's make Bristol city centre bike-only'". Will the next step be that the cyclists will also want pedestrians banned as they get in the way on the pavements and are so neurotic about cyclists going through red lights?

    earth Two recent bits on Global Warming
  • The effect of cars on amount of greenhouse gases - BBC - American Prospect - "Carbon pricing and driving".

  • Recent temperature trend, a slightly sceptical report - International Arctic Research Centre - "The Recovery from the Little Ice Age (A Possible Cause of Global Warming) and The Recent Halting of the Warming (The Multi-decadal Oscillation)" (may be slow to download).

    canada "Road tolls not 'bad plan'"
  • The Chronicle Herald (Halifax).

    Wednesday 8 October 2008

    britain" scotlandMore on removing Humber tolls
  • Scunthorpe Telegraph - "Tolls campaign receives strong backing"   Bridge Tolls Impact Study - the full report (pdf)   Bridge Tolls Impact Study - Executive summary (pdf).

  • A comparison has been made with Scotland - BBC - "Pressure to lose the tolls" video. It is disappointing the the Scottish trolls are helping their English allies with the usual myths including that removal of tolls has led to delays of up to an hour to cross the bridges. There were delays when the last two tolls were removed (Forth and Tay), but that was because the bridge authorities at that point reduced the capacity of the bridges in order to carry out bridge works. The removal of the Skye tolls had no effect on congestion as traffic is light, but the removal of tolls on the other three bridges has reduced congestion as it has removed the delays to pay the tolls and it has reduced the volume of traffic diverting on to less suitable routes to avoid the tolls.

    usa USA Roundup
  • New Jersey toll increase proposals - Daily Record - "Turnpike authority plans toll vote Friday afternoon, shortly after public hearing"   Daily Record - "Revised proposal seeks smaller toll increase"   Press of Atlantic City - "Parkway, turnpike operators lessening toll hikes' impact"   Star Ledger - "Toll hikes, Round 3: Lighter, easier"   Star Ledger - "Turnpike Authority unveils scaled-back plan for toll increases"   Asbury Park Press Tuesday - "Put the brakes on toll proposal"   Press of Atlantic City Sunday - "Toll hikes and public anger / Were officials listening? Well ... maybe ".

  • One person thinks that the New Jersey tolls should be removed - does he not realise that tolls are an essential part of the American way?   Asbury Park Press - "Put an end to toll roads".

  • Other stories - Colorado- "A way to fix roads without tolls, taxes".
    Tuesday - Texas - "Motorists Face Toll Fee Increases On Westpark and Fort Bend Parkway"   New York - "Rescind Thruway toll hikes"   Florida - "Let's hope governor's slight backpedaling on Alley lease plan is promising sign".
    Sunday New Jersey / New York - "No free rides"   Louisiana - "DOTD secretary says state must consider tolls"   Texas - "There's no beating the TollTag system".

    britain" Stoking up Inflation
    The Governor of the Bank of England has under Government pressure abandoned the token efforts to control inflation - BBC - "Central banks cut interest rates". It has also been revealed that as part of the banks dole package, they will be forced to increase the level of mortgages in an effort to restart the house price spiral.

    london Company charge card
  • Evening Standard - "Company car drivers rack up £1m fines in" (western extension).

    canada Tolls are good for you
  • Private toll roads save you money (but the details are "confidential") - The Gazette - "Quebec touts Highway 30 PPP benefits for taxpayers".

  • Tolls encourage you to stay home - Surrey Leader - "EDITORIAL: Tolls won’t hurt us".

    newzealand Disappointment that new road won't be tolled
  • Scoop - "No tolls for Penlink a surprise".

    britain" Removing Humber toll would give gain of Billion Pounds
  • Yesterday the results were released of a study on the effect of Humber bridge tolls - Yorkshire Post - "Bridge tolls limit Humber's economy, report claims"   BBC - "Tolls are a 'barrier' to region"   Scunthorpe Telegraph - "Humber tolls study presented"   Grimsby Telegraph - "Scrapping Humber Bridge tolls would net local economy £1bn"   Hull Daily Mail - "'£1bn benefit if Humber Bridge tolls axed'"   Scunthorpe Telegraph - "£1bn boost if Humber Bridge tolls axed".

  • Other Humber stories - Scunthorpe Telegraph - "Sign up to help tolls fight"   Grimsby Telegraph - "Join our battle to scrap bridge tolls - sign up today"   Hull Daily Mail - "Sign up to scrap Humber Bridge tolls"   BBC - "'Damaging' effect of bridge tolls"   Scunthorpe Telegraph - "£1-million toll on region's businesses"   Grimsby Telegraph - "Bridge toll has businesses at breaking point"   Hull Daily Mail - "Tolls: 'A brake on success of our economy'".

    britain" chimaera Cambridge Toll - Transport "experts" propose double charges
  • CEN Tuesday - "Transport experts toy with £8 double charge".

    chile Chilly reception to electronic tolling
  • El Mercurio Tuesday - "Highway concessionaries claim it is risky to use TAG on inter-city routes".

    britain" chimaera New Forest tolls
    Bit more on the opposition, though most of it seems to be coming from dog owners who are concerned about other restrictions. The authorities say that "the idea of pricing is nothing new" - Salisbury Journal - "National park boss defends plans"   Daily Echo Monday - "Campaigners start £50,000 Forest fund".

    ireland Irish drivers too stupid to pay tolls properly
  • Sunday Times - "Kathy Foley: Do you pass the Dempsey toll IQ test?".

    britain" Capitalist system on the dole
    The Government is today announcing that it will give the banks 50 billion pounds to boost their share capital AND at the same time will put more money into the banking system AND will guarantee more bank debts AND will buy more toxic debts from the banks - BBC - "Rescue plan for UK banks unveiled".
    It has become impossible to determine how much money the Government has now pumped into the "free enterprise" system over the last year. It is also too soon to say how much of the bailout will be transfers of capital via the FSA Financial Services Compensation scheme from the less imprudent banks to other banks who operate in Britain and effectively go bust. We can however judge who the gainers and losers are. The gainers will be the banks which have taken the biggest risks, borrowers and those who hold assets. The losers are pretty much everybody, but particularly savers, taxpayers and those banks who have acted more prudently. The lesson to people and banks is that if you want to be a winner you will borrow rather than save and you will look to everyone else to bail you out.

    Saturday 4 October 2008

    usa USA Roundup
  • Massachusetts - "Pike rating almost junk"   Massachusetts - "Driving costs are taking toll on commuters" letter   Florida - "Sides debate value of Alley lease at forum"   Land Line Mag - "New York considering wide use of public-private partnerships"   Colorado - "Vote yes to improve transportation"   Massachusetts - "End of the road for Turnpike Authority?".

    britain" Telegraph comment on New Transport Secretary
  • "Another reshuffle, another Transport Secretary".

    earth Bonfire of Economic rules
    Yesterday the US House of Reps followed the Senate and agreed the $700 billion banks bail out package. Good news for Trolls who want an unlimited supply of cheap money, but a disaster for prudence and stability - BBC - "Global financial crisis".
    The $700 billion will indirectly create possibly trillions of new credit. This will add to the trillion or two that has already been pumped into the banking system by the world's central banks over the last year. The aim of the politicians is that the banks will engage in more imprudent lending to maintain the feel good factor. But will the banks make the same mistake twice? If they do, will there be another bail out come the next crunch?

    britain" Bit More on Humber Tolls
  • Scunthorpe Telegraph - "Campaign group's optimism on Humber tolls".

    Friday 3 October 2008

    usa canada More on Border toll
  • Buffalo News (NY) - "Stopped at the bridge".

    usa USA Roundup
  • It looks as if the fat cats bail out is to go ahead. The Bill for the Federal Government to buy $700 billion of toxic debts from banks has become the usual pork-barrel for other interests - BBC - "House set for fresh bail-out vote"   Richmond Times Dispatch - "Pork-Barrel Projects Continue to Pick America's Pockets".

  • California moves closer to tolls - LA Streetsblog - "Ridley-Thomas Introduces Congestion Pricing Legislation".

  • Massachusetts woes - Daily News Tribune - "End of the road for Turnpike Authority?"   Worcester Telegram - "Patrick plans major cuts"   Boston Globe - "Rating cut increases chance of toll hikes"   Berkshire Eagle- "Patrick pares budget; more to come"   Wicked Local Manchester - "Patrick confirms widespread cuts to come, says his agenda will be slowed "   Milford Daily News - "End of the road for Turnpike Authority?"   Boston Herald - "Gov. aiming to ax Pike to trim ailing budget".

  • New Jersey woes - Asbury Park Press - "Highway widening projects about pay-to-pave, not traffic relief"   Courier Post - "Toll hikes come at worst time for many Jerseyans"   NY Times - "Higher Tolls in New Jersey? Not Fair" letter   Scarlet Scuttlebutt - "Scaled-back toll hikes better, but still not enough".

  • Other stories - - "Texas City Goes After County for Not Paying Tickets"   New York - "Thruway to cut road projects because of fiscal woes"   California - "O.C. toll road weaves through complex maze of state, federal agencies"   Pennsylvania - "Editorial: Highway Funding"   New York - "Thruway Authority puts brakes on project"   New York - "Thruway Delays For Major WNY Projects"   Florida - "Toll Road Traffic Drops Dramatically".

    britain" New Transport Secretary is ex WMD man
    Geoff Hoon, who was the Chief Whip is replacing Ruth Kelly as Transport Secretary. His views on the various forms of tolls are not known, but he seems to be the type of person who will push ahead in whatever direction he is aimed at. Some reports suggest that this is just a temporary posting on the Transport Secretary merry-go-round.
    It has also been announced that Ruth Kelly will stand down as an MP at the next election. Given her promotion of the Manchester tolls scheme, she may not have survived the election anyway.

    britain" chimaera Lib Dems want a new toll for Lorries
    The Lib Dems are calling for more train lines, they say that they will pay for them by a Lorry Road Users Charging scheme. Unlike the Government scheme that was abandoned because it produced no net money, this scheme will make a profit by not giving any rebates to British registered lorries - Liverpool Daily Post - "Clegg joins calls for high-speed rail link to NW".

    canada Coquihalla
    Over the last week there have been a lot of reports about the abrupt end to tolls on the Coquihalla highway. Here are a few of the latest - The Province - "We'd all be up the creek if not for our 'dirty, polluting' trucks"   Globe and Mail - "Campbell may have his populist groove back, but voters never forget"   BC Local - "Coquihalla toll booths come down"   CTV - "Premier faces heat at Coquihalla toll demolition".

    slovenia europe EU don't like the six monthly "toll"
  • EU Business - "Slovenia's road tax system unfair to foreigners, says EU"   EurActiv - "Commission warns Slovenia over 'unfair' road tax".

    britain" Bit More on Humber Tolls
  • Scunthorpe Telegraph - "Last chance to oppose rise in bridge tolls". (Closing date is Monday.)

    Thursday 2 October 2008

    usa USA Roundup
  • New York - "Relocation of Thruway's Williamsville toll barrier scrapped due to fiscal woes"   New Jersey - "Corzine: 'Minimal' toll increase the goal"   "Study offers short-term fixes to keep traffic moving in Southern California"   Massachusetts - "Turnpike Authority may face demise"   Pennsylvania - "Turnpike CEO pleased lease plan dropped"   Texas - "County employees rack up tolls and tickets"   Texas - "Bailout woes impact toll's future"   New Jersey - "GOP lawmakers unhappy with turnpike records delay".

    london London Two
  • More from Andrew Gilligan, who looks as if he aims to hold the new Mayor to his election promise - Evening Standard - "This is your first big test, Boris – so don’t blow it".

  • TfL have for some time said that the failure of the Congestion Charge is due to road works (though the year before the charge was introduced they seemed to be digging up all the roads), now they have come up with another excuse - "cleaner engines" - Evening Standard - "Benefits of C-charge 'eroded' by roadworks".

    ireland More Irish fun
  • Belfast Telegraph - "5,000 drivers fail to pay M50 toll every day"   Irish Times - "Dempsey defends M50 toll system".

    london Congestion charge extended
  • The Spoof.

    britain" Bit More on Humber Tolls
  • Grimsby Telegraph - "Councillors back bridge toll rise ban"   Scunthorpe Telegraph - "Shops could be boosted if tolls cut".

    Wednesday 1 October 2008

    newzealand Rose amongst the thorns
  • The Aucklander - "Ask not for whom the road tolls".

    scotland Tolls veteran takes speed cameras to court
  • BBC - "Speed cameras challenge on hold".

    london "TfL ‘lies’ skew the vote on C-charge extension vote"
    From Andrew Gilligan, who started the Iraq "dirty dossier" furore - Evening Standard.

    britain" Association of British Drivers says that Vehicle Duty should be scrapped
  • Press release - "ABD Outlines Case For Scrapping Of 'Car Possession Tax' (VED)".

    usa USA Roundup
  • American bankers and Spanish trolls back away from possible purchase of Pennsylvania Turnpike - Forbes / PA - "Bidders drop $12.8B offer to lease Pa. Turnpike"   Philadelphia Inquirer - "Consortium's bid to lease Pa. turnpike expires with no deal"   Forbes - "Pennsylvania bid to lease Turnpike ends for now"   Pittsburgh Post Gazette - "Group withdraws turnpike lease bid"   Pittsburgh Tribune Review - "$12.8 billion turnpike lease offer expires, as do Rendell's options"   CNN - "Abertis To Pull Out $12.8 Billion PA Turnpike Bid -Source".

  • Corzine reduces the toll demands (but was this the plan all along?) - Asbury Park Press- "Keep fighting toll hike plan"   All Around Philly - "Guv: Scale back toll hike"   Press of Atlantic City - "Corzine has Turnpike Authority rethinking its toll-hike proposals"   Courier Post - "Corzine scales back toll plan"   Star Ledger - "Drivers may gain a break on toll increases"   News Transcript - "GOP attacks latest toll hike plan"   Land Line Mag - "Public opinion could sway New Jersey toll increases"   New Brunswick Home News Tribune - "Corzine wants lesser toll hikes"   Mobilizing the Region (pro tolls group)- "Can NJ Turnpike Tolls Fund Transit? Check the Fine Print".

  • Other stories - New Jersey / Pennsylvania - "Toll bridge traffic down; revenues up"   New Jersey / Pennsylvania - "Bridge tolls to fund P'burg Union Square"   New York - "Gov. mulls a state sale"   "Some drivers using Florida's Turnpike experience expensive toll glitch".

    britain" chimaera Deep Blue Sea changes again
    Despite earlier reports, the Tory Shadow Roads Minister has now said that the Tories will keep any Manchester tolls scheme - New Civil Engineer - "Tories back down over TIF".

    britain" chimaera Reading border toll to pay for new Thames bridge
  • Reading Evening Post - "Third bridge key to funds".

    ireland More on Irish toll new "system"
  • Irish Times - "M50 tolling system misreads details of 10,000 cars a day".

    scotland No tolls, green?
    Edinburgh, where the people rejected congestion charges in February 2005 Toll Poll, is the greenest British city by a "considerable margin" - Scotsman - "Edinburgh greenest city in Britain, claims poll".

    canada Redundant?
  • Vancouver Sun - "Toll building gets $100,000 facelift months before the wrecking ball". Perhaps they could have mothballed it as though one toll has gone, the politicians may add tolls elsewhere - after the elections.

    britain" Bit More on Humber Tolls
  • Scunthorpe Telegraph - "Pedalling saves pounds for commuter".

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