Monday, 24 January 2011

Road pricing news briefs, UK, Philippines, Uganda, USA

UK

Accountancy firm promoting postponed new bypass to be built as toll road in South Devon.  The A380 South Devon Link Road project is a project of the Devon County Council and Torbay Council, and recently had funding refused by the UK government as part of its austerity programme to eliminate the structural budget deficit by 2015.   The project is a 5km 4-lane highway (dual carriageway) between Penn Inn and the Torbay Ring Road at Kerswell Gardens and would cost about £130 million.  The project has a benefit/cost ratio of over 10:1.  Now no serious investigation has been undertaken of the tolling potential, but I am fairly likely that it wont be enough to toll it on its own, but it could contribute a portion of the cost.   Local authorities would contribute up to £33 million, and were seeking a central government contribution for the rest.

Whilst I wouldn't hold my breath for this being a toll road, it does show how lack of conventional funding starts to stretch imaginations for ways to directly charge road users for new routes that they are likely to see benefiting them.

Philippines

French toll operations company, EGIS, gets an article in the Philippines Daily Inquirer about its activities on Filipino toll roads that isn't far short of an advertisement.

Uganda

The Kampala-Entebbe toll road project is a scandal already because of cost overruns on construction, although at US$350 million for 54 km it might be expensive for Uganda, but not by world standards.  Not that many are too worried as it is a Chinese financed and built project which is hoped will be repaid by tolls.  The interesting point in the article by Uganda's Daily Monitor, is the charging technology.  The intention is to embed chips (DSRC style) into Ugandan number plates to make it easier to charge, with monthly bills.  I hope that issues such as accuracy of databases, payment outlets and options are adequately addressed, given how rare electronic free flow tolling is in Africa because of such matters.

USA

Bankrupt California toll road likely to be sold by creditors, as San Diego's South Bay Expressway is expected to come out of bankruptcy protection.  The route has US$510 million of debt, and has performed poorly because of demand not meeting forecasts during the recession.   Demand is a third of projections, and tolls have barely kept pace with debt servicing costs.  SignonSanDiego debates the positives and negatives of a government buy out, given the government gets the road for free eventually when the concession expires in 2042.

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