Wednesday, 18 July 2012

News briefs - Australia, Canada, Indonesia, Jamaica

Does fuel tax reduce congestion?

The answer to that question is yes, but not very well. Andrew Coyne from the Nanaimo Daily News (Canada) writes a good summary article about why full network congestion pricing is the best single tool for addressing traffic congestion, compared to building more roads, adding more public transport and simple cordon pricing. I'd counter his claim that London and Stockholm congestion charging haven't work so well because of induced demand within the cordons, because this simply isn't true. In London, road space was reallocated to pedestrians, cyclists and buses. Nevertheless, whilst he doesn't address the real concerns people have about privacy (which I believe can be overcome, but cannot be ignored), it isn't a bad article as to why road pricing needs to be comprehensive to properly address congestion. So far, nobody has dared try it.  Singapore may be the first to do so?

South Australia not going to have toll roads

According to Australian public broadcaster, ABC, "Chief executive of the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure, Rod Hook, told 891 Breakfast this morning that Adelaide's road future could come at a toll". His view was quite simply that tolls would be needed as a source of revenue perhaps in order to get continued Federal funding for South Australia's highways. The Labor, Liberal and Family First parties in the state of South Australia all oppose the introduction of tolls, even though tolls are widespread in use on highways in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.

Toronto 407 toll road continues to perform well

The Globe and Mail reports that the 407 ETR in Toronto has had a good year. Trips increased 1% year on year, but revenue increased 10.6%. This is due to an increase in tolls at peak times by between 5-10% indicating that users are still willing to pay to use the road at those times. Notable is that revenue in the latest quarter is 83% higher than the same quarter last year. Revenue per trip is around C$6.37 (US$6.28). “Unbilled trips” (those either not identified or not able to be pursued for enforcement) are now at 2.2%, which is attributed to improved technology (presumably better resolution of Automatic Number Plate Recognition images).

407 ETR is owned by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (40%) , Spanish infrastructure company Cintra Infraestructuras SA (43.23%) and Canadian engineering firm SNC-Lavalin (16.77%).

Total revenue was C$188.4 million (US$185.9 million) for the year till June 30 up from C$170.3 million (US$168 million).

Tolling pushes ahead in Indonesia but PPPs not yet a success says Minister

The Jakarta Post interviews the Public Works Minister of Indonesia who says that Public-Private Partnerships are not yet a success, but progress has been astonishing:

For instance, when constructing the Jagorawi toll road in 1978, the state set up a company called PT Jasa Marga that acted as a toll road operator. However, Jasa Marga also emerged as regulator because we did not open the service to the private sector. We revised the law on roads and established the Toll Road Authority Agency (BPJT) as regulator in 2004. This law puts Jasa Marga only as operator and it has to compete with other investors if it wants to construct toll roads. It really attracts the private sector to invest in toll roads.

The key problem apparently being that interest rates for borrowing for Indonesian projects are high, demanding a high rate of return from projects.
Meanwhile, the Jakarta Globe reports on lending having been approved for a new 34km toll highway southwest of Surabaya.

Decline in demand but increase in revenue on Jamaican toll road

According to Go Jamaica, the Toll Authority of Jamaica has reported a third consecutive annual decline in traffic volumes on its tolled highway. The report says there has been a 5% average decline in 2010/2011 compared to the previous year. However, revenues are up by over 4%, presumably due to higher tolls or longer trips taken by those vehicles on the road. I went to the Authority's website to learn more, but it is not kept up to date, with the latest news release being in November 2010, and there being no annual reports published on its website (or not easily found). Hardly a model of transparency, or maybe this isn't seen to be a key distribution channel to supply information.

It's not easy to find Jamaica Infrastructure Organisation's website, but it does have some more information. JIO is the name of the concessionaire company responsible for the three toll roads. It has up to date prices. Which even its regulator hasn't got. There is even a frequent user discount.

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