Australia - Chair of Australian Competition and Consumer Commission advocates congestion tax
According to the Herald Sun, chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Rod Sims, says that congestion charging, carefully managed, with some money used to support public transport, would make a meaningful impact on congestion and help provide funding to support infrastructure development. He was making this point at a speech at the John Curtin Institute of Public Policy in Western Australia.
The ACCC is Australia's competition and consumer law enforcement body. Although it has no specific role in its area, to have a highly placed officer of this body, responsible for consumer advocacy, raising this point adds to the growing number of views expressed in Australia supporting congestion pricing.
China - government declares certain public holidays to be toll free
China's introduction of toll free public holidays has had a mixed response according to state newspaper Global Times.
The report said:
The State Council approved a plan on August 3 to lift toll fees on passenger cars with no more than seven seats during four national holidays of Spring Festival, Tomb-sweeping Day, Labor Day and National Day.
This year's National Day holiday coincidently comes the day after Mid-Autumn Festival, which is governed by the lunar calendar, creating an eight-day national holiday. The State Council has ordered that passenger cars be allowed to travel free on the country's toll roads from September 30 to October 7.
Given China's toll roads are mostly privately owned, the issue has been whether the law has been consistently followed by the private road owners. People were sceptical that the toll free period would come into effect, and the key reason it was introduced appears to be populism.
The toll free period started at midnight, resulting in large volumes of traffic travelling after that time. It is not entirely clear from the reports, but it appears that few measures were adopted for traffic management at toll plazas, as the tolls still applied to vehicles with more than 7 occupants. So vehicles would queue at toll plazas to be quickly flagged on. One wonders why it would not have been easier to make all vehicles exempt and to have confined the traffic lanes at plazas to a number that avoided the use of plazas to cascade and then merge traffic flows.
Indonesian Government to create new toll road concession company
The Jakarta Globe reports that Indonesia's State Enterprises Minister, Dahlan Iskan, wants state construction company, Hutama Kurya, to become a toll concessionaire.
This would duplicate Jasa Marga, Indonesia's existing state-owned concessionaire, which reportedly has welcomed the move (presumably because it isn't about competition, but about capacity) and will help the company enter the sector. The report claims that Hutama Kurya will be pursuing new toll roads in Sumatra
Meanwhile, another report notes that Jakarta TollRoad Development, a consortium that includes Hutama Kurya, has raised additional capital from PT Jaya Real Property (JRPT) and PT Jaya Konstruksi Manggala Pratama (JKON), which are part of the Pembangunan Jaya Group, the operator of Ancol Dreamland amusement park in North Jakarta.
JTD is a consortium of PT Hutama Karya, PT Pembangunan Perumahan (PP), PT Wijaya Karya (WIKA), PT Adhi Karya (ADHI) and PT Citra Marga Nusaphala Persada (CMNP).
One project that the firm plans to bid on is a 67-kilometer-long toll road that will connect all five of Jakarta’s municipalities. Based on previous reports, the project will require a total investment of Rp 40 trillion (US$4.19 billion).
North Carolina looking beyond fuel taxes
Business Journal reports that North Carolina Secretary of Transportation Gene Conti has said that the future of highway funding for the state is likely to be tolls and vehicle mileage tax, rather than fuel tax. A key reason appears to be that the state has one of the highest fuel taxes in the US.
Ontario to help build toll road for access to mining region
In some countries, developers ask the government to pay for and build the roads to gain access to land they want to develop. In Ontario, the provincial government has said it will help do that, but will charge all road users to use it according to Wawatay News Online. The project is intended to be a 300km new road to access an area called the "Ring of Fire" which is rich in mineral deposits. It is not intended to be a public road, but a road purely for shifting cargo and for access to the mining developments, but is intended to be fully self funding by providing access to all of the adjacent mining claims.
South Africa - Cape Town and SANRAL disagree on tolls for new road proposal
IOL news reports on how a proposed new road in Cape Town, the R300, is showing up the split in policy on tolling in the country. On the one hand, the City is promoting the road, but not as a tolled route. The City of Cape Town is against tolling on principle and is seeking a "new model" for funding major road plans. However, national highways company, SANRAL is proposing that it be a toll road. In any case, there isn't funding for the project at present.