Australia – Survey says distance based congestion charge would change behaviour
According to AAP, reported by Perth Now, a survey from the University of Sydney has indicated that a distance based congestion charge of A$0.05/km (US$0.08 mile) at peak times could see 22% of peak commuters driving at different times (assuming a charge between 0700-0930 and 1630-1830) and 13% to shift to public transport.
The survey comprised 1000 adults. 66% said they had no flexibility to change travel times for commuting, but the other 34% said they did.
Obviously a survey isn’t a wholly reliable measure of behaviour, but what I find telling is the potential for time shift. Far too many think congestion pricing is about mode shift, when there is as much (if not more) to gain from changing time of travel to periods when there remains spare road capacity, which means getting optimal use of the network.
Canada - British Columbia debates road pricing
According to Straight.com, British Columbian Green Party leader, Jane Sterk, has come out in favour of "pay-as-you-drive" road pricing for Vancouver, to reduce congestion and raise revenue to pay for public transport. The same article notes that the current Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure for the province, Mary Polak (Liberal), says the issue is up to the cities to come up with a proposal and convince the provincial government that it has public support, whilst the Opposition spokesman Harry Bains prefers to consider other measures first. The general election for British Columbia is on 14 May.
Meanwhile, the Delta Optimist has published an opinion piece by Ted Murphy who says that road pricing is likely to be the best option:
It stands to reason those who put the greatest strain on the system, and those who are most likely to benefit from any improvements, should be the ones that pay the largest share of the tab.
Conversely, it doesn't make much sense for homeowners, who are an easy mark but don't necessarily tax the transportation network, to continually be gouged every time TransLink is in need of more cash.
There's much to be worked out when it comes to road pricing, and there will undoubtedly be resistance to the idea of paying to traverse roads that up to now have been free, but at the end of the day I suspect it will be the favoured option.
It's not a question of if, but how, they're going to extract more money from us, so they might as well do it in the fairest way possible.
It isn't clear as to whether British Columbia voters think the same way.Ireland - manual toll booths add costs to trucking firms
The Independent in Ireland reports that toll booth barriers cost them on average an extra (Euro) 0.99c each time (US$1.30) in wasted fuel. This is with DSRC toll tags that enable automatic payment, but require trucks to slow down to a crawl to trigger the lift of the barrier.
This is crazy of course. The M50 toll road in Ireland was converted to electronic free flow a few years ago, largely because of congestion (it being the ring road for Dublin). There ought to be a transition towards at least a mix of free flow lanes and barrier lanes.
South Africa - 24 years to repay debts for Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project
Eyewitness News reports that the South African National Roads Authority Ltd has said that it will take 24 years of toll revenues to repay the debts incurred to build the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project. This is based on the (R)30c/km (US$0.05 per mile) rate agreed by the Government. The maximum monthly that can be charged is R550 (around US$61).
USA - Maryland - Intercounty Connector exceeds forecasts
At a time when there are more than a few examples of toll roads that have demand well below forecasts, it is perhaps good news to report on the InterCounty Connector in Maryland (Maryland Route 200), a fully electronic toll road that opened in 2011. According to the Washington Examiner, estimates of 30,000 daily users by June 2012 have been exceeded on the western end of the road by September 2012 (to 35,000) and not far behind on the eastern end (26,000). The road raised US$19.7 in the year ended June 2012 compared to projections of US$18.7 million.