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Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

The Dutch Introduce Road Pricing

with 46 comments

You can read very similar information about this new legislation at either Associated Press or Deutsche Welle (in English)

The Dutch government approved a bill on Friday that will implement a new per-kilometer-tax on drivers. Beginning in 2012 the law will abolish current road taxes and sales taxes for automobiles, cutting the cost of a new car by 25 percent, in favor of the pro-rated distance tax.

Drivers will be charged 0.03 euros per kilometer (7 cents US per mile) in an attempt to reduce traffic jams fatal accidents and carbon emissions.

The tax will increase every year until 2018, when it will cost 6.7 cents per kilometer to drive in Holland.

The government says the tax will benefit 6 out of 10 drivers, with those who drive the most and at peak hours with the most burden to bear.

The system is based on GPS which will track every vehicle. These short pieces say nothing about how the civil liberties groups responded to this.

The system is expected to cut carbon emissions from driving by half and increase cycling and use of public transport. And, of course, the Dutch already have very high rates of use of both of those alternatives to driving  and very good provision of services and facilities. Once again the policy, like carbon tax and U Pass trots out the old “revenue neutral” line, but at least in this case there is a commitment to steadily increase the cost of driving and a note that if the mode shift is not as great as anticipated, there will be greater increases.

Such a system will be instantly dismissed here as politically untenable. Unfortunately, the physics of climate change do not understand that concept. Canada – and also the United States – is increasingly out of step with the rest of the “developed” world. Countries like Denmark, Sweden and Norway all saw that something needed to be done about an oil dependent life style back in the 1970s with the first great oil shock. The Dutch had significant reserves of North Sea gas but that has been rapidly depleted. The wiseacres said at the time that they “wasted the opportunity” because they continued to provide a decent level of social services when so many other countries fell into the grip of the Chicago school and slashed public spending and instead gave the rich tax breaks.  The Dutch felt that if anyone deserved a break it was poor people, not the rich or the corporate behemoths.

Our present system is clearly not working well. Not only do we have traffic congestion and an appalling toll on the lives of road users, we also have wasteful land use, unhealthy lifestyles and a carbon footprint greater than nearly anyone else on the planet – and one that is growing. We distribute a very scare resource – peak hour road space – the way they used to distribute everything in the former Soviet Union. It is essentially given away to anyone willing to line up to use it. And we have failed to provide any realistic alternative in most places.

There are similar ideas like distance based car insurance, which is now becoming increasingly available  just tot he south of us, but which we steadfastly refuse to even discuss. If the main stream media do pick up this story I imagine we will see the spin trotted out once again about “punishing drivers” and “social engineering” as if the present system did not punish pedestrians, cyclists and transit users and also socially engineered widespread obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Plus of course social isolation for those who cannot drive, loss of farmland, pollution of watercourses and all the rest.

Written by Stephen Rees

November 14, 2009 at 4:20 pm

46 Responses

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  1. It is a good step in the right direction:
    -about civil liberty, GPS tracking is not any worse than “smartcard” tracking.

    -about tax neutrality, dutch government seems to have granted it by removing some other fix tax on car ownership and this is very good…

    because the more the fix cost of car ownership, the less is the cost to drive (marginal cost)…and it is not what you want, and it is the unfortunate pattern we see in lower mainland with proposed levy on car ownership (disregarding if the car stay in garage or is congesting the road!).

    So, yes, the dutch government initiative deserve to be promoted.


    November 14, 2009 at 9:16 pm

  2. […] [Bike Radar] Nuclear scars: Tainted water runs beneath Nevada desert [The Los Angeles Times] The Dutch Introduce Road Pricing [Stephen Rees's […]

    re:place Magazine

    November 15, 2009 at 6:48 pm

  3. Very informative post. As you said its going to help most of all the drivers. New road pricing system is important when the existing one doesn’t work.

    ditte traslochi milano

    November 16, 2009 at 6:55 am

  4. This is good news but you must remember that the Netherlands is a very small and densely populated country, particularly compared to Canada. They are number 27 on the list of countries by population density compared to Canada which is 228th. So they have a much smaller ‘land canvas’ to work with and thus, by necessity, they must be a lot smarter and more efficient in how they use their land. I suspect many other European countries, particularly Switzerland and the Scandinavian countries, will be watching this with interest.

    Ideas like this may not be tenable in the current political climate in BC but I think the ‘user-pays’ type model with tolling on the new Golden Ears and Port Mann bridges are at least a step in the right direction. Canadians are used to not paying for roads. Changing that mindset will probably take a generation or two.

    Chris S

    November 16, 2009 at 3:20 pm

  5. At first glance The Netherlands certainly has many “advantages” over Canada for this: dense population, short travel distances, lots of alternatives for local, regional and transcontinental travel, etc. But if you look at where Canada has problems where road pricing and use based insurance could help, the actual area and population density starts to look Dutch in a real hurry. Most Canadians live in a narrow band between Windsor and Montreal and rarely travel outside that band even for summer vacation. Metro Vancouver has a population density nearly double that of the Netherlands and most of our travel is confined to an area just 20km by 60km.

    The big issue, as Chris said, is the mindset that driving is “free” and it’s going to take a lot of time or some serious punitive measures to rid us of that. But time isn’t something we have much of. We simply cannot survive another two generations of internal combustion engines for everyone.


    November 16, 2009 at 4:09 pm

  6. Chris

    I am not sure who the “you” is in your comment. I am well aware of the nature of the Netherlands. In fact our region is not at all dissimilar – and we have learned much of use from the Dutch. The dykes and the Deas Tunnel owe a lot to Dutch engineering.

    We in fact have very little space. Yes, Canada is a huge country, but the Fraser Valley is a very tightly confined habitable area. The sad thing is that our political leaders seem to be believe that we can have development like that of the American mid west which is quite inappropriate for our geography. We ought to have been as careful in our land use as the Dutch have been and not behaved as though the resource of agricultural land was something to be bargained away and not protected for future generations

    The policy of tolling for bridges is not at all new – or indeed much different now than it was in earlier generations. The current policy is still stuck in a 1930’s mindset that tolls are only permissible for as long as needed to pay off the original debt incurred in building the bridge. Road pricing is a quite different concept and is not all similar to the toll regimes in place on the Golden Ears or proposed for the Port Mann.

    Stephen Rees

    November 16, 2009 at 4:33 pm

  7. Hi Stephen. Wasn’t really referring to anyone in particular with ‘you’. Just trying to add a new dimension to the discussion or approach it from a bit of a different angle in an attempt to stimulate further discussion. Thanks David and yourself for the additional information regarding similarities between Netherlands and Metro Vancouver. Considering similarities between Netherlands and Metro Van, I guess all that can really be concluded is pro-car groups have been much more successful at achieving their agenda in Vancouver than similar groups have been in the Netherlands (as no doubt such groups also exist there). Why is that? Influence from the south? North Americans just like cars more than the Dutch? I’m not sure…..

    Chris S

    November 16, 2009 at 5:04 pm

  8. How is road pricing different than gas tax? Is the ability to target time of usage worth coming up with much more complicated system than a simple gas tax?

    Dejan K

    November 16, 2009 at 7:31 pm

  9. One difference comes to mind – under road pricing, since it’s distance based (via GPS), the tax would be neutral in terms of type of driving.
    i.e. you wouldn’t have to pay extra when idling in traffic (no distance travelled).
    i.e. many short haul trips to the supermarket would be the same as one long trip on vacation.

    Ron C.

    November 16, 2009 at 9:40 pm

  10. The biggest difference between road pricing and gas tax is that a commuter sitting on Highway 1 at 7:30AM can be charged more than someone heading home from a Canucks game at 10:00PM. The simple concept of supply and demand suggests that roads cost more when they are in high demand and less when they are in low demand. There still needs to be a recognition that building and maintaining the roads costs money even if nobody uses them, but road pricing is an excellent demand management tool.

    The biggest difference between us and the Dutch is that we’ve put land developers and truckers in charge of deciding what transportation infrastructure will get built.

    SkyTrain carries fewer passengers than the Calgary C-Train yet cost 6 times as much to build. Imagine how many places we could get to by train if we had 18 light rail lines in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. Imagine how many people would have the option to leave their cars at home. Imagine Coquitlam and Surrey without a brown haze covering them all summer long.

    Until we stop throwing money at wider highways and boutique transit systems, most of the 2.2 million people in this region will have only one way to get to work and school: by car. Imposing road pricing upon them would be political suicide so it won’t happen.


    November 16, 2009 at 11:42 pm

  11. Dejan

    The gas tax does nothing to tackle congestion. Countries which have much higher gas taxes than ours, such as the UK, have roads which are just as congested as ours. Note also that the Dutch replaced flat tax – the vehicle purchase tax and registration – with one that varies by use. Gas tax was left in place so the road use fee does not replace it. Road pricing deters some users from entering the traffic stream on those roads and at those times when congestion is at its worst. As has been demonstrated with HOT lanes, drivers do respond to price signals, and change their behaviour based on the judgement “is this trip, at this time, worth the cost”.

    High gas taxes do change consumer behaviour too. Mostly they help the sales of more efficient cars.

    One critical factor in the success of any consumer choice program is the availability of alternatives. The lack of adequate transit service here would severely limit the effectiveness of road pricing as a congestion control measure. To be effective, the system would have to work better than simply tolling bridges – which just diverts trips to non-tolled routes.

    Stephen Rees

    November 17, 2009 at 7:59 am

  12. You seem to be a little confused with the ‘benefits’ of road pricing.

    You are arguing it will save 50% of carbon emissions from vehicles which can only happen if 50% fewer miles are driven. If this does happen, then it must be because 50% of journeys cannot be afforded by lower paid people under the road pricing regime.

    You then go onto say:

    “Plus of course social isolation for those who cannot drive”

    What about the social isolation of the 50% of people who now cannot afford to drive? What about the loss of economic benefit to all those local businesses who rely on customers using a car?

    It is a nonsense to believe that road pricing will help reduce congestion and it is certain that reducing peoples mobility will damage the economy which I am sure will be the case with Holland over the coming years.

    Peter Roberts

    November 17, 2009 at 8:20 am

  13. Peter

    I suggest you need to think more carefully before posting. The intention of road pricing is to reduce driving. First at peak periods and on congested routes – but system wide as well. And to work there have to be viable alternatives, something I stress in what I write

    The point about mobility/accessibility has to be decoupled from car ownership – but a combination of better land use, more transit, and other non motorised alternatives. Human beings have only had near universal car ownership in a few countries in recent years. Other places and other times managed – and we must again. For peak oil and climate change are realities that you seem to want to ignore.

    There is more to being human than the ability to drive a car

    Stephen Rees

    November 17, 2009 at 8:31 am

  14. Hi Stephen,

    I thought I read it quite accurately. You definitely say:

    “The system is expected to cut carbon emissions from driving by half”

    which must mean half of all journeys are no longer made under a road pricing regime.

    I am sure you are correct in saying that that road pricing is designed to reduce driving but this is only because it affects the ability of people to afford to drive. The argument that road pricing is ‘revenue neutral’ is also flawed as it never includes the costs associated with a road pricing system. The Dutch are hoping to keep the costs to 5% or less but so far have not been able to do this. Even if current motoring taxes are reduced, there are still the costs of road pricing to cover – plus the previous levels of tax to recoup. Therefore, if your 50% reduction in CO2 which equates to a halving of journeys is true, then the cost per mile for a road pricing system will be at least twice that of current taxation methods.

    If the Dutch are to maintain current levels of transport taxation, you can be certain that Holland will see a rapid rise in the mileage tax through road pricing as less people use the roads and become socially isolated from their friends, relatives and social activities.

    Personally, I am sure technology will resolve the issues of peak oil, CO2 and all the other problems with fossil fuels but penalising people who drive is not fair, just or sensible. Driving might not be your idea of “being human” but for me and millions of others it represents a freedom I do not wish to lose and road pricing will hurt the lowest paid far harder than the rich. Basically, what you are advocating is ‘roads for the rich’ whilst the least well off are sidelined into a second class society where they cannot afford to travel for work or play.

    As for the alternatives to car use, these are just as polluting in terms of CO2 as a modern car and cost vast sums in taxpayer subsidies to function. this is the transport model the soviet block used for decades. It didn’t work then and it doesn’t work now.

    I find it quite amazing that someone who fled Thatcher’s era supports a system which literally screws the poor and leaves the pleasures and freedoms associated with the use of a car for the rich.

    Peter Roberts

    November 17, 2009 at 8:55 am

  15. I hate to break it to you Peter, but at an average annual cost of $6500, owning and operating a car isn’t something the poor can manage.

    Please explain how electric trams produce the same CO2 per capita as single occupancy vehicles powered by internal combustion engines.

    How exactly will technology solve our problems? Electric cars require just as many natural resources to make as gasoline or diesel powered ones and they take up just as much space in the form of roads and parking facilities. They’re horribly inefficient because they sit parked 95% of their lives.

    Most urban trips are short and could easily be accomplished without cars provided convenient and safe alternatives were available. The big problem is that the last 75 years have been devoted to designing for cars instead of for people. It’s a completely unsustainable model that must be abandoned.

    Fortunately we have a model to follow. In Manhattan 80% of the population does NOT own a car even though most could afford any luxury model on the market. The world needs a lot more Manhattans and a lot fewer Houstons and Winnipegs.


    November 17, 2009 at 10:40 am

  16. Peter

    You are a newcomer to this blog. I have been writing it for years, and the message has been consistent throughout.

    If the whole world consumed resources like North Americans do, we would need three more planets. We do not have another planet that we can get to, so we had better start looking after this one. You might believe that technologies will solve all our problems and allow us to continue with our present life style. I am not interested in belief. So far there is no evidence that we – as a species – have managed to understand the use of the technologies we already have. There is in fact no need for any new technological breakthrough. Using technologies we have now more effectively – such as substituting electric train trips for gasoline car trips – would greatly reduce our carbon footprint, and at the same time make our communities more livable.

    The “freedom” you enjoy to drive your car is an illusion. You are free to sit wasting time and resources, going nowhere. You are free to put much of your income into the pockets of corporations like GM and Exxon. At the same time you will be poisoning yourself and your environment – the air quality inside a car in a traffic jam being far worse than almost anything experienced elsewhere. It would certainly not be permitted in a workplace, for example. The death toll on the roads in the US is worse every year than 9/11 was. There is not a single example of any road project in a major urban area that has reduced traffic congestion for the long term. Every new road generates/induces more traffic (the language varies on each side of the Atlantic but the effect is the same).

    Cities that have managed to tackle this problem effectively have shown that their economy is more vibrant, their population healthier and their future more certain. The only thing that Robert Moses achieved in New York though his destructive road building was near terminal decline, and bankruptcy. Reversing that approach has turned around that trajectory. It is significant that the place chosen for the next climate conference is Copenhagen – a city that has been reducing the amount of space devoted to cars steadily for forty years. In that time it has become one of the most desirable places to live.

    You will not convince anyone with wild unproven assertions, and the evidence is greatly against you. The fact that you adhere to a “belief” in the face of overwhelming evidence shows that you are not amenable to rational argument.

    Stephen Rees

    November 17, 2009 at 11:52 am

  17. In defence of Peter..He likely isn’t familiar at all with all the cities that, within the past 30-35 years, have reduced the use of cars in their downtown areas by eliminating many of the car lanes available and turning shopping streets into pedestrian ones.

    They have also eliminated parking on major streets and reduced the number of moderately priced on street parking. At the same time they have increased the number of high capacity transit lines (LRT instead of buses) and also drastically increased the number and length of commuter lines radiating from a city, thus reducing the number of cars (with only the driver) commuting to the city.

    I know of a town, with a Metro population 1/3 the size of Metro Vancouver, that has 11 commuter rail lines (the longest line is 235 km.what a commute!) and 57 interurban commuter bus lines! There are many towns like that one.

    This is very hard to understand and harder still to visualize if one was born and raised in B.C.
    Even the nice young people that work on the “car free” events in Vancouver have trouble believing me when I tell them that several thousands of towns around the world have car-free streets 365 days a year.

    If Peter has the opportunity of watching news on TV5 he will notice that when a reporter interview “people in the street” they, 9 times out of 10, are in a pedestrian area, whether it is Europe, Asia, South America, Australia, the Middle East etc. etc.

    Cars are only truly a necessity in low density areas i.e small and medium rural communities. Even there one should follow what rural communities around the world have been successfully doing for several thousands of years–and still do: Most of the people live in a compact village/ small town then go to their farm outside the village to work. That’s what my relatives and their friends in Europe did, “commuting” from their farmhouse in the village to their acreage with a horse and a cart or with a bike for 30 minutes.

    Red frog

    November 17, 2009 at 12:52 pm

  18. When ever an argument about road pricing emerges on the net it is usually the case that the pro charging side are ideologically against against private transport, dismiss the personal freedom/privacy as unimportant, never talk about the cost and believe that cars offer no benefit to the society or the economy.

    Lets begin by tackling some of the deeply held and cherished prejudices Stephen exhibits as ‘proof’.

    “The freedom to enjoy the car is an illusion” – Wrong Its actually tangible and quite measurable by the majority of people who choose to use the car for its superior speed, safety, cleanliness, convenience and reliability.

    “At the same time you will be poisoning yourself and your environment” – Wrong – The worst place to be is stuck behind the exhaust of a large diesel vehicle. I refer you to a report by Transport and Travel research which said;

    “over the past decade on an average per passenger kilometre travelled basis, bus travel appears to have been more polluting in terms of toxic emissions than car travel over the last 10 years”

    There are various other straw man arguments misconceptions and exaggerations in there but suffice to say the above statement will start things rolling.

    You say you are not interested in beliefs yet your conclusions reek of ideology, first and for most that people should be ‘rescued from freedom’

    Michael Cornford

    November 17, 2009 at 1:44 pm

  19. “Ideology” of course could never be applied to the thought process that celebrates “free markets”

    By the way you do not refer me to a report when you do not provide a link or an accurate reference.

    Yes, cars are superior in terms of the service they provide to the individual who can afford one. But you neatly ignore the social and environmental cost of the car.

    Stephen Rees

    November 17, 2009 at 2:00 pm

  20. What social costs of the car? Would you care to list them? What about the benefits to society in terms of freedom of movement, personal happiness and well being etc. What about the economic benefits of a more mobile labour force?

    Again I remind you of your avoidance of the issues of privacy and cost.

    Its also quite ironic that you champion the plight of the poorest in society and their inability to afford a car when what you are proposing is to increase the cost of motoring yet further. Do you really believe that reducing the mobility of more people will improve the quality of life of the poorest? The truth is the poorest would love to own a car but Government taxation policies mean that that particular aspiration is unattainable.

    The issue of the free market is irrelevant to this particular argument. I am fully aware that some economists view road pricing as the ‘perfect’ free market solution to congestion, however unrealistic in practice it may be but I would guess that your reference to free markets is more an attempt to pigeon hole me.

    The link you asked for is;

    Reducing emissions from PTE/SPT bus fleets – study report by TTR

    The report was commissioned by PTEG

    Michael Cornford

    November 17, 2009 at 3:39 pm

  21. Not all people that take transit or ride there bike/walk are poor. There are many people that are wealthy but choose to take transit as it is convenient relaxing and very much enjoyable. The interaction with others and the idea that at the end of a busy and tired day of work not having to focus on driving and deal with all the many issues that come from driving is very much appealing to alot of us. In addition the idea that after a day of work a person can go out and have some wine and still safely go home is very much appealing. I wish people would not classify people on transit as poor or anything such. people choose transit as a life style and we very much enjoy it. I enjoy it as it reminds myself of all the wonderful place I have travelled to where cars are much less prevelent.


    November 17, 2009 at 6:47 pm

  22. Michael, I made the CHOICE of not having a car when I moved to Canada. Of course it wasn’t much of a problem when I lived and worked in Toronto.

    I had a car when I was working in a rural area in Europe. Driving several hours a day on winding country roads between the homes of several clients, the office, suppliers etc. was the worse part of an otherwise enjoyable and creative job. At least in those days I didn’t have to worry about finding a parking spot (one could park anywhere anytime), buying gas or paying the car insurance (all perks of the job- I did own my car)

    The clients whose big country estates we maintained lived in Paris or London etc. They all had huge apartments with several full time household staff yet didn’t own a car. They used transit or cabs as in these world class cities finding a parking spot within walking distance of where one is going is extremely hard.

    I am a homeowner by the way.

    Red frog

    November 17, 2009 at 8:13 pm

  23. to invoke the poor to be against a user fee is classical:
    don’t charge electricity by the kilowatt, because it penalize the poor, don’t even think about smart meter penalizing even more the poor…

    don’t charge the international call by the minute because it penalize the poor…

    don’t charge water by the cubic meter because it penalize the poor…

    don’t charge the road use in proportion of their usage cost, because it penalize the poor…

    the unfortunate truth is that it is the reverse: poor know how to be saavy, and in a world of market driven pricing, get a better off…

    it is true for flight since the “poor” can adjust their schedule to benefit of the lowest price.
    it is true with phone because the “poor” can adjust their use of cell phone to call for free on evening and week-end…

    it could be true for water, where the poor will be not subsidizing anymore the filling of the swimming pool of the rich (and washing of the RV in the driveway)

    and it could be true of the road usage, where the poor is commuting by bus in city (because a poor per definition could not afford to drive in a city like Vancouver), will be not subsidizing the road for the rich…

    The “poor” are useful to defend a subsidizing way of life, but the sad true, is that the poor are loosing at this game (when the subsidized service can be consumed “without moderation”, what is not the case of education or health-care)

    and not even mentioning the elder and disabled (not really able to drive)…


    November 17, 2009 at 8:14 pm

  24. re: “Such a [Dutch] system will be instantly dismissed here as politically untenable.”

    If you mean “here” to be Canada, I think you will be surprised that Canada is indeed looking at this. It is simply far too early to see evident progress or even promise. Consider that the US IS looking harder at this and this will likely pull Canada in with it. and

    Bern Grush

    November 17, 2009 at 8:51 pm

  25. Hmmm! The physics of climate change. Would that be a 29% increase in CO2 emissions between 2000 and 2008, with no rise in global temperatures, maybe even a slight fall? The increase in CO2 emissions is via the developing world, not that I have a problem with that.

    Within the EU itself, cars and trucks contribute just 2% to global man-made CO2 emissions, so there would be no measurable effect on climate, even if they were reduced to zero.

    Paul Biggs

    November 18, 2009 at 12:39 am

  26. Am I the only one who has noticed that Peter Roberts is a motoring advocate and “Chief Executive” at the Drivers’ Alliance?

    I think his website explains which type of motoring dreamworld Mr. Roberts resides in (perhaps he is dreaming of getting some juicy advocacy money from the world’s most profitable corporation, Exxon).


    November 18, 2009 at 3:32 am

  27. The points made above concerning ones individual choice is fine. If you prefer public transport then use it. Personally I’ve never experienced any kind of social interaction on public transport, just rows of miserable people waring iPods and wishing they were else where. My working day finishes when I get into my car, I can chose whether to go straight home or visit friends, do the weekly shop etc etc. Either way I’ll pass groups of miserable commuters at bus stops looking at their watches and hoping they won’t have to stand all the way home.

    Voony – I’m not sure what you are saying but the point I was making is that the poorest in society are used to advocate road pricing yet the reality all you are doing is increasing the number of people who can’t afford to drive. For those who have to drive road pricing is a regressive tax which takes a higher proportion of peoples income the less well off they are. This is I think the origin of the roads for the rich phrase mentioned earlier.

    One point you did say though is that the poor are used to defend a subsidised way of life. This is often the case with bus routes with a low user occupancy rates such as more rural or suburban routes.

    Michael Cornford

    November 18, 2009 at 4:03 am

  28. Individual choice is only possible because we have a heavily subsidized road system so the rich and middle class can drive when and where they like. One can argue that having such a transportation network is a good thing that benefits many, but it’s still a subsidy going primarily to those who can afford to own and operate private vehicles. Those advocating more funds for public transit are really just looking for a better balance: fewer subsidies going resource intensive transport for the rich and more to resource efficient transport that’s available to all.


    November 18, 2009 at 10:28 am

  29. David,

    would you provide the figures to support your suggestion that roads are subsidised.

    If they are, then where is the subsidy coming from?

    It is certainly not the case in the UK where motorists pay in excess of $88 billion in tax but only $10.5 billion is spent on roads annually. This is certianly not a “subsidised” road infrastructure.

    Peter Roberts

    November 18, 2009 at 11:53 am

  30. David – It is usually at this point that the pro-tolls advocates introduce the idea that the roads are subsidised. Of course its utter clap trap and requires the most convoluted and gerrymandered set of arguments possible.

    I have no doubt you are implying that drivers don’t cover the cost of noise, pollution accidents etc.

    I’ve read the relevant EU reports on this so please feel free to make your case.

    Michael Cornford

    November 18, 2009 at 12:02 pm

  31. Still no sign of any comments on cost or privacy? Anyone?

    Michael Cornford

    November 18, 2009 at 12:03 pm

  32. Roads are not subsidized like an endowment. In NL automotive taxes far overpay road build and maintain. I understand that is also the case in UK (so Roberts is correct in this matter). In US fuel taxes and other taxes pay about 50% and Canada about 70%. In Toronto, my property tax pays the road since my fuel tax pays only provincial roads and that too is too little. US pays 1/7th tax of NL and Canada is almost as bad. When I drove an IC engine that was not subsidzed. My neighbor takes the bus so his property tax does subsidize my car. BUT his bus is subsidized this way, too, so now where are we?

    So there is no point for an American (me) to argue with a Brit (Roberts) about fuel tax, because the Brit way overpays and the American way underpays. This is NOT NOT NOT about the AMOUNT being paid in EU (although it is becoming that in the US). It is about WHAT we pay for. I say “pay for miles NOT for gas.” Roberts says “it is all unfair already because I overpay, so buzz off.” Roberts assumes this is an EXTRA tax (and will NOT be persuaded otherwise so save your breath). He may even be right for some countries. But I have an all-electric car so my neighbor is subsidizing me twice. I should move to Britain so Peter can subsidize me personally.

    When the fleet is electrified to 3 or 5%, this conversation will change. So, Peter, get an electric car (zoom zoom) and skip the entire fuel tax thing; use the money saved to take a holiday. God knows you deserve one.

    Bern Grush

    November 18, 2009 at 12:19 pm

  33. Michael:
    There is a lot re privacy on just search for “privacy”.

    I am writing a piece now re the Sofia Memorandum.

    If you google you will see it sooner.

    Bern Grush

    November 18, 2009 at 12:28 pm

  34. Well this thread is collecting a lot of attention from the opposition. I think I must have hit a nerve.

    Paul Biggs even has a climate change denier site. Of course he likes quoting here – without a source of course – some short term data when anyone who looks at climate change who knows what they are talking about is concerned with long term trends, not short term wobbles. He of course makes no reference to the shrinking of glaciers or the retreat of the ice sheets. Or articles in peer reviewed journals such as the recent report in Nature Geoscience “Global temperatures are on a path to rise by an average of 6C by the end of the century as CO2 emissions increase and the Earth’s natural ability to absorb the gas declines” (my source)

    And now all this twaddle about road tax in the UK not equalling road building costs. The UK has never had a predicated tax for anything. And ignores the lesson everywhere else has learned that building roads generates traffic – something I am tired of repeating.

    And pretending not to know what the words “social costs” mean. Would I care to list them? I have, many times. This is the favourite technique of the troll, and I am not going to waste any more time on them.

    Bern – I hope you are right and someone in Canada is considering road pricing. It is certainly not on the horizon in BC and has been dismissed without any consideration by the former Minister of Transport, Kevin Falcon.

    Stephen Rees

    November 18, 2009 at 1:09 pm

  35. Bern – The object of the EU/NL road pricing schemes is not for drivers to pay differently – that’s just political spin – the object is that we pay more.

    The link to your website does little to reassure me that my privacy will not be eroded. The scheme proposed by the EU involves my location known at all times. Whatever guarantee’s are given at the inception of the project mean nothing given politicians insatiable desire for power and knowledge. All manner of draconian measures have been put in place in this century in the name of protecting us against terrorism. The only way to truly protect my privacy and my right travel unmonitored is to stop the infrastructure being put in place.

    Lets not forget that the EU have pledged to introduce speed limiters as part of the Galileo / road pricing package.

    Michael Cornford

    November 18, 2009 at 1:20 pm

  36. Stephen – this is your blog and you are entitled to be as arrogant as you choose, after all you can choose not to publish my side of the argument if you so wish.

    I did not say I did not know what the phrase social costs meant, What I would like is for you to justify what these social costs are and why you think they are so important. I have found that the anti-car lobby are quite capable of parroting lists of social costs but not the social benefits. In the interests of a balanced debate both sides of the ledger should get an airing don’t you think? I am confident that on balance the pro’s more then out way the cons.

    Another favoured ruse of the anti-car lobby is the phrase ‘everyone knows that building roads generates traffic’ as if adding ‘everyone knows’ exempts you from proving/justifying/explaining why that is the case.

    Building roads stimulates the economy, provides opportunity and creates wealth. Building roads attracts traffic from surrounding older roads thus relieving congestion on those as well.

    By all means call me a troll but attacking the person rather then argument is nothing new either.

    Michael Cornford

    November 18, 2009 at 1:41 pm

  37. Michael

    Your purpose is obviously to waste as much of my time as possible. You are right, I could have blocked you. I wish I had. If you were really interested in understanding my views on social costs or induced travel you could easily have used the blog’s “search” feature and found out. But you wish only to promote a view that has been discreditted. New roads do not relieve congestion for more than a very brief period. We have known this since the Smeed Report. “Paying for Roads” came out in the 1960’s and you and your ilk have been successful in suppressing its proposals ever since, and I cannot imagine why you think I want to give you a platform. Keep this up and you will find the comments on this thread closed and your access ended

    Stephen Rees

    November 18, 2009 at 2:09 pm

  38. Michael C. doesn’t seem to know that in B.C. even transit advocates (except myself and a few others) DO drive cars as our transit system is the pits, even compared to Toronto and Montreal, never mind some US towns…and let’s not even mention Europe and Japan.

    Transit advocates only want a better transit system, and less obsession about roads.
    I favour freeways around a town myself as this is what allowed Euro towns to transform their downtown areas into thriving pedestrian precincts, starting in the 1960s and 70s.

    Many people in Metro Vancouver drive cars to work daily because of the lack of good transit, not because they love the freedom of a car etc. Their monthly parking fee near work is more than the cost of a monthly 3 zones pass.
    These car drivers aren’t all wealthy, far from it. Some of my colleagues, working full time at $20 per hour (plus benefits) HAVE to use their credit cards to keep up with their car expenses and can only make partial payments on the card every month (rent or mortgage aren’t exactly cheap in Vancouver).

    Then there are all the people working for $ 9-12 per hr for 20-25 hrs a week (in your favorite coffee shop, supermarket, electronic shop)that MUST have a car because of a poor transit system and have no choice but to max cards to survive??

    For all these people the freedom and romance of a car has long lost its shine.

    Red frog

    November 18, 2009 at 2:27 pm

  39. You need to watch your language Stephen – I’m not a denier, are you? The source is BAMS, 2009 HadCRU3 data, which confirms a decade long temperature stagnation and tries to explain it on the basis of computer models. The decade long stagnation is a very rare event in models, wasn’t predicted in advance, and no models exhibit a 15 year stagnation, which provides a target for falsification. You can find peer reviewed references on my website -choose a subject tag. I covered the GIGO modelling nonsense from Nature Geoscience yesterday:

    The claim that: “The team believes that carbon sinks – the oceans and plants – are probably absorbing a slightly lower proportion of the carbon dioxide from fossil fuel emissions than they were 50 years ago, although researchers admit that uncertainty about the behaviour of sinks remains high” contrasts with recently published real world data showing “that the balance between the airborne and the absorbed fraction of carbon dioxide has stayed approximately constant since 1850, despite emissions of carbon dioxide having risen from about 2 billion tons a year in 1850 to 35 billion tons a year now. This suggests that terrestrial ecosystems and the oceans have a much greater capacity to absorb CO2 than had been previously expected.”

    Your choice Stephen, live in a computer modelled world, or the real world, where nothing outside of natural climate variability is happening despite man-made CO2.

    Paul Biggs

    November 18, 2009 at 2:29 pm

  40. AS if building transit didn’t also provide jobs, stimulate economy etc. Ever seen the HUGE multi-use complexes with masses of office workers, shoppers, tourists etc. around major transit stations in Toronto, Montreal, Paris, London etc. and more so in Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo..????

    Red frog

    November 18, 2009 at 2:34 pm

  41. Red Frog – I’m happy to admit that I don’t know the the B.C transit situation, I’m from the UK. I’m also quite happy for enough investment to be channeled into public transport to create a usable, cheap and reliable system that benefits everyone. What I am against is the idea that the future of urban transport has to be either personal or private and that individual choice is irrelevant and to be ignored.

    Its no coincidence that the groups pushing road pricing in the EU are the private companies that provide public transport, the infrastructure and IT companies who will install and operate the tolls and the politicians / enviro’s who are ideologically opposed to private transport.

    Stephen – by all means ban / delete me if you choose – I certainly have no interest in wasting your time. Surely you didn’t expect to be able to author a blog containing such contravertial views with out being challenged did you?

    Michael Cornford

    November 18, 2009 at 3:19 pm

  42. maybe this will do three things:
    For Stephen see that other road pricing advocates also get viciously attacked 😉
    For Michael there is a touch more about privacy here (not to change your mind, but who knows…)
    For the rest, a touch of humor.

    Somewhere yesterday I sent a link to the transcript of a long pubic conversation Peter Roberts and I had two years ago. Not sure where it went.

    Re RP in Canada. My information is specific to Ontario. The conversation re road tolling started in 2003 and has mostly consisted of drivers saying “no” and politicians saying “shhhhh, don’t talk about it”. That changed about 4 months ago when Metrolinx redecorated their board. We are now where NL was in about 2003. We will come to the same place but in about half the time. So is NL took from 2003 to 2012 to get the first vehicle metered, Canada/Ontario, starting in 2010 will take to about 2016 to get to that point. My estimate for this in 2003 was 2018. It has sped up slightly because there is no money to continue subsidizing and we have a terrible transport mess to clean up in the Southern Ontario region.

    While the above is an educated guess, my next estimate is a shot in the dark. I think BC, while maybe a short while behind Ontario (a year?) will end up following suit. But the pressure will come from Puget Sound and Oregon, as much as from Ontario.
    Oddly, three years ago, when I called, David Suzuki was AGAINST road pricing because he said it was “bad for the poor”. A surprising fiction from such a bright mind. Here is a global warmer anti-road-pricer. Never saw that combo before.

    Bern Grush

    November 18, 2009 at 4:42 pm

  43. here is a link to the Sofia Memorandum (work to which I have been a contributor). This memorandum is predicted to be the basis for privacy legislation in EU. Ontario’s privacy commissioner will be every bit as draconian – about which I am pleased. The NL requirement includes this the Slovenian requirement is stricter, yet. I suspect it will conform to the S.M.

    Bern Grush

    November 18, 2009 at 4:51 pm

  44. For any one that wants to look at how removing road space can actually be good and no increase in traffic can occur check out this link and specifically at web cast: Seol: The stream of consciousness.


    November 18, 2009 at 6:54 pm

  45. Jim, Good link. The fact that removing road space doesn’t bring traffic congestion on other roads as been proven for the past 30 odd years in Europe and other parts of the word, AS LONG AS removing road space is done in conjunction with the building of urban transit and interurban commuter lines.

    Red frog

    November 19, 2009 at 10:38 pm

  46. Bern – having read through the link you posted I am rather astounded by your naivety. From personal experience over here I can say that politicians don’t give a rats ass about privacy (indeed some would see the byproduct of personal travel data as a bonus) and certainly won’t let the issue get in the way of all that lovely tax revenue. The protection offered by the Sofia Memorandum (laudable though it is) amounts to having yours locks changed and the locksmith claiming your house will never ever be burgled.

    For the record Bern I don’t think you are naive but I do believe that the intention of documents like the Sofia Memorandum is to try to convince the public that privacy is being taken seriously and to prevent it being an impediment to the implementaion of road tolls and revenue raising.

    Michael Cornford

    November 23, 2009 at 4:02 am

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