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A million motorists embarrass road price ministers
Ben Webster, Times Online
The Government is to press ahead with preparations for nationwide congestion charging despite the millionth signature on a petition opposing the idea. An experiment in internet democracy, in which people were invited to place petitions on the No 10 website and vote for them by e-mail, has embarrassed ministers.
The petition calling on the Government “to scrap the vehicle tracking and road-pricing policy” was due to gain its millionth signature last night, less than three months after it was posted on the website. It received 92,000 signatures on Wednesday alone, thought to be a record for a single day. ..
In an interview with The Times, [UK Transport Secretary Douglas Alexander] said that many of the claims made by those promoting the petition were “falsehoods”. He promised that there would be safeguards to protect motorists’ privacy and that the system would not be used to catch drivers speeding.
Both these claims were made in an e-mail supporting the petition sent by members of the Association of British Drivers, a hardline motoring group. The e-mail told people to pass it on and millions have received it in the past few weeks.
Mr Alexander said that no decision had been made on whether to introduce a national scheme but he said that regional trials would start in four or five years’ time. Manchester and Birmingham are understood to be the front-runners for the trials.
Sir Rod Eddington’s report on the future of transport in Britain strongly supported the idea of nationwide congestion charging, which the Department for Transport has calculated could result in tolls of £1.28 a mile on the busiest roads in peak periods. ..
(10 Feb 2007)
See also The UK Mirror – Exclusive: Toll Would Hit Poor Hardest.
Significant cut in gasoline use is decades away: automakers
CHICAGO (AFP) – It will be decades before the world will see a significant cut in global automotive gasoline consumption, automakers and analysts said.
While there have been major improvements in fuel economy and reduced emissions through the development of technologies such as hybrids and clean diesel, consumers are not adopting them quickly enough to make a serious dent.
Gasoline electric hybrids — which can improve fuel economy by anywhere from 20 percent to 60 percent — currently make up less than one percent of global sales.
Hybrid demand is primarily in the US market and is not expected to expand significantly as consumers shy away from the high price tag coupled with fuel economy improvements that only apply to stop and go city driving, said Eric Fedewa, an analyst at CSM Worldwide. ..
(11 Feb 2007)
Transport chief pledges to get Auckland moving
Mathew Dearnaley, New Zealand Herald
..Much effort has gone into plans to develop the rail network and other public transport services needed to wean more Aucklanders from “single-occupancy car use”. ..
The Government elected to retain a large degree of control over Auckland’s rail network by giving state agency Ontrack responsibility for a $600 million upgrade of tracks, signals and platforms.
But one success the authority can claim for itself is the Northern Express bus service in which buses run every 10 minutes between Auckland and Albany and are credited with taking 400 cars off roads at peak times.[Auckland Regional Transport Authority’s new chief executive] Mr Gammie acknowledged there was still some stigma attached to public transport, but said the fact that 39 per cent of Northern Express passengers were converts from commuting by car showed how that could be overcome by offering frequent and reliable services. A survey finding that 71 per cent of Auckland public transport users have access to private vehicles adds pressure to maintain and improve service standards to ensure those customers are retained.
He said that meant working closely with bus, rail and ferry operators and continually reviewing subsidised services to ensure the best use of scarce funds. A review of North Shore bus services will start soon, to maximise gains from the $290 million Northern Busway once Transit NZ and the North Shore City Council complete it next year. ..
(12 Feb 2007)