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09/02/2007

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Lab Rat

Consumers tend to be averse to such complicated billing structures. I wouldn't be very happy if I had to use a computer to calculate the total charge on my account every time I left the house on some random errand.

Major toll roads have the advantage of predictability which an all-toll road system would lack.

Lab Rat

Replace "calculate" with "estimate".

LemmusLemmus

"Technology is rapidly coming on line, and at rapidly falling cost, to enable tolls to be charged (and varied with time of day to minimize congestion) without need for toll booths, but instead through a system of sensors in the pavement and cameras overhead."

Such a system is already up and running on the German Autobahns (for lorries only).

Jack

Currently one problem in health care is that owning a cat scan operation is very profitable for the owners even when they operate far below capacity.

Likewise, unless there was good oversight and planning, I'd be concerned that too many bridges and roads would be built (by the foreign owned corporations who currently OWN 90% of our toll roads). Round two, would be bridge owners making the case to raise tolls to cover their costs once the traffic was spread to competing routes. (Many may recall that competition between two railroads covering the same route didn't work very well in the past)

If there IS good oversight and planning who needs the toll road operators? The model of using gas taxes seems to have worked pretty well, but for perhaps the lack of political courage to raise them enough to cover maintenance.

Today, many of the railroads that got a wide swath of free land for the tracks are gone but the company still owns the wide swath of land that just coincidently is often right in the downtowns they once served. If we're to pay for the roads and maintenance, I'd just as soon they continued to be owned by us and subject to the democratic process rather than those HQ'd in the Cayman Islands.

Lastly, I see no incentive in a toll roads program to incent the building of mass transit.

Currently the media is aflap with concern about "the Mexican Highway" and letting low paid Mexican drivers run trucks to and from destinations in the US. Perhaps it's a time in which a US-Canada-Mexican railroad network should be discussed. In addition to the potential energy savings (and powering the train by any fuel that can be turned into electricity) the security at border crossings would be much better.

Surely with the second warnings of the coming shortfall of oil, it's a valid question to ask if more roads, more trucks, more cars, more bridges is wise. Jack

Marty Busse

What are the other effects that system of sensors will have?

The privacy ones are a subject of public discussion, but I wonder about other effects, such as on the speed of travel. Currently, speed limits are honored much more in the breach than in the observance. What happens when people actually have to start obeying the speed limits? I say this in the expectation that the data gathered by the system of sensors will, at some point, be used to generate tickets for speeding. Since all of the systems I know of are ones in which sensors can be tied to individual cars, I regard this as inevitable. That will mean that trucks will be traveling at a maximum of 65 miles/hour, and their actual speed will probably be less, given that a lot of travel goes through urban areas where the limits are lower. I think this will have some impact on how quickly goods get to market.

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