Shining cities on a smarter planet

Guest blog from Kamal Hassan, Skymeter Corp.

In a recent post, IBM's CEO Sam Palmisano talks about the importance of cities. Getting specific, he points out what IBM can do for them.
... Thankfully, help is at hand, with intelligence being infused into the way cities work. It has tended to be been system-by-system so far, but it need not stop there. We now have the capacity to manage cities as the complex systems -- indeed, systems-of-systems -- that they are. And the current crisis in the world's economy offers an opportunity -- indeed, I believe, an imperative -- to do just that.

Look at the capabilities already being built into cities around the world. Transportation officials in Singapore, Brisbane and Stockholm are using smart systems to reduce both congestion and pollution…
Singapore, Brisbane and Stockholm are direct references road-pricing systems that IBM has in operation, in those cities.


UK Thought Leadership

I laughed so hard I cried.

Sparing partner and mythmaker Peter Roberts the heroic author of the 2007 1.81M signature Downing street petition that brought the UK National Road Pricing program to it knees remains the most influential congestion pricing thought-leader in the UK. Far outranking Mayor Livingstone whose legacy congestion pricing zone has lost over half of its efficacy, Mr Roberts still leads a crusade against everything that is not inside an automobile.

In 2003 many predicted that the UK would have National Road Pricing by 2014. Today, I predict that in 2034 the UK and the Congo will be the only two countries on the Earth left with free roads. They’ll be full of stopped cars, but they’ll be free.

Favorite new Robertian road myth: "It is madness to suggest that by building a new road we are causing a problem rather than solving one."

Here is the article just in case someone saves Britain and burns the original. What a mess.
Congestion Charging Makes Crash Gordon Look Popular

Beleagured Prime Minister Gordon Brown has only collected 60,000 signatures on the 10 Downing St. Petition asking him to resign - compared with the 1.8 million who signed against Road Pricing in 2007.

"It may provide a crumb of comfort to Gordon Brown that road pricing is 36 times more unpopular than his premiership", said the ABD's* Nigel Humphries. "But it's a disaster for his team of transport advisers, who appear to be wedded to the concept in the face of unparalleled public hostility."
*Association of British Drivers

Although plans for a national road pricing scheme were put on the back burner following the petition, the government has been twisting the arm of local authorities by offering transport investment in exchange for city based charging schemes.

In Manchester, voters in the 2008 referendum were told there was "no plan B" for transport investment should they reject road pricing plans for the city. Reject them they did, by an overwhelming majority, and within a few months an alternative transport plan has been produced, providing £1.4bn for the tram extension which was supposed to be impossible without road pricing.

In Cambridge, the latest city to pick up the poison chalice, the ABD has slated plans for a congestion charge on the grounds that traffic levels in the city are already in freefall - just as they were in Manchester and in most other British cities.

"When will they get the message that road pricing is not wanted?" said ABD Chairman Brian Gregory. "It's an unfair, regressive tax on necessary car journeys, it harms local businesses and it works against urban renewal programmes by encouraging people to live, work and shop away from city centres."

Road pricing is not necessary, nor is it financially viable - it is part of a political policy designed to penalise drivers and force them off the road, one step at a time. Leader of Birmingham City Council, Mike Whitby, described congestion charging on essential car journeys as 'morally corrupt' at the 2009 Birmingham Transport Summit. Thankfully, the concept is dead and buried in the West Midlands. Surely it is time to abandon it nationally and get back to building a competitive infrastructure for the UK?
How can a country-full of professional transportation people be so wrong in the face of such clear understanding and moral outrage? Road pricing! My word!

One is used to hearing, every time a government increases or adds a tax, cries of gouging and grabbing. But note in the video at the Manchester link above that the politicians came up with part of a new transport package by taxing everyone instead of just motorists. A tax was still raised, albiet smaller and a transport plan was still proposed, though less grand. But this is seen by the congestion-worshippers as a victory, as capitulation, as proof that the politicians "had the money after all".
I'm not especially a fan of politicians, but if I was forced to be one, I would not choose to be one in the UK.


Did LaHood just extend a hint to NYC?

US Federal Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood recently
spoke about Mayor Michael Bloomberg's congestion pricing initiative, which would have charged drivers a fee for coming into parts of Manhattan. The city was slated to receive about $350 million in federal transportation funds to implement the plan, but it was stalled by State Assembly Democrats in Albany. LaHood said the money is still there if lawmakers change their minds. “The money that was going to be provided for that particular project is still at the Department of Transportation,” said LaHood. “If New York got its act together around that kind of opportunity, I think we would look at it.”
This $350M made-on-TV offer was oddly squeezed in after a more current story about airport congestion. Somebody in Manhattan, please start making some serious noise here!

We all know that congestion pricing is not dead in NYC, and we also know that the way it was proposed a couple of years ago was a pretty brutal approach that in some key ways mimicked the London system – a flat-rate cordon that is expensive, inflexible and while effective at first has over six years lost almost all of it absolute benefits. To be cautious, the assumption is that if it had never been installed, London would be even worse-off (relatively and absolutely), but the point is that a blunt, fixed-rate cordon is a brain-dead approach, that I would not even wish on Tehran or Pyongyang.

There is another message, here, that LaHood is giving us. The money that was ear marked for NYC two years back was forfeited after the State legislature voted against it by simply not voting at all (talk about cowardice!). But now LaHood says: “The money … is still at the Department...” Well, not exactly just sitting there in a shoe box waiting for NYC. What is happening, is that LaHood needs to find someone bold enough to start taking the advice of the National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Finance Commission, and start charging mileage-based fees. Mayor Bloomberg is just the man.

So what NYC needs to do is to think about a proper mileage-based scheme, instead of gantry-madness. One that can eventually manage congestion in all five boroughs, with lower rates outside Manhattan. One that would even allow Manhattan to sell gas without a gas-tax to participants in a proper ‘pay-for-use’ system.

There really is a way to abandon the gas-tax. And that technology is ready. And now even the courage that is needed is less than ever…

~~~added next day ~~~
Here is more reaction. First from Streetsblog...and secondly from Streetsblog. Huh, only Streetsblog? is anyone else awake? Oh, here is secondavenuesagas.

Considering the non-response in the press, maybe we are stimulated-out with respect to large sums of money. Or is $350M now just chump change that folks like LaHood just keeps in a wad in his drawer? Alternatively, maybe New Yorkers are so defeated by Albany that LaHood couldn't get a rise out of them. One activist sent me a comment: "
Honestly, I don't think ANYONE in NYC is going to seriously advocate for congestion pricing until something major changes in Albany."

Intelligent Solutions to America’s Transportation Challenges

The Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America) recently forwarded recommendations to Congress re Authorization of the next Transportation Bill.

Here are two key outtakes from those recommendations pertaining to mileage-based user fees:

VMT-Based User Fee Demonstrations
The Smart Towns and Cities would provide ideal locations to conduct real-world demonstrations and operational testing of a vehicle miles traveled (VMT)-based user charge demonstration program.

According to the National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission, a VMT-based system “should be designed to facilitate integration with intelligent transportation systems, such as traveler information systems, and with emerging IT-based safety applications such as vehicle infrastructure integration programs” and “existing vehicle GPS systems.” The Commission further notes that “Pricing technology could be implemented in conjunction with a program such as IntelliDrive(SM)…, which, as envisioned, “will support secure communication between the vehicle and roadside to support mobility, traffic management, and traveler safety.” The Commission concludes that using technological advances to improve how people pay for their use of the transportation system “will enable the delivery of a host of other benefits, including real-time information to vehicle drivers to help reduce congestion, improve safety, and reduce emissions, to transit operators to improve the convenience and reliability of public transit, and to system managers to better monitor and manage the system and improve the allocation of transportation infrastructure resources.”

Congress should provide towns and cities receiving funding under the Smart Towns and City Streets Initiative with incentives to conduct broad-based demonstration programs of mileage-based user fees that could vary by time of day, pricing zone and other factors; be interoperable with other tolling, pricing, and intelligent transportation systems; and accommodate multiple forms of payment including cash, credit and debit cards, the Internet, and other integrated payment systems.
Conducting a VMT User Fee Research, Development and Demonstration Program –
The National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission, in its recently released report, unanimously called for an aggressive research, development and demonstration (RD&D) program to address technical and policy challenges associated with the possible deployment of a VMT-based user fee as a potential financing mechanism for our nation’s transportation system. The Commission recommends that the RD&D program be overseen by a multimodal body within U.S. DOT that combines technology, policy, tax administration, and systems expertise, with the ITS Joint Program Office cited as an example of one such body. The Commission further recommends the creation of an expert independent advisory committee to help review and advise on funding of R&D and pilot programs, to further explore policy issues, and to make specific recommendations to Congress regarding the best option(s), system design, required technology, and implementation plan.

Moving forward on a mileage-based system will require extensive coordination and consensus building among the public and private sectors. ITS America’s membership – which includes a broad cross-section of state and local transportation and planning agencies, university research centers, and industry leaders from automakers and tolling companies to GPS device manufacturers and real-time traffic data providers – provides a unique combination of research, technology, policy, and systems integration expertise that will be critical for advancing an effective mileage-based charging system. In addition, ITS America’s role as a national 501(c)(3) association and former Federal Advisory Committee to the U.S. DOT presents a unique, independent resource for providing research, technology and policy expertise and building consensus across the public and private sectors.

To effectively implement the RD&D program, U.S. DOT should utilize ITS America’s unique expertise and broad-based membership to review and advise on funding of R&D and pilot programs, to further explore policy issues, and to make specific recommendations to Congress regarding the best option(s), system design, required technology, and implementation plan. Furthermore, the U.S. DOT should engage ITS America in conducting a report that would identify:
  • Necessary protocols and systems to accommodate concerns regarding personal privacy;
  • Impacts of such a system on rural drivers who have no choice but to drive long distances;
  • Options related to the method and point of collection of a national VMT fee;
  • Methods to ensure the feasibility of multiple forms of payment;
  • The administrative costs associated with such a national program;
  • Whether it is more logical to transition all vehicles simultaneously or some vehicle classes first as early adopters;
  • How to ensure individuals are not paying both the gas tax and the VMT fee under any phased-in transition approach;
  • Impacts of a voluntary or mandatory use of the system;
  • Whether different systems for different vehicle types will be necessary or appropriate, including pilot programs for automobiles and different classes of trucks;
  • How to provide the positioning accuracy and availability necessary to support state, local, or private charges based on specific areas or lanes traveled; and
  • Other benefits that could be gained through integration of a VMT-based user fee system with other intelligent transportation systems and technologies including IntelliDrive.


How much will Pay As You Go driving cost you?

There is an oft-stated fear that time, distance, place (TDP) road use charging will “price cars off the road”. (The US calls this VMT charging.) Let’s play with some numbers.

Revenue Neutral (see comment #2): The average American motorist pays less than $20 (about $C25 in Canada) per month in fuel taxes. That is $240 per annum or 66 cents per day. 1000 miles per month means about 2 cents per mile as a rough figure. In this scenario you would pay the same amount in a mileage charge instead of a fuel tax.

System costs: This is unrealistic because TDP charging costs a couple percent to operate – assume a 4% credit card level – so expect to pay an extra $0.0008 per mile to stay revenue neutral or $9.60 per year to have the charge collected. We are now at $250 per annum, up from $240. Or up 2.75 cents per day.

But this is also too simplistic, because you are not paying enough to keep the roads up anyway, so…

More Funding needed: To make up the projected $15B annual shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund (shared by 253M vehicles), your share would be an extra $5 per month or ½ cent per mile. So a flat mileage fee that tops up the Highway Trust Fund would mean an average of $.0258 per mile or $310 per year up from $240. An average of $70 difference annually means an extra 20 cents per day per vehicle compared to now – what’s that – the price of a cigarette, right? Do we really want to keep our crowded, crumbling roads, and polluted cities to save 20 cents a day?

And who would not be able to drive their car to work because of 20 cents? So what’s the fuss?

Well, TDP charging means variable rates. Time, distance and place means that more or less will be charged for traveling at more or less congested times or in more or less congested places. So, as an example only, expect that driving in congested times or places would cost you 3 or 4 times more per mile (say 8 to 10 cents* at the top of the scale, up from 2.5 cents) AND driving in less congested places and times would cost less (say, 1.5 cents at the bottom of the scale). So immediately, if you are a rural dweller you would be better off while an urban dweller who takes a car into the city at rushhour could be worse off.
* Yes, Manhattan might go higher. But why are you driving in Manhattan?

But who among us ONLY drives in congested places and at congested times? If you are a suburban driver who drives the same 12,000 miles after charging begins, at the projected average 0.258 cents per mile for 2/3rds of your trips and 10 cents per mile for the other third, your annual road use fees would be $606 instead of $310 or an additional 81 cents per day more than the simple, non-green, miles-traveled, non-variable rate.

The assumption is that a majority of urban drivers will have some choice regarding traveling earlier or later or by different means. More efficient car types will also carry lower TDP per-mile rates. Perhaps the suburban driver will pay more for a long daily commute. Or perhaps that driver will start using light rail where it is available. The key is: the amount of road use charge to be paid for the same miles traveled can be altered by the choices the driver makes rather than how many gallons of gas are used. You will have some choice of cheap miles and expensive miles. That is not possible when paying gas-taxes fixed by volume.

To be realistic, only the drivers who still prefer to drive during rushhour would pay more. For those that wish to do so or the few that literally have no choice, at least their trip will be less congested.

TDP road use charging carries advantages for all of us.


Rising Oberstar

A lot of influential transport leaders understand why moving to a Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) form of road user charging and away from gas taxes is essentially unavoidable. Since this is not understood by the average motorist, few of these leaders speak out about it – fewer still if they depend on votes to keep their job.

One of those rare people, US Representative James Oberstar, D-MN and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman carries the torch for VMT charging in the United States. He recently told White House press secretary Robert Gibbs: “…transportation policy isn’t going to be written in the press room of the White House,” – which I am sure several thousand of us wished we could have said.

The National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Finance Commission (NSTIFC) report “Paying Our Way” and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) call for VMT charging by 2020, and Representative Earl Blumenauer, D-OR, has recommended that pilot programs be included in the upcoming US transportation bill.

But Oberstar asks “Why do we need a pilot program? Why don’t we just phase this in? I'm at a point of impatience with more studies.” He asserted: “There are many suggestions it would take five to 10 years. I think it could be done in far less than that, maybe two years.”

Oberstar warns “if we do nothing … [the highway trust fund] will run $US90B short in six years”. He points out that people spend 40 hours a year in their cars longer than if they could travel at posted speed. “We need to cut that waiting time in half.”

The key social issues he and fellow law-makers grapple with are privacy protection, fair distribution of revenues, and driver equity (there is a fear that rural drivers could be treated unfairly). Oberstar knows “this has to be done in an open deliberative process” and that “it would take years to install the technology on 253M vehicles in America.”

So what’s the difference between Oberstar’s “let’s phase it in” and Blumenauer’s recommendation for pilots? Courage and commitment. Lawmakers know this change is big – ten or more years big. But only Oberstar’s commitment will meet NSTIFC and AASHTO schedules. I thanked Secretary Mary Peters in this column (Feb/Mar 08) for talking straight for the previous administration about the failure of the gas-tax. I applaud Congressman Oberstar, now, for talking straight for this administration.


The Biggest Myth of All

The tendency of many politicians is to see the shift away from gas-tax to road use charging as something so onerous as to be best left to the “next administration” is a common theme. Expedient at best. To assume that it is impossible to make this shift, as an ex-mayor of Toronto did recently is to step over the fact that such a shift it is almost certainly unavoidable – i.e., that rather than impossible it is inevitable (see outtake, below). That is the elephant in the room.

On Thursday 30 April, Steve Paikin's panel on TVO’s Agenda, (filmed live at Toronto’s Munk Centre for International Studies) included:
Paikin’s debate that night was: “Toronto: World Class or Second Class?”

The program included a Post-Show Web Chat to respond to call-in questions. One of the questions was: “Why doesn’t Toronto start charging for driving downtown?”

During the ensuing seven minute response, one was able to learn most of what one needed to know to think intelligently about road use charging. The entire socio-political history (Crombie, Giambrone), the social-urban potential (Giambrone, Murray), the social-urban value (Murray) were outlined. Toronto has never been so well informed or so prepared to have an informed debate, as they were that night.

The heart breaker was Sewell’s unfortunate overstatement that followed such a mature understanding from the prior speakers. He said emphatically that it could never be done. Ever. That it was a dead issue. That three other sitting mayors he interviewed told him so.

Thoughtless consensus like this burned witches not so long ago. Exaggerations like Sewell’s (well known for thinking only in black and white), help hide the truth from Paikin’s viewers.

Sewell’s door-closing diatribe serves only to scare Toronto and its politicians away from grown-up debate. His unnecessary and simplistic comments overshadowed and negated the intelligent comments from Giambrone and Murray, as well he mocked the question that some congestion-oppressed Toronto citizen posed.

To see this seven minute segment, go here: then click Post-Show Web Chat (check you are in the right video by checking length is 25:16). Listen from timemark 16:55

FULL TRANSCRIPT: 7 minute segment of Toronto: World Class or Second Class? TVO Agenda. Steve Paikin - Exclusive Web Chat

Steve Paikin [show host] here’s the next question: “Why doesn’t Toronto start charging a tax or a fee for driving downtown?:

SP: Is that something that you ever considered back in the 70’s?”

David Crombie [Toronto Mayor 1972-78]: “No.”

SP: “Would it have worked today? Other places do it.”

DC: “It might, it certainly… in London they had a good experiment, and I just don’t know how they are doing now. I just don’t know.” The Toronto experience that I had, it was not on as a policy, no. We tried other ways in which to make driving downtown more difficult, we chose not to widen streets even though we were pushed to do so, etc… we tried a number of things, but using a pricing system, no. We put up the cost of parking.”

Adam Giambrone [Toronto Councillor since 2003 and chair of the Toronto Transit Commission]: “There are lots of cities that tried to do so. Singapore, Stockholm, New York tried and got pushed back, they are still trying, and London… you know, we could do it but the traffic situation in the GTA is not just about a downtown. You look at the biggest problems in 20 years from now – it’s not going to be the 416, it’s the 905 so you’ve got to be, there’s no, despite what everyone thinks it’s not going to be able to get much worst on the DVP in the rush hour… what we need is a comprehensive regional road tolls, you need to be able to toll people for going from Richmond Hill to Mississauga… coming downtown. You’ve got to put it that way then everyone is on an equal footing so you are not putting another tax on the downtown regions, because you want economic activity coming downtown and also, it actually addresses where the real problems are, which aren’t just downtown. Now I’m not saying there aren’t problems downtown with traffic, but it addresses the entire region and that’s how you do it and that also brings you enough revenue… just taxing… tolling… people coming downtown doesn’t give you enough revenue to actually invest in real public transit and cycling and walking alternatives that are going to shift the modal split, getting people out of their cars and into other modes.”

SP: “Glen….”

Glen Murray [Winnipeg Mayor, 1998-2004, President of Canadian Urban Institute]: “Two things, one, we talk about innovation Skymeter is a Toronto company and its got a technology solution that I think is very workable, if we have the political courage to implement it and it would get rid of parking ticket enforcement and would save us hundreds of millions of dollars and be able to redirect policing to better things and simply have a scale because you can use a GPS system most people can buy. Most of us buy these things so we don’t get lost anyway and so why not take this made in [Toronto] technology which they’re selling to other cities and do it.”

SP: “What does it do?”

GM: “Basically you have a little monitor, and you can park and move everywhere and you pay for road services based on the amount you use and it’s like instead of putting money in a parking meter or paying parking fines, which God knows if you live in Toronto you’ve… I’ve made very generous contributions through the parking authority, here [laughter]… but it’s also this, it’s and people may say that’s unfair, but think about this, over half the property taxes you pay in most Canadian cities and I would guess given the high dependency that Toronto has unfortunately on property taxes doesn’t go to services to your home it goes to services to your automobile and if you live in high density residential and you don’t own a car then you are paying … more than half of your property taxes are going to support the road, parking and infrastructure of that. Why not go to a little fairer system because one of the differences we could learn from Europeans is that you can afford to live in Madrid even though you pay a lot higher taxes than you do in Toronto overall because you don’t have to pay for an automobile which costs you about 12-14 thousand dollars a year, all in, with what you have to do that… and believe me that improves your disposable income especially for working middle class and lower middle class who have to own a car, when you liberate people who can actually spend more time with their kids in the park and a walk there, so why not show some real leadership. Why not invite the citizens of Toronto and the province into a conversation with the provincial and federal government?”

SP: “We’re going to do it next week, a week tonight were going to do it, transit users, cyclists, drivers, truckers, pedestrians… Sharing The Road – that’s our show a week from tonight.”

GM: “Why don’t we make Toronto’s economy if we’re talking about the great economies, and do the bold and the brave, and make us the new system for better more efficient transportation and traffic management and make us a world leader in it.”

SP: “John Sewell…”

John Sewell [Toronto Mayor 1978-80]: I think the traffic problems in the 905, you put a road toll on the 905, or you suggest it as a politician, you will never be elected, ever, so it’s a dead issue, I wish that wasn’t the case, but I was talking with three Mayors last week in regard to my new book [The Shape of the Suburbs: Understanding Toronto's Sprawl] and every one of them said, if we suggest that we will never get elected we are interested in being in power, and therefore...”

SP: “You don’t begrudge them that do you?”

JS: “No, no, no, and the point is…

DC: “…I thought John might!”

AG: “In Stockholm they had a referendum after they implemented it and people voted to keep it because they saw the effect it had, so I’m not disagreeing with you [John] but on the analysis of the politics of it – that’s the problem – but you know it can happen.”

JS: “I’d love to see some one run in Markham on the basis we’re going to have a road tax, they, you won’t hear from them ever again.” [laughter]

GM: “You don’t start it in Markham, that would be like trying to start Medicare in Alberta today… you try to find soil that you can sow it in… if you look at the success that the Americans had with Home Rule… I really think we should learn something there. They have been more successful there than other Canadian cities have had and that Home Rule structure that gives you a series of options so you don’t have to shove it down people’s throats, and you can have democratic citizen participation.”

AG: “The New York assembly blocked the city of New York which was taking it’s democratic right, you know, the Mayor’s elected by the city, they tried to do it and the state assembly convened and specifically blocked them from doing it, so...”

JS: “It should be very interesting to see whether in the city council of Toronto anybody… a majority… would support a road toll. I suspect that people in Etobicoke, North York, and Scarborough are going to say, ‘we don’t want a road toll.’ ”

DC: “The issue in being cut as a road toll, a tax …you pay your money. If the issue is cut starting with even your program what says how do we share the road …and how do we pay for the road that we’re sharing. You’re now cutting the issue a little bit differently the way in fact as has just been suggested we’re now going to talk about sharing the road, how do we pay for that road what’s the technology that we are using can we export that technology and make money out of doing so that’s a much better way of approaching...”

GM: “We forget one part of this; this is a big revenue generator obviously, right? If you just made this revenue neutral and you give Torontonians a 25 or 30% property tax cut and said you can now, and unlike having to write a tax which you have no choice of, you know have a choice of how much you use your car and where you park. It’s now citizen centered controlled taxation. I now control how much I pay, by how much demand I place and if I use less I don’t have to pay for my neighbour who drives an SUV and if they want to do that then they pay for the privileges which is how we pay for many of our services, but you make it revenue neutral you get the tax and if you don’t just shove this in you start a dialogue and you take two or three years which is what they have done in countries which they have done that and you don’t start it in Markham as brave as my dear friend John is and he’s a very brave guy but, you start it, you give cities the options and then when people start to see a big reduction in their fixed taxes all of a sudden in a savvy group of people like Torontonians who don’t embrace the automobile given how much we subsidize it publicly on top of that right now these days – I wish I was an automobile – you get a better subsidy from the federal government than anyone else does why not explore this as a discussion?”

SP: “You have all done such a good job at promoting for what our show’s going to be next week I’m going to bring the gavel down this is a good place to end. Can I thank you once again: John Sewell, Glen Murray, David Crombie, Adam Giambrone – Great discussion – Happy Birthday Toronto, 175. Good night from the Munk Centre at the University of Toronto.”

Outtake from a recent paper for a US audience, which applies to the Golden Horseshoe, equally:

"We currently pay for our roads with various combinations of fuel taxes, property taxes, sales taxes and spot-tolls associated with specific road segments, tunnels or bridges. In the United States fuel taxes fund less than 50% of the requirement, with individual states varying from that average. Worldwide, this figure may vary, but the trend is the same everywhere – the burden of funding roads, managing congestion and reducing emissions has reaching crisis proportions. The word ‘bankrupt’ has frequently been used to describe the US Highway Trust Fund over the past two years.

"The move toward fuel efficiency, greener energy and even reduced travel in many countries serves to diminish fuel tax revenue, ensuring that every success in transportation efficiency threatens the viability of the infrastructure those vehicles use. To depend on taxation of the energy source we are trying to abandon absolutely threatens our surface transportation networks. With every increase in transportation demand, capital expense and operating expense, fuel-based funding becomes less sustainable. Without stable and sustainable funding, transportation planning is hobbled and once thriving economic jurisdictions choke on mobility demand. This effect is already apparent in most, if not all megaregions of our six populated continents.

"Hence, we are being forced to reestablish a sustainable revenue-base for our road networks. Governments can tax anything they wish. Seeking to minimize political controversy, this may lead to new sales taxes, property taxes, and use of general funds. However, charging for use according to when where and how much is driven opens the door to a powerful demand management tool that can manage productivity-throttling congestion. If we consider vehicle type in a progressive charge calculation we can also speed the change to greener vehicles. Paying for use as detailed in the February 2009 report “Paying Our Way” from the US Congressional National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Finance Commission can be set up as win-win for all stakeholders."