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More toll Road Torture

10.21.2005

I posted recently on the extraordinary endeavour undertaken by the Autralian government to get itself into a messy private toll road problem that doesnt really fix anything. Its an interesting case to bear in mind as we consider what to do with the next phase of motorway expansion that is due to come about.
Well fresh news from Australia on the continuing saga of a Harbour Tunnel that isnt really working out, from a variety of bad planning and lack of usefulness, should give cause for pause and reflection on the lessons learned from our endeavour with NTR and the West Link. The Aussie government is worried about the fact that noone is using the tunnel, instead opting for 'rat runs' and other means around the city. In the deeds for the contract, it is stipulated that certain roads must be closed and restructured in order to feed traffic toward the tunnell. Should none take up the tunnel, they simply have to shut more streets.
That said, like all these things, the public would prefer the opposite, opening up more streets and facilitating freeer movement of traffic. If that took place it looks like the operator has the government over a barrell, in the deed they would have to compensate (to the tune of $100 million a year) for lost profits. That is one dodgy contract, nearly as insane as the one to build and operate the West Link and the PPP in London's tube.
Its a lesson I am likely to keep highlighting as the government goes all doe-eyed at the concept of 'private, competetive, efficient etc etc' tolled motorways. Money could be better spent doing it ourselves and spending more on public transport.
RR

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