Why e-tolling will fail - Outa

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IOL mot mar3 etolling Independent Newspapers File photo: Ian Landsberg

Johannesburg - The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) has published a research report, explaining in eight points why e-tolling will fail in Gauteng.

The 15 000-word research report, titled “E-tolling at an impasse, transcending the mess in Gauteng”, was placed on the organisation’s website last week.

The organisation said it had sent the report to Transport Minister Dipuo Peters and MP Ruth Bhengu, chair of the parliamentary portfolio committee on transport.

Outa said it was hoping the report would urge them to respond “with political courage to honour the civil courage shown by some 70 percent of Gauteng motorist who have refused to buy e-tags because of the lack of transparency over the e-tolling decision”.

Outa chairman Wayne Duvenage, who co-authored the report with consultant John Clarke, said the e-toll saga had the potential to become a far greater scandal than anything else burdening the administration.

He said a preliminary study by University of Pretoria academics Ms E Hommes and Dr M Holmner, titled “Intelligent Transport Systems: privacy, security and societal considerations within the Gauteng case study”, had inspired the report.

The report cited eight points the Pretoria academics believed an intelligent user-pays, open-road tolling system needed to be successful.

These were “strong advocates and public support; weak opposition; a single agency overseeing the project; a good public transportation system; simple and affordable pricing systems using proven technology; environmental monitoring and protection; and comfort factors that create confidence among users”.

The report found that Gauteng’s e-tolling system failed on every point.

“With the Gauteng e-tolling system now nearing its fourth month of operation, the focus has shifted from whether or not e-tolling has been proved lawful to whether or not it is proving itself viable.”

The research also looked at similar systems all over the world, and researched, particularly, what was done to make them either successful or not.

Those that had a workable system were: the London inner-city congestion charge of 2003; the Stockholm congestion-charge system of 2011; and the Singapore road-pricing scheme in 1975.

In all these cities, the report said, there was a well-developed and reliable public transport system; the purpose was to reduce congestion; revenues were used to improve public transport; public engagement was thorough; and there was strong, transparent leadership.

Cities in which there were problems with the system were Greater Manchester, which failed due to negative public perception, and Edinburgh, which saw 75 percent of citizens reject the proposal. In Hong Kong, the system was rejected twice due to pricing and road users objecting to taxis not having to pay.

Other failed cases included Portugal, where 19 percent of road users were not paying their tolls, and Australia, where many highway projects had gone into administration because, in some cases, actual traffic usage was less than expected.

In California, the roads were deeply in debt, with recent reviews raising concerns about toll road sustainability, the cost to taxpayers and an ability to relieve traffic.

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