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North East Link

The North-East Link Project in Melbourne seeks to connect the Western Distributor with the Eastern Freeway. There is much to this project – including a widening of the already-jammed Eastern Freeway – but the biggest feature of this project is its cost. Namely, $16.5b. Some claim the price could go as high as $21b. […]

Again & again on congestion pricing

This Age journalist complains about the $18 cost of his son’s cross town journeys to visit his girlfriend. His diagnosis of the problem is, however, wrong. The costs of using CityLink in Melbourne are based on guaranteeing a secure profit for Transurban. The objective is cost-recovery with a margin. The more sensible reason for road […]

A case for increasing (or at least indexing) the petrol excise

There never was any strong reason for John Howard pegging the petrol excise at 38 cents per litre and plenty of sound reasons for at least indexing it with respect to inflation. The tax provides a rough (and admittedly imperfect) tax on congestion and fuel-induced air pollution and provides quite a reasonable application of the […]

Pricing heavy vehicle use

I’ll give a plus to Tony Abbott if he seriously pursues the suggestion of charging heavy trucks for the damage they do to roads by using GPS technology that measures the mass of the truck, the distance it travels and the roads it travels on. There are transaction cost issues here but this “telematic” technology […]

Vale Paul Mees 1961-2013

I was out of the country when it happened but belatedly now want to express my sadness of the passing of Paul Mees. Paul and I did not see eye-to-eye on some transport issues (e.g. congestion pricing) but I strongly supported his endorsement of the key role of public transport. He had a far more […]

Victorian taxi reforms

I have often discussed the taxi industry on this blog and have not disguised my links with the Victorian Taxi Association, the VTA. My general attitude is that I think the industry does need to be reformed and that most of the proposals in the Fels review were sound – the proposal to cut the […]

High speed rail on Australia’s east coast

About half of Australia’s population live in the east coast cities of Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne – it is well more than half if people living at points adjacent to this corridor are included. The most recent proposal for a high speed rail (HSR) link has been predictably debunked by government officials and the […]

Cabcharge charging a rort

Taxis are an important part of our urban transport system. The recent inquiries in NSW and Victoria show they are among the least efficiently managed industries in our community. The issue of reforming them is difficult because of the evident need to compensate those who have paid huge amounts for licences with any deregulation. But […]

Taxi licences

I gave a talk to (in the main) taxi licence holders at the Dallas Brookes Hall this afternoon. It drew on my recent blog post – indeed I was introduced as the author of then post. It was a tricky situation for me as I do support reform of the taxi industry but I am […]

Victorian taxi market reforms

I attended a meeting today on proposed reforms for the Victorian taxi industry prepared by former ACCC guru Allen Fels with a major input by David Cousins. Opening the PDF version of the Fels Draft Report (here) at least gives you a helpful contents page to what is a long document. There is an executive […]

Reforming car insurance

We know that as a rule the probability of a car accident increases with the distance you drive – for some background on these costs see here. There are also of course personal factors – young hormonal males, for example, are more accident prone. A useful efficiency-based reform that has appeared in insurance markets is […]

Curious traffic accidents

There are more traffic accident fatalities in the US (both motorist and pedestrian) on April 15 – the final day that US citizens have to complete their tax returns. Frustration? Angst? Increased nervous tension? Should this be added to other deadweight losses to work out the true cost of a tax?

HT Ricardo


Road transport issues in urban Australia

I’ll talk on local road transport issues tonight in Heidelberg, Melbourne to the Friends of Banyule. It is a public meeting so anyone is welcome. Details at the link.

Notes for the talk are given over the fold.


Qantas to fight trade union reactionaries

Allan Joyce’s move to ground the entire Qantas fleet today was an inevitable attempt to break the backs of trade unionist reactionaries. As a Qantas shareholder I am dismayed at the current outcome but, as Qantas has not paid dividends for a couple of years, I support attempts to force the airline to gain competitiveness […]

Priorities for Reforming Taxes in the Road Transport Sector

Australia is a geographically large country with a dispersed though highly urbanised population. This creates intrinsically difficult – ‘tyranny of distance’ – transportation issues. Australia relies heavily on trucking as a means of transporting raw materials to population centres and ports but also experiences significant congestion in its capital cities. Traffic accident […]

Invitation to Tax Summit

I always think it crass of people to ask to get invited to a party. In my life I have not received invitations on more than a few occasions so that generally, these days, I am miffed only momentarily. But I was crass enough* to seek an invitation to the Government’s October Tax Summit and, […]

Costs of vehicle-induced air pollution

When I worked on transport sector externality issues recently I became aware of the issue of the impact of air pollution from vehicles on human health. Concern with this issue has subsided a lot over recent years because of improved emissions performance by vehicles. Most attention gets focused on traffic congestion issues and road accident […]

Peak load train pricing

I had a business breakfast in Melbourne city this morning and was rewarded with a free train trip to the city with the ‘early bird’ fare arrangements on offer. This provides free travel if you leave early and arrive in Melbourne city before 7-00am. Apart from saving a few dollars it gave me a pleasant […]

Beijing traffic planning revisited

I wrote a brief note earlier this year on how Beijing should resolve its traffic problems. The interesting news over the past few days is that the Beijing administration has announced a whole set of anti-traffic congestion policies. The Vice-Mayor of Beijing in charge of traffic ‘resigned’ the day the measures were introduced and is […]

Qantas & China

Can anyone explain to me why Qantas operates only a single daily flight to China, namely to Shanghai? Why don’t they operate direct flights to cities such as Beijing? China is Australia’s fourth largest source of tourists – in 2009 366,000 tourists came from China – and many Australians are now visiting Chinas for business […]