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Satellite-Assisted European Road Tolls Next? 288

Posted by simoniker
from the eye-in-the-sky dept.
Roland Piquepaille writes "In 'Pay-as-you-go motoring just around the corner,' the European Space Agency (ESA) says that "road tolls could be made fairer if satellite-assisted distance pricing is implemented." Experiments are currently underway in Ireland, Portugal and Germany, before a possible extension to other countries. Potential benefits of such a road tolling system would be fairer implementation of charging on a 'pay for use' basis. All these experiments are using the US-operated Global Positioning System (GPS). But in 2010, when the system is fully implemented, it will use the Galileo satellite system."
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Satellite-Assisted European Road Tolls Next?

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  • by kramer2718 (598033) on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @09:14PM (#6926859) Homepage
    Could the black box track the satellites inside a Faraday cage?
    • by TWX (665546) on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @09:21PM (#6926902)
      If that's the case, a simple solution would be to fine anyone who does this heavily. It won't actually stop the abuse though, it'll just destroy the lives of the few who get caught.

      A much smarter method, in my opinion, would be to check vehicle mileage of registered vehicles, and tax based on that. Most new cars use a digital odometer that isn't able to be rolled back by a mechanic with a screwdriver, so it would be much more secure to tax on that, and I haven't met too many people willing to tamper with their car's computer. Of course, simply removing the speedometer gear from the transmission and plugging the empty socket would take care of that on a mechanical level, but then the factory speedometer doesn't work either, so that isn't necessarily the greatest solution.

      Any tracking technology that requires devices to be on the user's side can be disabled or circumvented. it's just a matter of making it hard enough and punitive enough to not comply, and easy enough to comply, that people generally comply.
      • There should always be alternatives. I think it's a fair assumption that not everyone wants to be tracked. A higher toll charge should be implemented for those people who do not wish to participate in the toll tracking system.. That way you may pay a little more but you don't have to fear big brother.. or if you are more trusting of the state and or technology it would be cheaper to go that route.

        However as pricing goes I would not be surprised if the "offline" toll would be so stupidly expensive that it w
        • There is an alternative, you can take the bus.

          Driving is not a right, last I checked.
          • Despite my respect for your 5-digit /. ID number (and vaguely mainframe-ish/VMS-ish UID ;-) ), I
            would have to disagree with either the contents of your post or the lack of tags around it...

            I had an impression that "Driving on the public highways" is not a "Right", driving on your own private property OR public property (where it does not violate other laws) is not different from walking/bicycling/rollerblading/swimming/riding a wheelchair/whatever... Am I right?

            Paul B.
      • by zakezuke (229119) on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @09:41PM (#6927028)
        Righto... things like this drive me nuts. There presently already is a cheep and efficent means of taxing cars based on distance they drive. By taxing the fuel it self you have an accurate means of charging for a vehicel's use on the road. Heavier vehicels such as SUVs pay more then a honda driver due to the fact that these vehicels use more fuel per mile.

        Users who wish to by-pass being taxed on the fuel they use can already make the switch to propane, methane, alcohol, hydrogen, and a number of alternatives which i'd argue they deserve a reward if their fuel solution has a postive impact on air quality.

        Users who don't drive as much don't pay as much tax. Users who drive a hell of alot pay a hell of alot.

        Low tech, simple, difficult to circumvent, and already implemented. Who could ask for anything more?

        I imagine that we will always consider toll roads in order to actually pay for specific roads that we can't convience the general public that we all actually benifit from. That's all well and good, but generaly speaking if you want to employ a general use fee for the roads you use, take the freaking fuel and don't bother launching high tech tracking devices. Barcodes and or radio tags would be perfectly dandy to maintain flow and charge a specific use tax for toll roads. If you really want to maintain your privacy, keep a cash only lane open.

        • yeah, but what they really want to do is charge more for certain roads or road types - eg super-mega-freeways will be expensive (but fast and convenient), whereas smaller roads will be slow but cheap.

          You can't do this by taxing fuel.
          • by ergo98 (9391)
            Why should super-mega-freeways cost more to drive on? Given the efficiency of volume, they are likely much less expensive to maintain per km driven than little rural roads.
          • yeah, but what they really want to do is charge more for certain roads or road types - eg super-mega-freeways will be expensive (but fast and convenient), whereas smaller roads will be slow but cheap.

            What they want to do is create a redundent costly beaurocracy on top of an already universialy simple system negating the fact that a country, much like a community, sholdering the burden as a whole makes like easier for everyone.

            Just tax the god damned gas. Fuck creating a seperate tax system that has to
          • yeah, but what they really want to do is charge more for certain roads or road types - eg super-mega-freeways will be expensive (but fast and convenient), whereas smaller roads will be slow but cheap.

            This is already done - speed traps.

          • To paraphrase Strider, "Are you paranoiac? You're not nearly paranoiac enough." It's clear to me that the simple taxation aspect is a trojan horse. What's really happening here is that there will be individual identifying information for tracking vehicles, and therefore individuals, anywhere in Europe. I'm guessing that the uplink (i.e., the part that sends from the car to the tax authorities) will be a real-time UMTS, which means you'll have a continuously updated real time fix on people.

            There will be
        • You don't seem to be familiar with the European situation. The idea about sattelite-based tracing is to make it more expensive to drive during rush-hour then at night, more expensive in city centers then in the country etc. If you take a car in Paris then you are a pretentious twit who deserves to get his socks taxed off. In rural france however, there are many areas where there is no public transport and the car is the only way to move about. In Brussels, we are considering a whole new suburban railway
          • If you take a car in Paris then you are a pretentious twit who deserves to get his socks taxed off.

            Ummmm. gas tax!

            In rural france however, there are many areas where there is no public transport and the car is the only way to move about

            Ummmm, lower rural gas tax.

            Where I live there is a tax on fuel, but boat users can submit their rescripts to get a refund, as boats don't use the roads.

            The idea about sattelite-based tracing is to make it more expensive to drive during rush-hour then at night, more
        • by mgv (198488)
          Righto... things like this drive me nuts. There presently already is a cheep and efficent means of taxing cars based on distance they drive. By taxing the fuel it self you have an accurate means of charging for a vehicel's use on the road. Heavier vehicels such as SUVs pay more then a honda driver due to the fact that these vehicels use more fuel per mile.

          One of the big attractions of tolls is that they allow governments to move road costs off balance sheets.

          If you build a road and pay for it with fuel
      • I drove one car for over a year without a working speedometer/odometer, and I never missed it. I never got a ticket either. (I still get the finger from other drivers as they pass, and now I know I'm doing the speed limit or slightly more, so it is hard to say for sure I was going less than the limit) Not uncommon either, at the time I knew 3 other people in a simielar situation - the joys of college transportation.

        mechanical failure is not uncommon, and you would be surprized how many gadgets you can

    • That's a pretty big risk, for a science officer, it's, uh, not exactly out of the manual, is it?

      I do take my responsibilities as seriously as you, you know. You do your job, and let me do mine, yes?

      (did I mention that Ash is a Goddamn robot?)

      ---

      Yes, I'm sending the DVD back to you soon.
  • cell phones (Score:2, Informative)

    by Fuzzums (250400)
    (little bit OT, but in a way related)

    cellphones are used to track traffic jams. if phones follow a certain path they're likely to be in a car and is the phone stays in a certain zone for longer than t and more phones have the same behaviour it's likely there is a traffic jam.

    this system has shown to be quite accurate.
    • That sounds like an interesting concept. Do you have a link for that?

      Must ... type ... something ... here ... to ... defeat ... lameness ... filter.
  • by StewedSquirrel (574170) on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @09:15PM (#6926864)
    One thing that scares me about these systems is the potential for spying on people.

    As soon as it is mandatory for cars to have transmitting GPS recievers to track their movements on highways, then it will become standard issue in cities and other areas. Call me paranoid, but I don't WANT the government tracking me like that.

    Second, along the same lines, there's the potential that the system could be used to issue things like speeding tickets and other traffic citations. I guess this is another case of the fact that people appreciate the right to BEND the law. There are some toll-systems in place now that give speeding citations if you cover the distance between two toll-booths in too short a time, but as far as I'm aware their deployment is limited.

    Any comments?

    Stewey
    • > I guess this is another case of the fact that
      > people appreciate the right to BEND the law.

      It's not enforcing the law that's the concern, the interest in these systems is to improve revenues, using the laws to justify extortion.

      Issuing speeding tickets is very, very rarely done in the name of safety, which is why they exist to begin with. If you want an example of this, get a speeding ticket sometime and challenge it in court. It's staggeringly simple to get the fine dropped. But of course you hav
      • If it can funnel cash into the hands of the municipality, it WILL be used.

        The nasty thing about technology is that it makes taxing minority groups easier. No, not racial minorities (although it could do that.) I'm talking about the select population that uses X (substitue tobacco, alcohol, computer books, high speed processors, etc.) that when pissed off by a law or politician, is not big enough to threaten that politician's power. Find enough small groups to tax, and you can appear to be benevolent
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @09:30PM (#6926959)
      There are some toll-systems in place now that give speeding citations if you cover the distance between two toll-booths in too short a time

      Who would have thought that the Mean-Value Theorem [wolfram.com] would someday be used to give fines. They don't know WHERE you were speeding, but the theorem is clear, there exists such a point "c". Damn.
    • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @09:33PM (#6926976)
      I agree. I live in Illinois, and we have our IPass system for the tollways. The Tollway Authority logs when and where you pass each booth using this system, and mantains those logs indefinitely. An Authority official was interviewed on the news one evening saying that they would release that information to any authorized government agency (which apparently means anyone that wants to know.) There have already been several subpoenas issued for that information, and it is nowhere near as precise as a GPS-based tracking system would be. Still, people are correctly up in arms about it. Regardless of the desire to bend the law (and you're right about that) the historical truth is very simple: increased governmental monitoring (even with good intentions) invariably leads to reduced civil liberties. They can keep their spyware and I'll keep dropping coins, thank you very much.
    • Insteresting... here in Portugal the highways have at the toll-boot several lanes reserved for "Green Way" subscribers. Basically it's a small device that you put inside your windshield that contains an unique identifier that allows you to enter an exit every highway in the country (not that there are many of them, eh) without stopping to pay. You simply drive trough, it shows the ammount in a digital display and it get's credited in your bank account (I suppose this system is common in every country, so ap
    • One thing that scares me about these systems is the potential for spying on people.

      What scares me is having money fly out of my wallet while I'm driving along happily minding my own business. Why do we need tolls when we have taxes? Since we're going to have tolls for public services, some kind of tax ought to be reduced. (I know the story is about Europe, but the U.S., in which I live, has them too.)

      The government knows it's much easier to impose taxes/tolls/fees if the people don't have to physically

    • As soon as it is mandatory for cars to have transmitting GPS recievers to track their movements on highways, then it will become standard issue in cities and other areas. Call me paranoid, but I don't WANT the government tracking me like that.

      You're definitely right. It baffles me that an ESA press release says that vehicles "will be tracked by satellites". The Galileo system will have a "Search A Rescue" function [esa.int], but this doesn't seem feasible for tracking every EU car. Was it written by some clueless
  • eh? (Score:5, Funny)

    by EMH_Mark3 (305983) on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @09:16PM (#6926873)
    Satellite-Assisted European Road Trolls? ugh, I need to stop reading Slashdot :/
  • Okay... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by c0dedude (587568) on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @09:17PM (#6926885)
    Alright, let's ignore the spying/creepyness aspect for one second. It's just plain obnoxious to tax residents, not buisnesses, but residents, who go one more roadtrips and commute farther. One should know where the tolls are and how much they are instead of just a sattelite odometer tax.
  • Good Idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JahToasted (517101) <[toastafari] [at] [yahoo.com]> on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @09:17PM (#6926886) Homepage
    put up some expensive satellites, give up your privacy, all so you can avoid paying a gas tax. Real Smart.

    Of course we wouldn't want SUV owners pay more per mile than economy car owners do we? That wouldn't be fair!

    • Who says a WORD about "avoid[ing] paying a gas tax"??? No, it's The government hopes to raise 650 million euros a year through the new charges! you will keep the same tax (if not more, because originally you will be told that "we need more $$ to maintain this new great satellite-based infrastructure", and you will never get anything back...

      Paul B.
    • Re:Good Idea (Score:3, Insightful)

      by timeOday (582209)
      Agreed completely! Gas tax is already such an elegant solution to the problem, because the energy from the gas is what wrecks the roads in the first place. Of all the taxes out there, the gas tax seems the most fair!
      • Re:Good Idea (Score:3, Informative)

        by namespan (225296)
        the energy from the gas is what wrecks the roads in the first place.

        It is what wrecks the road. It's transfered via combustion process into mechanical energy and transferred to the road by the vehicle, true, but gasoline is most certainly the primary source of the energy in question.
      • Sometimes the government implement stupid taxes. They don't think about logistics and efficiencies when implementing the taxes. Here, the gas tax makes much more sense then bugging everyone's cars. In Mass. they have an excise tax on cars that is fixed statewide, that one must pay every year, which goes to the city, why not just collect it with the car registration payment, and have the state send the money to the city. They do that in Texas. And those toll roads where people have to be paid $18/hour to col
      • Gas taxes in most of Europe are already amazingly high - prices are typically about $1/liter, i.e. $4/gallon, most of which is tax. They've also got taxes on buying cars - VAT is about 17%, compared to typical US sales taxes on cars of 5-6%.

        The typical argument against this sort of thing in the US is that poor people often drive older cars with worse gas consumption, but that's still no reason for attacking their privacy.

        • OK they pay a lot of taxes in Europe. So now they're gonna pay more taxes to pay for satellites which will monitor traffic to determine how much more taxes people need to pay. All because they don't want to pay more gas taxes.
      • The problem with taxing petrol is, that you pay the tax in the country where you bought the petrol, not where you drive.
        You have to remember that the EU is still a collection of states, which may differ greatly in their tax laws.

        So, technically, you could buy relatively cheap petrol in, say, France, where they have a toll system, and then drive to, for example, Germany and use their highways without toll system.
        (I don't know whether petrol in France is actually cheaper than in Germany or not).
    • This isn't insightful.
      This guys a maroon.

      Another thread already beat me to the punch with this, SUV's already pay higher taxes - they suck down more fuel.

      Personally I think that owners of smaller cars should have to pay larger insurance premiums. People in small cars are more seriously injured in accidents. Someone in an SUV, a vehicle that is already more expensive to own and operate, enjoy the advantage of being less at risk.
      And they are less of a risk as well. SUV's are better built vehicles.
      Taxes a
  • by leviramsey (248057) on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @09:19PM (#6926894) Journal

    ..from current toll-road models?

    For instance, when you get on the Mass Pike (the main line of the Pike, not the extension into Boston), you get a ticket. You turn in the ticket when you get off, and the toll is computed based on how far you travel (a rough formula is distance in miles times approximately 3.5 cents/mile with a minimum toll of 25 cents).

    Barrier toll highways (a la the Garden State) substitute fairly regularly spaced toll booths charging a constant (and higher than the ticket type) rate.

    In both cases, it's charging for the amount of road usage.

    • Well, one thing I didn't see mentioned is how the gross weight of a vehicle would affect the toll paid. One would think that a fully loaded tank truck would cause significantly more wear and tear on the roads than after it had delivered its load, and was empty on the return trip. If the black box only tracks movement, is it fair to assume that the truck will average a weight halfway between when it is empty or full?
    • Actually, the charge is (largely) for collecting the toll. The cost of manual toll collection is quite high.

      Hence, the desire for fully automatic systems. Transponders are clearly a good model for commuters/frequent traffic, but don't work for occasional road users.

      That said, I don't really see the value of GPS to a transponder. If the transponder only has a short range radio, then you don't need GPS. On the other hand, if the transponder has a longer range radio, then privacy goes out the window.

    • Because with the current way, me and my car is not tied to a time/location. I get the ticket, pay the money at the off-ramp, and be on my way. No one knows or cares that it was *me*.

      With the proposed system, there is a permanent record of when and where I (or at least my car) went.
  • black box (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Ed Thomson (704721)
    Under the proposal, all vehicles will carry a 'black box'

    If you manage to remove the black box from your vehicle you can avoid the road tolls.

    How are they going to stop this?

    • Prison.
    • They same way they convince us to actually pay tolls now. Draconian fines and penalties for not paying your half buck. If the punishment is supposed to fit the crime then our Tollway Authority has it all wrong.
    • If your vehicle isn't transmitting, the gate doesn't register you. If you go through anyway, the camera goes off and you get a ticket in the mail (if they're nice) or you hit the barrier/gate/non-retracted STD device (if they're not nice).
  • 2010 will be a little early for my midlife crisis. But I'm very happy to hear that Europe's new satellite system will drive their automotive surveylence system. As long as I'm living in the USA, I'll take a Porsche with a Euro-tracking system over a Corvette with US-GPS.

    I'll be sure to get the Corvette for my European vacations, though. Wouldn't want EuroLand to catch me at full speed...
  • I think that with a little co operation between law enforcement and auto makers that high-speed persuits could be a thing of the past. By having an arrangement where a car's GPS system was also tied to the car's entire electrical system, you could arrange it (I would hope) so that a police officer in persuit of a felon could "remotely" turn off a felon's car --and thus potentially saving thousands of lives as this system is implemented all over the country.

    I think that orwellian implications aside, this co
  • Toll Usage : 56 Euros
    Satelite surcharge : 734 Euros
    Getting a ticket because the sattelite tracked how fast you went : priceless
  • I don't see what this could possibly accomplish that a tax on gasoline couldn't, and without all this useless, expensive and potentially invasive technology to boot.
    • Simple... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by pla (258480) on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @09:39PM (#6927018) Journal
      I don't see what this could possibly accomplish that a tax on gasoline couldn't

      For the simple answer, a tax on fuel rather than miles "unfairly" nails those who chose to destroy our environment (quicker than the rest) by driving big gas-guzzlers.

      Of course, one could counter with the idea that gas-guzzlers also tend to weigh more, causing more damage to the road, thus warranting a higher tax regardless of the environmental impact, but, don't say that too loud around the current US oligarchy...

      Now me, I think we should tax based on total time spent on the road, to penalize grannies out to cause their regular Sunday afternoon traffic-jam. ;-)
  • Tell-tale sign (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PaulBu (473180) on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @09:32PM (#6926972) Homepage
    The government hopes to raise 650 million euros a year through the new charges.

    Even given privacy/personal liberties angle to be completely aside (which I am not ready to do just yet!), the only "fair" way to implement such a system would be if "they" would promise to take less tax on private citizen as a result of that. No, "they" just want to get more bucks to spend on bureocracy... (relating to the old argument "If not for the Govt., you would not have the modern highway system")

    Paul B.

  • BEGIN RANT

    I would like to say that I just can't believe this. Europe is a place where you must pay a tax on your gasoline that is more than the cost of the gasoline itself - that in itself is an insane infringement on our freedoms. The idea that European nations need to collect more taxes and fees is proposterous. However, liberal European politicians never felt that there was a problem with any tax or fee. I predict that within the next decade, the French and German governments will provide a licensin

    • by Anonymous Coward
      How about we look at it this way: I pay TAXES to fund the roads I don't use because I don't own a car and have chosen to use public transport. You COMMUNISTS are trying to make me pay for a service which I don't even use, meanwhile you foul the air I breathe with your toxic fumes.

      I think it is fair and reasonable you should have to pay very high petrol taxes, not that you should give up your privacy. You consume natural resources, tons of funds are spent on building roads and maintaining them and you pollu
      • Of course, roads are a privilidge. What I was saying is that we already have an array of taxes and fees that we are told are meant to pay for the roads. If I don't make sense, consider this:

        Why is it that the government of the United States is able to maintain roads with a much less taxation on road use that their European counterparts. Is it really necessary for European governments to collect much higher taxes on road use to maintain their roads? I think not! It comes down to one thing: tax and sp

  • by whoever57 (658626) on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @09:38PM (#6927010) Journal
    Fuel tax has the dual advantage of discouraging driving and discouraging vehicles that use large amounts of fuel.

    Oh, wait, Europe already does that.... HOW many $/gallon?

    But really, some of the proposals are to tax what were freeways -- yet it is clear better for the environment and safer if people use freeway-style roads instead of local roads.
  • Road Toll? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Nermal6693 (622898)
    In my country, the "road toll" is the number of people who have died (or maybe just been in an accident) due to road accidents in the holidays (eg. Easter road toll of 3). You can imagine how I read the title, satellite-assisted road accidents??

    The only charges we have are occasional ones such as when they built a new expensive bridge across a harbour, you had to pay $1 when you want across. Now that they've regained all the money, you don't have to pay anymore.
    • and the check is in the mail.
      The only charges we have are occasional ones such as when they built a new expensive bridge across a harbour, you had to pay $1 when you want across. Now that they've regained all the money, you don't have to pay anymore.

      In Mass. they were supposed to take the tolls down from the Mass. pike over 20 years ago. The Turnpike Authority kept avoiding that by aking out more loans to extend their life.

  • by John Murdoch (102085) on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @09:45PM (#6927053) Homepage Journal

    You can track vehicle positions. It's much harder to track which roads have been used.
    I've done a bunch of work with GPS-based vehicle tracking systems--and it is entirely feasible to track vehicle positions. However--it is something else entirely to track which roads a given vehicle has used. The problem isn't with GPS--the problem is with the accuracy of map data: sometimes there's a pretty substantial difference between where GPS reports are, and where the actual roadway is supposed to be. (A very common instance of this is service roads--the roads that typically parallel a limited-access highway in urban areas. Is the truck on I-78 or on the adjacent service road?

    This is a ridiculously expensive way to charge tolls.
    This problem has already been solved in the U.S.: you can travel from Massachusetts to Virginia using EZ-Pass [ezpass.com]. And the EZ-Pass system costs lots less to implement. For starters, the on-windshield transponders cost a few bucks; substantially less than even the lowest-cost GPS vehicle locators (which use cellular telephone control channels to report).

    So why dream up such a boondoggle?
    Oh...that's right. Because the Galileo system is just an out-of-this-world waste of money. So the European Space Agency needs to dream up problems for their solution to solve. And the Europeans wonder why their economies are stagnant.

    • So why dream up such a boondoggle?
      Oh...that's right. Because the Galileo system is just an out-of-this-world waste of money.


      LOLx2. I am impressed that the EU has already built the most impessive department of redundancy department in the world.
    • Wow. I was wondering why the heck they'd do that when they already have a working radio-tag toll system in France (similar to the US EZPass, except that you don't need to slow down too much when you pass under the toll booth).

      Then I read your post and I remember the Galileo system.

      Thank you for oiling our thought process, John Murdoch. Where are mod points when you need them?

      Please mod the parent up.

  • by vudufixit (581911)
    Might be this - EVERYTHING you do is monitored and metered. Your speed will be checked in real time. A fine is assessed based perhaps on how much you're exceeded the speed limit, and for how long. Your insurance bill may vary month to month in proportion to our speeding. Your driving habits will be monitored. If you take an excursion to somewhere you usually don't go, you'll be flagged for extra scrutiny. And you'll have to pay a special registration tax if you want to keep driving an older vehicle
  • Did anyone else read the headline "Satellite-Assisted European Road Tolls Next?" and see "European Ninja Trolls" instead?
  • So what we need is to tax road users equitably. Those who drive farther, pay more. Heavier vehicles pay more because they do more damage. Fast drivers pay more because their accidents are likely to have a higher dollar value. Conversely, slow drivers pay less. Light vehicles pay less. Efficient vehicles pay less. We need to do this without adding a huge amount of infrastructure. A robust system that doesn't crash and doesn't accidentally bill the occasional victim a ludicrous amount would be nice. And then
    • But don't we already do that, he said, looking at the receipt for the last tank of gas he bought.

      Compared to the UK, no you don't ;-) It's 3.50UKP a gallon here - that's about $4.25 per US gallon. And given our limited land space and horrendous congestion problems, it should probably be taxed a LOT higher to make other forms of transport halfway competitive, but no British government is going to bite the bullet.

  • Tax Gas, Not Roads (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Erick the Red (684990)
    Since people are already paying a tax on their gas usage, they shouldn't have to pay tolls. Governments argue that the roads need to be payed for, but roads are such a help to the economy that the cost should be the responsibility of ALL taxpayers, not just the ones that use them. Think of the last ten things you've bought and try to guess how many of them did NOT use a highway or freeway to get to the store. Roads are the backbone of any nation.
  • They could charge more when they know you travel more miles than average.
  • by aSiTiC (519647) on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @10:30PM (#6927282) Homepage
    ``Galileo will deliver real-time positioning accuracy down to the metre range, which is unprecedented for a publicly available system.''

    The current US-operated GPS system only allows this type of accuracy for military purposes. I feel it is a little irresponsible to give civilians (including criminals and terrorists) access to such accurate targeting systems. Maybe ESA wants to have a marketable advantage over GPS but it may go to far IMO.

    I'm not trolling for replies concerning irresponsible military uses, that is another topic...

    • "The current US-operated GPS system only allows this type of accuracy for military purposes. I feel it is a little irresponsible to give civilians (including criminals and terrorists) access to such accurate targeting systems."

      A pair of blunt scissors is all you need to open most things. I feel it is a little irresponsible to give civilians (including criminals and terrorists) access to box cutters (as was used by the terrorists two years ago). Sheesh.

  • by theycallmeB (606963) on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @10:38PM (#6927325)
    Specifically, the Oregon legislature, in its infinite lack of wisdom, proposed replacing the current gas tax with a GPS based system that would track the total number of miles you drive regardless of road type (Previous Slashdot Article) [slashdot.org]. The GPS receiver/controller would be mounted on the car and would report the number of miles driven to a receiver built into the gas station so the road tax could be added to your total. They thought this would be better received than an increase in the gas tax.

    And they were wrong. Even those not concerned about obvious privacy issues objected to the costs of the GPS unit, costs of upgrading gas stations, getting billed for travel on private roads and the fact that it penalizes onwers of fuel efficient vehicles by charging a flat rate. That and refitting older vehicles. And billing out-of-state drivers. The list of problems was endless, the benefits were few to none. The backlash was noteworthy and I have not see much more about it since it was first proposed; with luck the legislative will realize just how bad of an idea it was and drop it forever.

    Oh, in case some think I am an anti-tax nutcase, I support reasonable increases in gas taxes and vehicle registration fees to pay for the massive road network I enjoy so much. Tollways, however, annoy me to no end.
  • by acidrain69 (632468) on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @10:47PM (#6927357) Journal
    because there is no way my 1 ton Nissan does as much damage to the road as a 3 ton Hummer. They better get taxed more. Yeah, I know it says europe, not the US, and most of europe drives smaller cars. I'm just saying WHEN the stupid politicians in the US get ahold of this, they do it fairly. I don't know why they don't just apply it to gasoline. Bigger cars that do more road damage use more gasoline. It's that simple. You reward the smaller more efficient cars, especially the hybrids. But the US wouldn't be interested in that....
  • by Pig Hogger (10379) <pig.hogger@gmaCOWil.com minus herbivore> on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @10:47PM (#6927360) Journal
    Charging by distance travelled on roads is just plain STUPID. It may look like it's being fair, but in reality, it is not.

    Why would one want to charge people for travelling on roads? To pay for upkeep and maintenance.

    Well, why don't you charge more to those who destroy the road the most?

    And what does make one destroy the road more than the next guy? WEIGHT.

    Weight. The heavier you are, the more you destroy the road.

    So you have to get heavier vehicles to pay more for the road.

    Now, what correlates nicely with vehicle weight?

    PETROL CONSUMPTION. That's right. The heavier you are, the more petrol you need just to move about.

    And, guess what? Petrol is taxed. Yes! There is actually a (gasp!) tax on petrol!!!

    So, the more petrol you take, the more tax you pay.

    And, better yet, you pay the tax wherever you travel. No need for toll booths, no need for fancy schmanzy technology.

    Plain simple good old-fashioned accounting will do it.

    Want more money for the roads? Want it to be collected fairly?

    Just increase the petrol tax.

    • Of course in the UK petrol and road tax (only a few tolls, mainly bridges, at the moment), raise 30bn/year. 5bn is spent on roads.

      The problem (especially in the UK), with a lack of road tolls, are french lorrys filling up in calais (80cents/litre instead of 1.20 per litre), driving on british roads, then goign back to calais without stopping for petrol - large tanks means 500 mile trips are easilly possible. They dont pay the fixed Vehicle Excise Duty either, so while UK lorrys have to pay lots of tax, the
    • Well, yes. But you are missing the point.

      With this GPS scheme you can do differentiated pricing. You can make certain roads on a certain time more expensive in an effort to steer traffic.
    • Uh...

      Weight TIMES Distance, not just Weight.
    • Everybody is using German roads in central Europe to go from A to B, but hardly anyone buys their gas there. So the taxes go God knows where, but Germany gets nothing.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @10:50PM (#6927375)
    First, I live in Germany, where a toll is to be collected for vehicles over 3.5t from November on. There are heavy problems with the collection system, which is based on a combination of terminals located along all highways or (depending on the taste of the vehicles owner) 'black boxes' that automatically get the toll from your bank account, measuring your road usage by GPS and transmitting the data by GSM nets. While with the black box solution it is possible to track you down and even make up motion profiles of your vehicle, the first way to pay the toll is completely anonymous, you just buy a ticket like for a bus or subway.
    The other error is about Galileo. ESA says much about technical advantages and improved accuracy, but the most important reason for Galileo is beeing independent from the US (GPS) or Russia (GLONASS), because both have the possibillity to switch off their systems or at least disrupt accuracy in times of conflict, which is unbearable for applications like "location based services" in mobile communication (like ordering a taxi to your exact location, calling for help or only let your phone show you the way to next pub ;)
  • by rediguana (104664) on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @11:04PM (#6927477)
    I really can't decide which is worse. GPS or RFID? I used to think that we had pretty rational politicians in NZ - until I read this recently.

    Motorists face travel tax and 'Big Brother' microchip law enforcement [stuff.co.nz]

    Motorists face being taxed on how far they travel under government plans to generate cash. Transport Minister Paul Swain said with vehicles becoming more fuel efficient, revenue from petrol tax would drop and alternative charges needed to be considered. It is one of a number of transport schemes being looked at by officials, including a Big Brother-style project to equip every car with a personalised microchip so law-breaking motorists can be prosecuted by computer.

    If fuel economy is the problem, then the simple and cheap solution is to raise the petrol tax a suitable proportion. It does not require extra costs to create the infrastructure to deal with the increased fuel efficiency issue.

    That argument alone should be enough to show that this is not about efficiency and tax, but something else. I'm guessing that something else is that they really would like to invade citizens privacy. Of course if they can automate mindless policing functions, such as vehicle registrations, parking fines, speeding; then that frees up a police force to focus on real crime. Here in NZ police have quotas for speeding fines that they have to meet!

    I think these proposals must be looked at in the broader context of what the technological change will mean for society. There are some benefits such as more efficient policing, but the potential privacy costs are huge, and I would suggest that not everyone will agree with that.
  • by LINM (255706) <mbego00@[ ].columbia.edu ['gsb' in gap]> on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @11:18PM (#6927546) Homepage
    You apply accurate positioning over time and you get:
    VELOCITY!!!

    I can just see phase II involving "speeding ticket as you go without even incurring the inconvenience of pulling you over". And no bothersome checks, they can just deduct the fine from your account. How nice!

    In phase III they can watch for cars leaving bars at 3AM. Of course if those cars speed, they'll get pulled over in person. That is until the in-car breathalizers are installed to see if your are drunk and then auto-drive kicks in and drives you to jail. Of course that would be after your sentence is determined via an online forum on the way there.

    Think I'll throw out my bread machine and stick with coin toll booths.
    • until the in-car breathalizers are installed to see if your are drunk and then auto-drive kicks in and drives you to jail.

      If the 'auto-drive' is good enough to drive you to jail, it's good enough to drive you home. You won't need to drive at all. Get as toasted as you want.
  • I'm right on that? Right? Right!? Who the hell am I kidding, they'll only go up and you know I'm right on that. It's going to be triple dipping, fuel/tire/ect, road(via county/country/city taxes), and then GPS based.

    Get ready for pillaging of a lifetime! That 6ft(2m for our euro friends) reamer has your name on it!

  • In the SF Bay Area, we've been using the Fast Trak system for a while. These are wireless transponders that allows you to drive through toll booths for the bridges around the bay without having to stop to pay. The transponder identifies your car as you pass through, and they just bill your credit card.

    They recently expanded this program by embedding sensors around various highways. The sensors track people with the Fastrak transponders as they drive by. What they use this for is for tracking how fast peopl
  • Satellite-assisted European road trolls. Would that be a satellite system that would guide trolls to the underside of the nearest abandoned bridge? Maybe let them know where the nearest unattended goats are? Hmmmm? ;P (Please someone rate this funny. I need the points)
  • I fail to see how this is more fair than a fuel tax.

    With a fuel tax, efficiency and conservation is encouraged.

    With a fuel tax, the further you go, the more fuel you buy, the more tax you pay. How is this different than satellite tracking, other than the missing big-brother aspect?

    With a fuel tax, if your vehicle puts more weight on the road, you use more fuel to move it, and pay more tax.

    The only use I can see is to tax more for use of certain roads, but even that can be handled without tracking your
  • There has been a lot of comments on exactly how stupid this system is, because you could just tax fuel or have ordinary toll booths...
    But destroying the roads isn't the point, it's about supporting public transportation in cities whith too many cars.

    of course you could raise the tax on gasoline, but that would hit people in rural areas just as hard as (or harder than) people congesting traffic in the major cities.

    although I see the privacy issues, fact is that public transportation IS better suited for ci
  • 1) Buy a bike.
    2) Ride a bike.
    3) ???
    4) Don't pay tolls.

    It's pretty simple :)

    (And for those who argue that this isn't a practical solution, it is for me, at least -- I live in Saskatchewan, Canada, and save about $20-50 per month on gas/bus fees and vehicle registration. My bike was $200. You do the math.)
  • by sllim (95682) <achance AT earthlink DOT net> on Thursday September 11, 2003 @04:04AM (#6928717)
    Nothing irks me more then automated ticketing machines, wether it be red light traps or speed traps they are bad, bad, bad, bad and bad.

    But if the governement has enough information to say that I did $32 worth of traveling last month then they also have the information they need to mail me speeding tickets.

    Evil.

    It isn't speeding tickets I am against.
    On the contrary, a smart and well run police department does an enormous public safety service by running traps.

    You post a cop car on a busy and fast stretch of road and you make a point.
    People like me slow down and do a reality check.
    Others get written tickets.
    It slows traffic to a reasonable level.

    But automated speed traps, what public safety mechanism do they serve?
    I have never gotten one of those tickets. But I can only imagine what it is like. How long does it take for them to issue it to you?
    Do you even remember the stretch of road where it occured?
    Does the automated speed trap actually affect the speed of the traffic?

    While I am for using police and governemnt to enforce laws I am against using the police as a pure revenue mechanism.

    Anyone that allows a GPS tolled road is not very far away from automated GPS ticketing.

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