More surveillance, more cameras and more cash extraction
Autocar this week revealed the extent to which road use will in the near future be charged for, and controlled by cameras. London mayor Ken Livingstone said that Transport for London (TfL) is testing electronic road-charging technology that could be rolled out nationwide. This could happen in under four years, said Livingstone.
Autocar also reports that it has discovered documentation suggesting that radio technology dubbed DSRC (dedicated short range communications) , will be implemented in London first. By February 2009, it will replace the inaccurate ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) system -- see link below for PistonHeads' ANPR report.
DSRC implementation will involve installing tag readers using the 5.9GHz radio band at motorway entrances and exits. The driver gets charged directly from his or her bank account when the reader detects a tag. The reading will be backed up by an ANPR camera (pic) photo of the number plate. If you don't have a tag, the ANPR sends you a photo with a bill for the fine.
Autocar's reports goes to say that drivers will, initially at least, probably be charged a fixed fee only for using the most congested motorways -- which is simpler than using the system being rolled out in Germany that deploys satellite tracking. The system is even being tested as you read this, somewhere in London. Contracts for the system will be placed in August next year, and the system will be phased in gradually.
Presentations prepared by the EU also suggest that systems such as this could soon be rolled out across the continent with EU blessing, if not backing.
As an article published last June in The Economist points out, the driver is primarily financial. The recent growth of road tolling across Europe is happening because governments now face a double problem, according to Jack Opiola of Hyder Consulting, a tolls expert who is currently helping the British, Australian and New Zealand governments to design schemes for lorries.
The Economist continues: "First, the fiscal fountain of revenues from petrol taxes has begun to dry up: although there are ever more cars driving ever more miles, tax revenues have not held up because of ever more efficient vehicles—a trend likely to continue as electric and hybrid cars become more widespread.
"This is bad News
for finance ministers, but their colleagues in transport departments are also feeling the heat. Building more roads is becoming more difficult and more expensive, due to environmental concerns and the increasing prices of land, materials and labour. So governments have no choice but to start managing demand more directly."
Think the surveillance society is bad now? Pack your bags or put up with it...