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 |  May 31 2011, 9:41 AM

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, wants the U.S. embassy to cover the costs the president’s motorcade has racked up driving through the city’s downtown core. The U.K. capital has special traffic congestion fines for vehicles caught on the roads without the proper permission, and Obama’s limo (aka “The Beast”) falls in the group, as do the rest of the vehicles in his motorcade.

In addition to these fines, Johnson wants the U.S. embassy to pay up on past fines of this sort, which now total the astronomical sum of $8.7 million.

The U.S embassy claims it is immune to paying the charge because it is technically a tax, which should be reserved for UK residents alone. The mayor spoke to the President during a state banquet at Buckingham Palace explaining that the Presidential fleet would not be receiving special treatment.

“The presidential motorcade is subject to the congestion charge,” said a London transport official in a statement. “Any vehicle, regardless of where it is registered, which is identified within the congestion charging zone during the hours of operation without a valid charge, discount or exemption may be subject to a penalty.”

The U.S. Embassy remains insistent it will not pay the fines, including the fee for ‘The Beast’ and the rest of the President’s motorcade.

[Source: Daily Mail]

 |  Jul 21 2010, 5:25 PM

New proposals like a London-style “congestion charge” and highway tolls for special lanes that would move faster are being floated both in Canada and the United States, as major cities grapple with traffic problems and infrastructure that wasn’t meant to deal with an increasing number of cars.

An article in the Chicago Tribune details how a government-sponsored panel concluded that new strategies, involving tolls on key expressways, involving fees on certain lanes during peak demand periods, may be necessary to discourage cars from driving into the city, and collect revenue from drivers willing to pay a premium to for the privilege of driving.

Minneapolis and Orange County, California have both implemented similar schemes, while Toronto, Canada’s largest city, with a population of 5.6 million people is also debating the whether to enact road tolls to discourage drivers in the downtown core.

The key element in all of this is public transit. Toronto has a fairly comprehensive system, that is expensive and fault, but the choice of many due to convenience, and the high costs of owning a car. London’s charge is similarly successful, by making those who can afford it pay the charge, while most people who wouldn’t have driven previously continue to take the subway.

[Source: Chicago Tribune]