[nycbug-talk] Cogent and Sprint - a signal of things getting Oldschool?

Miles Nordin carton at Ivy.NET
Sat Nov 1 16:40:30 EDT 2008

>>>>> "ap" == Alex Pilosov <alex at pilosoft.com> writes:

    ap> (As you might now, many toll roads are now built and operated
    ap> by commercial enterprises).

I used to work for a toll road IT contractor.  First, most east coast
toll roads are public, operated by ``authorities'' which create the
jobs elected officials hand out to repay favors.  This is something
Bloomberg's complained about because the ``authorities'' are less
manageable and accountable than other parts of the government.

Second, even if private, the road/bridge will be built by the same
private contractors whether it's a free public road or a tolled
privately-owned road.  And whether public or private they come with a
medoicre non-agile maintenance workforce attached to the road
owners---limited capability, lot of mostly-idle, well-painted, washed,
pristine-looking machinery, existing mostly to give the owners control
over what they own, not to do significant construction or repair which
is usually contracted out.  It's arguably better to have a smaller
number of different road owners so you end up with only one such

Private roads are a financial instrument.  They're used for raising
capital outside the normal government bond market.  It works in one of
two ways:

 * government leases an existing road/bridge for 99 years in exchange
   for a big up-front payment: the usual privatization game through
   which third-world governments have been disenfranchised by global

 * government negotiates with a private investment bank to get the
   capital for building the bridge.  tolls from the road concession
   pay the interest on the loan, and the terms of the government's
   concession secure the loan.

These particular Ozzies have their fingers in a lot of pies:


Toll roads are almost neglidgibly about ``maintenance.''  They're
about getting loans to finance government deficit spending in the most
savvy way possible, cost-wise or politics-wise.

I think in general they are stupid when used this way because their
main function seems to be to throw sand into the process of trying to
honestly debate tax policy.  but I like tolls used for traffic
management, especially the highly-agile GPS/GPRS-based toll system the
Germans use for truck traffic.  This sort of toll openly has nothing
to do with maintenance or raising capital---charging the toll is the
ends in itself.
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