On August 1, Transit NZ and Land Transport NZ were merged into the NZ Transport Authority. The new organisation’s first major publication shows a welcome shift in thinking and an acknowledgment that the age of cheap oil is over. Managing Transport Challenges When Oil Prices Rise contains a model built on the consensus of a number of international models that has oil averaging US$110 a barrel this year, rising to $150 over the next two years before falling back to current levels. It does not predict peak oil and is conservative but, unlike Treasury forecasts, it faces the reality that oil is not returning to the prices of the past cheap oil is over and we need to adapt our transport planning to suit that.
The study finds that even at the average model prices, public transport will provide the best cost-to-benefit ratio. It predicts petrol will hit $2.50-$2.80 in the next five years.
In light of these realities, it recommends a number of actions more public transport, more rail, urban forming to reduce transport needs, more efficient traffic management, and more fuel efficient vehicles, along with parking management and transport pricing to encourage people into public transport. Total private vehicle use would fall despite the growing population.
All up, the study estimates that, without radical action, oil use per person could be reduced 21% from 1000 litres today to 790 litres in 2028. Personally, I doubt there will be that much to go around but it’s good to see the Government seriously looking steps that will make big cuts in oil consumption; it’s a step in the right direction.
And it will make us better off less money spent on oil, less congestion, less pollution, lower oil imports improving the current account deficit, less subsidisation of economically inefficient transport all up that’s projected to be worth $15 billion (present value) over the next 20 years.
Good to see a government agency taking a realistic view of the future and coming is with sensible solutions. Of course, one can’t help but notice how much like the Greens’ transport policy NZTA’s recommendations look. Will Labour have the courage to follow with a similar, ambitious plan to deal with the transport future after cheap oil? And will National ever begin to wake up? Probably now while Maurice Williamson is promising to borrow for more motorways.