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Better roads rather than fighting to maintain them against trucks.

Written By: - Date published: 9:13 am, October 25th, 2017 - 46 comments
Categories: Economy, public transport, transport - Tags: , , , , , , ,

For me, the vivid image of pigs rooting around in a trough of food is the image that comes to mind every time I hear the powerful trucking lobby group speak. Their ex-Act MP head put out a press statement yesterday, as reported by Politik’s PolitikTODAY news letter.

TRUCKIES OBJECT TO GREEN TRANSPORT PLANS
The Confidence and Supply Agreement between Labour and the Greens directly threaten the integrity of the National Land Transport Fund, says Road Transport Forum Chief Executive Ken Shirley.

“Prioritising use of the NLTF towards rail infrastructure, cycling and walking shows contempt for the user-pays integrity of the fund,” says Shirley.

The National Land Transport Fund is currently ring-fenced for roading projects and paid for by road users through petrol excise and road user charges.

Now I happen to agree with Ken Shirley on this. Truckers are woefully undercharged for the costs that they bring to the roading network. They should be charged a lot more and to not be subsidised by other road users in buses, cars and motorcycles.

Now the arguments about the costs of high axle weights on the maintenance costs of the roading network are well known. For a brief overview see here, here, and here. Essentially every loaded truck causes the damage of several buses (even fully loaded with passengers) and way more than cars or motorcycles. As the Greater Auckland site says when talking about the 2010 decision to increase truck weights

The economics of this issue are quite interesting really. The damage done to roads is not directly equivalent to the extra weight of a vehicle on it, but rather equates to what is known as the “Fourth Power Rule“. As the weight on the road from each axle of a truck increases, the amount of damage done to the road increases by the fourth power. This means that a 20% increase in axle weight results in more than double the road damage.

53 tonne trucks may well have more axles than 44 tonne trucks, but if they didn’t my calculation is that they would do roughly double the road damage. It appears somewhat unlikely that these heavier trucks will have to pay twice the road-user charge than the current 44 tonne trucks. If they do pay twice the amount, then I wouldn’t nearly have as much of an issue with this change.

This means that roads that are designed to withstand several decades of heavy car or bus use get far far more damaged by heavy use by trucks.

That is one of the primary reasons to increase rail transport. It gets trucks off the state highways and massively reduces the amount of maintenance on them. Because railways are so much more efficient at transporting large weights of goods for long distance, both in direct costs and in maintenance costs, effectively every dollar spent on making the rail network effective at long distance transport reduces costs of maintaining roading networks by far more.

By how much? Curiously I haven’t been able to find the NZTA or the NZTF doing any research into this.

Even so, the most extreme case of damage is on our extensive rural roading network. For instance if you look at the loadings and damage in this paper for the Road Controlling Authorities, you get an idea on exactly how expensive that the increasing use by trucks on those roads has been. When you travel on rural roads you tend to find a lot of trucks servicing rural industries, and you find a lot of damaged roads.

But truck drivers and their customers currently don’t fully pay for their road maintenance costs. Essentially the car users pay for it, tax payers pay for it, and rate payers pay for it. My rough estimates based on the known axle weights and travel indicate that trucks are paying less than half of the costs that they should be paying in road user charges.

 

“Unless Labour and the Greens have plans to start making rail users and cyclists contribute to the fund then this deal is a real kick in the teeth to motorists and the road transport industry.”

“The reason why trucking operators accept the high level of road user charges is due to the direct relationship the fund has to the provision and maintenance of our roading network. Using it as a slush fund to pay for other transport modes will breed a high level of resentment.”

In the urban environs, increasing the numbers of people taking public transport, cycling and walking reduces the number of people driving. That reduces the maintenance expenses of urban roads (even if bussing), reduces climate change gases that we have to pay for, and is probably healthier.

I’m waiting for an e-bike to arrive myself for the commute to work. The only reason that this is feasible in the bike unfriendly Auckland traffic is because there is now a cycleway for almost the entire route.

I take umbrage at the complete and utter gall of the self-interested fuckwit Ken Shirley trying to say that I haven’t paid for that cycleway. I have been paying for safer roads for my entire adult life. Safer roads simply hasn’t happened. It has steadily been getting worse.

In Auckland I used to be able to ride to school safely as a child – something that few are now able to do.

Around Auckland and across the country I travel less and less on roads. That is largely because there a queues of traffic and road works everywhere.

The cause of the latter can be fastened directly on the truck drivers. They should pay more for the damage they do and the costs that they impose on the roading network. We are paying for their selfish concentration on their own interests, especially against economically logical competition from rail.

Because of this powerful lobby of self-interested pigs snuffling in the trough of the road transport fund that Ken Shirley fronts. Their missing contributions for road maintenance means that there is less money available to put in the new roads, update old ones, build public transport networks, create cycleways and walkways that reduce congestion, increase user safety, and decrease greenhouse gas emissions.

Truckers don’t own the roadways. We do. If Ken Shirley wants a stricter adherence to user pays, then he should start with his trucking members.

46 comments on “Better roads rather than fighting to maintain them against trucks. ”

  1. red-blooded 1

    Self-interested groups can bleat all they like. A move to a more efficient, less polluting and less congesting way to move freight around is long overdue. I felt the same when I heard the Fed Farmers’ Chair on RNZ this morning – we’ve been subsidising their irrigation schemes for long enough. All that’s happened is that the new govt has said there won’t be any new schemes subsidised – shock! Horror!

  2. Andre 2

    Errm, Ken Shirley has never been a National MP. Ex-Labour and ex-ACT.

    There’s a few roadways overseas that completely exclude heavy vehicles. I’d be interested in what their maintenance costs look like, compared with nearby similar roads that carry heavy vehicles.

    There was one near New York that I used quite a bit over 6 years and never saw any hint of maintenance getting done to the road surface. Judging from the moss growing under the guardrails, none had been done for quite a while before my first trip on it. Yet it was in the best condition of any of the roads I went on in the area, apart from being well-polished on the tyre-track areas.

    [lprent: Coffee shortage this morning. Fixed. ]

    • lprent 2.1

      That is pretty much what the available literature indicates. Add trucks, especially heavy highly laden trucks to a road, and you can kiss the road surface goodbye in about a 10th of the time if it was traveled by cars or even buses.

      Gets worse when you look at rural roads. Tarsealed rural roads in NZ and Aussie aren’t actually designed for heavy trucks, even occasional ones. So milk tankers, logging trucks, and stock trucks will do a hell of a lot of damage.

      Unfortunately the NZLTA and NLTF don’t seem to do much of a break down about exactly where they are spending their money when it comes to maintenance. But they do break out the relatively small amounts spent of public transport, cycleways, and walkways.

      It seems like curious way to be transparent eh?

      • ianmac 2.1.1

        Logging trucks and freight trucks heavily use State Highway 1 between Blenheim and Picton. (And onwards.) The road visibly breaks up from week to week. The stretch needs resealing frequently. Our guess is that the trucks pay only a fraction of the damage that they cause. Doesn’t the Road Transport Forum pay a hefty donation to the National Party?

        • cleangreen 2.1.1.1

          Same on Highway 2 from HB/Gisborne to Tauranga,

          The roads break apart every week after they come and stuff the cracks and holes with QuickCrete bags and put fine chip over the patches so now our 350km road looks like a quilt on a bed.

          I have had my steering bent four times in four months from these shoddy repair of the roads.

          It costs us $70 each time we get another wheel alignment now we should charge NZTA/Downers to pay for this cost at least..

          Anyway the roads are becoming dangerous to drive now. If they restore the rail and give us back passenger rail I will go on the train as I have had enough of these roads now.

          • Unicus 2.1.1.1.1

            Geology andGeography are key elements in running a sustainable road transport system .

            In the US freeways are largely built on solid rock as is the case in Aussie . In the UK its chalk and in Europe a similar geology In these countries roads hang together for much longer than they do in NZ with its mix of volcanic rubble and clay . Add to that swamp in every valley and it can be understood why our roads just can’t sustain the stresses of mega weight traffic .

            Geography determines the route worthiness of motorways – miles of flat straight blacktop in the US and Aussie undulating usually straight motorways in the EU alow fast delivery times with lessened traffic disruption Here it’s up down swerve and wind

            Short answer – nature has determined NZ cannot sustain a heavy freight road transport system

          • OnceWasTim 2.1.1.1.2

            Just as an aside @CleanG – aside from repairing the Napier/Wairoa-Gisborne rail link, pushing through the link from Gisborne-Tauranga via Motuhora that was originally intended will/should probably be inevitable in future.

            We’re going to have to settle for little bits though I fear, even though there’s potential for regional rail in many parts of the country that could become viable. Winnie not only wants improvements in the north – as in – to the bleeding obvious links to the oil refinery, but also extending Kinleith to Taupo.

            Finally though, someone – is it whatever the Transport Blog call themselves these days?, has proposed the Auckland TePuke via Tauranga; Auckland Rotovegas links.
            We’ve become so attuned to road as the only solution – especially under Joyce, 10 Bridges and others, we’ve blinded ourselves as to the potential of rail be it for purposes of commuter transport, tourism, freight et al.

            We don’t even seem to be able to consider what goes on elsewhere in the world – like roll-on roll-off trucks on railway wagons traversing long distance (rather than their clogging up roads); like … jeeze! don’t get me started!
            Ken fucking Shirley!, Soimun 10 BruJizz!, Ess Ess Choice!. Enuff sed really!
            Mummy mummy – they lost! it isn’t fair!

            • OnceWasTim 2.1.1.1.2.1

              Actually Ken Shirley was probably the guy that came up with the idea of putting signs on trucks that read “this truck is governed to the legal speed of 90kmph” (even though it isn’t, taking into account speedometre under-reading). It’s a shame he couldn’t get on board (going forward) with educating his members to keep left – but then that’d go against his nature; and it’d deprive Joolie Krusty and others of the opportunity to create reality TV – as in a view from the cockpit where the trucks speed is never captured, but where they pronounce judgement on everyone elses driving skills

              • cleangreen

                So true Once was Tim,

                I go from Motuhora (matawai)to napoer twice a month and we clock trucks exceedig 100kms often so truickies are trying to ‘cut corners’ with delivery times at the expense of other users saftey.

                The trucks often literally cross the white lines on corners!!!!!

                We are told not to and our dashboard camera has lots of evidence of this.

      • Andre 2.1.2

        The niggle I have with the modelling about how much of the cost to attribute to heavy or light vehicles is that (as I understand it) it’s done by extrapolating from fairly short-term measurements in small test areas. My experiences with extrapolating a bunch of very specific single-factor tests to a real-world longer-term mixed use environment have been … complicated.

        I suppose one way to get some sort of crude handle on the actual real life experience here is simply the difference in maintenance requirements for the left and right lanes on multilane roads, particularly up hills. It certainly seems to me the left lane in spots like going up the Bombays or Pohuehue viaduct get beaten up very quickly compared to the right lane. But yeah, the cynic in me says it’s unlikely the authorities break down the data that finely in their records.

        Most of the reports I’ve seen attribute the extreme damage done by the heaviest vehicles on our roads to the substrate flexing and the “bow-wave” in front of the tyre. This is the result of a very thin seal on top of of the compacted aggregate base. But the some roads around New York often appeared to have a very thick reinforced concrete base, yet the heavy vehicles beat those up too, compared to the roads that excluded heavy vehicles.

      • Sacha 2.1.3

        Every road controlling authority in NZ (including councils) collects survey data about the proportion of traffic on each road section that are trucks because it affects the lifespan of any maintenance they conduct. Funny how nobody seems to be adding that up.

    • Philg 2.2

      I think Ken Shirley has always been a National/Act politician, even when he was nominal ‘Labour’ 😂

  3. Ad 3

    We are in for a major fight with the trucking lobby. Ken Shirley is indeed a fuckwit, but he has real power.

    The last time we started a Labour-led government we had truckies threatening to block whole motorways if new charges were brought in.

    We may not have Roger Kerr anymore, gingering up the Business Roundtable like they did in 1999, but Ken Shirley still knows how to get into full attack mode, and he has nothing to lose.

    It is regrettably really hard to do a big new stretch of railway inside 3 parliamentary terms, unless you have the designations already in place and all your land ownership well sorted. So Shirley will wait this government out until his team get back in, with potentially little harm done.

    I would like to see something bold from this government like subsidizing electric trucks. The NZPost fleet conversion to little electric buggies was a great signal. No reason why urban couriers and small freight could not do the same.

    Until there’s real funding pressure on the NLTP through electrification, it’s going to be hard to turn around the NZTA and truckie culture. They are close at being at one.

  4. Skinny 4

    I noted in his interview on Radio NZ this morning Ken Shirley cherry picked a part of Main Freight boss Don Braid’s popular saying “we about logistics.” Expect Ken unlike Don didn’t include we support and use rail.

    Don is no mug and Main Freight are not a member of Kenny’s trucking racket the Road Transport Forum. Braid has been very outspoken of National and the old tired blinkered faces who were sitting around the cabinet table.

  5. Carolyn_Nth 5

    I was looking to see if there are any issues for women and transport options. My search mainly showed up sites aiming to encourage more women to drive trucks, including a (Nat) government initiative.

    Basically, the truck industry does not have enough drivers (for a future where freight is mainly carried by trucks).

    So, why not encourage more men and women to drive buses and trains? My experience is that women are very good bus drivers.

    Article on the Ministry for Women web site – from 21 July (what year?):

    Women’s Affairs Minister Jo Goodhew has commended the Road Transport Forum for their Women in Road Transport Action Plan, which is geared at attracting more women to the sector.

    “Research shows that the transport sector is facing a long-term shortage of at least 1,100 drivers. This projected shortage and the consequent freight delays could have wide economic repercussions.

    “This Action Plan will serve as a useful tool as the sector looks to address that shortage by appealing to more women,” says Mrs Goodhew.

    Currently women account for around 16 per cent, or 6,000, of the 34,000 strong road transport workforce. Of our 23,000 heavy truck drivers around three per cent, or 760, are women.

    May have been posted in 2014.

  6. Keith 6

    Boy oh boy is it not dummy spitting tantrum time from Nationals most influential donors?

    Think about it, born to rule – paid-up donors who never for a moment thought the gravy train they chipped in for would end! All those donations for favours never to be returned and no influence whatsoever over the current government short of holding their breath until they go blue and pass out!

    The proliferation of 4 axle trucks has been noticeable over the past 9 years especially since National upped the weight limits on roads. But worse is the 5 axle behemoths whereby the rear axles do not steer, meaning the rear wheel sets literally plough up the surface as the truck turns. And as a result all roads are now only as fast as their slowest trucks. Brilliant.

    And in any case who pays to repair those damaged roads? The ratepayers, not Ken Shirley’s leaches!

    Jesus Christ, Mr Uber right-wing – ex-Douglas era Labour/ACT Ken Shirley has such gall to go on about user pays. The fucker wouldn’t know the meaning of it!

    • ianmac 6.1

      “meaning the rear wheel sets literally plough up the surface as the truck turns.”

      A miniature version of this happens when rubbish collection trucks turn at the end of a suburban culdesac. While in Christchurch I watched it happen outside my sister’s house.
      A MOW foreman told me years ago that heavy vehicles set up a sort of bow wave on the tar sealed skin. The road breaks up as it does under twisting action of heavy rear wheels.
      When driving in the car I note the damage done on curves is greater than that on the straight.
      The argument against rail was it took too long, goods were stolen and/or lost and it took 25,000 workers to sustain rail. But today Computer tracking, higher security, and robotics could revitalise rail.

      • The argument against rail was it took too long, goods were stolen and/or lost and it took 25,000 workers to sustain rail.

        Which was all a load of bollocks if you think about it. It must be harder and use more resources to watch all of that when using trucks for national cartage than when using trains. How many workers does it take to maintain our state highways? How much would that reduce if we removed trucks from those highways?

        And the trains are actually faster if well maintained with good tracks.

        • John Shears 6.1.1.1

          Not only bollocks but pure right wing spin.
          I had personal experience of using rail on a regular basis during the 1950/60/70 era to move and distribute baked goods from a bakery in Wellington to all of the Southern North Island and to Auckland on a weekly basis and all of New Zealand once a year (Christmas Cakes 40,000 plus each year.)
          The Auckland weekly delivery was about 500kgs of baked goods made on Monday railed from Wellington on Tuesday before 11am and in Auckland at 8am on Wednesday for delivery to shops that morning. This was week after week for several years in my personal experience . With no problems ever.
          The lower North Island deliveries included large consignments of Crumpets during the aft er Easter to spring season preceded by even larger consignments of Easter Buns for Easter week. Again without any problems year after year.
          Later in the early to mid 80’s an order for a wagon load of timber would be placed with my supplier in Rotorua before 9.30am and providing he rang back with the Connote/WagonNumber so that I could advise train control, the wagon would be in the yard at Helensville ready to unload at 8am the next day.

          Shirley is simply saying what his employers pay him for , but rail beats road hands down for distance transport of goods , ask Mainfreight.

      • Adrian 6.1.2

        As well as centrifical force Ian, CF hugely multiplies the weight carried by the outside wheel which rises exponentially with speed.

  7. tc 7

    Hell yes.

    Tyres are lasting about half as many K’s as they used to on SH’s thanks to the broken road surfaces/smashed shoulders due to the extra weight and force these trucks now wield.

    Fulton Hogan admitted to me they can’t keep a decent surface on some corners anymore it’s become that fundamentally screwed…..thanks national.

  8. Stunned Mullet 8

    Were the western ring route and Vic tunnel RONS ?

    If so they’ve both been worthwhile.

  9. Philg 9

    I see the new Peka Peka Expressway north of Wellington, has started breaking up, and is being repaired. It is barely one year old. The contractor, guess who?, and the Gov have come to an arrangement on who is the user and who pays. Lol. I put my stopwatch on waiting for Ken Shirley to appear in the media. Didn’t have to wait long. The game has changed and true leadership is required by government. Not the corporate centric non government that has been discarded.

  10. roy cartland 10

    This is one area I can imagine Winston’s so-called belligerence and intolerance actually doing some real good. We should all be intolerant to the selfishness of these unnecessary hogs. If they can’t sustain their model without paying their way, they can go under and suck it up. And because we’re importing drivers because we don’t have enough* we don’t need to worry about job loss.

    *
    https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/new-zealand-seeks-to-recruit-1-000-irish-truck-drivers-1.3236226

  11. If Ken Shirley wants a stricter adherence to user pays, then he should start with his trucking members.

    I read an article a few months back, believe I linked to it at the time, that showed that a 30 tonne truck did ten thousand times the damage as a one tonne car. If we applied user pays the way it’s supposed to be paid and not the way the Trucking Lobby thinks that means we’d charge cars 1 cent per kilometre driven and trucks $100. This would bring about the death of trucking for anything other than short distances in small trucks exactly as economics actually states it would.

    But I bet the Trucking Lobby would be complaining about it and how their members could no longer afford to operate but it would just be the market actually working. We see this type of thing all the time from businesses that don’t like having the real costs of their operations applied to them – just look at how National gutted the ETS.

    • ropata 11.1

      +1
      Truck drivers are drunk on power and used to bullying their way around NZ roads and wiping out anyone that gets in their way.

      Witness their behaviour on the eve of the 2008 election.

  12. Janet 12

    It has been daunting for me to see the rapid increase in logging trucks in my area, west Whangarei, over the last 8 years or so, but even worse most of them look like they have almost doubled in size as well. Of course the roads are taking a hammering but I do think it is also the moment to think about what they are carrying. Unprocessed logs. It seems ridiculous to be sending unprocessed logs down our roads and across the seas when we want to be an energy saving – particularly of fossil fuels – nation . The waste cut off would be better utilised in New Zealand too. Why are they not breaking down the logs into large beams on the logging sites with portable saw mills. Then we are transporting the usable part of the logs not only more economically but stacked on the trucks more safely.

    • ianmac 12.1

      With foresight this Government will assist and support value added for timber. Laminated beams for instance. Compressed wood chips and glue. Wooden houses and offices. Bob Jones is up for wooden office block. Blenheim had had a Warren and Mahoney wooden design drawn up but the Council went for concrete instead. Pity.

    • cleangreen 12.2

      Janet,

      We in Napier now have the most truck traffic through any suburban city limit than anywhere else in NZ now with an average of between 2400 and 2600 trucks each day, – every 24/7 each day seven days a week.
      When I returned to Napier to live from Florida in 1999 we had only 577 trucks each 24 hours then.

      18yrs later truck traffic has trebled!!!!!!!! Not sustainable for humans or roads.

      It has gotten so bad than those living near the HB Expressway (a single lane road) need now t sleep with a radio by their ears to block out the continual truck noise every minute around the clock, that is why we have been fighting to get our Napier/Gisborne rail back for over five years since the national stooge Steven Joyce stole the money off our rail maintenance and sent it to Auckland for commuter rail and they caused our rail to get washed out inn March 2012 and will not fix it at their cost yet!!!

      Labour/NZF have vowed to come and reopen our rail bless them.

      Michael Joseph Savage ur first labour Prime Minister began building the rail link from wairoa to Gisborne in 1937 and completed it in 1942 and we had just doubled our freight in March 2012 before national came and destroyed it, – so goodbye National & hello labour/NZF.

  13. KJT 13

    Looks even worse for trucking paying their share of the costs, if you look at the opportunity cost if roads were used for housing or industry, as we are expected to do when calculating port costs.

    That, in itself, is a large extra cost to coastal shipping. That trucks do not pay.

  14. cleangreen 14

    Iprent is exactly correct,

    Trucks are ruining our roads, and costing us other users dispropotionate costs than they do get charged so fuck off you truckies.

    You simply that want us public to keep subsidising you all while we go bankrupt so suck it up !!!

    If you want to gridlock our roads as your trucks pound them to ruin well you need to pay your fair share of cost.

    http://archive.gao.gov/f0302/109884.pdf

    US engineers (gao) studies show that one truck wears road surfaces almost equal to 9600 cars every time they pass over each km of road surface, butwe dont see trucks paying 9600 times the cast that we pay for one car do we?

    (Quote ) “The American A CLI sac-iation of State Highway and Transportation Officials reported that concentrating large amounts of weight on a single axle multiplies the impact of the weight exponentially,

    Although a five-axle tractortrailer loaded to the current 80,000-pound Federal weight limit weighs about the same as 20 automobiles, the impact of the tractortrailer is dramatically higher.

    Based on Association data, and confirmed by its officials, such a tractor-trailer has the same impact on an interstate highway as at least 9,600 automobiles. Increasing truck weight causes an ever increasing rate of pavement damage. (See p. 23.) “

  15. benby 15

    Congrats on that e-bike, that can be life changing!

    • lprent 15.1

      If I fall off then it probably will be.

      But I did once upon a time get around East Cape (albeit with some walking up the steeper hills). And have a hair raising ride down Arthurs Pass over black ice corners prior to a more gentle ride down the West Coast. Those were all on those really thin wheel road bikes.

      I’m sure a ride from Grey Lynn to the city won’t kill me.

      For a starter, there is damn sight less ice here. Rain on the other hand….

      It is a Smartmotion e-Urban with a 21aH battery
      http://www.electricbikes.co.nz/index.php/products/smartmotion-bikes/smartmotion-eurban

      Hopefully not too far away. I’m looking at the weather forecasts and thinking that I’d like nice fine weather please.

  16. gsays 16

    Excellently put Lprent.
    Here in the manawatu, with the gorge closed, a prime opportunity was missed to get dairy tankers ( or at least their loads)off the road and onto rail. From memory the rail route has been closed a handful of hours in the law at decade

    • cleangreen 16.1

      Go to your Council and request they use rail please, as everyone needs to speak up for rail now as Auckland are and we in HB/Gisborne are too.

      I have a cousin on the Council down there, and we have sent the mayor there months ago several emails to support rail from Napier but you are there and Council should now will act for you.

      Dont let them off the hook here please.

      • gsays 16.1.1

        g’day cleangreen,
        have just sent an email to the mayor, citing the links in lprents post, asking him to consider shifting freight off the road alternatives to the gorge, to rail.
        also sent a copy to the horowhenua mayor as he is a friend.

        cheers for the prompting, sometimes it is what is needed.

        while i am at it, thanks and well done for your years of agitating, informing and raising the issue of rail.

  17. cleangreen 17

    Great stuff gsays 1000%.

    Good luck – & keep me posted on this please.

  18. Tamati Tautuhi 18

    Evidently we the taxpayers have had to strengthen a number of bridges here in New Zealand to accommodate the heavier trucks we are allowing on our roads ?

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