Congrats: fuel tax drive more trucks out of Auckland

Written By: - Date published: 9:02 am, July 2nd, 2018 - 25 comments
Categories: transport - Tags: , , , , ,

It is a small victory, but an essential one for the principles of the generalised fourth power law related to roading maintenance.

RNZ:

RNZ is aware of at least one company which has given drivers maps of which truckstops are covered by the fuel tax and told them they were now required to refuel elsewhere when possible.

They were told to refuel in areas like Hamilton, Dargaville, Whangārei, Wairakei and Te Kuiti instead.

National Road Carriers Association chief executive David Aitken said that should come as no surprise given the increased cost for companies.

“What you will find is any companies travelling outside the Auckland region or inside the Auckland region will be filling up outside … it just makes sense to do that.”

Hopefully this will point to a longer term trend of truckers starting to avoid Auckland roads. It isn’t like these freeloaders actually pay for the damage that they inflict on our roads, both local and those funded by the Land Transport Authority.

The main reason that there isn’t sufficient money to build the kind of transport systems that Auckland needs is because the cost of maintaining our existing roads is so high.

Instead of building the roads and public transport required for the population of this export orientated city, commuters wind up paying mostly for the trucks that grind their way up and down our motorways for the the rest of NZ.

The explanation for this is in the 4th power law, which is a rough but fairly accurate empirical calculation developed in the 1950s and 60s to look at the cost of axle weights on deformation and damage to roads. The crucial part of the calculation is

Truck to Car

Finally, using the Fourth Power Law, compare a 20,000 lb single axle (typical of a moderately loaded truck) to a normal 2,000 lb single axle from a car.

The truck has 10,000 times more impact than a car.

The same applies to heavier loaded multi-axle trucks which are several orders of magnitude more likely to damage roads.

What this means is that all of our roads are over-engineered for the largest trucks rather than the light cars that do most of the travelling. The cost of the building a road goes up exponentially according to the upper axle weights that will be regularly travelling on it.

For some strange reason the road user charges levied on trucks do not reflect this, and the trucking lobby maintains voracious lobby groups to ensure they don’t get levied for the cost of the damage that they do.

Sure you can argue that the economic benefit of trucks add to our economy. However it isn’t exactly hard to argue that applies to lighter trucks far more than heavier ones and it is far more economic to build for those. Moreover, those are also the vehicles that generate more economic benefit for NZ, dispersing and collecting deliveries to the far more economic railheads.

To shift economics of transport funding we shouldn’t need regional fuel taxes. All that is required is to change the RUC costs. Just stop subsidising truckies – raise the RUC steadily in accordance with the 4th power law and watch the cost sensitive trucking companies move to a more economically useful behaviour. Our roads and wallets will benefit.

25 comments on “Congrats: fuel tax drive more trucks out of Auckland”

  1. R.P Mcmurphy 1

    they cause the congestion and the impact on the road itself and nwo they are running away from their repsponsibilities.

  2. adam 2

    Never understood the logic of trucks and their damage in the age of user pay’s.

    It’s like the damage they wrought, was some sort of sick inside joke at the average citizens expense.

  3. Sabine 3

    well, what are they gonna do when the other cities do the same?

    oh boy.

    • indiana 3.1

      Nothing. The additional cost will be passed on to consumers like it has in the past.

      • Sabine 3.1.1

        I watched this ‘increased fuel costs will bring the end of all times’ in Germany about 20 years ago.

        The end effect of highly increased fuel costs were that Train travel was more used, a tax return for workers that used public transport (busses and trains sold in annual tickets were re-funded to almost 50%), we got more and better cycle lanes and people stopped using their car to get to the toilet.

        They still drive a lot of cars in Germany, but generally the cars have gotten better, public transport has gotten way better.

        so I expect this to happen here too. Especially when other cities decide that having heavy transport kill their roads just for a 3 cent price advantage is not worth it.

        As for passing costs on to consumer, even that will only get you that far and then your customer will simply stop paying your overpriced goods and go where the business is trying to absorb the costs or will find a cheaper alternative transport method.

  4. dukeofurl 4

    Stands out the effect of heavy trucks as I often used the road on the Western side of the Waikato River from Karepiro to Taupo via Mangakino.

    Road surface looks like its hardly been touched since most of it was built for the Hydro projects in the 1960s. Seems a bit narrow for modern speeds but its nice to slow down to suit the road. Even the car traffic is minimal

  5. Bill 5

    Hopefully this will point to a longer term trend of truckers starting to avoid Auckland roads,

    How is it that trucks fueling outside of Auckland will alleviate the numbers of trucks on Auckland’s roads? I’m not getting the logic, and to the contrary, can imagine the result being a slight increase in miles trucked within Auckland.

    • adam 5.1

      In defence of Iprent, I took that comment to mean all of Auckland roads. We get trucks down suburbian streets here all the time. A pain in the preverbal. Wee teeny tiny streets, which really can’t handle them – even. I think the new fuling policy will send the trucks onto the main arteries and take it away from secondary suburbian routes, and the BS ones they think helps them but in reality, just annoy the crap out of us locals.

    • lprent 5.2

      There has been a slow movement of the trucking companies and their warehousing for the rest of NZ to the outskirts of metropolitan Auckland. Effectively a separation of Auckland and the heavier vehicle non Auckland trucking.

      The trucks that service downcountry should logically rebase themselves in Hamilton and get their freight from the railhead there. As it is they come to pick up freight direct from the port or from the Wiri inland port.

      Since those are the heavy trucks that clog the isthmus roads and steadily destroy them with their freeloading ways, I like that some of them have more of an incentive to stay away.

      Perhaps we should insist that if they want use the ports that they should fill up there as well – helps with the economic message.

  6. cleangreen 6

    Excellent article Iprent.

    Very wery well documented.

    I have also raised the emmissions of black carbon dust from truck tyres, and that added pollution to the melting of our ice casp that will cause future raising of the sea levels and massive deaths and destruction around the world.

    There is a social cost that is so far not considered.

    Consider this arguement also to the mix of the foolish use of truck freight when rail that does not use ‘tyres’ is sitting idle, with lots of capacity to carry much more freight,.

    Why we must now use rail is my point here.

    ‘While the climate change groups are centering on ‘banning the use of plastic bags.’ is a worthy example of moving away from overuse of plastic throttling our world;

    Then also while we are concentrating on banning plastic bags that are polluting our oceans and environment, can we also ban using components of plastic in our vehicle tyres please?

    As “synthetic tyres” today now have the very same chemicals inert in them also as all plastics have. Many benzene components are included in our commonly used tyres and these tyres have black carbon dust

    Worse is that the carbon tyre dust that is emitted from one truck with 32 tyres will shed thounds of particles from all these tyres of plastic dust (cancer causing) 1,3, Butadiene – styrene) many more than just one car will emit.

    This toxic carbon tyre dust have been found its way to our artic ice caps.

    Tyre black carbon dust has now been found to have been carried from our road pollution ‘runoff’ and transported in heavy rain into our roadside water ducts and water ‘sheds’ and then sent out to the rivers and coast to be transferred to the Antarctic ice caps by the prevailing ocean currents.

    Scientists have found that the black carbon dust that may include tyre dust settles on the ice caps and accelerates the melting of our ice caps now.

    Tyre particles are now known to travel far greater distances than previously known now.

    https://e360.yale.edu/features/climate-connection-unraveling-the-surprising-ecology-of-dust
    http://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2016/03/22/the-damaging-effects-of-black-carbon/
    https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/06/140610-connecting-dots-dust-soot-snow-ice-climate-change-dimick/
    http://washingtonsblog.com/2014/03/realistic-ways-stop-melting-arctic-ice.html

  7. DH 7

    I read that differently. I assumed they meant trucks would still be driving on Auck roads, just not fuelling up here if their run took them out of Auck.

    I do that myself. I get up north fairly regular and I’ve been filling the tank in Wellsford because the Gull station there has been heaps cheaper than Auck. Now it looks like I’ll be gassing up in Kaiwaka or Whangarei.

    • lprent 7.1

      Sure. But it also means that there is a economic disincentive to drive trucks into Auckland for those trucking companies whose primary busines is outside Auckland. Over time that means they will tend to relocate their depots and warehousing outside of our urban area.

      This will accentuate the existing trend to get them off our over crowded roads and reduce the amount of maintenance required.

  8. AsleepWhileWalking 8

    Hmmm.

    How long before someone starts refueling trucks straight from the tanker? Makes more sense for this to be done in the depot rather than driving outside Auckland.

  9. Tricledrown 9

    Congestion taxes and tolls work well in other big cities ride sharing etc.
    Auckland needs action now, 10 yrs from now it will be worse not better.

    • lprent 9.1

      I have just been in singapore. The tolls, control of trucks routes, speed limits on trucks and balloting of car registrations work well. (truck speed also changes damage profiles on roads)

      Despite having a population more than 3x that of auckland in an area about quarter of ours, the traffic moves a damn sight better than it does here. And the MRT rail, while crowded works well.

  10. Draco T Bastard 10

    Chart of the Day: Vehicle Weight vs Road Damage Levels
    That only goes up to nine ton but is fairly clear chart which also includes cars and bicycles.

    Lorries cause more damage to roads than cars

    The Generalized Fourth Power Law is the most commonly agreed method to approximate the relative impact of vehicles on roads: the damage caused to the structure or foundations of a road is related the axle weight of the vehicle by a power of four.

    This means that a six-axle, 44-tonne truck is over 138,000 times more damaging than a typical, small, 1 tonne car (such as a Ford Fiesta) with two axles.

    In actual fact, even before the Fourth Power Law is applied, the comparison in weight per axle of 0.5 tonnes for a Fiesta and 7.33 tonnes for a large truck is stark. So, more axles do spread the weight – but nowhere near enough to support the Freight Transport Association’s claims.

    This is important because it’s the big trucks on our highways. I’d like to know what the 50 tonne brutes would be doing.

    (Interestingly, Transport Research Laboratory suggests that the Sixth Power Law could be applied to weak pavements.)

    And this is even more important because our roads just don’t seem to measure. People I’ve spoken to comment that the roads in the US and UE are far better than ours. Smoother, straighter and don’t appear to have anywhere near the damage that our roads have. To me this suggests that we’re still doing things on the cheap rather than doing them properly.

    Can no longer find the NZTA document that shows that type 43 trucks in NZ pay $319 compared to the average car being charged $1.

    • Gabby 10.1

      We’re a bit more quaky, landslippy and washouty than Germany etc, so it might not be worth building expensive luxury roads just to watch then end up at the bottom of a gully.

      • Draco T Bastard 10.1.1

        Don’t recall many (if any) of our main highways going through gullies.

        I do recall heading south a few months ago and watching as the main highway changed from being a four lane highway to a two lane pot holed mess. Thing is, even that four lane stretch had damage it shouldn’t have had such as ripples and deep depressions and such like.

      • Sabine 10.1.2

        True we don’t really have earthquakes – at least only little ones https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_earthquakes_in_Germany, but once did we feel one in Bavaria and that was in the seventies in Northern Italy http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/may/7/newsid_2518000/2518519.stm.
        we do have however snow, ice, storms, etc and yes, no volcanoes either.

        However Germany is a transit country, the heavy duty transport comes up from the south to delivery the nordics, comes from the east, the west etc.
        If you have a look at the map of Europe you will see that Germany is smack dab in the middle.

        The roads in Germany are not ‘luxury’, they are needed to keep up with the increasing traffic from all sides and that includes heavy transport.

        The roads are build to minimise noise – especially in the area of the Ruhrpot – Koeln, Duesseldorf, Aachen etc – close to Belguim, Netherlands, Luxemburg, France, which has some of the highest population density.
        The roads coming now from East Germany are build to the highest standard that we have, easy, as they literally had to be rebuild in the years after the Unification.
        Bavaria has non stop grid lock from June – August as the nordics go on holiday in June, followed by the Netherlands in July, by the Germans in August, and they all – several million of it – want to go to the south Italy – Hungary, Slovenia, etc etc etc, and yeah, Turkey plus the regular traffic coming from south up north.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autobahn
        you can check this link here to see how roads are financed. https://www.loc.gov/law/help/infrastructure-funding/germany.php Its quite comprehensive.
        There has been a concentrated effort to make public transport attractive, fast and affordable. And that is what is needed here in NZ. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transport_in_Germany

        As it is right now, you already have your roads slip into gullies, potholed, run down by heavy transport, build for morris minors and bedford trucks, hopelessly outdated and no will to fix anything, especially no will coming from the party with no mates.
        No regards is paid to noise control, softer road surfaces that would be easier on tires etc etc etc.

        Eventually there needs to be an understanding in NZ that we are literally to poor to pay for shit roads and their upkeep just so that we don’t have to change our ways.

  11. Draco T Bastard 11

    Sure you can argue that the economic benefit of trucks add to our economy.

    No it can’t.

    The whole point of the pricing system is to ensure that the best option is chosen and subsidies actually prevent that. If these trucking firms truly believed in the free-market they’d be demanding that costs be properly apportioned by regulation.

    They’re demanding the exact opposite.

    We see the same from farmers as well in regards to ghg emissions and water use.

    These two industries (and they won’t be the only ones) have now reached the point where they’re actually bad for the economy and can only survive with government subsidies both direct and indirect.

  12. saveNZ 12

    I think the trucks need to taxed to the fullest amount they take from the taxpayers aka the damage to roads included in the figures also including the costs of being involved in so many accidents and the loss of productivity is causes (rubbish truck and motorbike crash stop Northwestern for hours today).

    There is a such a high number of trucks involved in traffic accidents in particular deaths and injuries, Could that be due to the low wages they pay drivers and therefore can’t keep experienced people and/or have truck drivers working over the amount of hours they should be working as well as not doing their truck maintenance to save money as well as destroy the roads for everyone else?

    Police seem very interested in revenue gathering via speeding tickets and drunk driving in cars for ‘safety’, but not much interest in trucks and also motorbikes that not only showing up well into statistics but also seem to be increasing in accidents.

    This money should be collected and go to rail and passenger services…and the rail should be used for passengers as much as freight!

    Taxes should also not be linked only to fuel costs as the future is electric!

    Sadly as the rest of the world turns to electric trucks you can totally see the old gas bangers from the US and China being imported into Auckland to extend their polluting days just like the old cars from Japan we love importing that are cheaper to export than scrap! Only the trucks are operating and polluting and ripping up the roads 24/7, while our government does nothing to prevent it.

    • Molly 12.1

      My partner works for a trucking company. One that has for years tried to coordinate Auckland deliveries with rail, and promote deliveries outside of hours for more efficient use of trucks. They are also organising to replace their fleet with electric trucks, so there are businesses making changes.

  13. Timeforacupoftea 13

    Busses in Dunedin rip up the seal on hot days as they don’t have dual wheels on the rear.
    I have seen it with my own eyes, a loaded bus of school kids moving less than 50k a hour tearing up strips for 1k.
    Heavy trucks were following along and flatting out the ridges, still left it pretty rough though.
    I was walking on that road about ten months later, the road repairers were burning off the tar and resealing the road.
    I told a workman about what I saw, he replied they had repaired the same road 3 out of 5 years.
    He also said the more wheels on a vehicle the less damage done, although the bigger trucks can push the seal into the gutters.

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