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No Right Turn: The transport policy we need

Written By: - Date published: 6:05 am, September 30th, 2020 - 40 comments
Categories: climate change, greens, labour, national, public transport, sustainability, transport - Tags: , ,

Idiot/Savant at NRT wrote yesterday:

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The transport policy we need

Transport was responsible for 21% of our greenhouse gas emissions in 2017. Its our second-biggest source of pollution after agriculture. And the Greens have just announced a serious policy to tackle it:

The Green Party wants to make public transport free for under-18s, ban petrol car imports from 2030, and create a $1.5 billion “Cycle Super Highway” fund to build five-metre-wide cycleways. A bolstered rail system with trains travelling more than 100kmh between major towns, and inter-city light rail in both Auckland and Wellington feature in the party’s transport plan, announced by Greens co-leader James Shaw in Auckland, in Tuesday.

This is the transport policy we need. All of these policies will get fossil cars off the roads, reducing emissions. The 2030 sunset clause on petrol cars will also give the market certainty about investing in EVs, and help drive the required shift. Not mentioned in the article but in the actual policy document is shifting heavy freight to zero emissions / renewable fuels by 2050 (its a harder problem ATM, so gets more time).Meanwhile, Labour is promising the status quo, and National is promising more roads and worse public transport. Neither seems to have any commitment whatsoever to solving this problem, and National would actively make it worse. As usual, it seems that if you want a liveable future, you need to vote Green.

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40 comments on “No Right Turn: The transport policy we need ”

  1. Covid-19 has well and truly fucked 2020, but, bubbling away behind the scene is climate change. It may have been temporarily forgotten about but it sure as hell hasn't gone away.

    We need radical policies to tackle this life-threatening change and only the Greens have had the courage to out forward policies that may make a difference.

    Party vote GREEN!

  2. Stuart Munro 2

    I find it a great curiosity that e-scooters have become almost a form of littering in many of our cities, but e-bikes will still set you back around 2 grand. Somewhere along the line the e-bike consumer is getting bilked.

    • Craig H 2.1

      E-Bikes are a lot more expensive to make and power electrically than E-Scooters for devices of the same quality, and anything designed for hills and mountains will cost more again.

      • lprent 2.1.1

        I've got a 21A/h battery on my commuter e-bike – that is so that I only have to charge once a week. I can push it out to nearly 2 weeks of commuting if I push my riding power level down a notch or two. To get to a similar power level in a e-scooter you're paying over $1800 – roughly 2/3rds of what I paid for my bike.

        I've weighed about 120kg for most of the 3 years since I brought it. I have a very heavy bone structure and the chronic programmers over weight issues. My bike powers me (with some panting) up grafton gully bikeway with that horrendous steep hill section with an extra 7+kgs of computers on my back past the abandoned hire e-scooters. I also use it to carry full saddle bags of groceries from the supermarket. The weight carrying capacity is pretty high.

        Even the more recent higher powered hired scooters have problems carrying me up even quite gradual hills around Auckland with my usual backpack of computers.

        The bike itself is heavy and very robust. Apart from having to replace the spokes with heavy duty ones to stop them breaking, there has been very little maintenance on it over thousands of kilometres of commuting. It brakes well enough to stop me getting killed on the roads at least once a week from idiot motorists. They seem to have a problem with me riding at 30-40km/hour and regularly pull out in front of me.

        In essence, I'd agree with Craig H. You get what you pay for. My commuter bike is on the low end of e-bike costs because I'm not off-roading it. But it is far more powerful and robust that any scooter that isn't designed for hills and mountains.

        The comparison with the hire scooters is fatuous. Those have a storage capacity for short periods, require maintenance that is weekly or even daily, and have a revenue stream to pay for it. I suspect that their average lifetime is measured in small numbers of months. Quite different to the e-bikes owned by people who have to rely on them.

        • greywarshark 2.1.1.1

          Great info thanks lprent.

        • Craig H 2.1.1.2

          I don't have a link but I've read that the typical lifetime of hire scooters is 3-6 months, so you're right on the money there LPrent.

        • RedLogix 2.1.1.3

          Last year I spent six months in Auckland renovating my parent's house. When I arrived I expected to have to buy an old banger to get about, but instead I found my brother's e-bike perfectly fine. Only finished up borrowing a friends car twice for a couple of quick runs to the dump, and renting a van to take a load of stuff to Wellington.

          Everyone I've spoken to has one, loves it. The big thing they tell me is that unlike their old human powered bike, their e-bike gets used. Almost every day.

          But yes, getting used to defending yourself from other traffic is probably the biggest skill to learn. The big trick is to be lane assertive whenever approaching a pinch point.

          And over here we use Brisbane’s bikeway network. It’s quite developed already and they’re extending it all the time.

        • Draco T Bastard 2.1.1.4

          It brakes well enough to stop me getting killed on the roads at least once a week from idiot motorists. They seem to have a problem with me riding at 30-40km/hour and regularly pull out in front of me.

          That's true for bicycles as well. Most people don't seem to comprehend the fact that bicycles can easily cruise at that sort of speed. Its why when AT suggest a dual use walkway/cycleway I tell them to rethink it as its just too dangerous for both cyclists and pedestrians.

          Those [e-scooters] have a storage capacity for short periods, require maintenance that is weekly or even daily, and have a revenue stream to pay for it. I suspect that their average lifetime is measured in small numbers of months.

          Which probably means that they're uneconomic and, most likely, not a long term business proposition either. The maintenance and replacement costs will quickly subsume any profit. Wonder if the original owner has already sold it off.

        • Stuart Munro 2.1.1.5

          The comparison with the hire scooters is fatuous.

          Maybe – there is however a powered bike successor to the scooters in China. If we are going to have such things on our streets and footpaths, a bit of planning might not go amiss. We might want to prioritize sustainability, or standardization, or utilize them as some part of a joined up transport strategy. Or ban them, if none of those aims can be properly met.

          • greywarshark 2.1.1.5.1

            I agree Stuart Munro, and also take note of what weka says about us sitting back and letting private firms have their way with us. Help!

        • PsyclingLeft.Always 2.1.1.6

          Hi, good on you Cycle Commuting. Even with the moron motorists.I could say one thing about Riding a Bike…it makes you Aware. And a defensive user.Has a flow on for when you drive next. You are actually looking ahead…to see what that motor moron is actually doing drifting across lanes (while txting, chatting, or reading the paper…multitasking : )

          "Things we see on the motorway. I've seen plenty reading books/newspapers, folding washing, doing makeup, filling out a form the list goes on," commented one person.

          https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/motorcyclist-scolds-woman-reading-while-driving-auckland-motorway

          Was gonna ask what tyres/pressure you run on your EBike? Makes heap of difference if all your riding on asphalt….

          • lprent 2.1.1.6.1

            I usually run at around 35psi back and 30psi front. These are wide tires with a heavy tread. I also tend to check every two weeks because I put a lot of weight on that back tire and it does change..

            • PsyclingLeft.Always 2.1.1.6.1.1

              Ah, was going to say that sounds a tad low? Place I part time at, hires E Bikes out. We put 40 front 45 rear. Covers them going on Cycle Trails (gravel ) and On Road. I've got a 29" wheel 2.2 tyres non E, and running those pressures makes hell of a difference. Just rolls well. Of course you could go bit higher… if all hard surface? Do you run tubes/sealant? Definitely works for us….(esp on E bike where you dont REALLY want be taking rear wheel out : )

    • weka 2.2

      why bother setting up infrastructure and helping people transition to a functional system when you can get private companies to do a shitty job while make mon instead? It's the NZ way.

  3. Sabine 3

    so if you are over 18 or say 18 and a day – money or not – no more free public transport.

    [deleted]

    [I’m over your ignorance and spreading of misinformation. If you were right wing, people would be all over the bullshit you sometimes post here. I’ve removed the rest of your post. When you produce back up, which means appropriate quotes and links, for the sentence above, I’ll reinstate the rest of your comment provided you are willing to back that up as well. Please read the Policy about not wasting moderator time. – weka]

    • Craig H 3.1

      I'd like to free public transport for all as well, but this is a bold plan compared to everyone else's. There's also the small point that we are a long way short of the capacity even for this, so it will take a long time to roll out nationwide just because of logistics.

      • weka 3.1.1

        Have a maximum limit on how much a person can be charged for public transport in one week.For example, people could pay for their first eight journeys a week, after which the rest are free.

        Have targeted fare reductions, including:

        • Free public transport for people over the age of 65, under the age of 18, and community service card holders.

        From the policy (link in post).

        • Sabine 3.1.1.1

          Yes, we have set prices currently Weka. lol. And currently the maximum to not have a completly failed public transport system is charged.

          The people of 65 already get free transport and that is thanks to Winston Peters. I think he calls it the Gold Card.

          So the Green Policy would include those that already have public transport – retirees. The kids to some extend already have free transport with school busses – so only the after school activities would apply. I am not sure if community card holders get anything – i don't know people who are on that card and use public transport – most on a benefit that i know , need a car as public transport would get them nowhere – due to it not existing where they live.

          How ever the ones that need it the most, low income worker, and commuters – nothing. NOt even a write off proposal via the end of the year tax.

          That to me is the epitome of missing the need totally. And it lets me to the question, Do hte Green Party leaders and policy writers have any idea about public transport, other then Chloe Swarbrook every now and then hoping on the Link Bus in AKL or taking a plane to somewhere?

          • weka 3.1.1.1.1

            so basically your opening statement that if you are over 18, no more free public transport, was a lie.

            "I am not sure if community card holders get anything"

            Try reading the policy before commenting next time then.

            "i don't know people who are on that card and use public transport – most on a benefit that i know , need a car as public transport would get them nowhere – due to it not existing where they live"

            Maybe educate yourself about people with CSC cards then, who they are, and how they use public transport. If you are going to call the Greens policy stupid when you don't actually know what it is or who would benefit from it, then you look pretty stupid.

      • Sabine 3.1.2

        A bold plan would be free transport for all. Right now that would actually be a good thing to advertise too, considering the shitshow in AKL with the Harbour bridge and resulting traffic mayhem. This is posturing but not bold.

        A five way lane Superhighway? that is straight out of an Austin Power movie. It will be a SUPER highway – to where? is it going to be build next to the existing highway? Or are some parts of that highway in the south island, and another part of in the North Island, will it include Gisborne or the Far North? So many questions.

        Honestly the only thing the Green have been bold with recently is with excuses and the backwalking of some really silly tax ideas, this is not bold, this is meaningless posturing and bullshit.

        But i do like that they finally have arrived in the 20th century with the arrival of the 'passenger train' that can go a hundered kilometers an hour. OH my gosh, the boldness. Again, Austin Powers comes to mind again – A HUNDRED kilometers and HOUR!

        and lets not even start with excluding the rawmaterial for the batteries needed to run e -cars from fossil fuel. Its only fossil fuel when we say so.

        • greywarshark 3.1.2.1

          Sabine I think you could be a new Banksy if you can convert your sweeping ideas to graphic illustrations. You bring verve to diatribe and though may not show a way to solutions to problems, they are well illustrated with the strong emotions swirling around the polity. There would be great pithy epigrams and graffiti.

          It would be good if you stopped damning the Parties that will possibly be part of the solutions to problems, even partly, if they get elected. With your approach they will be shot down in flames and the election will go to the last man or woman standing. I'd rather have a partly Party winning than a farty Party spreading noxious fumes that kill off our feeble attempts to rise above the impending catastrophe.

        • Sacha 3.1.2.2

          A bold plan would be free transport for all.

          Wasteful, not bold. Providing enough transit services to cope with the commuting peak periods would mean heaps of vehicles and staff sitting around for the rest of the day.

          It is why current free/discounted schemes target groups of people who can more easily travel outside those peaks.

    • weka 3.2

      mod note for you Sabine.

  4. Ad 4

    Auckland: One strut on the Harbour Bridge goes out and we are gridlocked.

    Tauranga: near-zero public transport.

    Hamilton: surrounded by billions of dollars of motorways at 110kms as far as the eye can see.

    Wellington: remaining dysfunctional for even more electoral terms

    Christchurch: an empty grid

    Dunedin: One of the saddest public transport systems of any city I've seen

    It's so bad, and so hard, and so structurally ingrown, and so unrewarding, and so poorly executed over a term, that transport is potentially one to give to the Greens.

    • Andre 4.1

      Auckland: One strut on the Harbour Bridge goes out and we are gridlocked.

      Gridlocked during a pandemic when a lot of people are out of work or working from home, and it's school holidays when traffic is usually lighter anyways. Imagine if it had happened 13 months ago.

      • Ad 4.1.1

        Aye. It's an incredibly brittle system. Affecting over a million people with wasted time and stress and cost every day.

        What stops me cycling into work is that there's no cycleway between New Lynn and Avondale.

        As soon as that is completed next year we will be on our bikes to and from – other than in winter.

        • RedLogix 4.1.1.1

          Pretty much all public transport systems have their brittle points Ad. Building the necessary redundancy to cope with rare events like this is simply unaffordable by anyone, anywhere.

          At best planners can hope to have mitigation strategies in place, but even then it's a big call to cover off all the rare and hard to forecast events that might occur. Each individual possibility may have a very low frequency of occurrence, but collectively there is a lot of them.

          • Sacha 4.1.1.1.1

            Redundancy is expensive, yes. The previous governments spent $4.5 billion building a joined up Western Ring Route from Manukau to Albany including the Waterview tunnel as an alternative to SH1/harbour bridge. Yet people still act as if there is only one route and demand a 'second' crossing. Will a third one in that direction be the charm?

            • Incognito 4.1.1.1.1.1

              Traffic on the North-Western Motorway got much worse with people trying to avoid their favourite route over the Harbour Bridge. Most commuters don’t live in Albany. It would be good to ‘flatten the curve’ of peak-hour traffic because there’s plenty of tar seal as it is, IMO.

              • Sacha

                Most commuters in Auckland do not live on the North Shore, full stop.

                It will be interesting to see how working from home affects where funding needs to go.

      • greywarshark 4.1.2

        Phil Goff wants to spend on a tunnel for Auckland based on present transport patterns I think. That sounds too expensive for a small poor country, loaded with the sort of debt that everyone sneered at when it was Greece that was that bad. Also we are on the earthquake Pacific ring. It doesn't impress me sounds more like a wet dream of a small man (not Robbie.)

        https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/morningreport/audio/2018766221/north-shore-residents-demand-information-on-second-harbour-crossing-plans

        But if one wanted to cross the harbour with rail, how could that be done in the most satisfactory and repairable manner? (One always has to allow for some fart digging up the rails while looking for gold reserves in the ground for some plutocrat who doesn't feel constrained by any intervening laws.)

    • gsays 4.2

      A big part of the gridlock is the seemingly compulsory one person, one car policy in the SuperCity.

      • Draco T Bastard 4.2.1

        Why transport 72 people in one vehicle when we can transport all of them in 71 vehicles?

        /sarc

        Our entire society seems to be built around the idea of maximising resource use as it creates more jobs and more profits.

        Just think of all those poor mechanics and their shareholders if there weren't so many cars that needed servicing.

    • Sacha 4.3

      transport is potentially one to give to the Greens

      A talented Minister sitting there waiting.

  5. Draco T Bastard 5

    and create a $1.5 billion “Cycle Super Highway” fund to build five-metre-wide cycleways.

    I do hope that comes with the declaration that cycleways are not footpaths and that people should not be walking on them for the same reason that they shouldn't be walking in the middle of the road.

  6. mango 6

    I like the plan mostly apart from an unrealistic view of where technology will go. I don't blame the GP for that as a lot of other people are buying into the tsunami of technohype currently washing across the world.

  7. RedBaronCV 7

    Anyone seen the new citreon Ami. Electric 45kmph town car. It's a blow your socks off type of vehicle.

    Greens have the right direction of travel although some of the policy is likely to be overtaken by events or the investment could perhaps be spread differently.

    When it comes to cars – having EV's and electrics run the numbers – its a win win getting them on the road. So far EV's have tended to be in the more expensive models but the cheaper models in ranges are now coming on if you can get your hands on them. This means a car in the mid $20k range will use about $10k less of petrol (if EV) over 200,000km. So we really need a way to bridge the gap for people who would spend $10k to $14k on an older petrol model so that they can go to the new EV/electrics. The high end will take care of itself.

    We should have a car emission standard cap that declines over the next decade – so that old fuel cars are not imported but older electrics can be.

    Not so sure about the 100k rail – some of ours covers pretty rough terrain – and if its freight frankly time is probably not the same issue.

    With public transport – outside our very main areas – we do need some shared solutions but where the densities are lower being open to ideas other then manned buses. Frankly in the major centres I'd agree with the free or very low one fare only models. The other reason is that changing work patterns might make big investments redundant

    • Brokenback 7.1

      All of the above[ especially the Greens Policy] focusses on the non-productive sector of our economy.

      What is needed is comprehensive 'Roadmap' for the managed reduction of Liquid Hydrocarbon fuels across all sectors.

      Read below for detail.

  8. Brokenback 8

    Energy policy -and the sticky question of tar?

    Pat Basket’s recent article in Newsroom about Hydrogen and future fuel options appears to have stimulated little debate

    https://www.newsroom.co.nz/why-hydrogen-is-not-a-cure-for-emissions

    Hardly surprising though , because we as a nation have been operating in a near vacuum of thought and planning around the single most strategic sector of our economy for the past 15 years.

    What little in the way of “policy” initiatives in the term of this government has been put forward by the Green party and could at best be described as wishful thinking and more accurately likened to fresh seagull guano.

    The announcements across the Tasman last week regarding the ongoing operation of Australian Refineries need to be analysed and discussed thoroughly in the context of the mooted changes to Refining NZ’s long term plans and the future of NZ’s only oil refinery and source of the full complement of liquid fuels and and other essential petroleum based products.

    Whilst a lot of the current energy policies of Australia’s Liberal-national coalition government are arguably out of step with need to address with urgency the reduction of emissions of Greenhouse gasses , the decision to bolster storage capacity and financially support their existing refineries who are experiencing the same difficulties as Refining NZ in operating profitably as a direct consequence of the ‘dumping ‘ of cheap refined fuels from the massive State owned Chinese refineries.

    https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6922787/federal-government-to-spend-211m-on-fuel-security-and-saving-refineries/

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/sep/14/government-open-to-making-australian-motorists-pay-to-keep-fuel-refineries-open

    https://stratasadvisors.com/Insights/2019/11202019-Downstream-Asia-Refining-2019-Roundup

    It is blatantly obvious that China , under it’s current leadership , is intent on controlling all aspects of it’s massive trade to the best of their ability and Canberra has at least recognised that liquid fuel security is essential to avoid becoming a dependant client state.

    As a consequence to the economic upheavals caused by politically induced oil shortages in the 1970’s the International Energy Agency agreement was put in place , which commits Nations to having 90 days worth of fuel reserves, but Australia and New Zealand use offshore and on sea in transit oil as part of its reserves. i.e. a significant part of our treaty commitments are either stored overseas or in transit , mainly as unrefined crude in large tanker ships.

    Any possibility of actual warfare , trade warfare & embargo demands that we must prioritise our strategic reserves and ongoing access .

    The strategic nature of liquid fuel supply was the the reason for building and subsequently upgrading the refinery at Marsden Point and that is more relevant today than it has been at any point in the past 30 years.

    Political and economic uncertainty grows daily and the the advantages we have created through a well managed response to the pandemic will quickly disappear in the next 2 years if we adhere blindly to free market philosophies in strategic areas of our economy.

    The closure of the Mardsen Point refinery will increase the energy cost of all the classes of the Petroleum products we consume and will have to import separately .

    A Role for Government?

    Fuel is a significant source of government revenue

    The fuel excise portion on petrol includes:

    • 70.024 cents – National Land Transport Fund
    • 6 cents – ACC Motor Vehicle Account
    • 0.66 cents – Local Authorities Fuel Tax
    • 0.6 cents – Petroleum or Engine Fuels Monitoring Levy

    In addition, GST is collected on the overall price of fuel including excise. The GST on excise amounts to an 11 cents per litre "tax on taxes”

    Refining NZ’s financial performance has been reduced by lower margins on refined petrol and diesel as result of foreign refined product , aka ‘the Gull effect’.

    Greatly increased Electricity costs resulting from the Key government’s electricity ‘reforms’

    -“electricity accounts for around a third of the Company’s cost of operation. Refining NZ uses around 31% of the electricity consumed in Northland.”

    https://www.mbie.govt.nz/dmsdocument/4906-refining-nz-submission-electricity-price-review-options-paper-pdf

    The inevitable rise in the cost of Natural gas , a consequence of declining supplies resulting from government policy to ban ongoing Hydrocarbon exploration . The relatively low cost of gas over the past 6 years , the result of shutdown of gas powered electricity generation has insulated Refining NZ from the increasing over production in Asia and had the benefit of utilising an indigenous resource as a component for the liquid fuel production consumed here.

    The greatest effect from Covid -19 is a 60% reduction in demand for Jet Fuel and likely significant reduction in demand more Marine Fuel Oil , both of which will continue to be effected until boarder restrictions are reduced , though when and why that occurs is anyone’s guess right now.

    The final major product which needs to be considered is Bitumen .

    Until the Covid induced production shutdown Marsden Point processed sour Arabian heavy crude with it’s relatively uncommon Hydro-cracker units which produces ample Bitumen for the NZ road making sector.

    Under the current restricted refinery operation Bitumen production is irregular and if the Refinery closes down it will cease.

    The announcement today that the Refining NZ will cease Bitumen production and handling altogether needs serious consideration

    2020 ushered in the new IMO Marine fuel regulations which have eliminated the cheap but dirty [ sulphur] Heavy Fuel Oil which the globe’s Merchant fleet has used for over 70 years ,replacing it with Light Fuel Oil [ low sulphur ] which differs from automotive diesel only by specialised additives.

    Bitumen production was tied very closely to Heavy Fuel Oil production and the changes underway have had significant impact on the availability and the logistics of transporting Bitumen from the fewer remaining Refineries that produce it.

    The bulk of the Asia Pacific refineries are geared towards plastic production and possible alternative suppliers of Bitumen are in Malaysia , South Korea or California.

    Consumption in Asia is predicted to rise significantly over the next 5 years and the price is predicted to rise accordingly.

    The option of sourcing from the much cheaper suppliers in California carries significantly higher energy cost to NZ as a consequence of the shipping distance and multiple Port destinations required for nationwide distribution.

    With Refining NZ withdrawing from Bitumen production and in all probability not being able or willing to function as an import and distribution terminal , then all Bitumen for the Bay of Plenty , Waikato , Auckland and Northland area [over 50% of NZ population] will have to be imported and distributed through the Port of Tauranga and trucked .

    Given that the text book response to severe economic downturn is an increase in public works of which road making and repair are likely to be prime contenders suggest that Government has big role to play in ensuring that such things are not hindered by shortages of essential materials.

    They need to likewise consider the loss of employment and skills base that the technical , heavy engineering , maintenance , and fabrication functions of the workforce associated with Refining ,contribute to our economy .

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  • Supporting Māori success with Ngārimu Awards
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