Toll by Stealth

Written By: - Date published: 4:17 pm, July 13th, 2019 - 51 comments
Categories: infrastructure, law and "order", police, public transport, transport, uncategorized - Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

You may not know this, but about one in every 400 cars that go through the Waterview tunnel pay toll to go faster than the legal speed limit of usually 80 km/h. Thing is, these drivers often don’t know it either till they get the speeding ticket (AKA infringement notice) in the mail.

All approaching motorways to the tunnel have variable speed limits. However, they don’t seem to be enforced or ‘policed’ at all. Certainly, on the North-Western motorway (SH16) you’ll find drivers doing all sorts of speeds when the signs state 80 km/h as the limit; it’s much worse during the School Holidays. No radar control, no speed cameras, no nothing.

Little wonder then that when they race into the tunnel some forget to slow down to avoid the fine. Regular commuters are familiar with the point-to-point speed cameras, possibly because they have been stung once or because word of mouth; that sort of ‘news’ travels fast. However, in the holidays, many non-regulars use the tunnel and the number of breaches of the speed limit shoots up. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to work that one out.

I have never quite understood why you are not allowed lane changes in the tunnel. If everybody is doing the exact same speed there would be no point, would there? Again, the range of speeds inside the tunnel is not quite as ‘impressive’ (more like hair-raising) as on the approaching motorways but there still are the ‘slow pokes’ and the compulsive ‘speedsters’ with limited self-control and even less foot-eye coordination (AKA lead-foot syndrome).

Some interesting stats about the tunnel use can be found here. I have no idea why this is the only article (syndicated here) in which one can find this info but no doubt there’s a reason for it; NZTA logic defies common sense at many levels and NZTA is apparently not a happy place to work. This should raise some concern because they’re tasked with looking after our safety on the roads.

I don’t have a problem with speed reduction and better enforcement of the law. It can save lives, it saves petrol, and it reduces wear and tear and thus is better for the environment all around and our pockets. However, some people react to such proposals as if they are an acute threat to their lives. As if they have a God-given right to speed, and kill. Well no, they don’t, but don’t tell them that, or they go OTT. In my opinion, the reaction to curbing someone’s sense of entitlement is always the same. For example, listen to all those wannabe Rambos who have to sell back their priced and beloved MSSAs to the Government, with inscriptions and all. As if the world as we know it is ending – it is, but guns won’t help much in the long run.

Anyway, it is great to have the Waterview tunnel and it would be even better if/when we have a properly designed and functioning Public Transport in and around Auckland, including a railway connection to the Airport. In another post, I might write about the shambles that is Auckland International Airport and the Koru Lounges. Then again, maybe not, because I would have to confess that I have never set foot in one of those – it is not on my bucket list either, shock horror, nor is valet parking at the airport. You know that you have failed in life when you have lost the will to set foot in the revered Koru Lounge at Auckland International Airport. The meek shall inherit the Earth but not the Koru Lounge nor are they allowed to speed in the Waterview tunnel, which is only for those who pay the toll.

Ok, this post lacks focus and direction but Micky’s occupied with and by chookogeddon in Titirangi, which in reality is a social, community issue, and not an animal welfare one. I have nothing much to say about Assange, Clinton, Brexit, Corbyn, Trump, NZ talkback radio, or Mike Hosking, for example, and I’ll leave that to others. Sorry about that.

51 comments on “Toll by Stealth”

  1. Drowsy M. Kram 1

    'Chookogeddon' laugh – it's an original! ‘Chickageddon’, however…
    https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22530130-600-clucking-hell-the-nightmare-world-without-chickens/

    I'm not in too much of a hurry these days, and have no problem being 'stuck' behind drivers travelling 20% under the speed limit.  After all – "It's a limit, not a target."

    http://saferoaduse.unhcr.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/ENGLISH_SRU_speed_2019_03.pdf

  2. Sam 2

    But if you go the way of the Autobahn, you must accept strict penalties both legally and insurance.

    Or in American airports they don't have lines unless you travel chartered, every just gets chucked into the same queues. There's no special line you can pay to get into that moves faster. Get asked the same stupid questions by TSA they ask every one else. Why are you here? Could ask myself the same question.

    Should always sniff and ask stupid people with one job what that damp smell is. Most times they'll ask what smell? Then I reply that's the smell of socialism. 

    • Obtrectator 2.1

      "Or in American airports they don't have lines unless you travel chartered, every just gets chucked into the same queues. There's no special line you can pay to get into that moves faster."

      Try carrying a walking-stick (even if you don't actually need one) and making obvious use of it.  Just a chance they'll whisk you through for fear of being sued. 

    • Infused 2.2

      What there are queues. You pay to get on first. They queue in groups

      • Sam 2.2.1

        Road users are already taxed to the max, and have insurance. The government should not be flipping the current system without actually doing anything to provide an alternative.

        I could understand if other methods of transit were being expanded and improved, but they're not really. The idea here is simply to make driving combustion engines a luxury for only the rich. Our economy is a service economy, and if everyone can no longer reach and use those services it all falls apart like a house of cards in a fucking hurricane. Keeping it budget neutral is a great way to take a bit of money that isn't really doing much and expanding EV's and other parts of the economy. 

        • Incognito 2.2.1.1

          What insurance? Third-party is not mandatory in NZ, which is absurd IMO.

          • Sam 2.2.1.1.1

            Theres a few different types of financial products out there that are mandatory, all loans require 3rd party insurance, tradies and delivery drivers would certainly get caught up in that. But I was thinking about sovereign risk insurance. All these really long multi year projects are priced in today's money. It could be a couple of years before you sign up with a project management team and work actually begins and inflations gone up 1%-3% per year and by the time of delivery date Y'know you're paying billionz more than projected. So there's insurance against those risks. Or if your national credit rating is down graded and the cost of borrowing spikes you can get insurance for that. So effectively what ever the budget blow out is you can pay it down at a different rate over time than just paying up front, which is important I guess when your borrowing for roads and cities.    

            • Incognito 2.2.1.1.1.1

              Right EO, Sam. I thought you were talking about car insurance!?

              Road users are already taxed to the max, and have insurance.

    • Paul Campbell 2.3

      I was pretty amazed to discover that Auckland Airport has special fast lanes thru  immigration/etc for their business class passengers – seems so un-kiwi that NZ Immigration provides that service

      • David Mac 2.3.1

        It's part of the unwritten attraction of flying Business Class. To be able to to sit there and pretend to be doing something important with your iphone prototype while the unwashed shuffle past on their way to their 8 hours of levitated contortion.

        Business Class = about 6 inches of legroom, 1 inch of seat padding, a better quality of plastic food and the cabin crews' very best attempt at a genuine smile. Despite their early start with the journey, arrive about .05 seconds before me.

        • Sam 2.3.1.1

          yknow business class is about 60% of the profit and premium economy is like 30% of the profit. So effectively the ones at the back should be saying thanks for the free ride.

      • Sam 2.3.2

        Airlines have this secret they do. They add on half an hour to the flight time just in case there are late check ins, missed departure time or what ever. So if the flight is late or what ever the captain can make up the time or go a bit slower and save a bit of fuel in flight and still arrive on time. 

        So that's why I like Singapore's Changi airport. You can literally go from the arrivals gate to the taxi in 50 meters and it's like the smart gate at Auckland Airport, you just walk through. 

        Y'know what makes me sad about Auckland / New Zealand. The slight racism, the anti intellectualism. Y'know we can just be so unsatisfied. New Zealand could be a great economic power but continues to be mired by its Neo-feudal to Neo-conservative neoliberalism which creates endless amounts of cash with out checking if it will end in disaster like the housing bubble. 

        It is also sad to see the moral life it has rejected by its homogenous christian history casually inserted into a lost Māori arts and culture. That just leaves New Zealand a bit lifeless and sad.

        • Paul Campbell 2.3.2.1

          Unless you arrive at just the right gate it can be way way more that 50m to leave Changi

          Actually the thing I really hate about Auckland Airport is the way it turns the NZ experience into exit-thru-the-giftshop – all that duty free, the perfume sales alone mean that I am literally in tears whenever I arrive in the country – I want a "duty free bypass" channel for people who find duty free physically uncomfortable

          • Sam 2.3.2.1.1

            If we are shitting on the way customs does business then I think they should have a scanner you can shove 40ft conex shipping containers through so they don't have to rip into them on a hunch. That and I really dislike AirNZs business class seat layout. For $10k there's no privacy.

  3. Andre 3

    Having trouble finding it now, but about a month ago there was a fluffy of articles about the NZTA MegaMaps tool saying most roads should have their speed limits reduced. But they were showing 100 km/h as the safe recommended speed limit through the tunnels. Go figure.

  4. greywarshark 4

    The idea of a toll/ fine on top of other expenses when youre a visitor to a strange place is annoying and I have never forgiven Dunedin for an unreasonable fine, which they wouldn't lift.   I think it's just the fines and the university that keeps that place going.

    And the way that people carry on about speed limits, even when they are very reasonable, is amazing.   We have a major road running near the sea that small suburbs also use as their access road.   So there is quite a lot of traffic turning onto it and when the suggestion of bringing the limit down from 100 to 80 over a few kilometres, a few people were very vocal.    It would make a tiny addition of time into town.   I know the people and they are seniors who are very focussed on anything they take up, and apparently once an idea is accepted, it can't be changed.

  5. Ad 5

    80kms per hour is what the tunnel is safety audited for. 

    Don't want to pay a fine? Pull your foot off the accelerator.

    Easy.

    • Andre 5.1

      Well, yes, that is the "submission to authority" view. And further, the time difference between travelling the section currently restricted to 80 km/h at 80 vs at 100 is only around 40 seconds.

      But is the authority based on sound principles, or is it arbitrary and capricious? The fact that the NZTA's own modelling suggests 100 km/h as a safe and appropriate speed through the tunnels (see nzherald link above) suggests the authority is being arbitrary and capricious. Particularly when that same modelling tool suggests ridiculously low speeds as being "safe and appropriate" for other roads around the country. Being arbitrary and capricious does nothing for general respect for authority.

      • Ad 5.1.1

        Very little of the Auckland network is safe at 100kms. 

        Waterview is safe for that about 5 hours of the day – at night. Even at that point it is incredibly heavily managed. Last night it was fully shut down for preventive maintenance. 

        The reason why they have so few fatalities and injuries on that section is because it is incredibly heavily managed – and those speed limits change every day with variated speed restrictions on the big electronic boards. 

        Those variated speeds are guided by a team of people with PhDs in traffic and fluid mechanics  who tilt the algorithms one way or the other every 5 minutes or so at peak. 

        On no other part of the network can your radio be broken into by the control team on any and every band to instruct you what to do. Maybe they should.

        It's now almost as critical a part of the network as the Harbour Bridge in terms of managing the whole system. When Waterview goes down – usually for cars pulling over – SH1 and surrounding networks just halt.

        There's a control room something like Star Trek's bridge on the North Shore where all of this is live. There is not a single arbitrary or capricious element to any part of managing the system. 

        So slow down. It's good for your life, and the lives of others.

        • Incognito 5.1.1.1

          So slow down. It's good for your life, and the lives of others.

          QED

          Thank you for that insightful comment.

      • Sacha 5.1.2

        The risk tolerance in a tunnel is less than the rest of the roading network. Hence the ban on lane-changing too. The consequences of any crash are more extreme and a lot of the delay in opening that tunnel was testing the systems that deal with the aftermath.

        Sometimes following the regulations without quibble is the smart thing to do.

        • greywarshark 5.1.2.1

          Knowing about the reason and intent of controls and laws is necessary, so thanks for explaining Sacha.

          • Sacha 5.1.2.1.1

            Cheers. I wish our transport agencies did a better job of explaining their work – might help improve our political discourse.

            • Ad 5.1.2.1.1.1

              +100

              Aucklanders spend about 20% of their lives in the transport system, and it is by a long way the most regulated and enforced part of their lives.

    • bwaghorn 5.2

      The ultimate idiot tax ! 

      The only one you should and can avoid .

      Suck it up whingers and learn to drive properly 

    • Incognito 5.3

      Yet, over 100,000 tickets suggest it is not quite that simple. There is some behavioural modification before entering the tunnel, e.g. traffic signs and other warnings, but the best modifier is what other drivers do on the approaching motorways. This is where many get ‘swept along’, so to speak; they go with the flow. I reckon the flash of a speed camera is one of the best deterrents and modifiers of behaviour on the road.

  6. Infused 6

    Our roads are too slow in some parts.

    Not being able to change lanes is good. Dont have to worry about idiots not looking and whacking into you

    • Marcus Morris 6.1

      I live in the Bay of Plenty and make frequent trips to Auckland along SH2.  There is a speed restriction of 90km/h from Te Puna to Whakamarama,  an 80km/h limit through the Karangahape Gorge and another 90km/h stretch from the intersection with the Thames turn-off and Pokeno. All are eminently appropriate. Before the restrictions on that latter stretch, fatal accidents around Maramarua were frequent. I cannot recall one since it was designated a "safer speed zone".  Apart from short interludes through settlements there are no speed restriction for the entire length of the drive around the Coromandel Peninsula. For one of the countries busiest and most tortuous highways, I find this astounding. IMO there are very few sections of roading throughout NZ where the the open speed limit, 100m/h is sensible.

  7. fustercluck 7

    This is a great article. Completely non-ideological. It could just as easily have appeared on Whale Oil. It is a great criticism of government overreach and caprice.

    • Incognito 7.1

      Thank you for the compliment. I’m looking forward to a syndication request on and by WO. The non-partisan approach is the way of the future.

  8. Chris T 8

    80kph is 22.22 meters per second

    The tunnel is 2.4km

    So that is 1 minute and 48 seconds to just do the right speed that the massive signs saying 80 kph as you enter and while you are in there say.

    I know these days every body goes on about being "time poor", but this doesn't seem the greatest sacrifice to make time wise

    • David Mac 8.1

      There is a way to travel a complete journey at 160kph. Set off earlier. Leaving 5 minutes earlier makes a huge difference.

      Heading South on State Highway 1 there is T intersection and a stop sign just after Hunderwassar's public convenience at Kawakawa. It's 100 kms from my place. So many times motorists scoot past me like demons possessed. So very often, there they are, 5 cars ahead of me, creeping up to the Kawakawa stop sign. I could jump out and beat them to the road to Paihia walking.

      • Ad 8.1.1

        6.45am to 9am, and 4pm to 6.30pm, leaving 5 minutes earlier makes almost no difference in Auckland. 

        • David Mac 8.1.1.1

          Little difference time wise but you're 500 people further up the queue to town.

          Yes Ad, unfortunately the best solution anyone has come up with for Auckland's congestion woes is……. nothing really. The harbours are spectacular, shame about the skinny little bits of land. The final push that pushed me out of Auckland and up to Fabulous Far North about 11 years ago was a watershed moment one gridlocked afternoon on the Northwestern motorway. Fabricating lies in my head, on my way to a job interview for a job I didn't really want.

          • Ad 8.1.1.1.1

            Yes I'm heading for Wanaka full time. 

            But for Aucklanders:

            take the train or Express Bus. More journey confidence than any other  mode. 

          • David Mac 8.1.1.1.2

            I didn't get the job, they spotted my heart on my sleeve. I got the good bad news at Matai Bay. God didn't rest on the Sabbath, she sculpted Matai Bay. Twin horse-shoe shaped waves are as good as butterfly kisses.

            Speeding motorists are usually in a mad rush to do not much. It's a crappier risk/reward scenario than Lotto.

            There's a fair bit of the machismo wank going on with driving I fear. "How dare you overtake me, my penis is not small. I shall pull out into the fast lane and go round you and pull back in,  thereby indicating that neither of us have a dominant penis."

    • Incognito 8.2

      The human mind and psychology beg to differ. Did you know that time is slower at bus stops? Something to do with Relativity Theory AKA human patience.

      • David Mac 8.2.1

        Yeah, it's an annoying bastard of life best highlighted with birthdays.

        When I was 11, turning 12 took forever to arrive.

        At 48 it's "What I'm 49 already? I was blowing out candles yesterday!"

        Life is a shit deal, when we need it to stretch out a bit, we’re having a birthday yesterday. When we can finally afford a chick magnet, our Porsche is a Menoporsche.

        Shit happens backwards, I want to be this smart and 18.

  9. David Mac 9

    Wanaka is beautiful Ad, cool. Waking up every morning to look at a vista like the lid of a box of Christmas edition Griffins Assorted Creams, nice.

    • Ad 9.1

      Last August we had a hard snow to lake level for two days.

      I cycled to Hawea and we had it horizontal.

      Everyone endures a major city for as long as they can. 

      Everyone who can then leaves.

      • David Mac 9.1.1

        I think family and friends is what keeps people in cities.

        It's the most common response I hear to the question "Why don't you move to where there are no traffic lights?"

        We all place family first, if they're mainly in a major centre, moving away can hurt more than many of us want to bear.

        • Incognito 9.1.1.1

          I think family and friends is what keeps people in cities.

          That, but for many recent immigrants and others it is also schools, facilities, work, hospitals, universities, et cetera. And it becomes a self-perpetuating process.

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