Transport: on the wrong track

Written By: - Date published: 2:30 pm, August 27th, 2009 - 52 comments
Categories: national/act government, public transport, transport - Tags:


The government’s 3-year transport spending plan is out. Where’s all the cash going? Surprise, surpise it’s state highways. We’re going to spend $1.5 billion a year on state highways and just $300 million on public transport.

Meanwhile, oil’s above $US70 a barrel and staying there, petrol is pushing $1.70 a litre – the highest it’s been since the 2008 spike, and people aren’t buying cars – new registrations are down 45% in two years – while buses and trains are bursting at the seams with commuters.

Not only is the government displaying a total lack of commitment to cutting carbon emissions from transport, which could easily be done with public transport investment, they’re spending the money on projects that will be white elephants in the years to come.

Finally, you gotta love this:

This is the largest land transport investment in New Zealand’s history, and it represents a 17 per cent increase from the previous three-year period,” NZTA chairman Brian Roche said.

How dumb do they think we are? It’s always going to be a record spend if you don’t account for inflation and population growth. 17% minus 10% inflation over the last three years minus 3% population growth. So a 4% increase in real per person terms. Hmm. Not so impressive now eh?

52 comments on “Transport: on the wrong track”

  1. lprent 1

    In the meantime the buses I use every day are really really getting full. Why would I want to drive to work each day? Parking is crap and expensive. I can’t read the blogs on the iPhone. And I get to work frustrated with the idiot drivers trying to kill me and the no claims.

    Who’d want to drive? Obviously dickheads like Joyce. Probably looking at how much tax they can extract from the fools who commute in cars

    • cocamc 1.1

      So you think everyone who drives is a dickhead.

      • felix 1.1.1

        Come on cocamc, you can do this:

        What’s yellow? Obviously pokemons like Pikachu.

        Did I say “all pokemons are yellow”? Nup.
        Did I say “all yellow things are pokemons “? Nup
        Did I say “Pikachu is a yellow pokemon and presumably others may also be”? Bingo, you got it. Well done.

        Ok so now you try, but substitute “Pikachu, pokemon, yellow” for “Joyce, commuters, dickheads”.

    • Clarke 1.2

      I was walking past the Michael Fowler centre when Joyce turned up to launch this fiasco … of course, he arrived in the Crown limo, when Parliament is an easy ten minute walk (or five minute bus ride) from Parliament.

      What a tosser.

      • sweetd 1.2.1

        so then, what is the min safe distance that it would be okay for a crown minister to be driven in your world clarke?

        • Clarke 1.2.1.1

          Given the amount of weight Joyce is carrying, I’d suggest something more than the five metres he managed from the BMW to the Michael Fowler might be in order. Perhaps he could team up with Brownlee for a couple of strolls around Parliament’s grounds to improve both their health outcomes – that way they won’t be a further burden on the health system in their old age.

          But at least his arrival in the limo underlines the fact that his bullshit about buses and trains and cyclists and walking in his speech is mere Nact greenwash. What he’s doing speaks so loudly that no-one can hear whatever it is he’s saying.

  2. Well…. from my calculations public transport infrastructure spending in Auckland is getting cut by $260 million over the next three years, compared to what it would get from a continuation of the 2008/2009 funding mix.

    My analysis: http://transportblog.co.nz/2009/08/27/2009-2012-nltp-predictable-roadsfest/

  3. Ari 3

    I know you’re not all Labour supporters here, but to be honest, it’s hard to get upset about Key’s government being horrendous on public transport after all these years of having to deal with it being practically ignored by Labour.

  4. Ari

    That is not fair. It is said often but it is an attack line that is trotted out without the benefit of support from reality.

    As an example, think back to the rail system in 2000 and what shape it is in now.

    Auckland’s passenger numbers have gone up 7 fold in that time. Wellington has a whole stable of new trains arriving.

    The North Shore busway is up and running.

    More and more of the NLTP was being put into public transport infrastructure and services. The growth was significant but you cannot do it overnight. Service levels have to be gradually inproved and when useage has grown further increases can be provided.

    Besides you should read the latest NLTP and get concerned. All of that tarmack for what will be a decreasing need as peak oil kicks in again.

  5. Labour’s transport policies were pretty rubbish, although perhaps not quite as rubbish as National’s are. Labour were heading in the right direction though – I think that the high petrol prices of last year finally got into Cullen’s head the need to focus on PT. However, by then it was a bit late.

    • Jarbury

      Do you know how hard it was to turn the NLTP around? It is a fund with a huge momentum and you cannot just suddenly dump a whole lot of money into passenger transport.

      Part of the problem is that the local councils only wanted to spend a certain amount on passenger subsidies and if you check the NLTP over the past few years then you will see that the funds set aside were not spent.

      Transports systems do not change over night. They evolve. They have evolved reasonably well lately but there is a reactionary attempt now to head back to more road construction.

      PT was a focus in 2001. Even then peak oil was seen as a likely event although Hodgson thought that we had until 2030 before it would happen.

      • jarbury 5.1.1

        Hmmm… if Labour thought public transport was such a priority how come it took so long to figure out a way to fund Auckland’s rail electrification? And even then the government didn’t stump up the funds – but instead demanded Aucklanders paid for it through a regional petrol tax. It’s actually to Labour’s shame that electrification won’t be completed by the Rugby World Cup.

        Oddly enough, Wellington’s new trains got fully funded by the government.

        • mickysavage 5.1.1.1

          This had more to do with Wellington public service indifference and opposition to Auckland’s problems than political will.

          You should analyse the contributions to Wellington’s recent rail upgrades. 90% plus is being funded by a Crown grant. Auckland in comparison has to fund it from local sources.

          This was not the political will but the way it worked out. Parochial opposition is alive and well in NZ.

          You should check out other areas of Crown expenditure and marvel at how well Wellington seems to do.

          • Clarke 5.1.1.1.1

            90% plus is being funded by a Crown grant. Auckland in comparison has to fund it from local sources.

            True, although both are put in the shade by the fact that all equivalent roading projects (such as the Roads of National Significance) are 100% funded centrally. It just underlines the fact that National is interested in moving cars, not people.

      • Ari 5.1.2

        I hope you’ll excuse me if I have higher standards for paying attention to public transport than you do, Micky. 🙂

        I agree they don’t change overnight, which is why we need a significant shift of transport assets into public transportation before oil starts getting really expensive, and before we get to the point of no return in combating climate destabilisation.

        That said, hearing about the Road Transport Forum does reignite that spark of righteous indignation in me. 😉

        • Clarke 5.1.2.1

          That said, hearing about the Road Transport Forum does reignite that spark of righteous indignation in me.

          These are the people who donated more than $30,000 to National’s election campaign and who seem to have been looking for payback ever since. In my more cynical moments, I suspect that Joyce is simply Tony Friedlanders’ glove puppet – the truckies are making his lips move.

    • So Bored 5.2

      Could not agree more. Longer term the wisdom of Labour buying back our rail system will become more apparent. The world energy crisis is going to take trucks off the road and completely change the economics of road transport. Alternative technologies are a pipedream of those who believe that the laws of thermodynamics can be short circuited by magic.

      • Armchair Critic 5.2.1

        SB – I admire your optimism, but I think in the short term (i.e. while we have a National-led government) the long-term wisdom of buying back our rail system won’t be apparent. Rather, the donation the Road Transport Forum made to the National Party will hold sway.
        I have always suspected that the road transport industry receives a subsidy compared to alternative transport modes (sorry, can’t produce proof) and doesn’t operate on a level playing field. So in the short term, when the squeeze comes on the RTF will ask for and receive a bigger subsidy. Their cry will be something like “without trucks the economy stops”, which is a variation on the vile “there is no alternative”.

  6. spot 6

    “Stimulus” factor?

  7. BLiP 7

    With the sly manipulations of PPP’s transferring cost from one end of the ledger to the other, the government’s accounts will be looking shipley-shape just in time for 2011, and business will be able to report massive profits. Meanwhile, us poor punters will be paying for the roads once through general tax, then again through petrol tax, then again through ACC levies, then again through licencing and registration, and then again through tolls. Yippeee!

    Thanks National Ltd – I’m lovin’ it.

  8. tc 8

    Totally as expected, a continuation of underspending on public transport and promotion of the flat earth NACT mentality. So much for clean/green less carbon emissions which Public transport fosters and helps our tourism/rural position but then JK as tourism minsiter cares little about anything beyond the single term this coalition’s heading toward.
    A continuation of the myopic and preditctable from our visionless leaders….as long as they can get to their holiday homes in Omaha/Coromandel/Wairarapa and there’s more roads to clog up for RWC 2011.
    Having just returned from melbourne it’s sad for NZ as they understand good public transport infrastructure as necessity not optional and how damaging the PPP’s were with their rail system.
    Now watch our mediums do the usual sub standard job of ‘analysis’ ….I say mediums (methods of delivery) because the actual media we used to have were bought up, paid out, sent away so the government press releases become the actual ‘news’ items.

  9. djp 9

    I just got myself a scooter, the only way to fly

  10. Quoth the Raven 10

    I was thinking about private property and what abrogation of private property rights may come from this road building orgy?

  11. Wackey Leftie 11

    Quoting someone important whose name escapes me.

    Releiving traffic congestion by building more roads is like treating obesity by losening your belt.

  12. jarbury 12

    That was quoted in the Royal Commission for Auckland’s study.

  13. OK, throwing away the kneejerk politicking:

    The last NLTP under Labour had 52% of spending on state highways, this one has 59%, hardly a radical change, particularly given that the majority of revenue for the NLTP comes from state highways.

    You also forget much public transport spending on rail infrastructure does NOT come from this budget, but comes directly from the taxpayer, e.g. network improvements and renewals in Auckland and Wellington, electrification to Waikanae and the forthcoming Auckland electrification. Plus while this is effectively user pays for state highways, around half the cost of buses comes from users through fares (a third for rail in Auckland), so it is hardly surprising it isn’t the same. Given that outside the main centres, public transport is hardly ever going to be a viable alternative for most trips, due to population densities, then roads ARE always going to be dominant.

    How is spending money on public transport reducing emissions, unless the extra emissions from more services are offset by modal shift (which is not easy to achieve). Overcrowded transport is a sign the price is too low, because funnily enough the biggest resource waste is concentrating commuting in a very short period – because most transport capacity sits around unused most of the day.

    The last government’s Surface Transport Cost and Charges study demonstrated the big problem is that car and public transport use at peak times is grossly underpriced, leading to congestion/overcrowding.

    There has long been a lack of expenditure in high quality road projects across NZ, the last government starved rural safety projects significantly. An intelligent look at the NLTP would show a significant amount of money going into projects that are about realignment, eliminating dangerous intersections and other measures that improve safety – a nil growth in traffic doesn’t make these less valuable, and anyone who thinks road freight or private car use is going to decline is dreaming.

    • Draco T Bastard 13.1

      http://www.theoildrum.com/node/4172
      http://www.theoildrum.com/files/World%20oil%20production.png

      Without fuel road freight and private vehicle use declines.

    • lprent 13.2

      Given that outside the main centres, public transport is hardly ever going to be a viable alternative for most trips, due to population densities, then roads ARE always going to be dominant.

      Liberty – always stupidly and cheerfully missing the obvious. The main centres account for what? Something like 80% of the population of NZ. In transport by private vehicles, where the major emitters of unpaid for transport greenhouse gases live and where the vast majority of the money for roads goes. That is where public transport goes into and is useful. It gets pretty fast payoffs, because everyone who starts using public transport reduces the need for those vast urban motorway and road projects to go ahead. This isn’t particularly useful for somewhere like Masterton (no roading projects either) – but is for Auckland.

      …anyone who thinks road freight or private car use is going to decline is dreaming.

      It already is. I have no idea if it is showing in the stats yet. But you can see it dropping off on the Auckland roads over the last year or two. The bus lanes and trains have made it viable to commute using public transport for the first time in decades. The parking and fuel costs have provided and incentive to do so. I get to work as fast by bus as I do by car for ~$10, where as it’d cost me $20 at least in parking.

      At this point I don’t see ANY likely means of viable personal transport at anything like the current purchase and fuel prices in 2020-2050. It will be considerably more expensive. So those nice corners you’re wanting will be there for a small minority of the affluent. Not important for trucks etc that

      If you’d have your way, the public transport systems would keep diminishing as they did in the 80’s and 90’s. When we actually need them in the next decade as personal transport costs rise, they won’t be there. But you aren’t exactly a forward thinker. Seems like you live in a mythic past a lot.

      …because most transport capacity sits around unused most of the day.

      You are full of shit aren’t you. Try some practicable experimentation – beats theory waffle every time.

      Get on the buses at say 11am (as I do on occassion), and they are not full but have a considerable number of people on them. I avoid anything around 3pm because of the damn kids. Basically the only time I see near-empty buses is at 9pm going into town when I’ve been working late.

      I was told by a MOT official that the Christchurch free bus service on average carried 1 person who would otherwise have driven, the rest were people who would have caught existing bus services or walked.

      Oh I see. You’re talking about hearsay from the 1960’s? No wonder you have such a dated attitude on transport.

  14. What is often neglected is that major investment in public transport, particular in build up areas, means a mode shift from walking and cycling. I was told by a MOT official that the Christchurch free bus service on average carried 1 person who would otherwise have driven, the rest were people who would have caught existing bus services or walked. A net loss for the environment then, as a car has far less emissions than any bus. A bit more rigorous thinking would be nice rather than some Orwellian: car bad, bus good, train best.

  15. Draco T Bastard 15

    A net loss for the environment then, as a car has far less emissions than any bus.

    What’s the emissions per person?

  16. Galeandra 16

    Libertyscott compares apples to pears perhaps? “The last NLTP under Labour had 52% of spending on state highways, this one has 59%, hardly a radical change, ”

    A lot pf previous spend in our area was in realignment widening etc Nothing new ahead: motorway extensions roading system developments elsewhere etc are the order of the new spend.

    As for the econo-mumble about pricing signals etc etc I say : expand public services and underprice as far as possible.. it’s all to do with creating a way of living that acknowledges the real value of environment, universal mobility and community interest. God knows there’s little enough time to make the changes before we lose cheap oil for ever and ever…. and before King Carbon comes expensive.

  17. Draco T Bastard 17

    This is well worth reading in regards to the more roads mantra of NACT.

  18. lprent: Half of the cost of road maintenance is fixed, not based on usage. If road transport went down by 90% then those costs remain. Most Aucklanders do not work in the CBD, where most public transport serves. Unless you live and work on a public transport corridor, then it is of no use to you. It is almost useless for most commuters to Manukau, Henderson and North Shore as you simply don’t have the densities of trips to justify it – unless you think running lots of very empty buses is somehow a good thing. A bus was trialled between Porirua and the Hutt and was canned due to lack of patronage. Why? Because it couldn’t be competitive given the huge catchment area of where people live and where they work at both ends. Public transport enthusiasts can never point to where it works for non CBD based trips.

    Apparently traffic isn’t declining that much because revenue from fuel tax, even taking into account indexation continues to increase. In other words, what you’re observing is some trip suppression/modeshift, but on average people are driving as much as they were before. Noticed the NLTF revenue dropping? Nope. I’d trust that more that your random limited observations.

    Actually if I had it my way I’d let private enterprise respond to increases in demand, which funnily enough is exactly what has happened in Manchester in the UK, where 85% of public transport use is on commercial private bus services. If people want public transport so much, and the roads will have all this empty space, then why not just let bus services grow? Or do you have an obsession with planning everyone?

    The long term trend has been towards private motoring since the 1920s, I’d hardly describe most people who own cars as affluent and you’d go back 2 generations to find a time when most NZ families didn’t have at least 1 car. However, if you feel confident about your predictions, you’ll speculate on oil futures with your own money wont you? Thought not (not THAT confident).

    I am NOT full of shit, ever visited the bus depots or rail yards at that time, seen how the majority of the bus and train fleets sit around idle? two-thirds of trains in Wellington do nothing except for 2 hours in one direction in the AM peak (many run empty or virtually empty the other way) and vice versa. Yes, throw your insults about, but it would help if you left the grand church of the public transport evangelists and did some solid economics and public policy work. You can learn more from the world than just what you see yourself. Indeed, motorway widening is usually the same waste for a very short period of time

    No it isn’t hearsay from the 1960s, 2003 as a matter of fact. However, respond to inconvenient facts with an insult – it really strengthens your cause.

    Draco: Table 3.4A of the STCC final report stated that a bus running offpeak in Auckland has the same environmental impact as a single occupancy car, on a per person basis. The bus at peak time has double the impact. The average car has occupancy of about 1.2-1.3, so on a per person period it is pretty marginal whether people shift. The figures need updating, as fuel is now far cleaner, so I suspect it is improved – but it will have improved more for bus than for cars.

    Galeandra: Where are you getting the “Labour spent money mostly on realignments” nonsense? How about all of the huge new motorway projects now under construction started by Labour (and proudly:
    – Hobsonville Deviation (a four lane motorway extension from the end of the NW Mway to Upper Harbour Bridge, also duplicated by Labour which connects to the Greenhithe motorway also built by Labour)
    – Mt Roskill extension (recently opened)
    – Manukau extension
    – Manukau Harbour duplication (doubling the Mangere Bridge)
    – Tauranga Harbourlink.
    Add those completed:
    – Grafton Gully
    – Central Motorway Junction upgrade 1 and 2
    – Esmonde Road Interchange
    – ALPURT B2 (Northern Gateway) toll road
    – various additional lanes on NW and S motorway
    – south of Rangiriri to Huntly section of Waikato Expressway
    – Hawke’s Bay Expressway Taradale Rd to Airport section
    – Wellington Inner City Bypass Stage 2

    and Labour poured money into the investigation and design of Transmission Gully and was advocating a very goldplated version of the Waterview Connection project. Labour funded New Zealand’s largest road building spree since the 1960s, there was ONE major road project in Auckland when it got elected – the Albany-Orewa motorway. Now there are four under construction at the moment.

    I say stop subsidising people moving by motorised transport. Charge peak time use of roads so they run efficiently, and charge peak time use of public transport to recover the huge waste in having the infrastructure and equipment lying idle all day. Recover all local road costs from RUC and fuel tax. Anything else subsidises transport and encourages industry and urban patterns that consume transport. Pretending that there is going to be some enormous modeshift is just snake oil peddled by enthusiasts for trains. After all, if the doomsayers are correct, then Queenstown’s economy is dead – as it isn’t remotely near a railway, but then neither is Nelson, Taupo or Kaitaia, and funnily enough all survived the oil shocks to date (and were not disproportionately hit) without anyone noticing.

    • Draco T Bastard 18.1

      Table 3.4A of the STCC final report stated that a bus running offpeak in Auckland has the same environmental impact as a single occupancy car, on a per person basis. The bus at peak time has double the impact.

      Got a link for that because the link I provided shows the exact opposite.

    • RedLogix 18.2

      I am NOT full of shit, ever visited the bus depots or rail yards at that time, seen how the majority of the bus and train fleets sit around idle? two-thirds of trains in Wellington do nothing except for 2 hours in one direction in the AM peak (many run empty or virtually empty the other way) and vice versa.

      So what. So do the majority of private cars most of the time. I recall doing a rough analysis a couple of years ago and showed that there was far more idle resource tied up in idle motor cars than idle trains or buses by a very large factor.

  19. jarbury 19

    Unless you live and work on a public transport corridor, then it is of no use to you. It is almost useless for most commuters to Manukau, Henderson and North Shore as you simply don’t have the densities of trips to justify it unless you think running lots of very empty buses is somehow a good thing. A bus was trialled between Porirua and the Hutt and was canned due to lack of patronage. Why? Because it couldn’t be competitive given the huge catchment area of where people live and where they work at both ends. Public transport enthusiasts can never point to where it works for non CBD based trips.

    Look at a city like Paris, which has employment hubs spread around the city – yet still has very high public transport use. Furthermore, dispersed employment doesn’t HAVE to happen. If it’s clearly more efficient to focus employment in certain hubs then that’s what our planning rules should push for. If you look at Auckland’s long-term growth strategies they look to achieve exactly this – focus most growth in certain transport nodes like New Lynn, Henderson, Manukau City, Onehunga, Newmarket and so on.

    Apparently traffic isn’t declining that much because revenue from fuel tax, even taking into account indexation continues to increase. In other words, what you’re observing is some trip suppression/modeshift, but on average people are driving as much as they were before. Noticed the NLTF revenue dropping? Nope. I’d trust that more that your random limited observations.

    Here at the state highway traffic volumes of the past couple of years – when compared to the same month the year before:

    Jan 2008 v Jan 2007: -0.6%
    Feb 2008 v Feb 2007: -2.0%
    Mar 2008 v Mar 2007: +0.4%
    Apr 2008 v Apr 2007: -4.0%
    May 2008 v May 2007: -0.3%
    Jun 2008 v Jun 2007: -7.9%
    Jul 2008 v Jul 2007: -8.0%
    Aug 2008 v Aug 2007: -7.5%
    Sep 2008 v Sep 2007: -5.5%
    Oct 2008 v Oct 2007: -1.6%
    Nov 2008 v Nov 2007: -5.6%
    Dec 2008 v Dec 2007: -0.6%

    Jan 2009 v Jan 2008: -0.8%
    Feb 2009 v Feb 2008: -2.4%
    Mar 2009 v Mar 2008: -3.7%
    Apr 2009 v Apr 2008: +2.4%
    May 2009 v May 2008: -1.6%

    In the last couple of months traffic is up a bit, because petrol’s around 50c a litre cheaper than what it was last year.

    Crikey that’s a massive list of road projects Labour embarked upon. We could have electrified in 2004 if they’d not been so obsessed with building motorways.

    I say stop subsidising people moving by motorised transport. Charge peak time use of roads so they run efficiently, and charge peak time use of public transport to recover the huge waste in having the infrastructure and equipment lying idle all day. Recover all local road costs from RUC and fuel tax.

    You realise that would make it enormously expensive to get anywhere? Would the economic costs of making it damn difficult for people to get to work really be worth it? The fact that most transport projects that go ahead have a cost-benefit ratio of above 1 indicates not.

    • Draco T Bastard 19.1

      Would the economic costs of making it damn difficult for people to get to work really be worth it?

      Nope but I suspect that’s the reason why all the large oil companies are pulling out of selling fuel in NZ. Given Peak Oil is happening now in a few years I really don’t think that we’ll be able to afford the gas to put in the cars or the buses.

  20. RedLogix 20

    Oh goodie, a LibertyScott/Jarbury faceoff. Always wanted one of those.

    Sort of like if Jesus and SantaClaus had a fight, who would win?

  21. So Bored 21

    Its truly amazing how quickly the grass and weeds take over disused roads, then the trees break them up more. Splendid. Millions of bucks for trucks gone under lawn.

    Now if Jonkey was clever that cycleway might already exist………..

  22. Draco: Have the report in hard copy.
    RedLogix: Yes people spend a lot of money owning cars. They spend their own money doing that, they do it with clothes, books, CDs, all sorts of things, though cars are usually the second most expensive thing. Having a car creates enormous social and leisure options. However, there is a world of difference between forcing people to pay for the waste of others or choosing to buy something you rarely use. For quite a few people owning a car is a hobby and a pleasure – not just transport. Many cyclists are the same.
    Jarbury: Paris has low public transport use as mode share outside CBD focused trips. It has large orbital motorways to provide that access. Employment may be increasingly located at home, which of course is a good thing. Imagine if people spent one day a week at home instead of the office, working. Most urban congestion would evaporate. You don’t get that by subsidising peak commutes.

    It wouldn’t be enormously expensive to get anywhere. STCC indicates that peak car commuting in main centres would cost a lot more, so would peak public transport fares, but not so much. Off peak car use would probably cost the same in main centres, less in smaller centres. Off peak public transport fares would probably drop. There is enough money in the system to pay to maintain and upgrade it, but the distortions are that peak users don’t pay their fair share.

    I have a lot of respect for Jarbury, he actually looks for evidence and does some thinking. The fact we come from different philosophies for the same field should mean, over time, we both get to agree on more than not. For example, I totally agree with him that minimum parking requirements should go.

    • jarbury 22.1

      I think if we find something that we can agree on it probably means that we’re on the right track.

      I also want the most efficient outcomes. That’s why minimum parking requirements infuriate me, that’s why the fact that Auckland spends far more of its wealth on transport than your average European or Japanese city also infuriates me. Just take a look at an aerial photograph of Manukau City and look at all that valuable space wasted on parking. Surely it would make more economic sense to provide good public transport to the area than to waste so much space for car storage?

      There are also other externalities of cars that aren’t measured at the moment. What about their CO2 emissions? What about all the particulate matters they spew out that kill hundreds of people a year in Auckland alone? What about the fact that we have to import billions upon billions of dollars worth of oil each year to run our car fleet?

      I agree that we shouldn’t simply look at mode-split as a sign of success or failure. However, when you look at the enormous negative effects of car dependency, I think mode-split probably gives a pretty good indication about the other “end-point’ factors I have mentioned above.

      Contrary to popular belief, I am a big fan of a balanced transport system – not one where all the money goes into building fancy railway lines! The thing is that the current system isn’t balanced, and compared to most overseas cities we’re still doing what they were doing 20 or 30 years ago. They’ve figured out it’s pointless trying to build your way out of congestion through building more roads – why is it taking us so long to figure this out?

  23. If the space if privately owned, it is up to owner as to whether it is wasted. I wouldn’t judge someone who owned a big house but didn’t use most of the rooms. None of my business. However, if regulations mean usage is restricted to one purpose then it is an issue. New Zealand is hardly a country lacking land.

    CO2 emissions come from all motorised transport – and if priced correctly it will make precious little difference. 1.8c/km according to STCC for a car at peak times in Auckland to recover all marginal environmental costs. The particulate matter primarily comes from diesel vehicles, not petrol, and has been drastically reduced due to improved fuel specs. It was once 1500ppm of sulphur, now 50ppm. However, like I said elsewhere, most particulate matter outside Auckland is due to residential heating (wood and coal). So let’s not just target transport then.

    Who cares about importing oil? “We” don’t do it. It isn’t an externality to import something as long as you can afford to pay for it. It is internalised, so dismiss the crazy socialist economics that says balance of payments matters, it really doesn’t as long as private individuals don’t borrow to maintain consumption. NZ wants others to import its food, so swings and roundabouts really.

    See I don’t think “car dependency” is a negative per se, as long as people pay for efficient use of roads and can afford cars.

    However you’re right, you can’t build your way out of congestion, but then the US tried to build public transport as a way out of congestion. Both have failed miserably. The answer is not in supply, but in price. Building massively planned road networks was 1960s thinking, building massive heavy rail or metro rail was 1970s thinking (it was in Auckland, just Aucklanders weren’t prepared to pay part of the cost), the thinking today is now about pricing roads correctly (see London, Stockholm, Singapore, Milan and studies in umpteen cities including Auckland).

    However, it is politically unpopular yet ticks boxes for environmentalists and free marketeers – only conspiracy theorist populists and hardened old fashioned socialists think people shouldn’t pay for a scarce commodity consumption of which has significant externalities upon others.

    • Draco T Bastard 23.1

      Who is this STCC you keep mentioning? Can’t find anything about them on the web.

    • jarbury 23.2

      Liberty – talking about parking first, the problem is that minimum parking requirements do necessitate what is often an over-provision of parking. An interesting study conducted into New Lynn showed that the area had twice the supply of parking compared to what was “in reality” actually necessary. Yet even then, the level of parking was below what would have been required if the place was built anew. It is a mandated waste of space.

      I agree that some sort of pricing system makes a lot of sense. I think a petrol tax is the most sensible way of undertaking road-pricing, because it’s so cheap to administer. I guess the disadvantage is that there’s no distinction made between someone driving at peak hour and someone driving off-peak. However, that issue is partly solved by congestion – which in effect prices (or frustrates) people off the road at peak hour. This doesn’t require a system that is enormously expensive to administer (like London’s congestion pricing scheme which barely breaks even), and all you need to do is to not keep expanding your road system for peak hour flows – just focus on relieving off-peak bottlenecks. The reason I actually support the Victoria Park Tunnel project (one of the very few motorway projects I do support) is that the current situation is inadequate at off-peak times as well as peak times.

      Similarly with public transport, I think we should have higher on-peak fares and lower off-peak fares. Most other cities around the world do this, to encourage people who don’t HAVE to travel at peak times, to instead travel off-peak. What we also need to do is ensure that we maintain the frequencies of our services at off-peak times, so that people have a good public transport option when travelling off-peak. At the moment, people who may not even have to travel at peak times are attracted to do so, because that’s the only times when there are good frequencies (and on some routes, it’s the only times they operate).

      I do think that one of the reasons I get so annoyed by motorway projects is that they are trying to relieve peak hour flows, which in a way is just impossible unless you overbuild to an incredible extent. That is because as soon as you widen a motorway you attract people who used to travel off-peak, you attract people who previously might not have taken the trip (due to congestion putting them off) and you attract people who might have otherwise taken public transport or cycled or walked. Most motorways are pretty empty for around 18 hours a day – with the southern motorway between the city and Mt Wellington being probably the only real exception. If we spread the load better we could achieve a lot.

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