Yesterday we passed two significant milestones for a better transport future.

Government Policy Statement (GPS) Confirmed

Yesterday Transport Minister Phil Twyford released the confirmed 2018-28 GPS. The GPS is a critical piece of the transport puzzle as it sets the direction for the country’s upcoming transport investment, both through what it focuses on and the overall funding band for different activities.

The GPS has been tweaked but remains largely the same as the draft that was released in April and is a significant and welcome improvement over what the previous government had planned – which saw ever increasing amounts of transport spending funnelled into a handful of big state highway projects. By comparison, this GPS is far more balanced through big improvements to public transport, local roads, even though State Highways are still get the single biggest share of transport spending and more than they did from 2015-18.

Cabinet has approved a new 10-year plan for transport which will unlock record investment in the roads, rail and public transport for our growing regions and cities, and save lives on our roads, Minister of Transport Phil Twyford has announced.

The Government Policy Statement 2018 on Land Transport increases investment from $3.6 billion in 2017/18 to a record $4 billion in 2018/19. It will continue to rise to $4.7 billion a year by 2027/28. Additionally, the Government is also investing $1 billion this year in specific projects, such as the City Rail Link, and councils will invest a further $1 billion a year.

“The Government, through the National Land Transport Fund, will invest more than ever in transport, to boost the economies of our cities and our regions, while making travel safer for everyone,” Phil Twyford said.

“Auckland alone loses $1.3 billion a year in productivity to congestion. We will tackle gridlock in Auckland by giving commuters options through major road projects and upgrades such as Mill Road and Penlink.

“Throughout New Zealand more commuters will be able to leave the car at home because of investment in public transport, walking, and cycling.

“This investment will unleash the potential of our cities. It will complete the expressway projects begun under the previous government and allow for future state highway upgrades, with up to $9.5 billion for state highway improvements.

“Regions are set to gain through investments to help freight flow faster and more efficiently. Up to $6.2 billion will be available for regional road and local upgrades, along with more funding for rail upgrades and a big boost to maintenance after years of neglect. The majority of regional councils made submissions in support of this plan after suffering funding cuts under the previous government.

Some of the key changes between in funding levels between the draft plan and the finalised plan are:

  • There is a significant increase to the public transport category which primarily covers the operation of services. This is to ensure the package agreed as part of the Auckland Transport Alignment Project can be funded while also funding public transport across the rest of the country. This increase doesn’t show up in my graph due to….
  • What appears to be a decrease in funding for Rapid Transit. I say appears because the funding has just been spread out over the 10 year period more evenly than assuming it would all be spent within the next five or so years.
  • There are some slight improvements to the minimum investment for walking and cycling.
  • Some small tweaks to the funding bands for Road Safety Promotion and Demand Management activity as well as the Transitional Rail activities.

The graph below shows how the GPS’ have evolved over the years from Labour’s never implemented 2009 draft (the first GPS). The solid bars represent the minimum spend while the lighter areas the funding range.

Perhaps one of the important changes is this comment from the press release.

“The New Zealand Transport Agency will increase their share of costs for certain high and very high priority locally-led projects, meaning councils can get more transport investment without asking more of ratepayers.

This will really help local councils in delivering projects. It’s unclear if it also means that there will be a reduced farebox recovery target which would help in ensuring Auckland Transport can put more services on to grow PT use.

Overall this GPS is a huge step forward and the versions we saw under the previous government and it represents much of what we’ve campaigned on for many years.

Next we await the release of the NZTA’s National Land Transport Programme – which is what sets the exact actual funding level within the GPS bands.

Council approves 10-year budget

The second piece of the puzzle to fall into place yesterday was the council approving their 10-year budget (formerly the Long Term Plan). Previous discussions between councillors, the mayor and staff had been tense over it, particularly the introduction of a 10c per litre regional fuel tax. But that largely faded away in the final vote with 15 councillors voting in favour of it and just two opposing.

Auckland Council today struck its 10-year Budget, beginning a decade of transformational infrastructure investment that will improve Auckland’s transport network, support the provision of housing and enhance our environment.

“Our 10-year Budget delivers transformative infrastructure investment needed to respond to Auckland’s unprecedented population growth.

“It’s a build-it budget in every sense of the word. We are embarking on the largest ever infrastructure build in Auckland’s history and doing so while keeping rate rises low and reasonable,” says Mayor Phil Goff.

The 10c per litre regional fuel tax comes in on Sunday and it will be fascinating to see what impact, if any, it has. Will we see more people on public transport or riding a bike, will it impact on what kinds of cars people buy and drive? The introduction of the RFT should also make it easier in the future to bring in proper road pricing, which would replace it. The council and government continue to look at options but it’s unclear when we’ll hear more about it.

With these plans now adopted, one aspect I think both the council and government need to drastically improve is their communications around what is being funded and what’s in the plan. They need to do more than just a couple of project pages on AT’s or NZTA’s website.

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  1. An awful lot of half-way positions in the document.

    – Kiwirail funding still unsettled.
    – Role of Councils shrinking but not clear on what a new governance balance might be.
    – No mention of nationwide capacity to deliver.
    – Integration of urban development authority or state housing entities with NZTA just baby steps.
    – Doesn’t address supply of vehicles, age of fleet, imports: it’s still infrastructure first, supply issues later.
    – Police role in road safety barely rate a mention though they are the core instrument in road safety, enforcement, investigation, and crash learning
    – No acknowledgement that this is a democracy: how AT or ORC simply fail to take people with them and just make change so begrudging and a drag on the demos
    – And as for comms and engagement, it just reads like the capital departments changed focus but no one else did

    Fine to get the network shifts in policy, but if these guys don’t take the people with them, transport could be a good part of taking this government into just one term alone.

    1. I agree with you that the first and second questions are valid, although suspect they will be dealt with in GPS2.0. Reason being they are big questions to answer given the government has only been in for 3 months (remembering the timing of when draft GPS was released).

      So this seems to me to be a transitional document: does what they can now quickly and easily with funding, then work on gnarly policy and organisational details that you highlight. Some of them, like Kiwirail, may even require legislative change.

      One question for you: Isn’t infrastructure one element of supply? And isn’t vehicles a good associated with demand for travel? I’m confused that distinction …

      1. Stu, I go past the Auckland port every day, day and night, and there are car carriers by the dozen streaming in to SH1 .

        Plenty of governments are signalling that they won’t be accepting combustion-engined cars at all within the next five or ten years. Some have significantly subsidised electric cars, to some effect.

        What I observe from this plan is a tilt towards a different kind of infrastructure, but very little tilt against flooding this place with more crap cars. By not addressing this actual availability, price, quality, and engine of cars, the government hasn’t really tested its available instruments in more than quite passive and long term forms.

        1. I don’t disagree there are cars being imported, I’m merely suggesting that is a function of *demand* rather than supply. Whereas infrastructure is an example of supply, even though you imply it’s demand-side. Anyway, I think we’re splitting economic hairs over what was a simple confuzzlement.

        2. New Zealand is already one of the world’s leading dumping grounds for used cars. Over 50% of our “new” (to NZ) car fleet is ex-somewhere else. Unless NZ enacts legislation to stop it, it looks likely that while the rest of the developed world adopts a new=electric policy, NZ will just keep on importing their unwanted cars i.e. NZ=petrol to the end….

        3. And all this while the only policy the Nats had to reduce transport emissions was EV uptake.

        4. Given they are mostly imported from Japan it would only require Japan to adopt a new=electric policy and we would end with a fleet of electric cars 5-10 years later.

        5. I dunno, Jezza, there could be other countries that snaffle those up because they meet their emissions standards, and we just get left with all the petrol cars from elsewhere.

        6. There’s a limited market in the developed world for 2nd hand Japanese cars as they are right hand drive. Australia is starting to buy them which is driving the price up, India would be the biggest threat, but I can’t see them tightening their emissions standards before us!

          More importantly there are few other options for importing cheap but relatively new cars than Japan as it is primarily driven by their unique tax system that penalises people for owning old cars.

          Basically there are two real options in NZ import used cars from Japan or bring in more new cars which will eventually supply our used car market. Either route will lead towards a lot more EVs at some point in the future.

        7. We need more incentives than just the trickle-down effect. I’ll see you back here in 5 years and we’ll see where we’re heading.

        8. By far the biggest selling EV in NZ is the Nissan Leaf, all of which are JUC imports. If you exclude HEVs and PHEVs, new EVs (mostly from Tesla, BMW and Hyundai) would be a tiny fraction of the EV market.

        9. i like the system we have at the moment, the Japanese tax payers subsidises the first Japanese owner to buy an EV. NZ then imports 2nd hand EV at a cheap price thanks to the subsidy. If we banned second hand imports, the price of a Nissan Leaf would skyrocket or the NZ taxpayer would have to start subsidising them

        10. Yes, Dan, but we should be able to restrict those second hand imports to just the EV and HEV’s. Jezza thinks we don’t have sovereignty enough to do that, and unfortunately he’s probably right. We lost sovereignty over many things a long time ago.

        11. I think we have the sovereignty. Our constraints are more of internal attitudes.

          Successive governments have been cautious because of the affordability question and the importance of cars to accessing work. So this is one of those things that needs to be moved alongside all the other changes that reduce car dependency.

          Used car importers do operate in an international market, so need a few years warning of major changes. So I think concern for them has been a factor in the slow rate of ramping up emissions standards, too.

          That being so, those are considerations not barriers, and there’s no time like the present to signal more aggressive ramping up of the barrier to entry for rubbish vehicles.

        12. Heidi – I have no idea about sovereignty, I would assume we could ban car imports tomorrow if we wanted to, unless the TPP has specific provisions (it’s the only trade deal with have with Japan).

          The much bigger issue with banning specific imports is it would drive up the price of cars, which with our car dependency would pretty much guarantee a government one term. I’d rather Labour didn’t go over the cliff with any changes as I think we will benefit much for from them being around for 2 – 3 terms and bedding in some significant changes.

        13. The unwanted cars are diesel, as they produce more pollution.
          It is interesting to see the promotions on new diesel car from certain manufacturers when their home market has been decimated by their fraudulent actions.
          Would have expected more on reducing pollution from a ‘Green” influenced collation.

        14. NZ is not a major dumping place for used cars, we are a minor market at best, the biggest markets for used Japanese cars are Kenya, South Africa, Russia, Pakistan, and a lot of African countries then NZ.

          Used imports made car cheaper in NZ, they also brought down the price of new cars.

        15. Heidi where are you going to find all these second hand EV’s to import? Japan is not a big EV market, the big market for EV’s are at the moment in Europe.

          The NZ govt would need to subsidise EV’s to make them attractive to buy, which is how the govt in Norway managed to influence Norwegian buyers, I can’t see many kiwis being happy to subsidise wealthy people into new cars.

        16. True, MC111. And was there anything in National’s strategy to lower transport carbon emissions apart from subsidising new EV’s? Not sure why more voters didn’t pick up on this.

        17. They are working on a feebate for cars (fee for above-average emission vehicles, rebate for below-average emission vehicles) and possibly a fleet emission standard as well. It will start to help emissions but unfortunately it won’t stop the flood of vehicles (net increase 183,000 per year for the past 3 years) entering the country. For that, driving would have to be either restricted or made signficantly more expensive.

          Fun fact: the cars entering the country in the past 3 years (almost a million) would just fit parked 3 abreast, bumper to bumper on SH1 from Cape Reinga to Bluff. Now that would be a sight.

        18. They could do something like refuse all cars coming into the country older than 2000.
          Singapore can do it – and they are just as vulnerable to congestion and petrol supply as we are.

          We’re used to saying “we can’t build our way out of congestion”, but we only apply it to the road side of the capex ledger. It applies to pt capex as well.

        19. 2000? You’d need to make it at least 2010 to have the slightest effect.

          The supply chain is almost entirely based on importing 8-9 year old japanese cars, which become near worthless on the Japanese domestic market due to their own punitive fees on cars more than ten years old.

        20. There are next to no cars older than 2000 imported (they are 18+ years old now) and of those that are they are mostly American classics.

          I’m not sure restricting car supply in a heavily dependent country would really work. It would likely result in people hanging onto their older cars for longer. Better to improve transport options so people are not as dependent on their cars, then we can think about being more restrictive.

        21. Ad – Singapore also manage to stop the importation of chewing gum. I believe we have as much chance of stopping old car importation as we do to chuddy distribution… I believe they get compliance by having public floggings. While that may be a sight worth seeing for some vehicle importers, I don’t believe it is currently a viable option in NZ.

        22. There are very few cars from before 2007 that will meet EURO IV which is the current emissions cut-off for any vehicle newer than 20 years old.

          You can’t advocate for lowering the road toll on one hand and then argue that we should ban vehicle imports that allow Kiwis to buy safer vehicles at a fraction of the cost of a new model from a manufacturer here. Otherwise you end up with a fleet of 20 year old cars with minimal safety ratings and driver aids because no one can afford to trade up.

        23. Also yes, flogging vehicle importers, can’t imagine why the PT lobby gets such a hostile response when it’s clearly full of such rational individuals. I’ve imported several cars. Can you tell me if I should be flogged? I’m also militantly pro-LRT everywhere, as my post history will attest.

        24. Yes don’t think we need to worry too much about 2nd hand old cars being too pollution like. With increasing fuel efficiency, fuel taxes and benefits/ incentives for EVs and such it will sort itself out as no one will want to buy old guzzling machines apart from the odd sports collector or racer.

  2. “this GPS is far more balanced through big improvements to public transport, local roads, even though State Highways are still get the single biggest share of transport spending and more than they did from 2015-18.”

    In other words, this GPS is better than it would have been under National. But it is still entirely unacceptable that a country that has spent most of its transport budget on roads for the last 60 years is still spending most of its transport budget on roads. To get a balanced transport network we should be investing in everything else now.

    Retrofitting our state highways with median barriers is a good use of money. Beyond that, any safety improvements to state highways should have to compete with safety improvements throughout the whole network. What that money could produce in terms of a connected priority bus network and a connected cycleway network!

    1. Its really interesting that this graph shows that planned spend on State highways is almost exactly the same between National and Labour.

      But far more interesting is that planned spend on Public Transport is considerably more with Labour than what National had promised, even if it is not quite as much as campaigned for.

      I’d be quite happy if in future years, those two sectors were swapped in entirety, i.e. if we spent $5 billion on public transport, and just $2 billion on State highways…

        1. What about rural and small town Kiwis who need better state highways, you’re looking at the purely from the perspective of a person living in Auckland or one of the other main centres.

        2. What I suggested was “any safety improvements to state highways should have to compete with safety improvements throughout the whole network”. I’m happy for that to be on the basis of most effective safety improvements per dollar.

          What I’m not happy to see is continued money being spent on state highways as if we don’t know that it will induce more traffic and reduce safety, liveability and walkability as a result.

          Interesting to see that last year another meta study about the fundamental law of highway congestion – this time for the whole of Europe – confirmed Duranton and Turner’s findings in the US, that there is a unity correlation. Each 10% of road capacity expansion results in 10% extra traffic. They also found it resulted in 1% extra air pollution.

          The only reason NZ continues to build more roads is that NZTA is refusing to incorporate this into their modelling, hence the business cases are rotten.

        3. Very little of National’s State Highway spend would have benefitted rural kiwis – it was almost all about motorways in Auckland/Tauranga/Hamilton/Christchurch/Wellington. Labour’s GPS has a bit more for rural State Highways, but is still mostly focussed on the big centres.

    2. In large part, that’s just the continuation of state highway projects begun by the previous government (i.e. the RoNS). Far fewer new highway projects, but it reflects that work is still ramping up on some of the ones that have already started.

      Assuming the current government are still in in three years time, those highway numbers should start to drop much further as the RoNS projects will have worked their way out of the pipeline.

      1. Assuming the Greens are still part of the government, I think you mean.

        National packaged up and raised taxes to execute a set of major road projects largely progressed to pre-funding stages under the Clark government. That took a few years to bring about, and you can assume each major project casts an eight year shadow over downstream investment budgets. Still, real headway should open from 2020, so the next NLTP will be telling.

        The whole Party-lines commentary is kind of unhelpful. The generation change argument feels more constructive (except that at the political level it is more hype than substance). The Greens embodying that change within the policy mainstream is probably the most useful recent shift and something that seems absolutely necessary. Both major parties are too conditioned to see big infrastructure as a bargaining chip with the public, a demonstration of their commitment to “better things”.

        Simon Brides is at least twice as old as his age when it comes to his attitudes towards these things, and Labour’s unionist grass-roots are no better.

        1. I think it is safe to say the Greens will be part of the next government if Labour gets in. There is no way they will let the Greens vote be wasted if they go below 5%, they will be gifted a seat somewhere.

  3. It goes without saying that the fuels taxes, now around 23 cents per litre by 2020 will need to show a very quick and obvious benefit to everyone, not the least of which is Aucklanders or Phil and his government will be very short lived.

    I truly hope they have their ducks in a row and can visually demonstrate in the next year that things have started because plans like this on the never never will not survive National!

    Ironically Nationals 17 cents per litre rise over their tenure never showed much if anything beneficial to us.

    1. I don’t know how they can possibly demonstrate this, when the induced traffic from all the road building in past decades is still growing, and so much money is still going the way of the road construction lobby. While vkt continues to rise, no-one’s going to be much happier about anything. Yes there might be one new buslane in your day’s travels, but the increase in traffic volume everywhere else, including the small local roads, means overall, there’s going to be a deterioration in how comfortable you feel walking or cycling, a deterioration in how much access you feel you really have to the places you want to go.

    2. Reluctantly have to agree with you Waspman, in that although the tax effects will be immediate, any positive outcomes from the tax will be many many years away. The two events are unlikely to be connected in the minds of Aucklanders: just the negative permanent memories each time they refuel. If this was being managed better (by me for instance), there would be a decrease in the price of public transport on the exact same day that petrol costs went up, i.e. immediate feedback that things would make a difference.

      Something similar once went on in Thatcherland, when Mayor Ken Livingstone imposed the Fares Fair policy – before my time – but apparently the significant drop in public transport pricing was matched by a massive uptake by the general population. Something like 20p for a bus ride (it was back in the 70s or 80s).
      Result: massive uptake in PT.
      Secondary result: Thatcher loathing for Livingstone.
      Tertiary result: Thatcher abolishing the GLC, but that’s another story.

      The downside, of course, was that the availability of PT did not match the demand. Massive overcrowding on the buses and the tubes, something the authorities over there are only just doing something about now, some 30 years later….

    3. Goff and his mates are gone anyway.

      He has proved himself to be a bad manager and the fuel tax thing will be his downfall.

      1. He’ll be hard to beat as he has set himself up nicely in the middle. His opponents come from both sides, which makes it a lot harder to put up a candidate that they all agree on.

  4. I travelled from the Kapiti Coast to Auckland by bus the other day and was thinking about this GPS as i looked out the window. While not based on careful data collections a number of things stood out. Lots of car carriers past by going south. Almost all the cars on them were large SUVs, no electric cars spotted. Lots of trucks on the roads but few trains passing by (at least some large log trains went past but lots of logging trucks on the road). And of course through the North Island the electric overhead system is being unused. And at the Taupo bus stop a young mother had to change her baby in an open bus shelter in cold winds as the (unheated) toilets are 140 metre walk up the road. So lots of changes are needed.

    1. I suppose the only positive spin is that there’s so much room for improvement. Plenty of low hanging fruit, etc…

    2. Our public long-distance bus network is pretty bad, indeed. Places like the cafes and toilet stops – abysmal is the only word to describe it. One shared public toilet for a busload of 40 people? Half-dead, heavily fried food. And, no changing facilities indeed. NZ needs to sort its act out…. No wonder that tourists hire cars instead.

      1. …talking about distance buses in Auckland… if you want to get to many of the attractions further out then you are out of luck. Renting a car or some other expensive option is the only way to go if you want to visit the West coast beaches like Huia, Piha, Bethells, Muriwai. There are bus route plans for Huia and Piha but the consultation seemed more targeted to the commuter than the urban folks who want to visit the beach and/or the tourists. Also a bus every 2 hours to Parakai is pathetic. Then you look down south and it isn’t much better, nothing to Clarks beach, abysmal peak-only service to Kingseat (i.e. Spookers) and so on.

        There needs to be an attitude change to providing bus services to the greater region and the way these are funded. Obviously you don’t need everything to be super frequent but you need to be able to get to more than just urban areas with the bus…

        Beachlands going to hourly frequency and Walkworth, Matakana, Smells Beach and Omaha being connected to the bus network definitely looks like this is being attempted. But they seem to have forgotten about West, NW and South.

        1. Yes. So much money going on state highways. Imagine if half of this went on the roads themselves, half of it went on establishing an amazing regional bus network on those roads. Then we would actually be spending the money on access for all our people (young people seeking work, children whose parents have split and are living in different towns, sports teams going to games, people wanting a break from the city without wasting carbon or having to drive.) The safety benefits would be huge.

          Instead it’s designed for those the decision-makers have identified with: mini-me drivers.

      2. I agree with you, The problem is, Mana/Naked Bus, InterCity and Great Sights use in most cases, I-Sites for drop offs and pick ups. Since i-Sites are operate by town, city, district and regional councils, they don’t see there is a need to provide services for long distance bus/coach passengers. The recently refurbished Tourism Rotorua i-Site, despite being a major tourist city and hub for bus, coach and scenic tour services got rid of the cafe and now has shonky toilets at the back of of the i-site building. The i-site at Taupo which is also a regional and long distance bus/coach hub. charges passengers to use their toilets, so drivers tell passengers to use the public toilets 140 mtrs from the bus stop. The set up at Taupo is bad especially of a good, wet day. The best bus/coach terminal I have seen, is InterCity Travel Centre located in the Christchurch Bus Xchange. It is modern, has a indoor passenger waiting area and passengers can use the Bus Xchange food court and toilets. The best of example of a local, regional and long distance bus/coach terminal hub should be like, is the Hamilton Transport Centre which has its own toilets, cafe and passenger waiting area. The best small town regional and long distance bus/coach terminal hub is the Marton i-Site which is covered, has a public toilets and a cafe next door.

      3. The public long-distance network is about to get even worse with Mana/Naked closing down this month. So as well as dismal infrastructure, there will only be private monopoly operator with a take it or leave it attitude. For example, Intercity are finally moving the the Manukau Bus Station, many months after Manabus .

    3. New car sales in May 2018, top 10 models:
      Ford Ranger: 1017 (ute)
      Toyota Hilux: 581 (ute)
      Nissan Navara: 581 (ute)
      Toyota Highlander: 467 (SUV)
      Mitsubishi Triton: 437 (ute)
      Holden Colorado: 410 (ute)
      Toyota RAV4: 391 (SUV)
      Kia Sportage: 323 (SUV)
      Toyota Corolla: 276 (car!)
      Holden Captiva: 259 (SUV)
      2018 sales year to date, including used imports: 131,784

        1. Its not local, its not national – its International. I saw on a web page recently, (possibly NY Times) that Ford America are no longer going to be making anything other than SUVs (predominantly the Ford Ranger and Ford F150 range) and the Mustang. Basically, that’s all that people over there buy these days. They’re planning to ditch “car” manufacture as such – ie sedans.

          Presumably Ford Europe will continue making and selling Ford Focus, Ford Ka, Ford Mondeo etc. Ford Mexico will sell they range of mid-size coupes.

          GM are already also concentrating on their range of pickup trucks and the Corvette.

          Possibly something to do with the end of the hump in the baby boomer birthrate – all the aging old blokes who have always wanted a sports coupe, only now have the money to buy one before they retire. Time to buy a pony car and use up all that gasoline before its gone! Screw the planet !

        2. True, they are planning to continue the Ford Focus and Mustang, and the only Focus model they will sell is the one with slightly bigger wheels and bits of grey plastic on the bumpers.

          ” by 2020, almost 90 percent of the Ford portfolio in North America will be trucks, utilities and commercial vehicles. Given declining consumer demand and product profitability, the company will not invest in next generations of traditional Ford sedans for North America. ”

          Presumably they will still continue selling the rest of the range in the rest of the world. Can’t see them stopping to make the best selling Fiesta and Focus, nor the Mondeo/Fusion.

          Though that begs the question, if they are developing them anyway, how can selling them in the US be unprofitable?

        3. Part of the reason that the American manufacturers are pushing more utes is that a high%age of them are exempt from being part of the manufacturer average mpg target so they can muscle them up with impunity. The rest of the world just sees the muscle and blindly follows. And the world really is going mad when the signwriting on the ute shows it belongs to a barbershop. WTF does it really need that much horsepower to get hair clippers to the dump. The tax man ought to look at that.

        4. So true, Mr Plod! We should post in photos of SUV’s and utes with signwriting that indicate the extent of the wasteful use of all that energy. The mpg exemption explains a lot, thanks.

        5. I confess we are part of that SUV problem.

          We have one car, and we changed up from sedan to SUV for all the usual family reasons:

          – literally cheaper to run (we do under-average Kms anyway, but the fuel economy on the bigger engine means we spend even less now than before);

          – more space for the growing kids and all their stuff;

          – able to see again when moving around in close spaces like supermarket car parks or in the mornings in front of the school, because we are back at the same height as everyone else…

          We will probably be contenders for an EV at some point, but at the time that only made sense as a second car, and a second car doesn’t make sense at all for us.

          We also walk and bus for the trips that can be done that way, but the modern SUV is the rational choice for a one-car family that needs a versatile transport option in a NZ city. That comes back, in part, to how these places are designed, and maybe in part to the abysmal failure of car manufacturer’s to make the station wagon sexy… (Or is that what an SUV is?)

      1. I would love to see the same data for used imports, seen as they make up more than half the cars imported to NZ, looking at the new vehicle stats is only half the picture.

        1. Yes. It’s the swank half of the picture, though, isn’t it. Does it reveal what the other half are aspiring to?

      2. Its not surprising. With a family, most people need a big car to haul the kids, the boat/trailer etc. They often have a little commuter vehicle as well but it doesn’t remove the need for the big dog. And there’s plenty of tradies now who want a vehicle for work during the week and can do double-duty as a family wagon in the weekend. Utes fit the bill pretty well.

        1. Families needs haven’t changed. They haven’t started regularly driving up mountains and fording deep rivers.

          Yet the vehicle they have purchased has changed.

        2. Yeah, fair point but we’ll be getting a new car at the end of the year. It’ll be an SUV (the wife wants it!). Times have changed I’d have to say – in my parents generation, there wasn’t nearly half as much crap to lug around as there is now. If you don’t believe me, you’re welcome to come around to my place and see what our family takes on a weekend trip…(four bikes for starters!)

        3. But why do you need an SUV to lug that around? People used to be content with a wagon. A wagon will have slightly more room than an SUV for all that stuff as you don’t need as much room for suspension components, and most are front wheel drive only so you don’t have the driveshaft and rear axle taking up space underfloor.

          If you get a wagon you will :
          – injure other road users less
          – be less likely to loose control
          – enjoy a more comfortable ride
          – spend less purchasing it
          – spend less on fuel
          – spend considerably less when replacing tyres

          A Mazda CX-7 and Skoda Octavia are about the same size, yet the boot in the Octavia holds 610 litres, while the CX-7 only 455. Legroom in the Octavia is generous too.

          Weight 1252kg
          Length 4667mm
          Width 2017mm
          Height 1465mm
          Luggage Capacity 610 litres

          Weight 1695kg
          Length 4675mm
          Width 2055mm
          Height 1645mm
          Luggage Capacity 455 litres

          Yet undeniably NZ is following the US trend towards SUVs.

        4. As someone who was in the market for a car recently and have young I was underwhelmed with the actual space in an SUV, they look bigger than they are, unless you get a CX9, Santa Fe, Highlander etc, in which case you are basically buying a tank.

          I ended up going with a sedan as they handle better, and just bought a trailer for the bigger trips away.

        5. Chuckle. Good discussion. The life-changing magic of doing activities that need less equipment…

        6. Ha, I would be very surprised if a lot of families have boats… And a trailer, I doubt many people will ever pull a trailer which is too heavy for a regular car.

          Other arguments against:
          – more likely to roll over when swerving
          – visibility of small children is worse, a large SUV has a bonnet as high as the roof of my car. Think long and hard about this if you have kids.

          However a common argument in favour of getting an SUV is:
          – In an accident, it’s more likely only the other party will die.

        7. You all raise good points but I’ve consulted with the CEO of the family. Odds on it’ll be a Mazda cx8 at the end of the year…

        8. So would one of the benefits of a connected cycleway network, Missing Link, be that all four of you would be cycling so much during the week that you wouldn’t have to take the bikes away with you as a weekend treat? 🙂

        9. Probably not to be honest, the cycling is a weekend thing and we have family in a seaside suburb north of Auckland that we frequently visit. We’re always packed to the gunwales (apparently it’s all necessary). Anyway, there’s a strong chance that along with purchasing an suv, I’ll be replacing the morning and evening commute in my 1.6L sh!tbox with an electric bike so I’ll be at both ends of the transport spectrum.

        10. Nothing like balance, eh? Like 5 nights of dinners cooked entirely from my garden produce. And then McDonalds the next night. 🙂

    4. Paul Callister – I agree with you. I have done Wellington to Hamilton by bus 3 times now and I totally agree with you about Taupo bus/coach hub, especially being a major tourist town. Rotorua bus/coach hub is not much better.

      Did you noticed how badly maintained State Highway 1 is. It seems only the minimal amount of ongoing maintenance is being done despite the large amount of trucks using State Highway 1. The bus drivers has told me that State Highway 1 hasn’t been upgraded for heavier truck axle loadings, as the money has gone towards National’s RoNS projects.

      I am glad that Labour is concentrating in upgrading the State Highway network and regional roads and I hope all upgrades, especially the State Highway network can cater for heavier truck axle loadings and more tourist friendly, especially on those State Highways that have a high number of tourists using them.

  5. Where are the Greens, who once upon a time campaigned heavily for a complete shift away from new-highway building, towards providing much-better public transport?

    Why no comment from them on things like:
    “We will tackle gridlock in Auckland by giving commuters options through major road projects and upgrades such as Mill Road and Penlink”, and
    “It will complete the expressway projects begun under the previous government and allow for future state highway upgrades, with up to $9.5 billion for state highway improvements”.

    Silence in the face of continued government-emphasis on major road-spending is not what many of us who supported Greens actually voted for. As far as transport is concerned, it seems that Greens lost their way with the departure of Russell Norman. Shaw has shown little interest in confronting the ‘moar roads’ culture. The only remaining flicker-of-light is Julie Anne Genter and even she has gone very quiet since taking office (or has she been gagged?).

    The Greens are going to have to do much better than this if they are to retain the support that got them where they now are.

    1. Yeah, I wonder if anyone at GA who has connections with the Greens can elaborate on what’s happened? It seemed that the Greens would have some sway with both Labour and NZFirst on the matter of more sustainable transport. Yet what do we have: a complete waste of billions of dollars on infrastructure that is going to make things worse than ever!

      Just how does the road construction lobby have so much power in this country? I have no doubt that people in all three parties tried – but we plebs have no idea just what corporate interests they’re up against; is that it?

    2. Yes I was optimistically expecting some new active mode infra in the capital (petone – ngauranga) but thats gone quiet now.

    3. Dave B – my guess is that Genter has had to self-muzzle a bit now she is in office, just as Sage has had to (do you really think that Sage wished to permit massive growth in water export to China?). Genter is an Associate Minister, which means she is doing all the hard work beneath the surface, but that Twyford gets to do the majority of the public-facing announcements.

      However, I wouldn’t say she has been gagged at all – Genter has obviously been behind the massive new push for safety – $$$ values are still the same of the overall budget, but focus is on different areas – ie not so much on new builds, but a lot on existing roads made safer.

    4. I think just managing not to go postal with the NZ First members is quite an achievement. This coalition is not a match made in heaven, nor entirely rational, except in the most opportunistic terms.

      I think, if this government is to survive, then their supporters need to drop any childish impatience and given this lot a full term to find their feet, and a second term to really build off any momentum they can achieve. This team was not ready to rule, and is barely able to cope.

      At least they didn’t come in to manage a recession as well as try and turn the ship about: this is a half-a-crisis-at-a-time kind of government at the moment.

      1. Tutehanga03 – I agree that the government needs at least 2 terms but better still – 3 terms to sort of the mess they have inherited, which can not be sorted out in 1 term. It clearly shows the neo-liberalism economics hasn’t worked over the last 30 odd years, despite in theory neo-liberalism economic policies should work. The question is, well the voters going to allow a 2 to 3 terms to sort out the mess that neo-liberalism economic policies have created.

        At least this government has some long term plans compared to National’s 3 yearly short term fixes.

        1. With so little achievable in one three year term is it time that a longer term of 5 years is considered

        2. Ha Ha H, they probably would but I can’t help pondering that a five year term for this govt would likely have brought us the complete first stage of the LR, cbd to Mt Roskill. Now I fear we see it cancelled or long time postponed if this coalition falters or the minor parties don’t make 5%

        3. Either 4 or 5 years.

          The 100 days rhetoric is a good first term device for trying not waste a year spinning up; but the last year of the term is dead air because whoever is in government is trying to avoid anything too sharp within public memory of election day. A fourth year effectively doubles the amount of useful time in between for noisy change, and a five year term would triple it!

          One thing National did well was keep the machine running in the background all the way up to the election, so they could pretty much keep momentum up if they got back in. Under the Clark government things just tended to fizz away. So it will be interesting if Ardern et al can adopt some management tricks from the other team and make the most of their time.

    5. The Greens are only about 12 % of this government, they are not going to get everything they want. They are getting a lot more now than they got in their last 18 years in opposition.

      The Greens will have to pick their battles very carefully, disfunction is the most likely cause of a change of government. Wise Green voters will realise this.

    6. I think the greens have pinked into insignificance under the red labour. I remember their scorn at Kiwirail replacing those electric locomotives with yet more Chinese diesels. Just silence now, JAG, that I had such great hopes for re:PT, likely gagged too, looks like my party vote goes back to National now. How sad.
      The Nat deputy leader made their position on the future of LR very clear this morning. So much for the 10 year PT plan, if LR not started very very soon then when Nats return that will be the end of LR and the gold plated EW link reinstated.

      1. I don’t think Paula Bennett’s view is that relevant, she will probably be long gone by the time National are in government. While it is a long way out, every poll this year has had them still in opposition.

      2. Once the major contracts are in place LR will likely be fine.

        Over-turning a major infrastructure contract is the exact opposite signal to industry than the one National wants to send – over-turning LR says NZ is politically unreliable and there is a real risk that commitments won’t be kept. The Nat comments are more like trying to scare back the tide. All the government needs to do is agree to some stiff penalty clauses and the financial cost of change becomes too much as well.

    7. And yet. . . . In 2008 when National came to power, the votes were hardly finished counting and Steven Joyce was already there announcing his mega road spend-up. No “let’s get settled in for a few years before we do anything radical” there.
      None of the three coalition partners of today were seriously supportive of national’s motorway policies when in opposition, and all called for a big shift in spending to rail + PT + active-modes. So coalition-fragility can hardly be the reason behind road-spending staying so high, nor behind Green and NZF staying so silent on this score. Where is Winston with his earlier determination not to let the NIMT electric trains be replaced by diesel? Silent!

      Maybe this government does need a couple of terms to ‘find its feet’, but how much further in a direction that all coalition-partners agreed was wrong, are we going to have to head before things change? How much easier will it be for National to come back and resume their roads-fest if the present government have barely changed-course? Road-safety ok, but how many more $Billions must be spent on trying to “upgrade” the most dangerous mode, rather than boosting the neglected modes which are already much safer? How much more must be mis-spent on further-entrenching car-dependency?

      And the worry with Greens and NZFirst is that if their party-vote share slumps to say 4.5% each, they will be gone and 9% of the left-leaning vote gets wasted. It is vital that these parties at least make it look as though they are continuing to stand for those policies and values that got them elected in the first place. Or if they can’t then for goodness sake just amalgamate with Labour and have done with it, so that we can revert to a two-horse race which National at the present juncture would most likely lose.

      1. Also, why do Labour think they would have more of a mandate for action in the second term if they haven’t shown what they really mean in the first? What do they think the voters were voting for? Doesn’t it just mean the first term is a lost opportunity? I think it just sets them up for criticism later along the lines of “But National weren’t the only ones who did that. Labour did too.” etc.

        “the votes were hardly finished counting and Steven Joyce was already there announcing his mega road spend-up.” The word dichotomy springs to mind.

        1. No doubt Labour will survive, its those other two who may not and their inaction wrt promises on PT and passive support of moar roads spending will see them ‘daleked’. They need a significant PR success such as reversing that KR electric locomotive replacement with Chinese diesels. So simple and so cheap to get those EFs refurbed and rebranded – that livery suggestion in railway mag was impressive.

      2. The only reason the state highway budget is so high is because the projects are already committed: It’s just finishing up the original RONS. If you look further out than just the next 3 years, the SH budget drops drastically, while the PT budget stays high.

      3. The reality in New Zealander’s are still going to be doing a lot of driving in the foreseeable future, we’re basically addicted to it. Any attempt to seriously restrict car travel will almost certainly see National back in 2020. We have two choices – ideologically reduce spending on highways and accept a increasing road toll or try and save as many lives as possible by prioritising spending from big projects to safety projects.

        1. Slightly more than third of Aucklanders, (and growing by 3%age points per year) aren’t even using a car, van or truck regularly, let alone are addicted to their cars.

          I would have thought that was quite a big block of voters.

        2. Just out of interest is that voting age people or does that include children as well? Either way it is more than i would have guessed.

          I fully agree in the Auckland context however this is a nationwide GPS. Car use will take a lot more to change outside of urban areas, where PT and cycling infrastructure are easier to implement.

    8. Take another look at that graph at the top of this article, particularly the difference between the 2018-21 National and Labour/Grn/NZF plans. Massive increases in PT, rail, walk/cycle, and local roading and a drop in SH funding. Now consider too that a greater proportion of the SH/local road budgets will now be going towards road safety rather than capacity increases like RoNs. If that’s not showing the influence of the Greens then I don’t know what is.

      Also bear in mind that some mega-projects are also progressed enough that you can’t simply turn the ship around and can them. The graph only shows the next three years; go and have a look at the full ten year funding in the GPS to see how much SH funding drops once the highway boondoggles finish up, and the jump in rapid transit funding.

  6. Depends what you mean by pollution. Diesels are better for the environment in that they produce less co2, but worse for local smog, not that there’s much of that in windy auckland.

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