With the re-emergence of COVID-19 in NZ we’ve once again seen some commentators calling for us to follow the Swedish model of letting the virus into the community in a bid for herd immunity. This has come about despite all the evidence so far pointing to them having achieved worse health and economic outcomes than those that have taken a more cautious approach, such as their neighbours and of course us.

At this point I’ll leave the health debate to the experts but it did get me thinking about how there are a number of other areas of policy in Sweden that we should consider emulating. Let’s have a look at some of those.

National Transport Plan

Responding to climate change is one of the key reforms of the Swedish government with one of their goals being to become a ‘fossil-free pioneer’. This applies across government portfolios and as we know from locally, transport will play a big part of this.

In 2018, the country adopted the SEK 700 billion (NZ $119b) National Transport System Plan for 2018-2029.

“We are now making the largest investment in railway of modern times. Investments in building our society and building Sweden strong and sustainable, we take precedence over tax cuts. Sweden must have a modern railway network, with trains that run on time throughout the country,” says Minister for Infrastructure Tomas Eneroth.

The new national plan is a step towards the transition to a fossil-free welfare state an increase in housing construction and improved conditions for business.

“Now we finally prioritise people who choose climate-smart transport. We make this investment so that the trains can run on time throughout the country and more people can commute sustainably,” says Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate and Deputy Prime Minister Isabella Lövin.

Of that SEK 700 billion

  • SEK 125 billion ($21.3b) for operation and maintenance of state-owned railways
  • SEK 164 billion ($27.8b) for operation and maintenance of state-owned roads
  • SEK 333.5 billion ($56.7b) for the development of the transport system

Rail is playing a significant role in the plan with goals to significantly increase the use of it for both passengers and freight. Within that fund for development of the transport system, about 58% is allocated to national projects that cost more than SEK 100 million ($9.6m). Of those projects, about 77% are railway projects with the total amount being spent about 32% up on previous plans. Meanwhile the funding for the operation and maintenance of the network represents a 47% increase.

One big part of that rail investment is to build three new high-speed lines to increase capacity and work towards linking up their three largest urban cities of Stockholm, Malmö and Gothenburg. Of note, Stockholm to Malmö is about the same distance as Auckland to Wellington. High-speed rail doesn’t come cheap though and as an example, the blue line is about 160km and won’t be finished till 2035 (outside the timeframe of this plan) at a total cost of over $9 billion.

The actual amount that will be spent on rail is likely to be even higher as it includes a few funding items that will be used by local authorities to support housing and other urban plans. For example:

  • SEK 4 billion ($680m) for co-financing housing infrastructure in the metropolitan regions

There are several public transport objects in the three metropolitan regions, for example light railways, railways, underground railways, cable cars and Bus Rapid Transit, and large numbers of new cycle paths. The municipalities for their part have committed to construct a total of 193,130 housing units.

  • SEK 12 billion ($2b) towards urban environment agreements.

The Government has set aside a total of SEK 12 billion during the plan period for urban environment agreements. This means that central government will co-finance municipal and regional investments in infrastructure for public transport and cycling. There is no fixed allocation between the modes of transport, but it can be mentioned that in the last round almost half of the distributed funds went to the cycling measures and half to the public transport measures.

There’s a bit more information on how the National Transport Plan is being implemented from 2019-24 from what appears to be the equivalent of Waka Kotahi NZTA, called Trafikverket, The Swedish Transport Administration.

Our current government has started to invest more in rail but funding on large roading projects still dominates our transport spend. Even just some slightly higher-speed rail between a few of our larger centres would be nice, likewise would be focusing urban investments on public transport and cycling.

Vision Zero

One key policy from Sweden we have (only recently) adopted is Vision Zero. In fact Vision Zero actually started in Sweden in 1995 and adopted nationwide in 1997 and since that time the number of deaths on the road have more than halved. In 2019 they had 223 deaths, a rate of 2.2 per 100,000 people compared to our 350 deaths at a rate of 7 per 100 people. Looking at other measures, we also die at about twice the rate per 100,000 vehicles and per billion kms travelled.

They’ve achieved some good outcomes but it’s not enough for them and they are continuing to push to further lower the amount of death and serious injury on their roads

Congestion Charging

Stockholm is a poster child for the use of congestion charging, both for being one of the few cities in the world to have a congestion charge but also because they introduced it as a trial in 2006 before implementing it permanently in 2007. The charge is variable based on the time of day and if you cordon around central Stockholm. Prices vary from $0, to just under $2 during the middle of the day and nearly $6 at peak times and resulted in a significant reduction in vehicles in the city.

As similar scheme was introduced in Gothenburg in 2013.

A congestion charge is something that has been discussed for quite some time. Both major political parties are at least not hostile to the idea but it seems nobody really wants hit the go button on it. We should perhaps be aiming to introduce it in about 2024 when the likes of the CRL are open, the full Eastern Busway is complete (or close to it) and other PT improvements, such as to the Northwest, have been made to make the PT network more viable.

Strong urban transport

One of the things that has allowed things like the congestion charge is that Stockholm in particular has a very strong PT network. Stockholm itself shares a lot of similarities with Auckland being a city with many geographic boundaries and spread across 14 islands. It is a bit bigger than Auckland though and the wider metro area is home to nearly 2.4 million people. Rail forms a strong backbone to the PT network and consists of a mix of metro, commuter rail and light rail.

The metro network alone has 100 stations across three lines, although due to the branches there are seven different service patterns. I don’t have total annual usage but In peak use months (winter) it is carrying almost 1.3 million trips a day. The metro is also home to some of the most visually impressive stations in the world, such as Rådhuset Station below.

They get another 368k trips a day on the commuter rail lines that extend past the main urban area and about 200k on some light rail lines. Add in over 1.1 million trips on buses and there can be over 3 million tips a day across the PT network. By comparison, during busy months our rail network did about 80k trips a day prior to COVID while our entire PT network hit 350k trips a day.

With so many trips on the PT network, it’s not going to be surprising to hear that across the entire metro area, public transport modeshare is about 37% of trips with cars making up only a slightly larger 39% with Walking and Cycling making up 24%.

Auckland is only really starting out on our rapid transit journey and we’ve got much to build but cities like Stockholm give us both inspiration and confirmation that we can get strong uptake of PT. What we do need though is to focus on getting that rapid transit network built faster.

Low Emissions Zones

The government have allowed municipalities to introduce low emission zones banning certain vehicles from selected areas and with them able to be introduced from the start of this year.

Air pollution causes cancer as well as lung disease, cardiovascular disease and premature death. Not least children’s health is adversely affected. The absolutely dominant source of nitrogen oxides in the urban environment is road traffic. Municipalities are therefore being given a powerful tool with which to tackle air pollution. Municipalities will decide themselves whether and where low emission zones should be applied.


“Children’s right to breathe clean air takes priority over the right to drive all kinds of cars on every single street. We are now giving the municipalities the powerful tool they have long been requesting so that they can tackle hazardous air pollution,” says Minister for the Environment Karolina Skog

Like some other countries, this is just one step and they’re going to go further. They will be banning petrol or diesel cars from being sold after 2030.

These are probably only just scratching the surface and I’m sure there’s mean other things that could be included here.

I wonder if those same commentators wanting us to mimic the Swedish COVID response will be at the vanguard of calling us to copy their transport policies too?

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    1. Quite so Miffy and yet yesterday in the Herald we had someone from the NZ Initiative advocating just that.
      Sheer ignorance or most likely their philosophy is that the people serve the economy, not the other way round.
      Make no mistake, allowing covid19 into NZ is National party thinking.

      1. The Herald and in particular the Business Herald are taking a pro virus stance. Kate Macnamara keeps putting her own opinions in and yet a rebuttal by an expert only gets published on their web page. I feel a letter coming on.

        1. I’ll do another couple or so lockdowns but fucked if I’m gonna do the for the next 5 or so years so someone’s going to have to come up with some sort of alternate plan.

        2. People who don’t like it can always bugger off to Australia where they can learn to live with the virus. That country has too many right wing nut-jobs for them to ever get rid of it.

        3. No atheists in foxholes and no libertarians in a pandemic eh Miffy?

          Whatever happened to choice revealing preference?

        4. The people I talk to daily are still supportive of lockdowns. Some of them a real hardarse money people. Most people understand there is no rule book for this stuff as nobody has closed the border before. So long as each slip up results in a lesson learned and a tighter border then these lockdowns could go on for years with each one being more focussed and effective without causing as much of a problem. I think a lot of people are starting to see opportunities as a result of not having a disease in our midst. My own forward work has increased as people work out what projects are now in the money. Being disease free might just be the best thing NZ has ever done- so long as you are not still trying to make money from mass tourism. As for choice I am still all for it. I choose to live in one of the few safe countries. Others can vote with their feet and leave.

    2. Yes great article. But it doesn’t seem to explain why Sweden’s death rate is now almost 0 despite supposedly being a long way from herd immunity. Maybe a discussion for a different blog!

        1. Sweden’s death rate is currently about 1 per day from a population over 10 million. Deaths per day as follows:
          18 Aug = 1
          17 Aug = 0
          16 Aug = 0
          15 Aug = 0
          14 Aug = 1
          13 Aug = 2
          12 Aug = 2
          11 Aug = 2
          10 Aug = 1

        2. I think I read an article in the Guardian stating that the death total in Sweden is the highest in 150 years (see https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/aug/19/sweden-records-highest-death-tally-in-150-years-in-first-half-of-2020). Not sure I really want the the headline that NZ has the highest death toll since the treaty of Waitangi.
          Somewhere else I read that in terms of economic Sweden even worst off than NZ (see https://www.newsroom.co.nz/covid-19-should-nz-go-swedens-way). Not sure why people says lets do what Sweden doing …because on the evidence I have seen we are better off here

      1. The simple answer is social distancing and fear. All of Swedens old people and everybody with any type of medical condition is suffering under a self imposed home detention. If they go out they die. Many of the rest are in the more remote areas where Swedish people disperse to for a few weeks at Midsummer. When the come back the death rate will go up. The thing I don’t get is a claim of Herd immunity when that can only ever exist if there is a vaccine. Just letting people get a disease without a vaccine is called endemic.
        The thing to remember about Sweden is people do what they are supposed to do. New Zealanders are more like British people or Italians in that we do what we think we will get away with. So you could expect a similar death rate here to those countries. At least we are not like Americans where they do dumb stuff just to show they can.

        1. So funny but so true, there are cultural factors etc at work to make it harder to compare these things or the approach a country should take. Some countries won’t have good statistics as well to make easy comparisons.

    3. If you bypass the NZ Herald and get information directly from the Swedish authorities you will get the most accurate picture of what’s going on, pretty much the opposite of the Herald article. But hey, sensational headlines are the norm these days.

    4. Reports are saying that the lockdown in UK resulted in an additional 21,000 deaths, lockdown increased the mortality rate rather than reduced it.

      “A study conducted by the Universities of Sheffield and Loughborough with Economic Insight suggests that 21,000 people died due to the lockdown. The paper titled ‘An Improved Measure of Deaths Due to COVID-19 in England and Wales’ suggests that actual deaths due to COVID-19 are around 54% or 63% lower than those implied by the standard excess deaths measure reported excess deaths likely include a significant number of non-COVID-19 deaths. They further state that over the lockdown period as a whole, Government policy has increased mortality rather than reduced it. The report says that 21,000 people died in the U.K during the lockdown, and the deaths were not related to COVID-19. ”


      1. That sounds about right for countries that went into lockdown after the virus was already out of control. The sheer load it put on the health system crowded a lot of other people out.

        NZ managed to lock down before things got out of control so we have actually had less deaths than normal.

  1. Wonderful post thanks, Matt.

    “Children’s right to breathe clean air takes priority over the right to drive all kinds of cars on every single street.”

    That’s great. There are a number of ways our government could be improving air quality for children, too. The areas around schools at the start and end of the school day have been obvious easy wins for a long time – and I’m currently looking at the systemic reasons for why our Ministries of Health and Education have been laggards at improving this situation for children.

    1. NZ is the only 1st world country that does not require regular emissions testing for vehicles, NOx, hydrocarbons, particulates, etc. Its long overdue

      1. With our large fleet of used imported vehicles that’s going to make it very difficult to have a consistent standard to test to, unless we decided to implement JDM standards, since Japan is where the majority of used vehicles are sourced from. Those standards appear to be lower than the Euro6 and latest US EPA regulations.

      2. Let’s just use the new vehicle standard as an initial basis and get testing now. We can then take time to say all vehicles need to comply to a reasonable standard and if you want to keep driving it then you will need to have it modified to meet the standard or get it off the road.
        These standards are not beyond the realms of our enterprising automotive engineers. Eventually the standard is set so that all vehicles will have no measurable emissions say by 2030.

        1. Which new vehicle standard, whose do we adopt, we are far to small a market to have out own standards.

  2. Excellent article Matt. To this list I would add the following:

    1) Implementing high-quality public transport as a precursor to urban development, thus ensuring that PT use and the associated land use patterns are supported from the start. This was done very well at Hammarby Sjöstad, where a light rail line was built along the spine of the development before almost anything else.

    2) Close collaboration between public and private sector to create successful private buildings, public space and public infrastructure. Again, at Hammarby Sjöstad the buildings were all built by private developers following a detailed and mutually-agreed design code. Public space is attractive and coherent and there are neat district-wide systems for heating and collecting rubbish/recycling.

    I co-wrote a case study of Hammarby about a decade ago – still relevant now (see: https://www2.gov.scot/Resource/Doc/336587/0110158.pdf (pp. 29-30, 115-120)

    1. Thanks, George. The brownfields developments in your report offer many lessons for Auckland because they show what’s possible when a city works at a big enough scale. I will be perusing…

      1. Do have a read. It’s worth looking at the findings from all eight case studies because they all happened for different reasons but all delivered successful outcomes.

        In all cases there was a place promoter, able to shape the vision for the area, galvanise support and ensure effective delivery. This can be public, private or some combination of the above. See pp. 7-11 and 43-75

        1. I’m worried about places like Carlaw Park, where lots of accommodation is going in. Should be good, but unlike sprawl developments, Council have not “put the transport infrastructure in before the housing”… ie safe walking and cycling amenity.

          It seems to me from the point of view of inefficient use of trucks that occurs with bitsy infill, too, that we need to be regenerating large areas at once.

        2. Actually Carlaw Park, by Auckland standards, is rather good for transport infrastructure other than roads for cars. There’s a rail station immediately behind the development accessed by new high quality pathway. Stanley St is terrible but there are at least attempts at bike lanes on Beach road plus the Grafton cycleway in the other direction, there’s the option of walking through the parks around the university to the city. Beach road/Parnell rd has a decent bus frequency.

  3. So if we shifted all the big funding for roads to rail now, how much better would rail be here by 2030? Thinking about emissions…

  4. Could also add
    1. Land transport emissions per capita are less than half of NZ’s, and have been going down since 1990.
    2. New vehicles are far more fuel efficient and still improving
    3. Feebate scheme is larger & has led to 26% market share for EVs so far this year
    4. Virtually every street in Malmo has a protected cycleway
    5. When they had a housing crisis, they built one million new dwellings (for a population of 8 million) in 1965-1974.
    6. Highest carbon tax in the world at 110 euros/tCO2 (although it doesn’t apply to all sectors)

  5. Our road toll in 2013 was less than a third what it was in 1987 and this by not adopting Vision Zero. Putting facts together like one has something to do with the other is just spin. Sweden may have halved its road toll but so have many other developed nations including us. Could there be another factor involved that IS common to us all, such as improved engineered safety of vehicles and roads? Despite 25 years Vision Zero still isn’t close to achieving its goals. It is failed policy. Despite any deaths being unacceptable they are actually setting targets with actual numbers in them (less than 220 in 2020) unconscionable according to the vision statement.
    Quote Austroads 2015 “The second issue is that little is known about the source of these relationships. The Wramborg (2005) conference paper did not provide any research references or sources of information for the impact speed curves. There was no way of checking these relationships against similar or prior research. The context of the paper is establishment of the Vision Zero-based road hierarchy in Sweden, and this indirectly suggests that the curves were in use prior to 2005. Tingvall and Haworth (1999) also note the 10% fatality risk threshold speeds, referencing only high-level policy documents and keynote presentations as sources”. When you realize that a key foundational element of Vision Zero has nothing of substance behind it and doesn’t agree with calculated risk scenarios or empirical data derived probability and looks like something someone just made up it puts it on shaky ground indeed.

    1. In 1995 NZs road toll was 582 in 2019 it was 353 a drop of 40 %. I agree the biggest driver of the reduction in road deaths are improvements that have happened around the world, however it is clear Sweden is doing something right if they have had a 50 % drop over the same time.

      1. That is true. I think they have perhaps gone much further with their safer roads than us. They have 1500 km of 2+1 road.

      2. I took a close look at 1973. A very bad year for the NZ road toll. A lot of things peaked in 1973. The stand out was new motorcycle registrations. There were 11 times as many in 1973 as 1969. New car registrations also peaked in 1973 as did new truck registrations. There were so many new motorcycle registrations that this must have also been acompanied by newly liscenced (read inexperienced) riders. 16 year old drivers are 5 to 6 times as likely to crash as 25 year old drivers. The youngest drivers are most likely to be driving the most dangerous vehicles. Being at the beginning end of their working life they will in general not have the means to afford newer safer cars. They are also more likely to ride motorcycles as day to day transport. Allowing the least experienced, and least mature amongst us to use the most dangerous forms of transport is a lethal cocktail. You can see this reflected in the accident statistics with 250% more motorcycle riders killed in 1973 than 1971 and 300% more pillion passengers. Trucks carrying freight on the roads peaked also in 1973 and then went into decline. There is evidence of a consolidation of freight loads as the majority of new trucks moved up a weight class in 1973 and prosecutions for overloading surged after 73. The economic boom leading up to the wheels falling off the economy in 1973 ensured that the effects would be sharp. The government reduced the open road speed to 50 MPH, in December 1973, to reduce the countries fuel consumption. The reason I know it wasn’t the speed limit dropping that caused the drop in the road toll in 1974, but a more pervasive factor, is that pedestrian deaths also dropped (alongside everything else). Over 90% of pedestrian deaths occur in urban areas where the speed limit didn’t change. So with many more motorcycles and trucks on the road in 1973 you have a peak in the weight disparity on the roads in 1973.

        1. Are you aware that it was about 1973 that the NZ Government of the day introduced compulsory use
          of seat belts and motorcycle helmets ?

          There was a big campaign on drink driving, too.

        2. Front seat belts, compulsary to fit from 65, compulsary to wear from 75, Back seat belts, compulsary to fit from 79, compulsary to wear from 89. Helmets compulsary since 55 if doing over 30MPH, Compulsary for all users at all speeds after 73. Good point about the helmets.

        3. I remember a school trip to a Ford dealership where they proudly showed off the ‘safety features’ of the new Escort, a bit of hard padding on the dash and a collapsible steering column.

        4. And also in 1973/74 you had the war in the Middle East that caused a fuel crises which made people to get Motorcycles to get around the carless days .

        5. Even after accounting for other factors, there was clearly a drop in rural deaths and serious injuries after the open road limit dropped in 1972, and correspondingly a similar rise after it went up again in 1985. You can read some of the analysis on this here: https://viastrada.nz/pub/changing-rural-speed-limits

          A key reason for the drop in road deaths since 1987 was because that’s about when we started to get serious in NZ about various safety initiatives like black spot treatments, graduated driver licensing and random breath testing. Most of those “easy wins” served us well for 25-odd years (coupled with ever improving vehicle standards) but eventually we got to the point of diminishing returns where we had to tackle the politically difficult ones that Sweden also did, like lower speed limits, drug driver testing and safer active mode infrastructure. Those ones are only starting to happen now…

        6. David L Carless Days were in 1979 in response to the second oil shock that followed the Iranian Revolution. That was the point where families realised they would now need two cars so fuel use went up as a result

        7. Injury rate actually peaked in 85 so after the speed limit was raised the injury rate went down. There was already an established uptrend in the death rate in 85. This may have been caused by the lifting of the transport licensing restrictions in 1982 which would have almost certainly increased the number of trucks on the road. Many, myself included, were expecting the road toll to sky rocket when the speed limit was raised, it didn’t. The 87 share market crash and sky rocketing unemployment are more likely causes in the change in trend in 87. Unemployment increased over 400% between 86 and 92 when it amounted to 11.2% of the workforce. The other thing that happened in 87 was the introduction of used Japanese imports. The governments goals in doing this was to reduce the number of motorcycles and to modernize NZ’s fleet of cars. These were considered two prominent factors in NZ’s road toll at the time. You should be a little careful with the stats as in 1984 they changed from recording accident type per accident to accident type per victim.
          In January 1973 Britain Joined the EEC which had the effect of terminating its trade agreements with NZ except for the Luxembourg agreement which it finished in 1977. Also in October 73 the oil embargo was imposed. This combination caused rampant inflation, rising from 5.5% in 1973 to 17.7% in 1976. The cost of imported goods and transportation increased. By 1976 NZ was in a recession that would last 3 years. The road toll tracks the economy. The graph that features prominently on that web page ignores the change in speed limit that occurred in 1962. The reason that speed limit changes don’t have the dramatic effect people expect is that most drivers come unstuck on corners. Their speed on corners isn’t controlled by the speed limit but by their judgement and is at their discretion, as is driving to the conditions, driving within their limits and the limitations of their vehicle. Not allowing anything that would impair their ability to make good judgements.

        8. Right sounds like you’ve got a full plan then, Joe, and it will fix everything that’s wrong.

  6. I don’t like binary discussions on what are the right or wrong approaches to covid 19. There’s pros and cons with all the approaches. And there are a number of arguments to suggest Sweden’s approach *could* be a valid one. I think we will only know with the passage of time.

    1. The problem is that this is an all or nothing problem. There are not any stable positions in the middle as you end up with both economic problems and the disease.

      But a benefit of different countries are trying different things is eventually we will know what is better. Like a hideous science experiment.

    2. In the same way that people advocating for an elemination strategy need to talk about and acknowledge the economic impacts, people advocating for a containment strategy (such as David Seymour), like Sweden’s, need to say discuss how many deaths are acceptable. Anything else is dishonest.

      I hve never heard anyone put a number on it. So is it a success if “only” 2,000 people die?

      These containment advocates also need to develop clear guidelines for medical staff as to how they choose who lives and who dies when the medical facilities are overwhelmed.

      So who do the staff put on a ventilator? The 25 year old man who had a car crash while drunk, or the 75 year old grabndmother who caught COVID from one of the rest home workers. It’s not fair to just put these decisions on to the emdical staff. They have a hippocratic oath to uphold. Politicians need to make those decisions and set out guidelines, as they are deciding saving those lives is not worth the economic costs – not a medical decision.

      I genuinely think we should have that conversation and people like Seymour can’t dodge these issues. Maybe at the end we will decide the cost in lives is worth boosting our GDP. Though I am sceptical that will actually happen.

    1. That’s a bit of a stretch.

      Swedish population double NZ, but Stockholm Metro and Urban population isn’t much more than Auckland. Not really sure what your point is?

      …ah the old ‘time will tell’ approach 🙂

      1. Rather than snide comments, let’s look at facts shall we?

        Stockholm’s metro population is about 800K more than Auckland’s.
        Malmo’s is around 300K more than Wellington. Malmo is also part of the Oresund region which has 4 million people.

        Very meaningful differences.

        And the point is – the much larger populations of these centres is very likely to make a high speed train between the two more economic than one in NZ.

        Also, Malmo is a gateway into northern continental Europe. Again a totally different context to that offered by Wellington or Auckland.

        I know Sweden well. Much of my family lives there.

        1. Malmo is often included into the urban area of Copenhagen since a lot of people living on both sides work on the other side.

  7. Road deaths are an interesting statistic, in 1995 582 kiwis died on our roads, in 2019 it was 352, a 40% reduction, not quite 50% but it’s still pretty decent and we didn’t need Vision Zero to get there. Sweden also has a very tough and intensive driver licensing process, they have to complete night driving, highway driving, winter driving, skid control courses which all have to be passed before than can get a license. Our standards are a bit of a joke, anyone who fails the NZ test shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a vehicle.

    I visited Sweden a few times in the late 90’s, the roads in Sweden then were a lot better than the roads in NZ, they still are, you can’t compare their highway infrastructure to our highway infrastructure. A similar country with similar roads to NZ is next door in Norway, unlike NZ the Norwegians finally realised that there highways were in a poor condition and are spending approx 160b NZD from 2018 to 2028. Some rail infrastructure is also included in this plan.


    the E39 ferry free plan which is part of the above will upgrade 1100km or roads, remove multiple ferry connections and take hours off the existing driving time from start to finish, this project on it’s own is 340b NOK or 58b NZD. Which puts the hissy fit kiws had over our small 11b budget into perspective. Norway uses PPP along with tolls, most new highways, bridges and tunnels are partly funded by tolls, the tolls generally last for 10 years, often they are paid down earlier, the tolls are removed and the road reverts to full state ownership. I don’t see why we can’t use a similar funding method in NZ for a lot of the projects that need to be built here.


    Driving in Norway is like driving through a block of Swiss cheese, they don’t muck about with tunnels, they build them everywhere.

    1. Norway has virtually the same population as us (slightly more) and yet their road deaths are only 1/3 of ours. That would suggest that they have been doing a bit more than us in terms of road safety. As you note, we did the “easy” stuff to get our stats down from 20-odd years ago, but to get to Norway levels we have to do a lot more of the harder “Vision Zero” stuff, including more roadside/median barriers, lower speeds, ped’n/cycle protection, and 5-star vehicles.

      1. Like in Sweden Norwegian driver training is leaps and bounds better than in NZ, we just don’t train our drivers to anywhere near the same standard. If you can’t get basic driver training right and allow parents to be the primary teachers we’re never going to stop people dying on out roads. Instead of fixing this we blame immigrants and tourists.

        The other advantage Norway has over us is they have zero tolerance, I know a Norwegian in NZ who is horrified that people are allowed a few drinks and can legally drive.

        With strict zero tolerance, vastly improved driver training and a lot of money spent upgrading out roads and highways our road toll will reduce.

        1. Driver training is one lever. It’s a tool that’a aggressively campaigned for by the industries wanting to prevent change of the transport system. Given their campaigning strength, and the political simplicity of the idea, if there was any science to back up the idea, decision-makers would’ve launched fully into a driver-training-only approach to road safety.

          They haven’t because the science backs systems change instead, with driver training as one of many levers.

  8. This book provides a very interesting list of what the authors consider makes a great city. It obviously leans towards USA but the list is thought provoking.
    Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America by James and Deborah Fallows.
    The Fallows’ number one sign is this: divisive national politics seem a distant concern.
    “You can pick out the local patriots.”
    “Public-private partnerships are real.”
    “People know the civic story.“
    “They have a downtown.”
    “They are near a research university.”
    “They have, and care about, a community college.”
    “They have unusual schools.”
    “They make themselves open.”
    “They have craft breweries.”
    “They have big plans.”

    I’ll let you tick off what applies here.

  9. Stockholm does a lot of great stuff. My sister in law’s sister works as a transport planner there and has worked on some of these projects.

  10. 59 comments and no one mentioned ABBA, I’m surprised! I’m not saying we should be copying them, but they did have a few good songs.

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