Truckers, the AA and other business lobby groups are calling on the government to put more money into road maintenance, and I agree with them. It also makes a nice difference from normal of them continually calling for expensive new highways.

By some measures the country’s highways are deteriorating, prompting a call from driver lobbyists for the government to urgently tap into Covid-19 funds.

Bone-weary John Hickman of Taranaki is backing the billion-dollar call to make highways better.

“Maintenance bills [are] going through the roof year on year,” the veteran operator said.

His business, JD Hickman, keeps 85 trucks on the road but when he recently stumbled over a bundle of tie-rod ends, which can wear out due to constant use on bumpy roads, in the workshop, he thought, “Hell, I didn’t realise how bad it was getting”.

“It’s just the roughness of the ride – the potholes, the digouts,” Hickman said. “You create a judder bar at every repair if you like.

“Just affects all the steering joints, tears the shock absorbers off our trailers – you’ve got to see it to believe it.

“And of course the customers’ goods in the back get a good milkshake … so it’s not good for them either.”


The Transport Agency defends its record, saying it has been exceeding its performance targets for road conditions.

It did a record amount of maintenance last year and had left no money earmarked for maintenance since 2018 unspent, it said, adding, however, that an expanding road network and more traffic mean there must be trade-offs, plus storms have hit roads hard recently.

The agency had improved its way of contracting out repairs seven years ago and this ensured “that the right work is done in the right place, and at the right time”.

It told the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) that before this change to Network Outcomes Contracts, it was in fact over-investing “by renewing state highways too early”.

The OAG concluded both that the agency’s spending was “well targeted”, but that it also had undershot the rate of highway depreciation for a decade.

The Road Transport Forum representing truckers prefers to point to other figures. Its own survey shows a 55 percent rise in truckers’ maintenance costs nationwide in five years while a national pavement survey by NZTA showed road rutting worsening in that time by up to a third and the rate of seal failure doubling.


“We have seen an increase in allocated funds in the last couple of years,” AA spokesperson Mike Noon said.

“But it doesn’t offset the huge underinvestment over the past decade.

Talk of a playing catch up on decade long underinvestment in maintenance is what Transport Minister Phil Twyford is saying too. At the same time, National are promising a bunch more funding to pay for maintenance.

National Party transport spokesman Chris Bishop promised his party would inject $150m per year for two years ($300m) into the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF) for road maintenance on top of an already announced proposal from the Government to increase funding by 17 percent.

To me there are two key aspects on the issues here.


Politicians blaming issues on their predecessors is clearly nothing new but that the AA are saying it is notable. It’s also easily noticeable to see when it happened based on this data from the NZTA. This is just the spending on State Highways – the current version online only goes back to 2009/10 but I had an older version back to 2003/04.

Just eyeballing it, had the level of funding for maintenance continued on the trend it was on before 2009/10, it would have meant possibly about 1.2 billion more being spent on maintenance.

Within the figures above, money specifically for pavements and seal maintenance approximately halved from about $260 million in 2009/10 to $130 million in 2015/16

Of course this has occurred at a time of record spending on transport in NZ. The money that should have gone for maintenance was sucked away to help pay for the Roads of National Significance.

So yes, we do need more funding and it should certainly come in advance of a handful of big new motorway projects.

Bigger Trucks

The other thing that happened about a decade ago is the government allowed for much bigger trucks on our roads and as a general rule, bigger trucks also mean more damage to roads.

A Road Transport Forum analysis of NZTA figures, highlighted the “unparalleled increases” in heavy vehicles on the roads.

Since 2010, the maximum truck size has increased from 44 tonnes to about 63 tonnes under special permits.

“The level of adoption by commercial heavy vehicle owners exceeded forecasts rendering initial predictions of impact as obsolete,” the analysis said.

Most of the truck growth had been since 2014, which the analysis said was illustrated by the number of heavy vehicle kilometres travelled rising from 1.6 billion to 2.5b in 2020, a 56 percent increase.

The size of trucks was increased in 2010, having been trialled the year before . This change was sold by then Transport Minister Stephen Joyce as reducing truck movements.

It would also mean fewer trucks on the road which would ease congestion and frustration, Mr Joyce said.

“In fact, there will be a decrease in total emissions with a reduction in the number of vehicle movements.”

Of course, just like induced demand with cars, making it easier to move stuff by truck encouraged more more truck trips. In fact at the time, one of the predicted sources of this was to take it from rail.

KiwiRail expects to lose 15 per cent of its freight revenue to road carriers, although the ministry says other transport operators predict greater opportunities for transfers from rail to heavier trucks carrying bulk goods such as milk.

Of note, the tonnage of dairy being transported on the rail network has dropped from about 3.9 million tonnes at the end of 2012 to 2.3 million tonnes at the beginning of this year, more than a 40% drop.

While the focus of the groups calling for more maintenance seems to be for more state highways but these heavier trucks travel on local roads too. Those extra maintenance costs fall on ratepayers too and back in 2010 the ministry said:

The ministry says local authorities will receive 50 per cent of the cost of extra wear and tear as Government subsidies, leaving ratepayers “who benefit from the regional stimulus and economic and community benefits” to meet the rest.

I can’t help but think that one of the reasons the roads are so ‘dilapidated’ is because of the extra damage caused by the same truckers now demanding the roads be fixed.

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  1. “People whose vehicles are the ones wearing out the roads complain the roads are worn out.”
    Do they not see the irony?

    1. I remember when working In a Road Maintenance consultant team in 2009 , we were told the budget freeze on maintenance would spur on innovation in the sector, it did for a couple years… then they added the extra weight. we have been deferring maintenance for the entire national government this is the fall out that the entire industry said would happen. there’s a appropriate balance between top of the cliff (periodic reseals) and bottom of the cliff (earthquakes) maintenance. Pot holes started from asphalt and chip seal failures, this was all preventable (and would of been cheaper if we had purely on maintenance costs).

      1. Yes indeed. I was working for one of the major maintenance contractors during some of that time and can confirm.

        The introduction of the Network Outcome Contracts (NOC) put more risk on the contractors in an effort to reduce costs. That was a big change for the industry but actually obscured a more significant change for road users: The ‘Outcomes’ part was about maintaining State Highways at the level of service that matched the SH Classification Performance Targets.

        The SH Classification system decides how important highways are on a national or regional level. State Highways are classed as National Strategic High Volume, National Strategic, Regional Strategic, Regional Connector or Regional Distributor. This is a quasi-scientific way for NZTA to justify maintaining some state highways to a lower standard than others. For many more rural highways this will have been a downgrade.

  2. Absolutely it is due to the bigger trucks. After all damage caused is exponentially linked to weight using the fourth power law. One of these big trucks does the same amount of damage as around 1000 cars.

    As an example a truck might pay around $650 RUC per 1000km while a diesel car might pay around $75. 75×1000 cars = $75,000 vs $650….
    We do need trucks, but do we really need the biggest ones? Perhaps their weight should be brought back a tad to say 55t and efforts made to spread their load more with reduced axle limits.

    But yes ultimately our roads need to be built to a stronger standard and repaired better. Once you have a rut or pothole then as vehicles bounce over them etc they then cause extra load damage to the surrounding road.

    1. Trucks have been bouncing through the ruts on the road past my house for about a year. The ruts are extending down a lot of the road now. I was thinking the base and seal used by downer when it was all dug up and resealed 18 months – 2 years ago was just poor quality, but now I’m wondering if this is also a result of heavier trucks. I’d bet Auckland Council is also struggling with maintenance.

      Are the dollars in the graph above just straight data for the financial years given, or are they adjusted to today’s dollars? Also considering population growth over this time, adjusting for tonne/km would likely show no real increase in maintenance spend.
      Another thing to consider, I’d suspect “maintenance” also includes things like barriers, not just repairs to the road surface.

        1. The double decker buses in Auckland and Wellington are classified as overweight vehicles .. so true , luckily they tend to run on old tram routes which have thicker historical pavements ..

    2. Note the Fourth Power Rule is only a rule of thumb, not a hard and fast law.

      The exponent has been derived from repeatedly running known axle loads over a sample pavement in a laboratory (such as NZTA’s CAPTIF and similar labs overseas). One of the limitations of the test is that the axle load is static in the Z axis – it doesn’t move up and down on suspension the way a real axle load does.

      The academic literature shows a wide range of values for the exponent depending on many factors, with 4 being about the mean. It varies depending on the subgrade, pavement (design, materials and construction) and surfacing used. It also varies depending on what degree and type of deterioration (cracking, rutting etc.) is considered important.

      This uncertainty is why the ‘fourth power’ isn’t used to calculate RUC. It is almost certainly true that trucks aren’t paying the full value of the damage they do to roads but it’s difficult to quantify exactly how much that is.

      1. Same excuse used elsewhere then. “If you can’t measure what damage we’re doing, you can’t charge us.”

        Someone pays and surely that should be the ones likely to be causing the damage. Residents should say, “If you can’t measure who’s doing how much damage, you certainly can’t charge us!”

        1. It wouldn’t be a great challenge to measure the damage now ($0.13NZ accelerometer and a $3 microcontroller), or any time in the last 15 years, however the first politician to suggest that will lost the next election – “You’re hostile to a core industry”, “anti-business”, etc…

      2. LogarithmicBear – In reality, no road vehicle is paying the actual cost of road maintenance and upgrades, yet any rail vehicle using the national rail network has to pay a track access fee to cover maintenance and upgrade costs.

        If all road vehicles pay the actual cost of road maintenance and upgrades there will be who different way of the way the road vehicles will be used with more emphasis on movement of rail, public transport, cycling and walking.

    3. I think the cost of rebuilding the nations road network to higher standards would be way way too expensive. Would probably work out better to reduce wheel loads and pass the cost onto the end consumer.

    4. Just because a truck can run at 63 tonnes doesn’t mean it is running at 63 tonnes all the time.

      We should look at bigger trucks, in 2015 Finland upped weight limits, combinations of a tractor or truck with multiple trailers can be as long as 36 metres and have a GCM of 105 tonnes maximum.

        1. Or we could extend the argument that bigger vehicles produce greater efficiency, by arguing for more rail-transport and less road. Every train-load potentially reduces numerous truck-loads and far-outweighs the claimed efficiencies of bigger trucks. We should therefore be taking every opportunity to facilitate the rail-option and maximise modal-shift. The policy of the past 50 years has been to run rail down and facilitate only road-transport but this is at last starting to change.

        2. Torsten – Rail is efficient and more environmentally friendly than longer trucks in the bulk and semi bulk freight movement. A 10 wagon train set removes 5-10 trucks off the road, reducing wear and tear on a road. NZ’s national rail network has connectivity to 12 of the 16 regions.

        1. Both are sparsely populated, both rely on trucking to provide transport of goods.

          Is pumice really that much of an impediment to building better quality roads and allowing the use of more efficient larger trucks to use them?

        2. Sweet we have pumice they have permafrost and exceedingly cold winters to deal with.

          @Dave and you still need trucks to transport goods to and from the rail yards and to the many locations throughout NZ which are not close to a railway line.

        3. Torsten – With regards to your comment – “…you still need trucks to transport goods to and from the rail yards and to the many locations throughout NZ which are not close to a railway line”. There is rail connectivity to 14 of the 16 regions in NZ, so local trucking would be at local level where there is rail connectivity. For those regions who do not have rail connectivity or having a port access for coastal container shipping, will be using light to medium axle weight trucks for within region and inter-regional.

          Unlike Finland, NZ is surrounded by sea and like with our national rail network, we have an under utilized coastal container shipping network, so the case for long trucks in NZ is not necessary. Also, Finland doesn’t have narrow 2 lane winding roads that crisscross NZ.

        4. Torsten – With regards to your comment – “…you still need trucks to transport goods to and from the rail yards and to the many locations throughout NZ which are not close to a railway line”. There is rail connectivity to 14 of the 16 regions in NZ, so local trucking would be at local level where there is rail connectivity. For those regions who do not have rail connectivity or having a port access for coastal container shipping, will be using light to medium axle weight trucks for within region and inter-regional. Unlike Finland, NZ is surrounded by sea and like with our national rail network, we have an under utilized coastal container shipping network, so the case for long trucks in NZ is not necessary. Also, Finland doesn’t have narrow 2 lane winding roads that crisscross NZ.

      1. What about a really long truck, with like fifty trailers and thousands of tons, that’s electric powered and runs on the main trunk routes? How efficient and low carbon would that be?!

      2. The Finnish example of bigger trucks reducing CO2 emissions by 0.1 Mt over 4 yeas is immaterial when compared to the reductions needed. Hence the need to embrace rail (electrified) across the planet.

  3. Sound like to me that some of the roads was not designed to take 63 tonnes trucks. This should have been factored in before deciding to let in heavy trucks or limited it to an area where the road is designed for this kind of weight.

    1. Yes, you are right. There are alot of roads in NZ, that are not designed for heavy axle trucks. They were let lose without any long term planning in regards to maintenance and upgrading. National solution was their RoNZ programme, at the expense of the rest of NZ’s roading networks and national rail network.

  4. Typical cynicism from Joyce and National. This is just one of many public assets they reduced or flatlined maintenance on knowing full well the bill would turn up, multiplied, after they were gone from office. Better economic managers; pffffft.

    1. National probably achieved exactly what they intended. They kept the cost of road transport down for their voter base, likely to be the greatest users of roads, and now everyone has to pay for their policies.

  5. Thanks for the post, Matt. Oh, the irony. And not just from the trucking sector; from NZTA too:

    “It did a record amount of maintenance last year and had left no money earmarked for maintenance since 2018 unspent, it said, adding, however, that an expanding road network and more traffic mean there must be trade-offs, plus storms have hit roads hard recently.”

    Trade offs, you say? Like, trading off the future for current profit?

    An expanding road network is not inevitable. More traffic is not inevitable. And the increase in storms that climate change is bringing, which will hit roads even more than now, is not inevitable either.

    Building more roads is at the heart of the problem here. No one sharing the common desire to nurture and care for our children would be leaving them with the maintenance burden that MoT and NZTA are leaving.

  6. Truck km’s have risen 56% in just six years, average truck weight is not given but has probably also increased significantly. The really important measure is tonne-km which must have increased even more than the 56% and how that relates to road damage/maintenance cost.

  7. Our transport costs are increasing and costing all of us dearly.
    Households spend about $220 a week on transport up 15%.
    The government plans to spend $54 billon over the next 10 years on transport.
    Truck growth has seen the number of heavy vehicle kilometres travelled rising from 1.6 billion to 2.5 billion in 2020, a 56 percent increase.
    The value of imported petroleum and products for the December 2018 year was $7.7 billion, up $2.4 billion or 44 percent compared with the prior 12 months.
    The rise in the sales of large utes and SUVs is a danger to the environment. They are dominating sales and now make up more than 40% of NZ sales’ world wide they are the the second most cause of a rise in global emissions.
    Congestion in Auckland is costing up to $2 billion a year.
    Global CO2 emissions are 35000 million metric tons and increasing.

    1. Good points JF. We all bemoan that the cost of housing is keeping us poor, and it is, but so to is transport.
      Oh to live in a European city where mum, dad and the two kids can buy an annual PT pass and still have change from $2k. For the average Aucklander that amount doesn’t even pay for the petrol, let alone depreciation, insurance, servicing, repairs, maintenance etc
      Oh for a sustainable economy.

        1. An adult Vienna annual pass is NZ$650 (arguably the best PT system in Europe), so the maths seems about right…

        2. One city out of hundreds, I looked at a heap of them, Vienna was the only one I found that came close to $2000 NZD for a family of 4. I couldn’t find a family pass though.

        3. As of March 1, 2020 all public transport — trains, trams and buses — in the country is now free. The government hopes the move will alleviate heavy congestion and bring environmental benefits, according to Dany Frank, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Mobility and Public Works.Mar 1, 2020

          Luxembourg makes all public transport free | CNN Travel

        4. Prague – NZ$250 per annum for an adult

          Unlimited travel within the region on all transport. Most used metro system in the world per capita.

        5. “The tax situation around this ‘free’ public transport is interesting, a lot of people will now end up paying more tax.”

          The tax situation around private transport is interesting too. A lot of people are paying more tax and rates on building and maintaining roads, on public health costs, on infrastructure to reach the unnecessary sprawl that car dependence causes.

          The cost of the cars, the parking, the maintenance and the fuel adds more to the cost for those who do drive. It’s an incredibly expensive mode.

          Future generations, of course, have to foot the rest of the bill; the environmental cost that’s left as an externality.

        6. Free public transport reduces the need for expensive roading projects (as does road pricing). Smart transport planning = a gain for taxpayers.

        7. touche Heidi and a lot of people don’t use public transport but are taxed and pay rates for it. It goes both ways.

        8. Look also at the PT prices for Milan. I wrote a post a few months ago. Many European cities have worked out that by providing annual passes that allow people to travel all day/every day for a low price some will abandon cars.
          Cities like Vienna have low car ownership compared to here.

      1. I’d love that and I live in Europe. I think you’ll find that where transport is cheap, housing/taxation/rates is not to compensate.

  8. My question is how much road user charges and fuel taxes etc cover the cost of highways in NZ in terms of both maintenance and construction of new highways. I know that all the costs haven’t been realised yet (eg deferred maintenance). I tried digging through but I wasn’t able to do it. An article about this would be fantastic! And if there is already one then could someone link it / it could probably be updated. It’d be good to know how much trucking etc is subsidised by the government.

    1. As of the 2018/19 financial year, fuel taxes raised just over $2 billion in the year and road user changes just over $1.7 billion with registration and licencing fees making up nearly $230 million.
      Once you take into account refunds that are allowed etc, it means those sources raised about $3.85 billion. That’s more than enough to cover the costs of maintenance and all the other transport stuff it is used for other than the big new motorway projects

      1. So of course the big new motorway projects are a massive problem.

        But let’s not forget that these charges are nothing like enough to cover other costs imposed on society, which are far larger again.

        1. Heidi, yes. What is going to be the carbon charge for all of the users of these roads when carbon is priced at $34; or perhaps at $50 in a couple of years; and $100? half way through the decade.
          And more importantly are you as a bike rider and others of your ilk expected to stump up for a share of it?
          The push to have road transport just as we have always had it is short sighted madness.

  9. I remember when working In a Road Maintenance consultant team in 2009 , we were told the budget freeze on maintenance would spur on innovation in the sector, it did for a couple years… then they added the extra weight. we have been deferring maintenance for the entire national government this is the fall out that the entire industry said would happen. there’s an appropriate balance between top of the cliff (periodic reseals) and bottom of the cliff (earthquakes) maintenance. Pot holes started from asphalt and chip seal failures, this was all preventable (and would of been cheaper (if we had purely on maintenance costs).

  10. Pot calling the kettle balck

    a) Damage to roading is a 4th power law based on axle load. Very roughly 1 truck ends up about equivalent to 20,000 cars. Any road with more than 1/20,000 or 0.005% trucks has trucks causing >50% of the road damage.

    b) A previous report into whether road users were paying their full costs indicated that freight trucks were underpaying towards roading. I presume this remains the same case today.

    c) NZTA’s ethos was/(still is?) to ensure maintenance spending occurred ahead of capex. This would seem to be currently under pressure. More maintenance spending looks to be needed

    d) With the increased number of trucks and the “high productivity” trucks the technical standards our roads are built to may need review. Clearly there are too many operational failures. Simply patching pothole after pothole is a band-aid solution paid for by higher vehicle operating costs and reduced road safety.

        1. Where are you going to find the billions to re-activate all the closed railway lines throughout the country?

          Or toll roads and there would be billions to spend on rail.

        2. @Chris reducing the already low budget for road maintenance is just going to lead to worse roads and more deaths.

          @Riccardo what the top of the South Island and the lower parts of the South Island, there’s no rail in either locations.

          @johnwood I don’t have a problem with toll rings and toll roads so long as the money goes back into road maintenance and not onto other unrelated projects.

        3. Nelson? Queenstown? Wakaka? Southern Lakes district? Or Rotorua Taupo? There also missing links like Gisbourne to Tauranga,

        4. Nelson is 117km from the nearest point on the rail networkm Taupo is 66km and Queenstown is 155km, raise the threshold slightly and problem solved.

          Incidentally I don’t think going back to having a limit on maximum road haul makes any sense, there are less arbitrary ways to move more freight onto rail.

        5. Torsten – Take the national rail infrastructure network way from Kiwirail – the rail operator, create Ontrack Ver 2 as a cost recovery state entity under the Ministry of Transport, treat the rail network as a strategic asset, like the state highway and regional road networks are, make it ‘open access’ for any freight and passenger train operator including Kiwirail – the rail operator and heritage rail museums , by charging track access fees to any rail operator who wants to use the rail network. By doing this will see increase usage of frequent freight and passenger rail movements. It wont require more land use, by environmentally and health friendly. It will reduce the demand on the state highway and regional road networks by having less cars and trucks movements and not heavy and/or long trucks.

          The initial cost of up grading the national rail infrastructure across the 14 of the 16 regions that already have rail connectivity would be $10-12 billion over a period time or quicker under a PPP, the ongoing costs indirectly will be cheaper than maintaining, upgrading and/or building roads.

    1. Totally disagree, while times have changed, it went exceedingly poorly last time. I could see making the costs incurred by the excessive trucking realised and charged to those causing it. But any more than that is pointless arbitrary blanket rules that harm more than they help

  11. And then the transport companies pass those costs onto there customers who pass the cost onto US the consumer, WE all end up paying more for everything WE purchase. Nobody wins.

      1. One example, everyone eats, how do you think food gets from the import port or production location to the distribution centers then out to the supermarkets? For the most part trucks, which can’t be replaced by trains. Do you want the cost of food for every single person in NZ to increase because you want to increase the RUC’s?

        That’s just food, how about almost everything else we buy? It’s all going to increase because there’s no way the distribution companies can afford to cover your increased RUC’s themselves.

        If user pays is what you want then why do I pay for AT in my rates, I don’t use public transport, why am I covering the costs for people that do, why aren’t they covering the entire cost of using public transport themselves?

        1. Public transport is just that, a social service first. There are socio-economic benefits to society for providing transport access to those that do not have alternative transport options. (ideally this would be a comprehensive coverage network at no worse than 30min headway)

          There is an argument for central government (taxpayers) to fund this component to a higher degree.

          Otherwise car users produce significant externalities that arent fully priced (parking, congestion, vehicle air pollution, full cost of road crashes). There is thus a good argument for them to cross-subsidise public transport service levels over and above a comprehensive coverage network (i.e. higher frequencies on core routes)

          But you are otherwise right, ratepayers probably do cross-subsidise transport users to an unjustified extent.

        2. There are a few reasons for subsidies:

          1. Social good
          2. The subsidiser benefits
          3. Get a service started so it can eventually pay its way
          4. The admin costs of user pays are too high

          Public transport meets the top two and sometimes the third. Subsidising PT is often the cheapest way of allowing roads to flow, the shutdown of the Hutt Valley line in 2013 is the best example of that in NZ.

          You could argue that there is a social good angle with the cost of food. However, if you’re trying to tackle the cost of food there would be better approaches than subsidising the cost of transport for all other consumer goods, while leaving the rest of the food supply chain as a free market.

        3. “why do I pay for AT in my rates, I don’t use public transport,” – Because you really, _really_ wouldn’t like to have all the PT users (270,000 trips per day) transfer to car instead?

          Also AT is responsible for local roading, so not really the question to ask…

        4. Jezza food in NZ is already high cost compared to the low incomes many people have in this country; would you want to be the govt responsible for pushing more people below the poverty line all because you want to make trucking companies pay more RUC?

        5. If the cost of basic food is too high for people on low incomes then the answer isn’t subsidising the cost of transporting deli cheeses, TVs and spa pools.

          A much better approach would be to take the tax saving and put in a tax free threshold so those on lower incomes can spend it as they see fit.

        6. @jezza my guess is a lot of those people on low incomes would just spend the extra money on smokes, booze and drugs, just like they do today.

          But that is ok we’ll just increase the costs to everyone else except the poorest kiwis.

        7. Seems odd that you would think they just spend their money on smokes, booze and drugs yet show so much ‘concern’ for their food costs.

          It wouldn’t increase the costs for everyone else, they’re already paying to fix the roads that trucks damage through taxes anyway.

        8. Torsten what about all these rich people being laid off that also have spent their money on smokes , alcohole , drugs and coffee and moan lay can’t afford to live on the dole or a low wage . I use to have high paying work but after a medical condition that happened I can handle the low pay from the benefit and I still smoke but don’t drink now but I have learnt how to budget i.e don’t buy the most expensive stuff on the shelf .

        9. The reality is, road users are not paying the true costs of maintaining and upgrading let alone the indirect costs of pollution, environmental, emissions and health related issues, of local, rural, regional, inter-regional road networks, where anything that travels by rail has to pay the true costs for maintenance and upgrades through rail access charges.

    1. We would stop paying so much for other services (or have more tax money to go around), I’ll use healthcare for example if pollution in cities was factored in and fuel users were forced to pay for the health damage they cause then the government could lower spending on healthcare from gst and could perhaps lower gst. They likely wouldn’t, but then you’d get more out of the government instead, the money could go towards those the emissions actually effect / solutions to mitigate said emissions.
      If groceries are really too expensive because all of their costs are actually factored into the price, then the government should be more direct about it and subsidise food. Then at least all the costs would be obvious. Right now people that live next to motorways / in cities effectively “pay” for the groceries very indirectly. Shifting the cost onto the end consumer, and then competing to have the lowest price for your goods so it’s more attractive for end consumers is by design, if rail becomes the cheapest option for more goods then great. If road transport is still the best even with all the costs actually reflected then there should be more investment in rail infrastructure to make if more attractive. Like has been done with roads for the last 40 years.

      1. In the argument for/against HS2 in the UK, studies have found, that while construction costs are high, the long term indirect costs of land use, pollution, emissions, environment and health is cheaper than building an equivalent 4 lane highway, where construction costs are cheaper the long term indirect costs are higher than rail.

    2. Dirt cheap freight costs have enabled the environmental disaster of shipping stuff all over the world (to take advantage of the poorest working conditons and lack of environmental stewardship). Transport costs need to include the externatilities thus encouraging a move away from our ‘disposable’ society and into more local/sustainable production.

  12. The thing that isn’t mentioned here is not the damaged caused by a 63t truck but the damaged caused by the same truck when empty , if you listen to a fully laden truck it doesn’t bounce as much as an empty one which then causes more damage to the roads . If you have an empty trailer attached to you car you feel it more when it bounces than when it fully laden .

    And an empty truck can cause more damage than a fully laden one

      1. I remember when serviving my time the firm I worked for had their office and yard in lower dent st in Whangarei , the building was on reclaimed land and everytime an empty truck and trailer went pass the building shock after it bounced over a manhole cover and on the return trip fully laden it didn’t when it hit the same cover . The building itself was a double storey concrete block construction .

        1. I think I know why it feels like this. The building would shake because the load is added all of a sudden (but I think would still be less less pressure at any moment than when the truck is loaded) because its lighter it accelerates much quicker (the derivative of acceleration is greater). You can really notice it when you are in a car for example, if you slowly press harder and harder on the brake pedal it feels fine, but if you suddenly go to that same brake level, it feels much harsher even though the acceleration (deceleration) is actually the same. Same idea but loads are into the ground.

        2. So the idea is that your building would deflect more (indicating much higher ground loading) with the full trailer rather than the empty trailer, but because the empty trailer is lighter, the building would deflect faster and come back up faster (but not so far), making it far more noticeable but actually not so bad for the road surface.

  13. Prague – NZ$250 per annum for an adult

    Unlimited travel within the region on all transport. Most used metro system in the world per capita.

  14. And here is a problem with BEV buses. The Significant increase in Weight will cause more road damage, or the buses will have to reduce the passenger capacity.
    The answer is therefore in biofuels for the short term and green hydrogen for replacement heavy vehicles fleet.
    I think you will find this is exactly what the Government is going to do.

      1. True to a point but they don’t require anywhere near the battery capacity of a pure electric bus. A couple of hundred kg of battery opposed to several thousand kg of battery.

  15. The answer is simple. Reduce the speed limit over all deteriorated parts of the road network to 40Km/h until the necessary repairs can be completed. This will avoid damage to truck-suspensions, avoid worse deterioration of the roads and even avoid likely accidents.
    After all, this is the approach deemed necessary on Auckland’s rail network which has the rail-equivalent of pavement-deterioration.

    1. I don’t think InterCity coach passengers will be happy with that if their coach was stuck be a truck doing 40kph. I spoke with an InterCity last week, he said he was nearly a late into Napier, as he was stuck behind 3 logging trucks between Gisborne and Wairoa.

    2. It is interesting that roads (and other stuff) get a lot of double standards in peoples minds. If the railways had the same death toll per trip as roads then it would be considered an absolute disaster. It’s like nuclear power, better for the environment on pretty much every metric than coal (Land area rendered uninhabitable from open pit mines, air pollution, even radiation released as coal has high level of radium) but because the disasters happen in big lumps rather than in a continuous way its considered way worse.

  16. What this article suggests is that RUCs for the heaviest trucks (either total mass or at at-axle weight) are simply too low to pay for the damage which they are causing.

    A further point about the fourth-power rule which Kiwi_Overseas (above) alluded to. Years ago when I was with Transit NZ, I came across discussion of something called a seventh-power rule, which applied to pavement strength. That is, the strength of the pavement was proportional to the seventh power of the road thickness. This means that a ten percent increase in pavement thickness would nearly double the strength of the pavement itself (1.1^7 = 1.95).

    What this also means is that it wouldn’t take much additional expenditure to allow the road network to handle these loads. This heavy a load on a main motorway is barely noticed. This heavy a load on a country road will really have an effect.

    1. Well before I retired from LTNZ in local authority roading monitoring as well as the State highway sector, we systematically recorded road smoothness/roughness and pavement faults. This is done annually and is the basis for assessing maintenance needs. I started, and others have developed further, a statistical system for recording all this by roading authority. By the time I retired I was using a system I had developed of plotting road condition as summarised by indices against maintenance costs, then showing on the plot changes of condition over time, ie, improving, trending steady, or deteriorating.

      This was a very useful way of focusing my attention where it was needed: high cost/poor condition and deteriorating was a big alarm bell. I always looked hardest at the exteme ends of the range and asked the two questions:
      “Why is this so?”
      “Is it reasonable, or is change needing to be brought to the maintenance regime?”

      I am quite sure the State highway people in NZTA will have their own ways of doing similarly. If they are silent, it is politically driven.

      I agree with the comments on 4th power law of damage relative to axle load, and I think speed is an influence too. Right through NZ pavements have been built under-strength for the loads imposed on them. When I was a road asset manager in the late 1970s I always knew that the spring, when fertiliser and stock began being shifted around, that was the time that damaged my pavements most dramatically. The ground and pavements were cold, wet and soft, and, believe me, no engineer likes seeing the truck he is following throwing chunks of sealed surfacings being thrown windscreen high in front of him. Intermittent loads might well be carried safely in summer, but a concentration of loads under adverse conditions were fatal to my pavements, under-designed as they were even then. All of this comes back to capped road budgets and political support of the trucking industry.

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