Last week the Herald revealed that Waka Kotahi is worried that if too many people stop driving and use other modes that it will hurt their revenue.

Transport officials are worried that a green revolution could wipe hundreds of millions of dollars off their future budgets.

But it’s buses and trains rather than electric cars that pose the biggest threat to the Government’s $4 billion war chest for funding new transport projects, according to advice obtained by the Herald under the Official Information Act.

Each year, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency rakes in about $4b a year, mainly from fuel taxes and road user charges.

That money is recycled into everything from maintaining existing roads to building new ones, investing in public transport infrastructure, subsidising public transport ticket costs, and road safety campaigns.

The agency has publicly fretted that this funding source is under threat as the transport system moves away from emissions-intensive fuels. It has successfully convinced Transport Minister Michael Wood that it needed an urgent review into the sustainability of the fuel tax system, despite previous policy advice saying revenue would be stable until the end of the decade.

Speculation has focused on the role of EVs, which currently freeride on the public transport system, paying no fuel taxes (because they use no fuel), and paying no road user charges, thanks to an exemption that will run until 2024.

The Waka Kotahi modelling that sparked Wood’s review – released to the Herald under the Official Information Act – shows that it isn’t EVs, but increased public transport use and cycling that really has Waka Kotahi spooked.

In one way it’s quite funny that Waka Kotahi are playing right into the caricature of themselves that has been built up over many years of being a car/motorway loving and public transport/cycling hating organisation.

While there are definitely some like that in the organisation, that’s not what is really driving this concern though. Rather, Waka Kotahi are responsible for managing the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF), and the reality of addressing climate change means we need fewer people to be driving. The NLTF is made up of fuel taxes, road user charges and registration and licencing costs.

This modelling is looking at the potential impact on the NLTF of the various scenarios drawn up by the Climate Change Commission (CCC) and the Ministry of Transport (MoT) on how to reduce our emissions.

Extrapolating existing trends under a business-as-usual scenario would continue to see driving increase and as a result, revenue from existing sources would increase from $4.4 billion now to over $6 billion in 2050.

The BAU scenario that would see driving keep increasing and EV uptake lower

The Climate Change Commission’s scenarios assumed an unrealistically high level of uptake in electric vehicles, and limited levels of mode shift. Waka Kotahi’s modelling seems to suggest that scenario would keep vehicle travel fairly similar to what it is today and that would mean revenue stays roughly the same out to 2050.

The scenario that drives the Herald’s headline though comes from the Ministry of Transport and the Pathway 4 option in their green paper. That scenario was developed in response to the emissions reduction target set by the Climate Change Commission, but with an updated prediction for EV uptake. It calls for an almost 40% reduction in travel in cars by 2035 and an over 55% reduction by 2050. Waka Kotahi suggest this would see the amount of annual revenue into the NLTF drop to about $3.8 billion by 2050.

One of the Climate Change Commission scenarios – before RUC on electric vehicles is included

There are a number of reasons this may not be the catastrophe Waka Kotahi seem to worry about.

  1. While mode shift will reduce some revenue, it will have other benefits. Fewer cars on the road will reduce somewhat the pressure on maintenance but perhaps more importantly, it will reduce the pressure to build more roads. Waka Kotahi currently spend around $1 billion annual on new and improved state highways and with less pressure on them, the focus only needs to be on lower cost improvements.
  2. More people on public transport will require us to run more buses, trains and ferries but the scale of change needed in our big cities, where we’ll need to see a 40-60% reduction in car use, means we should see public transport become more efficient and thereby improving the percentage of costs covered by fares.
  3. There will be many other wider economic benefits from mode shift. Fewer cars on the roads should make for more efficient freight movements and fewer emissions combined with more people using active modes will lessen pressure on the health system etc. Over the last few years, governments of both flavours have poured a lot of additional money into the transport system by paying directly for some projects through schemes like the NZ Upgrade Programme. There’s no reason they couldn’t just provide more direct funds to Waka Kotahi, especially given the wider benefits mode shift would deliver.

To me the biggest risk here is not the funding but that Waka Kotahi still do yet understand that it is their job to drive mode shift. By and large they still seem very much at the stage of greenwashing and pretending that adding a cycleway to the side of a massive highway project is all they need to do.

The government in their Draft Emissions Reduction Plan have chosen a figure between the CCC and MoT scenarios. The draft ERP calls for a 20% reduction in light vehicle travel so about half that of what the Ministry suggest we need – though I guess that figure will change in time.

Finally, the Herald give the last word to the truckers who, as usual, don’t like money being spent on things that aren’t roads.

They argue that the increase in public transport subsidies funded by this government has transferred funding generated from their expensive road user charges, to public transport, at the expense of funding improvements to roads.

Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand (formerly the Road Transport Forum) chief executive Nick Leggett said that his organisation was “always concerned when we see information about a reduction in funding for roads”.

“The cost of maintaining roads has increased 30 per cent in the past five years. With no signal of any increase in budget, and possibly even less money available in the future, this is more bad news for people who think maintaining roads is a job for government.

“And that’s before we even start on new road projects, which seem to be on hold,” he said.

He said that his members, road freight transport operators, contributed heavily to the National Land Transport Fund via RUC, but were beginning to see less and less benefit from their contributions.

If we as a nation achieve the goals in the ERP, perhaps the single biggest beneficiaries of it will be the trucking companies. With effectively 20% fewer vehicles on the roads, and more in the big cities, it will make it much faster and more reliable for trucks to get around. How could they not like that?

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71 comments

  1. Great post, may be splitting Waka Kotahi back to a transit and transfund situation will remove the inherent conflict of interest related to funding transport projects.

    1. Yes, my first thought is exactly that: The need to decouple Waka Kotahi’s reliance on revenue generation for their own funding. Having a separate funding agency for LAND transport makes sense (where LAND includes road, rail, PT etc).

      Though the hard core ‘user pays’ advocates wont like it as they seem to want to see the users payments and business activities very closely related.

      Waka Kotahi’s latest Statement of Intent (SOI) discusses mode ‘neutrality’ and ‘climate change’ but my reading is that it’s somehow been perversed – for instance they state

      > “adopting a strategic approach to developing a transport system that is resilient and adaptive, helping communities respond to and recover quickly from the disruptions that do occur.”

      This suggests their aim to support climate change efforts by building extra roads to get around climate change disruption.. Oh dear.

      Waka Kotahi should be central to NZ’s climate goals. All their motivators need to line up to this objective: Their Statement of Intent, the way they are funded and incentivised, and the way they inherently view transport. I don’t think this can be achieved with anything less than transformational change to the organisation.

      1. Yes. And there’s decision-making – for example, about the funding of rail and regional public transport, about balancing opex and capex, about large, paradigm shifting programmes for reallocating space to cycling – that should be a long, long way from the people who design highways.

        Unfortunately, rather than heading into a more sustainable transport planning direction, it seems that the interim CEO a couple of years ago had the wool pulled over his eyes. Different sections of the organisation were bundled up inappropriately, in a way that compromises their ability to make objective decisions. This has really set the transport sector back by over a decade. And the new CEO seems oblivious to the problem.

        What’s urgently required is for some divisions to be made, preferably with high level investment decision-making taken right out of the organisation. These tasks need to be split:
        – planning, analysis, and investment decision making
        – implementation of the projects and programmes
        – monitoring, assessment and evaluation of the projects and programmes

  2. The thing is that cars have been subsidising trucks for decades. A single truck does the same amount of damage to the roads as hundreds of cars. Trucks don’t pay anywhere near that in RUC. This is why it’s even more important that we invest in upgrading our rail network to get the heavy loads off our roads.

    1. Yea trucks do exponentially more damage to roads and it’s only going to get worse. Trucks are going to be highly limited as EVs. A car weighting 50% more as an EV is far less noticeable than a truck weighing 50% more.

      Serious rail investment is needed, to straighten and electrify lines.

      1. EV’s aren’t 50% heavier though and nor will trucks be. Apologies for the use of “freedom units” instead of metric 🙂

        Cars: According to Autocar, Ford declared at the Mach-E event that the weight will range from 4,394 to 4,890 pounds. Compared to the heaviest 2020 Mustang, which itself is no lightweight at 3,825 pounds. A ford ranger weighs between 3,922 to 4,441 lbs depending on the model and year.

        Trucks: Tesla CEO Elon Musk previously said that Tesla Semi wouldn’t have this issue as he expects that in the worst-case scenario, the Tesla Semi would have to give up less than 1 ton to diesel trucks, which weigh about 17,000 lbs (8.5 tons) on average.

        Tucks: The Freightliner eM2 and eCascadia trucks weigh about 3,000 to 4,000 pounds more than Daimler’s conventional diesel trucks.

        So heavier, yeah. 50% heavier, no.

        We need more electric vehicles of all kinds as well as a reduction in road use.

        1. So will any of those electric semis actually exist? The thing we all learned from Nikola Motor Company is that it is easy to convince people with a literal empty box.

        2. @roeland – Yeah, damn good question!

          There’s at least one light truck out there, Fuso e-canter. I saw another one yesterday delivering plumbing supplies.

          As for semis… I really want to believe that they’re not a pipe dream.

          I’m not sure that hydrogen fuel cell trucks or buses would be viable either.

          The City of Montpellier confirmed that it canceled an order for 50 hydrogen fuel cell buses after realizing that it would be cheaper and more efficient to order battery-electric buses instead. Src: https://electrek.co/

        3. Don’t worry, the Semi is so real. They are going to start customer deliveries in 2020 so you only have -2 years to wait.

          “As for the Tesla Semi, the automaker recently confirmed that the electric semi truck’s production has been delayed to next year after being originally planned for 2019.
          Today, Musk added that he is “looking forward” to bringing Tesla Semi to production around “the end of 2020.”
          https://electrek.co/2019/06/11/tesla-pickup-semi-truck-timelines-elon-musk/

    2. Yes. That modeshift of freight to rail is really important. And trucks have been imposing externalities on society, not just car drivers, in many other ways.

      1. I am quite grumpy about the container terminal at Kawerau that hasn’t happened meanwhile a new rail bridge at Pukehina has being built. But what’s the point if the only traffic on the line is 4 or 5 trains each way carrying pulp and logs. The trains could just as well just continue crossing the old one at reduced speed. If Kiwirail doesn’t want to carry containers or wash your mouth out general freight or passengers then what’s the point of the flash bridge. The 10 million for the container yard was provincial growth fund. The bridge has got to be a couple of mill. Driving onto Whakatane I noted truck after truck carrying containers also other trucks some of which were going to the port where their load would be containerised. Its not good enough I expect if it doesn’t happen soon the money will just go back into the crown accounts.

  3. RUC for EVs is inevitable, and quite soon – as soon as the loss of Labour-supporting voters can be assessed. Once they can evaluate the loss from EV early adopters compared with the effect of more-numerous lower income earners, it will come – just after the next election is my prediction!

    1. Agreed, but a shakeup of the entire system is needed IMO, not just to price EVs in.

      Trying to price in way more externalities. vehicle size / footprint, vehicle weights, emissions profile of the vehicle, danger to other road users, per km RUC’s for all, etc, would be better than what we have now.

      One of my main gripes is right now you can go out, get a ute, mount huge bull bars to it, and drive it around town on sales calls, with zero penalty for the pointless extra danger you cause to other road users.

        1. RUCs are for all fuels and energy sources that are not levied with an excise tax, so that includes diesel, LPG, CNG, hydrogen (if, god forbid, anything runs on it) and electric vehicles.

    2. Its not just EVs, the simple fact that fuel efficiency is increasing means the $/VKM from a $/litre fuel tax will continue to fall..

      They need to move to a national RUC for all vehicles, irrespective of fuel type..

      1. Yes every time people complain about petrol tax increases I think how do you expect to pay for roads now that cars are becoming more efficient and use less fuel. If anything the petrol tax increases look to be way too low. Everyone should be paying RUCs IMO

    3. Yes, RUCs for EVs are inevitable, but not for political reasons. The RUC exemption for light EVs is set to run out in 2024, or when EVs make up 2% of the light vehicle fleet. It’s in the legislation.

    4. RUCs for all road vehicles should happen sooner rather than later, but the impact of revoking fuel taxes would be a nightmare for the govt to navigate.

      As Jack noted, “trying to price in way more externalities. vehicle size / footprint, vehicle weights, emissions profile of the vehicle, danger to other road users, per km RUC’s for all, etc, would be better than what we have now”.

      Would get tricky for some hybrid cars though. Nissan Note e-Power is a serial powertrain hybrid, the 1.2 (1.3?) litre engine is only there to power a generator that charges the battery. The emissions profile is complicated. Sometimes the fuel consumption is as bad as 14KM/L, other times I get 92 KM/L!

      With regard to danger to other road users, again using the e-Power as an example… The car will break automatically if I’m closing too fast on an obstacle (including pedestrians, with caveats). That feature though isn’t available on base models. The only reasonable option would be to either mandate imports have certain base safety features (yes please!) or to assume that only one model exists, with the most basic of features.

  4. I can also imagine a situation when Waka Kotahi start narrowing the motorways as it is happening in some parts of the world. That should also decrease the amount of funds required for maintenance.
    In my mind, when it comes to road improvements we should focus on safety rather than more general traffic lanes. Reduction in car journeys combined with more freight transported by rail, should drive the maintenance costs down.
    In larger cities with good PT, there is still quite a lot of capacity available, especially on buses which run very frequently during rush hours. So increased patronage can probably be achieved without comparable additional opex.
    Also, congestion charges in Auckland (and potentially in other bigger cities) should provide some additional revenue to cover PT opex.

    1. Yes. And in a more mature Public Transport system, there’s less peakiness in ridership, too, as people don’t just turn to PT to avoid the congestion. They turn to PT because it serves more of their all day trips. That’s how the average occupancy of PT can be increased quite a bit.

      1. Yes, absolutely! Much more work needs to be done to encourage people to use PT for something more than just going to and back from work. A lot of shopping centres, recreation centres, parks or museums can be reached by bus or train. It’s a shame to see heaps of cars parked along the Western Springs park on the weekends when so many convenient options exist.
        I find the off-peak bus journeys quite convenient but it takes a tiny bit more planning than taking the bus in peak hours.

  5. its not just WK that are skewed in their thinking. Annually, the AT CX Division’s major budget for marketing campaigns comes from WK – to promote road safety and road user etiquette. Comparatively little effort is ever put into the marketing of AT’s PT services.

    1. “Comparatively little effort is ever put into the marketing of AT’s PT services”

      Incorrect. As each area of the New ( Bus ) Network were introduced, each area received a promotional campaigns, pus individual routes have also been promoted at a local level, plus there have been a number of over-arching “branding” campaigns. ie: Go Metro, and Lets Go There.

      Unfortunately there is also pressure on AT to promote car parking, cycling, walking, HOP cards, Matariki, H&S, and many other vanity projects.

      See: https://at.govt.nz/about-us/campaigns/lets-go-there/

  6. I’d really like to see a situation where Waka Kotahi publishes a National Rail Strategy and Masterplan of routes, as well as a National Cycling Strategy and Masterplan of routes.

    They already have a National Highway plan for cars and trucks – just need them to open up their thinking wider for other means of transport that they are also responsible for. And a masterplan for cycling does not mean just painting a green line along the side of a highway and saying Done! Just like Rail is a whole other network, Cycling also needs to be a whole other network, completely independent of the cars, trucks, their pollution and their massive potential of harm for cyclists. I seem to recall going for a cycle in the Dutch countryside and we used entirely different paths from cars, but we still got to the beach. There must have been bridges and tunnels etc but I can’t recollect them – everything just seemed to flow smoothly, passing only other cyclists on the path. Something for Waka Kotahi to aim for, and to put on the top of their TO DO List for 2022.

  7. If where ever going to have an equitable society, where going need some people to transition from cars to public transport, but not all people. There needs to be a special exemption (tax break) on purchasing EVs for those who work in construction industry since there’s no second hand ute’s and nor is there any EV ute’s in the market currently. For those who are construction and building labourers, who earn $20 to $25 an hr can’t afford the tax since it’s just piling deeper hole of having pay for inflated groceries, electric bill, water and etc, it ruins their participation in staying in the industry .

    As for distribution, pubic service and service industries to be able to transition and since EV prices are out of range for a lot of people who work in those industries and ideally don’t earn a lot of money for them to purchase and then transition. There needs to be a special exemption (tax break) for them too since they are required to drive on any given time or day to work, sometimes required to work during late nights, if you dont own a car yourself and there’s no public transport operating at time you finish or start, that’s a problem for staying in employment or even entering the workforce.

    Also purchasing an EV happens to be a barrier for those who can’t afford it too since your typical EV range is around $35,000 to $50,000, which is quite a lot for most people in this country and secondly there’s not a wide variety of EVs in the market at the moment and won’t be for quite sometime. Purchasing second hand EVs at a reasonable price is currently not there at the moment and won’t be for sometime too particularly for those on minimum wage or low wage earners, which also mean that they miss out on employment oppurtunities and are forced onto benefits.

    1. I’m not expert but I would have thought a building or construction labourer would just need a car to get to work not a ute. I see a number of them on the train for inner city sites. Surely it’s only the skilled tradies with specific tools that might need a ute.

      1. Its partly due to the deregulation of the labour market. Where once you would have been right, in that each person worked for a larger overall employer, and the employer supplied all the tools etc, many kiwi construction workers are now a business in themselves, not employed by someone else, but sub-contracting to them. Therefore they all need to have their own tools, and as they can’t be left on site overnight (get “borrowed” by other workers or straight out stolen by burglars at night), they have to take them home each and every night, both for safe-keeping and also so that they can leave that project and go to another site. Hence, lots and lots of Utes.

        On the other hand, you may get a lot of labourers, often from other countries, employed by an agency, and they will not have tools, or a car, and they will arrive on site in a little minivan. I’ve got a building site opposite me, and there are about 5 Utes each day, and one minibus arrives for the other 8 guys, all Samoan. No one catches the bus, even though there is a bus stop directly outside the site.

        1. Agree regarding specific construction workers but they are generally not the $20 to $25 per hour labourers that Average Aucklander was referring to. As you say they often arrive in a van.

          Incidentally you don’t need a ute to carry tools, most decent sized vehicles do the job, utes have just become the popular choice. Utes are only really needed if you’re required to bring larger materials such as timber to the site.

        2. Even if you work for a small employer, they do expect you to have a driver license of some kind, same goes along with the big corporate ones and the sub-contracter ones. As for foreign labourers, they would of course need help getting to the site by any private vehicle cause they would be part of the crew who does the structural interior of measuring, placing, bolting and screwing which doesn’t requite a ute.

          “I’ve got a building site opposite me, and there are about 5 Utes each day, and one minibus arrives for the other 8 guys”

          You wonder why there’s a minibus? That would likely because how far they live from the site, if they’d take the bus, they likely wouldn’t have the money to afford the bus cause its either not direct routing and require to stop at a transport hub or even multiple ones.

      2. You’ll find that most builders and construction employers in this country do require you to have a drivers license because of one simple purpose, that is cause of the location of site, if you don’t have a drivers license and if it’s in a site where public transport is not very accessible, site too far distanced or even in the countryside it becomes a problem for you.

        As to your point “specific construction workers but they are generally not the $20 to $25 per hour labourers”, do happen to need Utes for their specific work purposes, you’ll find that roles such as Brick and Block layer, Concrete Layer, Road construction, Carpenter and Scaffolder even if they’re not trained do require Utes cause of the size of the vehicle and its more spacious to accommodate equipment than your regular car or van, they also happen to work individually on their own and don’t share vehicle with other people in different roles due to different responsibilities and sets of tasks to complete which require driving to different areas to collect for the site.

        1. Utes cause of the size of the vehicle and its more spacious to accommodate equipment than your regular car or van

          I mean this is objectively not true (the van part). You even see people commonly put those hard top things to cover the bed on a ute, at which point you’ve created a van with more partitions in it, and higher floors with far more space taken up with suspension etc because (who knows why) it has to be designed for some semblance of off road use. The van has way more internal, particularly useful, volume.

          Dont take my word for it. Take the word of a local youtube celebrity:
          https://youtu.be/TS5elkfMSRM?t=450
          Fully admits the real (usual) reason for the ute not for business, but is going on regional recreational trips (which would make up a few % of its overall use)

        2. @Jack, unfortunately no you haven’t understood what I have illustrated, I highlighted the fact that a ute utilised and accommodates more space than a van for those who work individually on their own, however a vans only good purpose is only taking the big group of labourers to the site. You’ll find van are not a practical or logistical solution for those who end up working on their own cause what I have already previously highlighted already.

        3. @Average Aucklander I’m not sure you understand what a van is.

          You can get vans with only seats in the front so you have a lot of space to carry stuff. If you have an extra row of passenger seats, they often can be removed on those days when you need to carry something particularly bulky.

        4. Have you never had to call a plumber Average? They always have vans because they need to carry so many tools and parts

        5. Scott Brown isn’t a local youtube celebrity anymore. He and Jess left Auckland because they couldn’t afford to buy a house here. They have bought a home in Nelson. Just one more talented couple squeezed out by our daft policies.

    2. Subsidising EVs is not an environmental stance. The worst thing you can do for the environment transport wise is drive a petrol car in traffic. People who drive off peaks, or in the country are not the problem. The guys stuck in auckland traffic are. Better PT resolves this very well.

      An average petrol car produces 50% of it’s life emissions in production, I’m not sure what the EV one is, but I presume it’s relatively high. You purchasing a good second hand petrol car even, is still very good for the environment if you need it.

      What we should do, is allow transfer to PT, or not using transport at all, by allowing people to easily move so they live walking distance to work. Cars should be priced approriately. I much rather petrol cars get charged more, than EVs subsidised.

      1. On your claim that petrol cars have a better life cycle than EVs and the current EV scheme isn’t beneficial for the environment is factually is incorrect and is really misleading. A petrol powered car would completely substantively damage the environment and climate more if we were to keep petrol powered cars in the country. If you were to ask the experts who conduct these research they would agree that it would do massive damage.

        Analysis, published in the journal Transportation Research, indicated that used EVs offered financial gains over new ones, as well as new and used petrol cars. Over a 12-year ownership period, the cost of using a used electric car is only 24.3c/km while it is 29.1c/km for a used petrol-powered car, 38.8c/km for a new petrol-powered car and 45.6c/km for new electric car. In terms of life-cycle emissions, he found a new EV emitted the lowest levels – 137.1 gCO2/km – followed by a used EVs, at 139.7 gCO2/km.
        A new petrol-powered car, meanwhile, emitted 272.3 gCO2/km, and a used petrol-powered car emitted 289.4 gCO2/km.

        As for “What we should do, is allow transfer to PT, or not using transport at all, by allowing people to easily move so they live walking distance to work. Cars should be priced approriately.”, that is not an appropriate action at all since people need cars to range of reasons such as compulsory use for work, essential shopping and medical reasons. Also if you expect people to walk to work, good luck to ya, since most people live far distance from work and definitely won’t switch.

        1. I think there are lots of people for whom EV’s make a lot of sense economically, as their running costs are so much lower. As with any lowering of per km costs, this will lead to extra driving if there aren’t other levers pulled to curb it. Subsidising EV’s is therefore counterproductive – there need to be more ways to capture the externalities of driving per se, not less, so Average Dude is correct in thinking that if there’s to be a differential in terms of incentives between petrol and EV, it’s that petrol cars should be charged more, not that EV’s should be subsidised.

          The most exciting aspect of EV’s is probably the trend to the micro cars, which don’t just take up much less space; they also considerably improve people flow through traffic light systems. The air quality benefits to society of EV’s are also large. (The noise benefits turn out to be not so big, unless speeds are kept very low.)

          Average Dude’s point about living closer to work, and walking is spot on. People don’t “need cars” – that is simply another way of saying “people are car dependent”. Instead, they need access to amenities. For the vast majority of people in the vast majority of cities over history, this has been achieved via walking. Cities that have been planning sustainably for a few decades are changing the options available to their residents significantly.

        2. An EV needs to drive for 100K before the reduced running emissions pay back the increased production emissions vs ICE. Then at 150K you need a new battery while the ICE carries on.

        3. “people need cars”. As Heidi says, we have just made them car dependent so they feel its a need rather than a nice to have.

          Personally, I find the effort going into pushing EVs over PT and active modes as – no disrespect – the dumbest position to take. We have issues with congestion, safety, dire land-use outcomes, cost of car dependency to low income households, lack of access to amenities, etc all of which arises because we have not given people choice. We now have the chance to give that choice off the back of the climate emergency, but we are being asked to double down on these issues, or just ignore them, while saving the planet from emissions.

        4. @TP, You’ll find that EVs are way more efficient than your typical petrol powered car in terms of how much it emits CO2 in comparison. There’s a reason why electric lasts for only 100 K, your average person isn’t exactly going to keep their same car for that long cause their interested in going for in the trend in the now kind of cars and decide to sell it off.

          @KLK, you’ve taken that quote out of context and just perpetuate the fact everyone uses cars. I stated that construction, building labourers, distribution, pubic service and service industries should use be able to have access to cars, not everybody. The whole point of mitigating the amount of petrol powered cars is to reduce the carbon emissions being produced and start introducing EVs with a scheme, which obviously has happened and it does happen to be beneficial for all income groups and making environment better.

        5. @TP, Your numbers for EVs are off. Even a large-ish 50 kWh battery emits 5 tonnes of CO2, that’s more like 20K km of driving to recoup. Battery degradation is 2% a year, expect the battery to be useable for 15-20 years before moving to stationary use.
          @Heidi and others: Yes, the environmentally sensible thing would be to charge petrol cars more and not subsidize EVs. Even better would be to ban ICE imports right now. But in my view neither is politically possible from where we are now. Even getting the clean car plan through in its present form (which keeps us on track to end ICE imports by 2030) will be a highly significant achievement.

          There are so many interconnected parts in the transport and related systems, we do need to move on all of them but we should also go for wins where we can.

        6. What’s politically possible depends on leadership and competent change management. When there is bold leadership that sets change in motion and sees it through, the possibilities for even bolder change become clearer.

          “Leadership is about doing things before anybody else does them. Leadership is about taking risks. Leadership is about taking decisions when you don’t know 100% what the outcome is going to be.” – Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez.

          This is what we’re lacking.

          Given our need for radical change, we should never accept limitations with no technical basis simply for the reason that our politicians won’t lead.

          I’m afraid my belief is that this constitutes failing our children.

        7. @ATP That’s an interesting article. Not sure where you got the 25,000km from but it also appears to be based on UK electricity generation (~50% renewable & nuclear). Presumably it would be lower than this in NZ (80% renewable)

        8. This sum things up nicely re EVs:
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RhtiPefVzM

          In NZ (with high renerable %), EVs would be much better for the environment taking into account manufacture and product life emissions. Despite that, I don’t think EVs should be subsidised – just tighten up ICE emission standards incrementally over time.

        9. ” this excess carbon debt would be paid back after less than two years of driving.”
          “Figures are in lifetime tonnes of CO2-equivalent, assuming 150,000 kilometres driven over a 12-year lifetime. ”

          150K over 12 years = 12.5K/year

          Also note the lifecycle calculations also assume the UK grid is going to get cleaner.
          “EV fuel cycle emissions based on the UK electricity carbon intensity in 2019 for year one and gradual improvement towards a 2030 target of 100gCO2/kWh and beyond. “

        10. nz grid carbon intensity at this very minute is 105g/kw but it’s usually much higher weekdays and peaks.

  8. Interesting that we often view politics as a clash of different sectoral economic interests. But this illustrates there is more to it, with the body representing truckers having separate interests from the people they represent. Road Transport Forum wants to sell a supposed solution (more roads) that hasn’t worked in the past but is easier to lobby for and prove some sort of result for (more roads built).

    1. I think it might be partially due to the lack of understanding of the concept of induced demand by an average person. Most people think that more roads lead to less congestion when actually the opposite is usually true. It’s not only the truck lobby that thinks so, it’s a lot of car drivers as well who simply demand more roads when in reality shifting more people to buses and trains (there is still huge potential there) without any additional investments in roads would yield great results.

  9. The Herald article is adding political spin to what is a reasonable question from Waka Kotahi. The future of revenue is changing, lets look at possible revenue scenarios and how should the government respond. It would be irresponsible if Waka Kotahi wasn’t asking these types of questions.

    From the information released under the OIA, there is nothing saying that Waka Kotahi is scared, resistent or opposing mode shift – that is the Heralds interpretation. I am not saying that Waka Kotahi are doing a perfect job in this space, but I think your headline of being ‘scared of too much mode shift’ is a little over the top.

  10. As to tradies needing utes, I have noticed that the new car of choice locally for real estate agents are large double cab utes.

  11. The issue is political.

    Vehicle drivers are currently very heavily subsidised and should be paying more anyway – Technically, increased revenues can be gathered from road users even if it means greater welfare transfers to offset the impacts on the poorer in society.

    The bigger issue is the misallocation of costs and thus economic/social/environmental benefits and costs. NZTA should be advocating for efficient resource allocation from an economic / social / environmental perspective to help maximise NZ wellbeing.

    1) Congestion tolls in the main cities – even if done on a revenue neutral basis such tolls will delay/delete the need for many of the expensive road network improvements

    2) Current government policy not to increase fuel excise tax so the taxpayer is subsidising the vehicle user – e.g. NZ upgrade program

    3) RUCs on EVs can be charged, even if ramped up over time rather than in one hit.

    4) Under payment by trucks for road damage (see the 2005 The New Zealand Surface Transport Costs and Charges Study) – I presume this is remains the current situation

    5) Ratepayer cross subsidy or vehicle users. Ratepayers shouldn’t pay for any transport works.

    6) Developer contributions for transport – developers dont cause the transport issues outside of their developments, the road users do.

    7) Substantially underpriced or free parking

    8) No vehicle air pollution tax

    9) Underpayment towards to the full health costs of crashes

  12. I don’t think there’s too much for NZTA to worry about – Auckland Transport is doing their best to convince me to buy another car.

    I’m back working in the office now and what would be a 35 minute car trip takes 1.5 to 2 hours. Yesterday I spent 25 minutes waiting for the 861 or 856 at Albany at what used to be 8 buses an hour. One day last week I spent a total of 45 minutes sitting around waiting for PT on the trip home from work (16:30-18:00). My morning local bus has gone from 6 per hour to 2 per hour.

    AT Buses need to get back to their regular schedule ASAP, trains would be nice too….

    1. AT are just shambolic. If you approach our local carpark from the right the electronic sign board says $0.50 per hour. If you approach from the left that same sign board says $1.50 per hour (for many days). That same lack of attention to detail seems all pervasive and my experience is, like yours Matt R, that bus services are unreliable.

  13. One thing this article misses is that for any roads other than state highways, ratepayers are paying for “half”* of the cost of the roads – so even people who don’t drive are paying significant amounts through their rates or rent for roads.

    Secondly just as people driving cars, trucks or vans are prepared to pay for an extra lane on a motorway in the hope that that expenditure will reduce their journey times, so should these drivers be prepared to pay for other things that reduce their journey times by getting other drivers off the road. So drivers should be paying to make active and public transport more attractive options as it makes their journeys better.

    * The actual amount ratepayers pay for local roads depends on the Funding Assistance Rates – its around 50% for most cites but is much higher for isolated communities where more of the road costs come from the National Land Transport Fund.

  14. It is clear from both this article and from the wide range of interesting and valuable comments that the whole complex issue of an integrated transport policy, how it is to be arrived at, funded, and made to contribute to the vital reductions in GHG emissions is ripe for at the very least a deliberative assembly. A large number of randomly selected participants meeting over a full weekend to mull over the wide range of ideas could sort them into some kind of order so that there can be an implementable end product to this important discussion.

      1. Sorry, so far as I can see that was just a bog standard “consultation” and nothing like a deliberative assembly with demographically representative bunch of folk selected by lot not self-selected. So AT have no idea what the public would truly think given information and the opportunity to question the experts before expressing an opinion.

        1. Yes. Deliberative democratic methods would deliver a much more streamlined decision-making process, with all parties more confident that the decisions have been made robustly and in the interests of the public.

          I believe the first week of employment at Council or any CCO should involve a training period, which includes upskilling on democratic processes and how they are being improved around the world.

          I also think there should be a review into why the team tasked with “reviewing” the Significance and Engagement Policy at Council were basically instructed to get some minor changes through quickly, but not try to do anything more comprehensive, which could wait until the next review.

          This is probably our biggest current crisis, and very few see it. Our decision-making processes are being held up by a whole lot of myths about public sentiment and public mandate. We desperately need to depart from our current engagement processes and use something that will serve both current and future generations.

  15. I did not know that the review of Auckland’s Significance and Engagement Policy has been hobbled at the start. Disappointing but not surprising. In the same way Eddie Tuiavii’s designation was at one stage Senior Specialist in Deliberative Democracy, then weakened to Principal Adviser – Democracy and Engagement. Also as a result of looking at this blog I have only just come across the Auckland Conversations page of the Auckland Council, although it has been there for some years judging by the early conversations. Presumably self-selected participants and only an hour and a half or two hours long, but still, something that might be built on. Amazing how you have to rely on chance to find these things out. Wonder if they are going to hold another one this year encouraging folk to vote in the local elections.

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