Waka Kotahi are consulting on changes to their regulatory fees such as driver licencing and registration fees, a fairly dry topic at the best of times, but one aspect that did catch my attention is some of the language they have used in explaining it. This from Radio NZ.

The Transport Agency is proposing to collect 40 percent more in regulatory revenues, up from $185 million now to $264m annually from late next year.

“The most common fees would go up as costs to provide the services continue to increase,” the agency said.

However, there would be a rebalancing because private motorists had been subsidising the commercial sector, the director of Land Transport Kane Patena said.

“Not everyone has been paying their fair share,” he said.

“Some people have been paying more than the cost for us to regulate, and other people have been paying less, or nothing at all.”

Costs had to fall on people who created risks in land transport, or who benefited from it.

The first overhaul of regulatory charges in almost 20 years proposes driver licensing fees go down – the fee for resits would be dropped entirely – but car registration administration fees would go up between $4 and $12.

The cost to renew a licence would be cut almost in half to $31, but admin fees for road user charges would almost triple when done online to $12.

Road industry costs would rise two percent overall, and the impact on wider industry would be inflation of 0.2 percent, Waka Kotahi estimates.

The slew of changes are open to eight weeks’ consultation, then depend on government sign-off.

Inquiries three years ago found the regulatory system was broken – for instance, it failed to properly audit the truck fleet for cracks and unsafe designs – and underfunded.

The annual funding in 2018 of $165m was “the price of failure”, Patena said, plus, the system was unbalanced.

“Individuals have been paying more than what they should and we have used some of that revenue to subsidise regulatory activities in other parts of the sector.

“That’s why we think it needs to change.”

A third of Waka Kotahi’s 150 regulatory products for the commercial sector were not even priced, while most of the common existing fees had not been adjusted for inflation for years, the agency said.

The language is particularly notable given the how often the trucking industry oppose transport funds being used for non-road projects and sometimes even safety measures by calling it ‘highway robbery‘.

As for the actual fee changes and the proposed overall increase in revenue that Waka Kotahi are seeking, it’s hard to see how even that truly covers the costs imposed on our transport system. For example, the Ministry of Transport estimate the social cost of crashes on our roads at around $4.9 billion annually – and that was last updated a few years ago.

Improving driver training is often cited by some commentators as a reason for our high rate of deaths and serious injuries. Instead of lowering fees for things like licencing and registration, what about keeping existing fees the same and investing more into improving driver skills?

Meanwhile our regulations and vehicle standards remain behind many countries and cities. As an example London have regulated significant changes to the design of urban trucks to make them safer when they’re around more vulnerable road users with changes such as having the drivers cab lower to the ground, large glass side doors, sensor systems and side-underrun protection.

A concrete truck that complies with London’s new Direct Vision Standard

Is it too much to ask to update our regulations as well as our regulatory system?

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61 comments

  1. While it is easy to quantify the actual external costs of a vehicle on the transport network,(licensing,compliance, etc ),the other costs ,pollution( emissions,tyre degradation and disposal,end of life recyling )social impacts(spatial,visual,etc)are not really accounted for.
    The days of buying a vehicle,or anything for that matter,using it for “whatever” and “disposing of it,when you feel it is no longer useful”they shoot horses,don’t they”,are gone. Society has to face up to some harsh realities,and very soon,yesterday a good reminder.
    How does society capture these external costs,so that everybody understands what the actual cost of owning/operating a vehicle are truly reflected?

  2. “Costs had to fall on people who created risks in land transport, or who benefited from it.”

    Hear, Hear. The truth be told.

    But of course the Road Transport Forum or whatever rebranding or different name they use for themselves these days, have an axe to grind on that position as I heard on the radio this morning.

    Because, it seems, from the comments I heard from Nick Leggatt of the RTF, that this is all just so unfair. To expect truckies to pay for the true costs of the damage they inflict to the NZ roads, environment and society as a whole – not gonna happen on their watch.

    Seems the RTF are all for user pays, as long as its the every other road user, who pays.

    But as Matt points out, when this sort of “market failure” is allowed to fester, we all pay, just in many different and not so obvious ways than we think.

    This is really tinkering about the edges, not fixing the real issues.

    Lobby groups like RTF have been a major reason why Waka Kotahi and their predecessors have been so hamstrung from acting on issue like this in the past – because every time WK propose some measure to rebalance the playing field that impacts truckies, they lobby long and hard to get the politicians to back away from the changes in favour of “letting sleeping truckies lie”.

    So the RTF members get a free pass, the rest of get a hospital pass. Some or us more literally than others.

    1. I’m surprised the AA isn’t all over something like this. Would actually do some good for a change and it is really what they should be doing. Representing the “common motorist” against big powerful orgs that want to impose costs on them.

      With a better reflection of costs for trucking rather than the pseudo subsidies that exist today, then the market would adjust and work to further minimise the costs. It would make modes that don’t require heavy road wear more competitive.

      1. I actually agree 100%. I’m a AA member, and surely our lobby group should be fighting for us to be paying our fair share, not our share plus part of another ones. Means less trucks on the road (which is better for driving in multiple ways), cheaper costs for us, and gives AA a chance to show how they’re an AA rather than just a breakdown company.

        1. I have been in meetings with the AA where they actively oppose safety measures that would benefit their members, the people who they are supposed to represent. They lobby for status quo even when their survey their members and their members asks for change. It’s why I left the AA. You can get breakdown insurance through State or similar and avoid paying to support their agenda.

        2. Have a look at the “qualifications” of the board members of the AA.
          They are very largely lawyers and accountants whose speciality is catering to small and medium sized businesses.
          Thre is though a transport engineer amongst them though.
          The AA, through it’s board, has been very largely captured by the road transport industry so it is no surprise there is little to distinguish their position to that of the Road Transport Forum.

    2. there is the free loading EV that pay nothing to the up keep of our roads and there gross weights are a lot more than some fuel powered passenger vehicles . This Labour Government have stopped all roding projects and improvements where they could . the ones that had started when they took control are being completed , as for the transport sector , they pay an enormous road user charge based on the number of axel’s and tonnage that they are licenced for . to increase these charges it will be passed onto the consumer with price increases . the revenue that is being collected with regional petrol tax is not all being spent on roading maintenance ,

        1. most of those announcements are in the same catargery as the rail from Auckland to the Airport , Bullshit promises as usual . Somewhere already underway before Labour took power and contracts already were let , just like the North western link up on Auckland’s North Shore . Labour claimed they did that , Earthworks had already started when Labour got into power and the contract had been signed .

        2. None of those had started when Labour took power.

          The following ones are already under construction: Papakura to Drury widening, Manawatu Gorge replacement, Tauranga Northern Link and the entire Safe Roads Programme

      1. Labour also stopped a lot of public and active mode transport projects when COVID hit. A lot more is still spend on general roading (maintenance alone) than these more sustainable modes.
        Eventually I’m sure EV’s will pay via a GPS based system based on distance and where they travel if not a toll gate system. Not taxing them so much now is to incentivise their uptake to reduce greenhouse emissions.

      2. Ross, you are expected to base your comments here on some semblance of facts, not random reckons from talkback or Facebook. Stop wasting other people’s time.

        1. you need to check your facts , and see what was started before Labour took office and stopped now they are slipping in the poles hey have announced that they are going to do . as for EV not paying there way that is fact , they need to be charged the same as diesel RUC , the rial to the Airport will never happen , as for those that people are saying were never started , the contracts had already been sorted before labour took office . it is Labour’s favourite thing cancel then announce latter that they will do the same thing ,

  3. It doesn’t seem that this approach is using the lever of the registration system as an opportunity to drive mode shift. In many other jurisdictions it is very expensive to register a car. We could take this approach although we would need to pair it with better alternatives and address the risk of people just continuing to drive but not registering their cars. One option could be higher registration costs for inner and PT accessible suburbs in cities?

  4. From some of the comments above I think maybe it’s not been made very clear that the fees and charges are to cover the regulatory costs only, e.g. for RUC the fee in question is how much does it cost Waka Kotahi to administer the RUC system, i.e. things such as cloud services, employee costs, office rent etc. The cost of externalities such as the terrible deaths and serious injuries on our roads, should be factored in the actual RUC per kilometre charges (or fuel excise duty for petrol vehicles), not the admin fees being discussed here.

    1. It doesn’t matter what the changes to the charges are actually paying for.
      its is clear that for now they are the administration fees only.

      The fact is the industry as a whole is denying “its their problem” or that they should pay anything at all to fix the problem.

      Read this article on the RNZ website:
      https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/463780/timing-stings-for-commercial-sector-as-nzta-reviews-fees

      It summarises the position of the taxi, bus and road transport organisations. Its clear, each of them don’t think they or their members are a source of the problems, they think its “those other guys” who are at fault for not paying their way.
      case in point Leggett from the old RTF (now Transporting NZ):
      “The head of Transporting New Zealand which represents the road freight industry, Nick Leggett, agreed the funding structure needed to be reviewed but was not sure the trucking industry had been taking a bigger slice of the pie than it was entitled too.

      “I’m interested to see some of the analysis around how the judgement has been made about where the private versus public interest in cost recovery has been made because often with these things, it’s a decision that’s not really rooted in any evidence.”

      So what do you do? Doing nothing was for the most part, the easiest option until recently (or until that report came out in 2018/19.)

      But clearly the entire transport funding system is likely due for major repairs, sooner than later.

      Climate change rules and attendant emissions reductions or significant mitigation is needed over the next 25 or so years. That will force a change upon everyone – whether we agree who is at fault or paying their way fully or not.

      The fundamental position is currently “cost recovery”. But we need to more than that.

      This proposed set of changes is just a minor book juggling reset exercise between ledger columns or cost centres in the accounts.

      But the howls of outrage from the affected interest groups do show how out of touch with the times they truly are.

  5. Not forgetting that a single truck causes the same amount of damage to our roads as hundreds of cars do. The damage caused increases exponentially with mass and more specifically with axle loads.

  6. The main focus of this is enabling Waka Kotahi to fund the work they are mandated to do, to monitor vehicles and drivers as part of the Safe System. Carrying out inspections and enforcing action on antediluvian trailers (i.e. been around since Noah ordered some timber) is one part of this. Where NZ expects truckies to own and maintain their own vehicles and work as contractors, instead of companies being responsible for vehicles and their condition may not be helping.

  7. If the cost/fee to sit the driving test was lowered maybe people would be more willing/able to spend money on lessons with a qualified instructor.
    I know some people who have sat them for free through their school and others who didn’t know that was an option and paid full price of around $100 which for some could be better spent on lessons.

  8. Back in the late 80’s I use to drive a J5 Bedford Truck which ran on petrol and it paid both the fuel tax and RUC’s and with the price today it would have cost $320.00 to fill it up as it only held 120litres in it’s tank and that with both charges would almost have covered the cost for the NZTA .

  9. Note this is a review of administration fees not Road User charges.

    This is the first review since NZTA was formed and the first where the true cost allocation has been used to set fees.

    The time taken to administer some of the more complex have risen and others have fallen.

    The report released in 2019 highlighted major concerns with the existing regulatory framework and there has been a substantial re-focus of Waka Kotahi back towards it’s role as a regulator.

    What is interesting is that many in the Commercial Transport Sector called for and agreed with the findings of the review.

    This funding review simply aligns the cost of providing the regulatory function (264.6 million) against those that use that part of Waka Kotahi.

    It has nothing to do with funding for infrastructure which is paid via a mixture of Fuel Excise Duty and Road User Charges, topped up by contributions from the consolidated fund.

    Road User Charges differ by weight over axles meaning the heavier the axle weight the greater the cost which reflects the impact to infrastructure.

  10. Just commenting on the last paragraph, it’s a disgrace that in this era of cameras and detectors everywhere that vehicles (not just trucks) are allowed to have blind spots (as in the toddler run over on a driveway by her father the other day – a tragedy).

    Why do we tolerate such unsafe vehicles?

    1. I think that you are mixing two separate issues in your comment.

      There are safety measures being introduced overseas that increase how much of the road a truck driver can see and we should definitely introduce them here. At least make it illegal to remove any safety measure that are required overseas but not yet legally required here, yet.

      As for the child that was killed when it comes to small children all private vehicles have large blind areas behind them where a child could be hidden from the view of the driver.
      Parents need to be educated as to what the risks are with small children around and what can be done to prevent deaths on driveways.
      1) Never get into a car to drive away without knowing where all children are.
      2)If they are outside then there is to be another adult responsible for them or they stand where you can see them before you start moving the vehicle.
      3)Where possible reverse in and drive out. It will also reduce the chances of hitting a child using the footpath. In this day and age of cellphone use it’s easy enough to stop at the gate and ring the adult at home to say little Jack is on the drive please come and actively supervise him so I can reverse up the driveway safely. Yes that is something I used to do when I had small children on my property.

      1. Thanks, but the two circumstances have a common issue in blindspots, which in this day and age shouldn’t exist on any modern vehicle. Why are “large blind areas” acceptable?

        Your points about driveways are very sensible, and should be happening anyway. And it’s not just parents, but all driveway users.

  11. Road deaths will always be happening , extra charges wont stop the Drunk or the speedster or tired driver , that is a fact of life , the conditions of our roads is a discrace , also EV are far heavier than a lot of vehicles and help to deterate the conditions of the roads , they should now fall under the same RUC charges as a Diesel vehicle , as the cost of transport the end user will also suffer as all the charges are passed on to the consumer , as for the comment about a child being run over on a drive way , we never let any of our children and Grandchildren play near a driveway ,

    1. “we never let any of our children and Grandchildren play near a driveway”- that’s what many people say, but sadly those kids (and others, such as visitors’) find a way…

      A safe vehicle adds another level of protection. It’s about time we paid much more emphasis on the safety of vehicles with respect to people outside them as well as on those inside them.

    2. Drunk driving, speeding, and tired driving will continue to happen, but they don’t have to kill people. We can design roads, and choose vehicles to prevent deaths. We could also design our land use so people don’t have to drive, including when they are drunk or tired.

  12. Wot a load of rubbish Transit NZ how far do they look??
    Auckland get more roading funds than the whole of the north island
    Transit waste more money on traffic control and useless roading companies.. also they are top heavy
    You need to look at the state of the roads in Taranaki more holes per k than a golf coarse
    They are picking on the trucking companies.. But hang on also why are these battery cars allowed to get away without payn road user taxes

  13. The biggest group who pay the least to the roading infrastructure are electric vehicles, unlike vehicles which use fossel fuels that get taxed on Registration and fuel purchases, diesels get charged road users, while electric vehicles cause as much damage if not more due to their wait thanba cimperative standatd vehicle of the same class, road users should be applicable to electric vehicles, and eadily gatheted as they all are digital

  14. Time more education for the children and parents . parental responsibility is teaching and looking after your children , you should not blame others for your shortfall . we had harnesses for children when out and about plus the Kindergarten taught road safety from the day they start , In my days we had road safety and all aspects of crossing the road , riding bikes on the road .

    1. To be fair, I’m sure ‘in your day’ there were far less cars around, had far less acceleration power. As soon as kids can move there is a chance they’ll slip by an adult and end up in a high risk situation. It’s not possible to ever be 100% sure you have your young children safe even with harnesses and education.

      Even if you put aside potential blame, do you not _want_ people to be safer around cars and trucks?

      1. you cannot blame the drivers . simple . as for far less cars on the roads slightly correct . but the road toll was still in perspective to the amount of
        vehicles on the roads . it all comes back to PARENTAL CONTROL AND TEACHING CHILDREN . you cannot pass the responsibility to the drivers of the vehicles . even at 10kmh a child out of control will get injured if they run onto the road . even speed bumps people seem to think they are there for crossing the roads and just walk out onto them in front of vehicles .

        1. Interesting that you’ve introduced the concept of “blame”, which actually has no place in modern crash investigation, focusing on preventing repeat incidents; and that you appear to be happy with current vehicle design with its inbuilt blindspots, and relying on continuing with practices that failed us dismally in the past (as Sailor Boy has pointed out).

          And if the road toll was still in the same perspective with the number of vehicles on the road, the per capita rate would be higher now than it was in the seventies rather than substantially lower.

          And I’m not sure how teaching children will help save the lives of adults (e.g. cyclists) caught in vehicle blindspots.

        2. There is a time and place for this approach.

          Motorways are for cars. Maybe also the big arterials. Railways are for trains. You don’t let your children play on those, look before you cross (or maybe don’t cross at all) etc.

          On city streets, especially the smaller ones, it will depend on the question “what is a street?” If it is a space primarily to drive cars, then yes people should just stay out of it or only cross if they don’t “impede cars”. However this is a quite extreme limitation on people that are living in those cities, and many cities figured out that it just isn’t worth it. So they will instead ask car drivers to drive carefully.

          Think of a mall. You’re pretty much free to walk and hang around in a mall. Now think about what would it take to allow people to drive a car through a mall safely. I mean, surely it would be convenient to allow parking right in front of the shop, right? Instead of all the way out in the parking lot?

          You’d need to clear out all the stuff in the middle like coffee stands, chairs, toys, etc. You need to clear out a space in the middle for those cars — a roadway. You’d need to tell people they have to stay out of that roadway. You have to tell them they can’t just walk to that shop on the other side without looking for cars. Parents would almost literally need to keep small children on a leash. It would profoundly ruin the experience of shopping at that mall.

          Maybe this is how we profoundly ruined our cities.

          So yes this approach to how streets work was very much a thing when I grew up, but it is going obsolete.

    2. “In my days we had road safety and all aspects of crossing the road , riding bikes on the road .”

      And in 1973, we had a death rate 6 times higher per capita. Perhaps blaming children for dying didn’t work.

  15. Based on your explanation you are not taking responsibility for your children , the buck stops at the parents , you can reduce the speeds . more crossings BUT IF THE CHILD IS NOT TAUGHT ROAD SAFETY IT IS NOT THE DRIVERS TO BLAME . for a mishap.

    1. I don’t understand people like you. Surely you must be aware of the massive increase in cars, the replacement of real crossings with so called courtesy crossings or a traffic island in the middle of the road. The traffic environment now is far more hostile for pedestrians than it was 45 years ago.

    2. Children should be taught to behave like adults so that the adults can behave like children in charge of multi ton vehicles?

  16. Cyclists should be aware of where not to go alongside of any vehicle . don’t blame the drivers . it is like walking onto the road without looking and in front of a moving vehicle expect to be seen , as for vehicle designs there are already vehicles with extra vision BUT THERE WILL ALWAYS BE A BLIND SPOT . as for only looking at what improvements have to be made when examining an accident it would be more important to examine the cause , Drunk Driver , driving above the set speed for the area . tired drivers , drivers under the influence of drugs . and as for the speed of the vehicles years ago they had more power than a lot of vehicles now , All comes back to education and teaching the rules to young people .

    1. “when examining an accident it would be more important to examine the cause”

      A cause like excessive blind spots allowing a driver to kill a person without even seeing them?

      1. even with extra vision people will get into a situation where they cannot be seen , having driven articulators trucks on corners where the cab goes around first you lose sight of the rear end plus looking ahead . turning a corner and a car tries to go on the inside and cyclist do the same but the rear wheels track closer to the curb , as for the roads and their condition , they were built for heavy traffic but lack of Maintenance and patch up jobs has allowed the roads to deteriorate .

        1. I agree cyclists need to know not to come up on the inside of a vehicle which is indicating to turn in front of them.

          The issue is often that the vehicle has passed them and turns in front of them. As in the driver sees the cyclist in front of their vehicle, passes them and turns in front of them without any understanding of how long it will take for the cyclist to see what is happening and come to a stop. Cyclists are often going faster than drivers realise and take longer to come to a complete stop than drivers realise. If there is a curb to their left they also get left with no where to go other than under the back wheels as they come around closer to the corner behind and then over them.

          As it is I would never use a forward cycle box at a set of lights if the front vehicle was a truck with the driver so far up they are unlikely to see me. So yes there are some situations where no change will make it safer and other situations where we can implement change in truck design that will eliminate or at least reduce other problems on not being able to see what is going on around a truck.

        2. “you lose sight of the rear end” – so do something about this blindspot (say, a requirement for a rear-facing camera looking along the kerb side of the trailer), and problem solved (or at least on its way there).

        3. People now rely on the backing camera and they also should use their rear vision mirrors also as that way they can see the child running towards the car from the side .

    2. “All comes back to education and teaching the rules to young people” – so it’s perfectly OK to injure or maim people who are no longer young or who haven’t been educated “properly” (i.e. most of us).

      Hmmm

  17. try driving in Thailand , done 3 months there and it was a pleasure to drive , population 66.93million , speed limits Bangkok 50kmh , no speed bumps , no silly lane blocking traffic Islands cutting 2 lanes down to 1 to slow the traffic movement , There motorways 100kmh , centre lane 120kmh go slow and get a ticket , and all other out of town 100kmh reducing down 50 or 60 kmh in a small city . road toll is , The New Year 2021 figures were 3,333 accidents, 392 deaths and 3,326 injuries. and a lot of that is motorbikes with drunk drivers . there roads are superb and there construction program is enormous ,

    1. Move to Thailand then?
      20,000 people die on thai roads every year. Might have something to do with everything you just mentioned.
      Thats 5 times the rate in NZ, and we have higher vkt per capita to boot. They travel less, and die far more. But its “nicer” to drive, no rational person would take that trade. It’s even bad economics.

      https://news.sky.com/story/killer-roads-why-thailand-has-one-of-the-worst-death-rates-from-driving-in-the-world-12051841#:~:text=At%20least%2020%2C000%20people%20die,World%20Health%20Organisation%20(WHO).

  18. Stupid Comment , try to get a commercial licence and you would now how strict they are , some even down to a medical .

    1. You mean someone might be required to be medically fit to operate a 50 ton vehicle on roads where they could kill entire families at a moments notice?

      Shock horror.

  19. there are driver of just every day vehicles who should not be behind a wheel . as for a 50 t0n plus vehicle or any vehicle if the driver makes a stupid move there will be an accident happening , and it obvious there are people who have no idea about heavy traffic drivers or there vehicles . Jack you are a fool .

    1. “There are drivers of every day vehicles who should not be behind a wheel. As for a 50 ton plus vehicle or any vehicle if the driver makes a stupid move an accident can happen, and it is obvious there are people who have no idea about heavy vehicle drivers or their vehicles. Jack you are a fool.”

      Having a medical to drive says nothing about their ability to drive it just means they have less chance of having a heart attack or any other medical issue while driving. Jack’s comment does not make him a fool considering it wasn’t off the mark at all.

      <>

      Your comment would hold more weight if you took the time to edit it yourself and check for spelling and grammar errors, or you may just look like a ….

    2. there are driver of just every day vehicles who should not be behind a wheel

      Fully agree, we should require much more strict medical requirements for “every day vehicles” too. Should be regular medicals for the elderly in particular.
      Stop the long, growing list of innocents getting killed from these particular cases.

      https://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/wellington/300208479/car-travelled-wrong-way-on-wellington-motorway-for-10km-before-crash-leaving-two-dead-two-critical

      I don’t know what point you were trying to make, saying that people could make stupid moves anyway and kill people. Yes, they could (and do).
      Were you trying to say we should not have medicals, some people are going to die so it might as well be more people? Seems pretty foolish to me.

      If you are a heavy traffic driver, and consider yourself representative, then it sounds like heavy traffic drivers don’t care about road deaths at all, and would prefer their convenience over live people. Which would seem to align with the Road transport forum’s views.

      I hope for the truckies sake that this isn’t the case however, and you are just a regular old guy shaking his fist at change on the internet.

  20. How about Workspace enforcing section 36(2) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. “A PCBU must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the health and safety of other persons is not put at risk from work carried out as part of the conduct of the business or undertaking.”

    They seem to say if it happens on the road, it is not WorkSafe’s problem. Trucks are allowed to park on cycle lanes regularly, and allowed to not have practicable safety measures like sensors, cameras, mirrors and side underrun protection. How many people have to die before WorkSafe get involved?

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