Fuel tax, Road User Charges increase

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The New Zealand Herald reports that both fuel tax and road user charges will increase tomorrow, as the Government increases petrol excise by 3.75c per litre. Road User Charges (RUCs) will increase an average of 7% tomorrow as well. An interesting quote:

drivers of small diesel cars and other vehicles weighing up to ten tonnes will pay 10 per cent more.

Heavy truck operators will pay 3 per cent to 6 per cent more, but there will be no increase for truck trailers.

Road Transport Forum chief executive Tony Friedlander denied that meant the trucking industry would be subsidised by other road users.

“All steam ahead on new link”

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The Howick and Pakuranga Times reports that construction of the new branch from the Southern Line (NIMT) to central Manukau City is now well underway.

http://www.times.co.nz/cms/news/2009/09/all_steam_ahead_on_new_link.php

The Press: Government Backs Passenger Train

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The Press reports that Minister of Transport, Steven Joyce, is backing the largely tourist-oriented TranzAlpine long-distance passenger train, which runs daily from Christchurch to Greymouth.

Mainfreight Would “Double” Spending On Rail

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On Radio NZ this morning:

Mainfreight says it will double the amount it spends moving cargo on the railways if the Government changes KiwiRail to a more commercial model.

The freight company spends more than $20 million per year on rail, but says it needs more rail services to be able to move more freight off the roads.

KiwiRail expects no state subsidies from next year onwards and Transport Minister Steven Joyce wants it to move to a more commercial footing.

Mainfreight’s chief executive Don Braid says the company would expect to benefit from such a move.

He hopes better services would be offered, saying for instance, there is no overnight rail service between Christchurch – Wellington.

Mr Braid also says he would like to see more business professionals than politicians on KiwiRail’s board.

NZ Herald: ARC’s Green Transport Plan Ignores Reality

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The Herald’s Editorial asserting that the ARC’s transport plan “ignores reality” for its focus on public transport is remarkable for its poor grasp of what current realities actually are.

The reality is that significant roading projects such as the revised $1.8bn Waterview extension and the $2bn+ Puhoi to Wellsford motorway have not been subject to any economic benefit-cost analysis. Projects such as rail electrification have long been established as being more effective at reducing congestion in Auckland. The need for faster, quieter, low emission electric trains was established as far back as 2002 by Boston Consulting in an independent report.

The reality is that the prioritised list comes not from the ARC, but from the Regional Transport Committee which comprises representatives from the local councils, health and safety, the police, the AA, the freight industry and cycling and public transport representatives.

The Minister of Transport has been recently calling for “joined up thinking” in relation to transport planning, but the reality is that this thinking is already well represented in the Regional Growth Strategy, ARTA’s 10 year plan and now a transport plan designed to take Auckland 30 years into the future.

Regional Transport Committee Steps Up

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Good to see the Regional Transport Committee isn’t blindly accepting the Government priority on Roads of National Significance.  The Herald reports:

One of seven Government “roads of national significance”, a $2.3 billion highway north of Auckland, has been placed at the bottom of a list of regional transport priorities.

The proposed 34km four-lane link between Puhoi and Wellsford was listed behind 14 other transport projects in a staff report to the Auckland Regional Transport Committee, which is working on a blueprint to keep the region moving through the next 30 years.

Top of the list is the $1 billion rail electrification project, for which the Government has yet to allocate money for new trains, followed by a central Auckland rail tunnel and integrated public transport ticketing.

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Horse and cart – and jetpack optional

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An article in the NZ Herald on Wednesday looked at the need for a change in vision regarding New Zealand’s transport planning.

Mr Gunstan, a commercial manager for the Marsden Pt oil refinery before becoming a fulltime “futurist strategist”, advised planners to break free of incremental thinking wedded to the more recent past.

He said much of New Zealand’s roading infrastructure harked back to horse and cart tracks built 100 years ago, and was totally unsuitable for modern society.

Showing a slide of a motorway jammed with 10 lanes of bumper-to-bumper traffic, he said too much planning involved “more of the same with just some slight variation – maybe a few more intelligent traffic signs”.

“It doesn’t actually conceive that life would ever be different. It maybe takes advantage of some new technologies, but when we build it, it’s for incredibly long time periods – it’s still around when we’re six foot under the ground.”

But as a former oil importer, he was acutely aware of depleting fuel supplies, and expected New Zealand would have no more bitumen in 20 years for maintaining roads.

“So what are we going to build our roads out of – what sort of planning are we doing to maintain and build our roading for the future?” he said.

For the full article, click here.

Freeways no magic time-saving bullet >>> Same for New Zealand?

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CBT’s Jon Reeves found this article in The Age yesterday, causing us to wonder when New Zealand will start listening to public tranport advice from overseas studies?  Somehow we seem to think we are different and that even if more roads don’t work for other countries, they will still work here.   The Age reports on the fact the Melbourne’s new freeways have produced no time savings, as surprise surprise, the roads fill up as soon as they are built:

BILLIONS of dollars spent building freeways across Melbourne since 1995 have failed to deliver the spectacular time savings promised to justify their construction, a study to be published today shows.

Transport analyst John Odgers, from RMIT’s school of management – in the first analysis of its kind for Melbourne – has reviewed the promises made by consulting groups whose work was used to successfully argue for several big freeways built in Melbourne since the 1990s.

I particularly like this bit:

The average speed Melburnians travel on freeways today is 78 km/h, the same as it was in 1995.

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