Is it Karma?

Is it karma that at the same time that oil is about to hit US$100 per barrel, Jeanette’s Climate Change (Transport Funding) Bill gets pulled from the member’s ballot? The coincidence leaves this frog scratching his head.

The bill sets out to change the way the National Transport Fund is managed, over about five years, so that we stop spending six times as much on growing and maintaining roads as we spend on rail, sea, walking and cycling alternatives.

It calls for a gentle shift in priorities to the kind of low-carbon, low-oil dependant transport we know we’re going to need soon if we want to do our bit to tackle climate change. It’s part of the ‘six-pack’ of climate change bills that the Greens put into the member’s ballot this time last year.

We look forward to what the Labour lead government’s response is going to be on the floor of the house. Will they back a future-proofing shift in funding, or continue in their denial of our future with expensive and constrained oil supplies?

45 Comments Posted

  1. The bill says the proportion of the national land transport fund to be spent on non-carriageway activities to gradually rise:
    (a) 20% in the first year after the Act comes into force;
    (b) 35% in the second year;
    (c) 50% in the third year;
    (d) 60% in the fourth year;
    (e) 67% after the fifth year.

    The bill would gain more traction if it mandated the same gradual replacement of existing street lights and traffic lights with LEDs. At least that way it would actually produce some direct immediate benefit for the planet.

  2. Emerald,

    My apologies. I was looking at the old scale of charges before we got a “sustainable” government. CNG & LPG seem to be the only green fuels that have escaped Labour’s “improvements” to roading revenue.

  3. Emerald

    At least one Japanese manufacturer has a small battery powered car ready to go however there is one little problem.
    It creates more co2 charing the battery than it would as a petrol vehicle.

    Battery vehicles will happen but not until there is a REAL oil shortage and that is not for some considerable time.

  4. You are wrong there Kevin.
    I had a 3 Ton (2ton payload) LWB Transit, now have a 2500kg payload Hiace. For the heavy stuff. Payed the same RUC for both of them and the same as I pay for my new little diesel car that does nearly 100Km on 4 ltrs of fuel.
    The scale stops at 3 tons going down.
    Last time I looked electric cars also had to pay the same RUC as diesels.
    Govt. greed in action again, screwing anybody that wants to make a difference.

  5. Emerald,

    because RUCs were designed as a direct roading cost recovery mechanism. But a 3 ton Transit pays the fee for a 3 ton vehicle, a 2 ton car will only pay the fee for 2 ton car, likewise a 1 ton car pays the one ton fee. Before Labour mucked around with them RUCs were very simple. Approx $20 per 1,000 km to cover non weight related costs (this is the bit that has been increased by Labour), plus a fee based on the 3rd power of axle weight. The latter starts at less than 35 cents per thousand km on a 1 ton car and rises to approx $350 on a 40 tonne truck/trailer depending on the number of axles.

  6. Electric cars are not going to happen until there is a cheap decent battery. Imagine the explosion from a Sony lithium battery car!!
    Do electric cars still have to have to pay road user charges at the same rate as a 3ton transit van?
    And why do the little tiny incredibly economic euro diesel cars have to pay the same road users as a 3 ton transit.

  7. Trevor, those are argument I can agree with 100%. They are also true for hybrid technology, especially on suburban bus routes. Although the current mass produced models from GM cost 50% more than a EuroIV compliant commuter bus.

  8. >>it will be a long while before we have enough of them

    Perhaps, but how often, on average, do people churn cars? Every five years, or so?

    Production will ramp up, driving costs down. The technology is already here.

  9. The problem with electric cars as a viable alternative is that we just don’t have them, and it will be a long while before we have enough of them. To be practical for the average car owner, they need to be cheap enough so the car owner can afford to have them as well as a conventional car, or to have a good range and carrying capability so they can replace the existing cars. Both are tall orders with current technology.

    Electric buses can be purpose made, so they are optimised for the type of use that they get. If they can be recharged at stops automatically, they don’t actually need much range. Size doesn’t matter that much, so they can have a significant volume taken up by battery packs or other storage mechanisms – flywheel energy storage comes to mind here. This means that the design can be focussed on performance and efficiency rather than range and weight. It is not unreasonable to consider modifying existing buses. They can be used nearly 24/7 so the capital cost is spread out over a lot of usage, whereas the high capital cost of an electric car might only be used for an hour a day.

    Trevor.

  10. To clarify my last paragraph. By the time the bill has gone through all it’s stages and become law you are looking at 7 or 8 years from now before you reach the maximum 67% for non-roading. By then peak oil may have reduced the amount of money going into the fund by half or three quarters. While the bill will succeed in destroying the nation’s ability to look after it’s roads peak oil has a very real chance of preventing the bill from funding a viable response to peak oil. You might be better off getting a government gaurantee to fund a minimum amount from the Crown account, as they agreed to do with Tauranga’s RLTP to buy Winnie’s support.

  11. Stuey, the bill does not actually propose a split between sustainable transport and roads. It proposes a split between roads and other transport modes. Those other modes are not intrinsicly more sustainable than roads.
    Your second paragraph seems to show a degree of awareness of this. I personally find it very alarming that the rigorousness that has been applied to proving AGW is not also being applied to the solutions on offer.
    Combine that lack of rigor with the average politicians love of monumental public works with their myriad photo ops and I can see the money being poured into subways and lightrailways. In fact these are as energy intensive to build as a motorway and have not been proven to actually reduce traffic. This bill lays the foundations for c*ckups of epic proportions not seen since America’s urban freeway binge of the late 1950s. You’ve got all the same elements: too much money under political control, an “out with the old in with the new” ferver, a new school of thought on transport planning which has not yet been tested in the real world, and a blindness to any consideration other than the urgency of implementing the “solution”. Freeways were supposed to solve gridlock but they eventually made it worse. Wishful thinking about “sustainable transport” wont stop the same thing from happening again. Rigorous appraisal of the various proposed solutions will reduce the chances that the solutions to AGW will make AGW happen even faster.

    I tend to agree with your last paragraph. If less fuel is sold less money will go into the transport fund. If this bill is passed all modes of transport are going to fall into ruin just as surely as the roads will, unless the general taxpayer comes riding to the rescue as they have in the past for rail but never for roads, apart from occasionally allowing all of the petrol tax to be spent on roads.

  12. Trevor, Surveys by Metro have found that half their passengers would not make their journeys by car if no bus was available. Surveys in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide have found this is the case for up to half their bus passengers. Using metro’s figures a ball park estimate makes the electric bus two or three time more expensive that any parking spaces eliminated at the destination, assuming most commuters would still have a car for other trips not suitable for PT which seems to be the norm rather than the exception for those who can afford to buy a car. It would take a ten fold increase in bus patronage to reduce car usage sufficiently to reduace the demand for road space sufficiently to reduce road cost, unfortunaely if bus lanes are used to attract the mode switch then the road space isn’t freed up for walking or cycling so their is no gain in that respect. An electric bus would definitely be quieter and less polluting than a diesel bus but that applies to the electric versus a petrol car. So I think the only sustainability advantage is in the amount of material and energy used to make the vehicles, and that may be a very significant advantage.

  13. Libertyscott said:
    “To call a near empty bus sustainable (when a bus emits 8 times the noxious emissions of a car, meaning it better carry on average 10 or more people to break even environmentally) compared to a road realignment which may save a couple of lives a year and several more serious injuries, is nonsense.”

    That might be true of a conventional bus, but not of an electric bus. Even with a handful of people on it for most of its trips, an electric bus will move more people during one day than a small fleet of electric cars which spend most of the day parked up. Also, what is the cost of one electric bus compared to the cost of car parking for the cars it replaces?

    Trevor.

  14. Good point stuey, but I doubt that he will get sued. All he did was tell people that it had been put up and who did it, there wasnt even a link. They cant even take the guy who put the evidence up to court, im told he lives in America.

  15. thanks for your input libertyscott, but you seem to be saying that the bill proposes a split between public transport and roads. As I quoted above the bill actually proposes a split between sustainable transport and roads. It is more than just public transport. For example one of the proposed parts of this sustainable transport is “Travel demand management including education and information” which could be all about encouraging less single-occupancy car trips, or about encouraging telecommuting rather than encouraging public transport.

    Yes empty buses are not sustainable but this suggests bus companies need to get smarter about their routeing and management. As does unpleasantly packed buses which I have also been on.

    Your comment seems to be coming from a business as usual perspective. You seem to think that there will be no increase in petrol prices, that when peak oil bites we will just switch to alternatives. Yes there are alternatives, but none are as cheap or as available as oil. Hence there will be more price increases and there will be supply crunches and shortages in the near future. The cost of everything from stadia to roads is rising and is going to rise even further. I think when peak oil bites we are going to see the national road network fall into ruin whether this bill is in place or not.

  16. Sorry all, I’ve deleted a few comments that linked to or pointed how to link to the affidavit you have been discussing. Apologies, but not so much closing down discussion as protecting myself legally.

  17. Yes, this inane bill will do nothing much other than allow the national road network to fall into ruin from deferred maintenance. Given that virtually all land transport funding comes from road users, then it should hardly be a surprise that they should expect to pay for what they use. This straw man about the amount the state pays on roads vs public transport ignores the fact that:
    – public transport users by and large don’t pay for the costs of carrying them, road users do;
    – Over 90% of all trips by motorised means are by car, and in a low density low population country like NZ, anything else would be madness.

    One could of course be grownup, not have the blinkered ideological view that says public transport good, roads bad. That means having an appraisal process for projects that is transparent, which puts an objective valuation on ALL of the benefits of transport projects (time savings, fuel savings, reductions in pollution, reductions in accidents/severity of accidents, amenity/access enhancements).

    Oops, sorry we already DO have that. The core infrastructure for almost all transport in NZ comprises roads. With the exception of some core bulk commodity and containerised goods, and commuter movements in Wellington, rail is a distraction – hell it couldn’t even compete for a lot of freight when it had a statutory monopoly for freight until 1983!

    To call a near empty bus sustainable (when a bus emits 8 times the noxious emissions of a car, meaning it better carry on average 10 or more people to break even environmentally) compared to a road realignment which may save a couple of lives a year and several more serious injuries, is nonsense.

    The fact remains is that there is a funding framework now that makes these tradeoffs, the Greens were closely involved in writing the legislation to achieve it. The results have been significant, but if you don’t believe as a matter of faith, rather than evidence, that road building can create significant net economic, social and environmental benefits, and that some public transport projects may not – then frankly why debate public policy? At that point it is a religious belief. Money is scarce, so it shouldn’t be wasted on poor quality projects.

    and yes there are several road projects in that category today, the Waterview extension of SH20 being one of them, Transmission Gully being another.

  18. Nick…ouch, that hurts, Actually I DO believe in capitalism. Just not the capitalists like John Key. They don’t generate wealth, they just steal it electronically. I’d be surprised if John Key did in fact pay tax at the highest rate as you suggest. It won’t be John Key and co who are propping up the economy.

    Neither of us mentioned the farmers…they will still be here, and earning honest income. Unfortunately they will be exporting their high quality produce, and the normal NZ consumers will have to import somewhat cheaper substandard food from places like China. It is happening already.

    The capitalists who normally prop up the economy (plumbers, builders etc etc) will mostly be found in Queensland by then, and won’t be paying much tax in NZ.

    You are right that socialism starves without input from capitalists; you just wrongly assume that any capitalist is a good one.

  19. greengeek.

    It is exactly these people who will be proping up the economy, not the inmates and welfare dependants. You can insult them however you like but you better hope that they never leave. Contrary to what you say they do pay tax (income tax at the top rate, gst).

    And of course we will need roads, and guess who is paying for them??? (Hint: It wont be the welfare dependants or the inmates) Once again you must realise that socialism doesnt work without all the successful capitalists (like John Key) paying for it, so dont insult them lest they move to somewhere more friendly.

  20. stuey, Sorry, I was trying to convey the info as clearly and simply as I could. The NLTP includes a simple flowchart showing where the money comes from and where it goes to. You can see it at the bottom of this page:.
    http://www.petroltax.org.nz/

    847 million was allocated for maintenance, 896 million was allocated to construction. So, no, the budget of all the new big ticket projects doesn’t dwarf the maintenance and minor improvement budget. That you have been lead to believe it shows just how good Labour is at spin doctoring.

    The item referred to as Crown national appropriation is actually only for Auckland, Wellington, Waikato and Tauranga. The MMp equivalent of marginal electorates. We can’t trust that this funding will continue which is why I believe it is only legitimate to calculate the impact of this bill from the annual revenues from road users, 1.8 billion.

    So, if 1.2 billion is allocated to the items mentioned in the bill, we are left with 600 million. The current legal requirement to pay the MOT and Police before spending anything on roads will continue. That is 324 million, which leaves only 276 million for roads, on which maintenance costs 847 million and at least 600 million of that will occur even if motor traffic completely disappeared (something that homeowners should be able to understand).

    That shortfall will result in either:
    a) having to decide which roads and bridges will be preserved and which will abandoned to the ravages of time.
    b) tripling the ratepayers spending on roads.
    c) doubling road user fees
    or a combination of all three.

    Sadly your final comment captures Labour’s priorities for highway improvements, which completely ignores the LTSA’s assessment of the most effective ways to reduce the road toll.
    http://www.landtransport.govt.nz/publications/docs/sdwp7.pdf
    http://www.landtransport.govt.nz/research/reports/323.pdf

    One other thing just dawned on me. As I read it, the bill doesn’t create a 100% funding assistance rate for the items that are to receive 2/3rds of the road user revenue. Is this an oversight or an attempt to nationalise all public transport? Ratepayers can’t possibly be expected to increase their funding to gain access to this increased road user funding. That has been the major problem with the increased PT funding over the last 20 years. For the reasons given above the bill prevents any increase in the funding assistance rate for roads as there won’t be enough money to even maintain the current rate of 40% for cities and 60% for districts. Since these are essentially the same rates of assistance introduced by the 2nd Labour government they don’t reflect the growth in traffic over the last 50 years or the change in relative benefits that acrue to ratepayers and road users.

  21. Nick C: “… the only people we have left are inmates, welfare dependants, communists and all those Labour voting immigrants we let in from Asia and the Pasificâ€?

    ..You left out the other important group who will still be prolific in NZ: the global money-shifters like John Key. They will be living in their gated communities and beachfront properties, using their internet connections and stockbrokers to suck the life out of developing nations everywhere.

    And of course they won’t be paying tax.

    All the truly productive people will have seen the rot coming and moved on elsewhere as you suggest.

    We will still need roads however…if for no other reason than to bring fresh provisions to the beneficiaries. Other than John Key they are the only ones who will have disposable income.

  22. nice of you all to address the issues 🙄

    um Kevyn thanks for the figures, sorry I don’t really follow them, but I would be sure that the intent of the bill is not to prevent all the worthy maintenance items you mention, but to prevent all the large new roads.

    I defer to your knowledge of the actual costs of roading but surely the budget of all the new big ticket projects dwarfs the maintenance and minor improvement budget?

    And some of the money spent on road improvements and highway beautification can come under the walking, cycling and bus lanes budget.

    So I wouldn’t agree that NZ will have to half the number of roads we have, if that’s what you’re saying, just reduce the number of new roads and widenings and passing lanes. From what I’ve seen, most of the improvements on our highways are not for road safety at accident blackspots, but just to allow drivers to go round corners faster or avoid congestion.

  23. so you’re hurting then..smokey..?

    we see/hear/feel your pain..

    phil(whoar.co.nz..

    btw..don’t forget the ‘cut and paste ‘ radio station..eh..?

  24. >Nick C Says:
    >November 23rd, 2007 at 11:08 am

    >I certainly dont consider rugby dumb, a better question though is: does the P.M. only go to rugby matches for political gain? Certainly her urgency to get to them would suggest not.

    She said after that incident that the rugby wasn’t something she would have chosen to go to, which suggests she was only there to be seen there. It’s an insult to rugby if people who aren’t interested in rugby go there just to be seen there, just like it’s an insult to opera when people who aren’t interested in opera go there just to be seen. Anyway, if she really wanted to see it, she could have watched it on telly.

  25. Phil said… “btw zen..how are the nattys’/righties handling having that $1.5 mill snatched-away..?

    (has the gasping/crying stopped yet..?..)

    key getting there is looking slimmer and slimmer..eh..”

    Resume readable grammar etc here.

    Y’know I read a lot of peoples comments here and most are content to discuss/debate the issues (BB – this is not you btw)

    But Phil…you really are an immature windbag who seems to think you have some kind of moral high ground and/or intellectual superiority. Um…I don’t think so chump. You’re either pimping your boring cut & paste blog here or indulging in nyah nyah nyah behaviour with people who don’t care what you have to say. Apologies for the harshness but c’mon…

    So tiresome…

  26. I have no idea Phil, I’m not a National supporter. But I imagine they’ll just get the difference from their petty cash account. Key’s probably got a rainy day hedge fund somewhere. I can’t imagine it being a huge problem for them.

    It’s like Labour claiming they are broke even though they have a 12 million dollar property portfolio that Parliamentary Service pays the mortgage and rent on, since the assets are ‘rented’ to labour MPs as offices.

  27. Well phil a lot of us are voting with our feet and moving overseas. One day the left will wake up and realise that they have scared all the ‘nattys/righties’ away. At first they will rejoice but then they will think “Oh shit, who is going to pay for our welfare, our landscaping in prisons, our election advertising, our healthcare and our education? Now that all the people who’s money we were being so generous with are gone the only people we have left are inmates, welfare dependants, communists and all those Labour voting immigrants we let in from Asia and the Pasific”

    You must realise that socialism doesnt work without all the successful capitalists paying for it.

  28. btw zen..how are the nattys’/righties handling having that $1.5 mill snatched-away..?

    (has the gasping/crying stopped yet..?..)

    key getting there is looking slimmer and slimmer..eh..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  29. “Nah. she only does that for dumb things like rugby matches that she never wanted to see in the first place. Do you have any evidence of her doing it for something important?”

    I certainly dont consider rugby dumb, a better question though is: does the P.M. only go to rugby matches for political gain? Certainly her urgency to get to them would suggest not.

    I wish she would stop going to them tho, shes a curse! We lost the quater final when she was there. Her texting Grant Dalton cant have helped Team NZ We even lost the Netball final which she was at. Thank god she doesnt like cricket, although the black caps dont seem to need her help to lose.

  30. And breaking the speed limit becomes very important when some-one dies as a consequence. Or are you saying there never was any danger at that speed? Is this another Annette King “common sense” moment?

  31. ># ZenTiger Says:
    >November 22nd, 2007 at 10:43 pm

    >Hey, Labour are your mates. You can count on them. Expect the whole thing to be rushed through with minimal consultation and put in place to start immediately from January 1st.

    On the contrary, Labour only support Green party bills when they’re things they like, like flexible working hours or repealing section 59. The Greens used to shy away from introducing environmental bills like this one, because they figured Labour wouldn’t let them get past first base.

    >You know Helen is willing to break the speed limit when it’s important.

    Nah. she only does that for dumb things like rugby matches that she never wanted to see in the first place. Do you have any evidence of her doing it for something important?

  32. Meanwhile people will continue to be killed on state highway one out of Wellington.

    If you keep pushing this idealogical rubbish (no doubt part of the Greens back room deal with Labour) innocent people will continue to die, our roads need more funding not less.

  33. Stuey, The Greens are either advocating a 50% reduction in roads or a 100% increase in road user fees. The numbers don’t allow any other conclusion.

    Apply that two-thirds diversion from this years National Land Transport Fund spending and here’s what happens (in millions):
    $2459 (including Crown contributions)
    -1659 (approx. two/thirds)
    =800 (for all other purposes)
    -330 (to MOT and Police)
    =470 (left for roads)
    -827 (allocation for maintance/renewals of State Highways and local roads)
    =357 unfunded maintenance

    However the 2459 includes accrued reserves and Crown contributions which are only coalition bribes and are unlikely to continue in the future so the situation will get even worse.
    $1800 (excluding reserves & Crown contributions)
    -1200
    =600
    -330
    =270
    -827
    = 557 unfunded maintenance

    Here is the amount of roading revenue that would be needed to provide zero unfunded maintenance:
    3371
    -2214
    =1157
    -330
    =827
    -827
    =0 unfunded maintenance

    No money for safet improvements, no money for regional development, no money for rural fuel efficiency improvements, no money for passing lanes, no money for stock/campervan effluent disposal, no money for storm water runoff control, no money for highway beautification. Add in those costs and roading revenue needs to toal well over 4 billion dollars a year. Tripling the petrol tax is actually a good idea, not being honest enough to state that this is inevitable consequence of this bill is bad.

  34. Hey, Labour are your mates. You can count on them. Expect the whole thing to be rushed through with minimal consultation and put in place to start immediately from January 1st.

    You know Helen is willing to break the speed limit when it’s important.

    Anything less would indicate they are taking you for a ride.

  35. yes roads will still be needed, that’s what much of the public transport and cyclists will be using as well, and the Greens are not advocating no more roads (unlike the French 🙂 )

    rather the Bill proposes a gradual shift in the % funding for sustainable transport measures as opposed to road building.

    The sustainable transport measures are:
    (a) Public transport operations and services;
    (b) Public transport infrastructure excluding state highway infrastructure;
    (c) Walking and cycling;
    (d) Rail freight operations and services;
    (e) Rail infrastructure for freight and/or passenger purposes;
    (f) Coastal shipping infrastructure; and
    (g) Travel demand management including education and information.

    And the bill says the proportion of the national land transport fund to be spent on those activities to gradually rise:
    (a) 20% in the first year after the Act comes into force;
    (b) 35% in the second year;
    (c) 50% in the third year;
    (d) 60% in the fourth year;
    (e) 67% after the fifth year.

  36. Yeah… NOW would be a good time to get started. A decade ago would’ve been a hell of a lot better.

    It is now official though. If they give us ANY more carp about this, the problem was blessed by their most respected and error-prone media outlet. The WSJ has finally capitulated to reality.

    http://www.prnewsnow.com/PR%20News%20Releases/Industry%20Specific/Oil%20And%20Energy/TheOilDrum.com%20Responds%20to%20Wall%20Street%20Journal%20Peak%20Oil%20Article
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119543677899797558.html?mod=googlenews_wsj
    http://www.fcnp.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2123&Itemid=35

    This is a power issue for us, and the timing could not be better.

    Go Jeanette

    respectfully
    BJ

  37. Having read Jeanette’s excellent and very knowledgeable speech to the Inaugural Green Transportation Conference …

    http://www.greens.org.nz/searchdocs/speech11408.html

    … one hopes that “the Labour lead Government’s response on the floor of the House” would be attentive and positive!

    What does Labour (and other Parties) have to lose by adopting a future-proofing shift in funding, when they all can claim kudos for popular measures and can “blame the Greens” for anything that is unpopular?

    Aotearoa New Zealand needs its Green Party … as the continued presence of right wing oriented “hangers on” to frogblog tells us.

  38. Frog appears to have a gender crisis. “His”? 🙂

    But we need roads, don’t we? We may, in future, drive down them in non-oil powered personal transportation units, but we’ll still want to get places, and often public transport doesn’t go when and where you want it, nor is it very good at carrying a dog, two kids and the shopping.

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