Regional Fuel Tax looks to go

March 13th, 2009 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

A planned regional tax that threatened to add up to 10c to every litre of fuel will be scrapped. …

Transport Minister Steven Joyce will ditch the tax when he announces changes to transport funding next week. He said yesterday that a package of announcements would be made, including funding alternatives to the controversial 10c-a-litre tax introduced by Labour.

The Government was not convinced the regional tax made sense, Mr Joyce said. The tax and other increases to fuel levies planned for the next three years would mount up for motorists.

“In the Auckland region, by 2011 there’d be a 14c-a-litre extra tax and so we really wanted to have a close look at that.”

The plan gave regional councils the power to charge up to 10c a litre on petrol and diesel to fund roading and projects. Many councils around the country have already put a lot of work into the scheme and have all but spent the potential proceeds.

Keep cost increases down is laudable, but like the newspaper I am unsure where the funding will now come from.

I’m possibly one of the few advocates for a greater fuel tax. Why?

Well all proposed new get evaluated a cost:benefit formula. Now I have not checked recently but I think we only fund projects that say have a 3:1 or even 4:1 or grater benefit to cost ratio.

We also then have the Government hand pick certain roads as more important than others, because of limited funds.

So what I would do is to specify all roads over a certain benefit to cost ratio be automatically funded. 1:1 might be too low as there is some uncertainity over the calculations, but say fund everything over 1.5:1. And then have the fuel tax automatically adjust to be able to fund those projects. That way there is no cherry picking, we get better roads, but also motorists are paying the full costs of a roading network.

I would not fund public transport from the fuel tax. I support public transport but beleive it should be funded from general taxation as a competing priority like other public good expenditures.

Funding them both from petrol tax turn it into a battle of roads vs trains (for example) and it is not a choice. Unless we stop growing we are always going to need both more roads and more public transport. They complement each other – they are not substitutes.

Anyway I will be interested to see what the Government does.

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55 Responses to “Regional Fuel Tax looks to go”

  1. GPT1 (2,118 comments) says:

    Agreed. Petrol tax about as popular as a bucket of sick but if used for direct funding of roads (and not bundled off in to the general fund) then it is a direct cost to consumers of roads – and the more you use the more you pay.

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  2. Sam (501 comments) says:

    Well whadd’ya know… I concur on all points of the post – a nice rarity!

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  3. MT_Tinman (3,137 comments) says:

    Make bloody cyclists pay their share and there will be no need for extra taxes on the poor, already overtaxed motorists.

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  4. PhilBest (5,121 comments) says:

    Very good posting DPF, I agree with all that. There is so much to be gained by building new roads, in time saved for us all, and economic efficiency and economic growth, that it just does not make sense to not be funding them by the most obvious and simplest “user pays” route: fuel taxes.

    And I cannot emphasise more strongly how right you are about the funding of trains and public transport. By subsidising these things, we are actually ending up with inefficient systems that waste more resources and release more CO2 and other pollutants, than if we did not have the subsidies. In other words, the effect of the subsidies is exactly the opposite of the reasons that we have them, which is often the case with government interference in the economy.

    A lassez-faire economy would actually be far and away the most efficient user of resources.

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  5. campit (467 comments) says:

    Reposted from General Debate:

    WTF? What is a fairer way than Aucklanders paying for electrification of rail than with a regional fuel tax? The price of petrol varies so much that I doubt anyone will notice a 2c a litre increase in July, or a 9.5c increase by 2011. Even people who continue to drive and don’t use the train will benefit from less road congestion when thousands of people move to the trains. The trains are about to be ordered for crying out loud.

    Anyone know what he is on about here? Is this some sort of push for private sector funding? A PPP perhaps? Or will the Government just fund the entire amount, like they did for Wellington’s new electric trains?

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  6. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    The Munchins are getting tired from all the dancing since the house landed on the Wicked Witch of the North.

    They didn’t say stop though…

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  7. Manolo (13,590 comments) says:

    Wait for the Luddites to bitch and moan about this. Luckily, nobody pays any attention to their lamentations.
    According to the Green Party and their nutty followers petrol should be taxed even more.

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  8. dimmocrazy (286 comments) says:

    Above all, this exercise should start with some much needed transparency and actual user input. I would suggest an application that overlays on Google maps or such and that shows existing and planned road infrastructure, together with planned costs, deadlines, priorities etc. Road users (who would have access ID’s based on their vehicle registrations) can indicate wishes/priorities etc. Regularly, the relevant authority assesses the situation and plans /contracts projects, under exercising your suggested model of flexible fuel tax arrangement. The accounts in respect of fuel tax and project expenses would of course be public and accessible as well, so the taxpayer gets a detailed insight on how its money is being used. Another part of the app would be a rating system on how well projects are executed, delays experienced and so on.
    Not to forget, all fines and such in respect of road use (i.e. speeding and the like) to be added to the roading fund.

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  9. Hagues (703 comments) says:

    Heres an idea Make sure the Aussie rail operators pay their fair amount to use the tracks and use that money to electrify it. If they continue to fail to pay the fair amount to use the govt owned tracks tell them to piss off and then spend 3/4 billion electrifying the network and buying the trains to run on the tracks we already own. Its either that or give the Aussies the 3/4 billion and then still have to pay to electrify the network and buy the trains. But surely we aren’t dumb enough to pay twice….

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  10. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    “WTF? What is a fairer way than Aucklanders paying for electrification of rail than with a regional fuel tax?”

    That people who use the trains pay for them.

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  11. campit (467 comments) says:

    So what I would do is to specify all roads over a certain benefit to cost ratio be automatically funded

    This would be valid David if the formula was correct, but unfortunately it isn’t. Two of the biggies are:

    Time savings for commuters are assigned a value, yet commuters travel on their own time not their employers. Even if commuters could arrive instantaneously at work, they would still work 8 hours a day. Of course their leisure time might increase, but this is a lifestyle choice.

    Private costs of car ownership and operation are ignored on the cost side of the equation, only the capital cost of the road is considered. Aucklanders, for example, spend $100M on petrol, and a similar amount on car imports. Most of this expenditure is money leaving the country, but again isn’t considered at all.

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  12. campit (467 comments) says:

    Redbaiter, motorists and trucking companies benefit too when more people use PT

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  13. getstaffed (9,186 comments) says:

    Make bloody cyclists pay their share

    A bike uses a fraction of the road space, and causes several thousand times less road wear than does an average car. It also produces less polutants, increases user’s physical and mental well-being. I’m doing you a favour by commuting by bike. So please just pay your taxes and thank me.

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  14. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    “Redbaiter, motorists and trucking companies benefit too when more people use PT”

    Lots of people benefit for lots of things all the time. No argument for compulsory forcing them to contribute. Let them contribute benefit in their own way.

    Rail might have benefits. Whatever these benefits are they do not warrant such compulsion and they do not warrant gifting power obsessed totalitarian socialists a major political and social tool. Cars represent freedom. From this POV, the big picture is subsidised rail is a lose lose situation.

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  15. campit (467 comments) says:

    Redbaiter, you’re missing the point. I’m just suggesting that if motorists and freight companies want to reduce congestion, it makes more sense for them to fund PT to get cars off the road than it does to fund adding more lanes to a motorway. Adding more lanes to a motorway is a poor long term solution.

    I’m not asking anyone to give up their car either, or force them to use PT.

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  16. mawm (211 comments) says:

    Petrol tax should be used only for funding projects that are of an interest to motorists. Toll the bigger projects and fund the smaller projects directly from the fuel tax (which should be able to be reduced). Public transport should be funded by users to a major extent.

    User pays.

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  17. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    I don’t know getstaffed, the fat chicks sweating away on bikes could certainly be classed as visual pollution.

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  18. Don the Kiwi (1,709 comments) says:

    While they’re at it, why don’t they get rid of the road user charges on deisel and incorporate it into the cost at the pump in the way petrol is?
    It’d cut out some bureaucracy, avoid having to do separate bookwork, avoid compliance costs, and allow the police to do other stuff than checking whether or not your RUC mileage is up to date – and the horrendous fines if they’re not.

    Price at the pump on deisel to include Road User Charges, I say.

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  19. MT_Tinman (3,137 comments) says:

    # getstaffed (2998) Says:
    March 13th, 2009 at 10:42 am

    Make bloody cyclists pay their share

    A bike uses a fraction of the road space, and causes several thousand times less road wear than does an average car. It also produces less polutants, increases user’s physical and mental well-being. I’m doing you a favour by commuting by bike. So please just pay your taxes and thank me.

    Cyclists cause serious disruption to traffic movement creating increased costs in fuel and road damage and increasing pollutants produced by motor vehicles, are a serious road hazard in many cases decreasing mental and physical health of honest road users and taking massive amounts of ACC resources THEY DON”T PAY FOR and cause regular car-car accidents due to their stupidity.

    In short cyclists are simply spongers, leeches that steal the resources paid for by honest road users and put nothing back.

    Cyclists demand their “rights” at the expense of honest road users but accept none of the responsibilities.

    Communists of the road!

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  20. gd (2,286 comments) says:

    Its wonderful howt the concept of customer saitsfaction disappears out the window when we talk of transportation.

    The control and command freaks and freakesses all come to the fore telling us how we cant drive our private motor vehicles blah blah blah blah.

    Well IMHO as a freedom fighter I expect the supplier to supply what I want at a price I am willing to pay for the goods or service.

    How bloody hard is that. When it comes to roads too bloody hard.

    I expect to drive my private motor vehicle on a road from point A to point B in a certain time Not too difficult one would say.

    Yet the combination of pollies civil servants and the nutbars who hate freedom all conspire to ensure I and many others cannot avail ourselves of the expected service.

    Time for the revolution to commence.

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  21. Portia (175 comments) says:

    If we are concerned about subsidies, let’s not forget those afforded to the trucking industry. Truckies use the roads for commercial gain and their vehicles are hugely destructive to the road surfaces; yet due to some spectacular PR work over the years (including their “feel good” parade last year), they do not pay anywhere near the true cost of their road use.

    Sure, they’d pass additional costs on to the public, via increased freight fees, but the taxpayer picks up the tab anyway, through being forced to repair the damage.

    Reverting to true user pays would be much more transparent and perhaps enable a more accurate comparison between all transportation options.

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  22. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    “Redbaiter, you’re missing the point.”

    No, I’m debating the point. I challenge your assertion that there is a long term benefit to motorists and or freight companies in forcing them to pay part of the costs of public transport and I also challenge your assertion that any perceived benefit automatically provides government with the right to tax them.

    Should car and truck drivers be forced to buy bicycles for those who want to ride them?

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  23. senzafine (455 comments) says:

    Im quite happy to pay a regional tax, back when i was paying $2.29 for BP Ultimate, the roads were a considerable amount emptier!

    However Its imperative that they get the funding right though because there are too many projects which have been stalled for too long.

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  24. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    “they do not pay anywhere near the true cost of their road use. ”

    Proof please. Trucking organisations disagree.

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  25. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    “Im quite happy to pay a regional tax”

    Good. Send it to Wellington IRD right now. Post the details of the payment here so readers can be assured of the sincerity of the sentiment you have expressed.

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  26. getstaffed (9,186 comments) says:

    MT_Tinman – your honest road users would include the woman who killed a cyclist friend of mine while texting and driving.

    Yes there are cyclists who do stupid things, just as there are drivers who do stuipd things. I doubt anyone would disagree.

    But to claim as you do that cyclists are “simply spongers, leeches that steal the resources paid for by honest road users and put nothing back.” just tags you as an aggressive motoring moron.

    FWIW I don’t demand any ‘rights’. I request consideration and I’m prepared to demonstrate road-user responsibility. Based on the tone of your comment above I suspect I’m talking to the wrong person.

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  27. insider (1,028 comments) says:

    ANother issue I think being missed here is the politics of allowing councils to fundraise. I wonder if there is concern about lack of restraint by councils and that is as much behind this as a cost issue.

    Remember Bollard’s warning last year about non tradeable sector price growth. He specifically mentioned council rates. Is this a shot across the bows of ambitious councillors wanting large slush funds to play with for projects that aren’t necessary?

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  28. MT_Tinman (3,137 comments) says:

    # getstaffed (3000) Vote: Add rating 0 Subtract rating 0 Says:
    March 13th, 2009 at 11:44 am

    MT_Tinman – your honest road users would include the woman who killed a cyclist friend of mine while texting and driving.

    Yes there are cyclists who do stupid things, just as there are drivers who do stuipd things. I doubt anyone would disagree.

    But to claim as you do that cyclists are “simply spongers, leeches that steal the resources paid for by honest road users and put nothing back.” just tags you as an aggressive motoring moron.

    FWIW I don’t demand any ‘rights’. I request consideration and I’m prepared to demonstrate road-user responsibility. Based on the tone of your comment above I suspect I’m talking to the wrong person.

    Yes, I suspect you are.

    I certainly will not accept the outright lies that cyclists use to justify their demands for other’s resources.

    As a professional driver putting in usually around 60 hours a week on NZ roads I can assure you that the considerate cyclist is an oxymoron.

    I do not argue that there are also very bad drivers out there ( and possibly a very few responsible cyclists) and would happily see those drivers off the road but at least these bad drivers pay their way with fuel taxes and ACC levies plus, of course repair costs and traffic infringement fines.

    Cyclists pay nothing.

    As an aside I would happily assist in the hanging, drawing and quartering any fuckwit texting while driving with as much enthusiasm as I would assist in doing the same to bloody cyclists with earpieces in and ignoring all around them (and all traffic laws) as is their wont.

    I do however know of two recent road deaths (one a relative) caused by drivers avoiding idiot fucking cyclists.

    If you second last sentence is truthful (I make no comment either way) you are in a minority of one.

    This does not alter the fact that cyclists are the communists of the road, wanting everyone else to pay for their pleasure and justifying it with bullshit.

    I don’t ask you to stop cycling, just pay your part in the costs.

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  29. getstaffed (9,186 comments) says:

    I agree with your comment about earpieces and have commented here before about the stupidity of cyclists wearing them. For my part I want to hear the concrete mixer behind me.

    As for paying my part of the costs, I can assure you that the NZ government does VERY well out of me through fuel taxes, RUCs and ACC. I therefore commute and ride recreationally with a perfectly clear conscience.

    And suggesting that “the considerate cyclist is an oxymoron” and “I’m a minority of one”… I’d hope that someone who spends 60hrs per week on our roads would learn to open their other eye.

    I hope our paths never cross. I’d be the one left with tyre tread marks all over me I suspect.

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  30. grumpyoldhori (2,362 comments) says:

    Hell, I’m agreeing with Red.
    Why is it that we have so many idiots when it comes to trucks on our useless bloody roads, trucks, rigs, do NOT damage good roads, they damage the crappy bloody roads we have too often in NZ.
    And I would be keen to see all the road used money put back on the roads from where it was taxed, yes it would be too bad about the bloody tourists, let them use metal roads until enough buses pay enough road user to seal them.

    As for the idiot who wants to go back to the old thirty mile rule on rail, how are you going to get the goods from the rail head to the customer ?
    Bullock train ?

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  31. Komata (1,180 comments) says:

    Regrettably cyclists do have to bear a lot of the responsibility for the angst against them – and the fact that they choose not to acept that they too can be a menace on the roads is yet another symptom of they ‘It’s all about me’ society we live in.

    Most motorists are careful around cyclists, but when said cyclists show a blatant disregard for motorists (and their own personal safety) and either travel in gaggles which weave and doge in front of cars , blocking the normal free movement of traffioc (try driving North on the Hutt Road on a Saturday morning to see what I mean), or suddenly dart across in fron of a moviing vehicle and get upset when they are hit, it is no wonder that they are treated with scorn.

    With everything comes responsibility, and quite honestly, a very high percentage of cyclists do not seem to be prepared to be that. As I said, ‘It’s all about me. .’

    GOH, while I’m not ‘the idiot who wants to go back to the old thirty mile rule on rail . . . ‘, the idea does have merit, since rail works best over long distances, and it makes a lot of sense in respect of efficiencies (and also overseas funds, balance of payments etc, etc, etc) for the trucks to act as feeders to the rail.

    However, thanks to an extremely good PR job by the NZRTA, a turncoat minister of railways and the truckies highly visible ‘presence’ on the roads, this will not be likely to change any time soon. The members of the RTA have invested too much in respect of ‘plant’ to give that up without a fight – a fact that they reinforced last year with their ‘day of action’.

    Sadly. personal gain and self-interest will always prevail over common sense.

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  32. big bruv (13,734 comments) says:

    That settles it for me, not only are the Greens up in arms about doing away with the regional fuel tax but the North Shore mayor says ” the Government is messing around where it’s not wanted by looking at scrapping fuel tax”

    If the watermelons and the North Shore idiot are against it then it must be a great idea.

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  33. Manolo (13,590 comments) says:

    Found in Newstalk ZB website: “Labour says the regional fuel tax should stay, as every Aucklander would benefit from the transport projects which would be funded out of it. MP Darren Hughes says National should keep the tax, as councils in Auckland asked for it to be imposed.”

    There you are, the socialists, supported by local bureaucracy, wanting to impose more and more taxes on us, while claiming to do it for the greater good.

    The people spoke last November, so this fool Hughes can complain as much as he wants. Nobody is listening to his whining.

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  34. getstaffed (9,186 comments) says:

    komata – almost every cyclist is also a driver. so we are well aware of how other cyclists behave, and of the danger/responsibility required of us driving large metal weapons around our roads. sadly only a few drivers are cyclists and so the majority only see things through drivers eyes.

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  35. llew (1,533 comments) says:

    Regrettably cyclists do have to bear a lot of the responsibility for the angst against them – and the fact that they choose not to acept that they too can be a menace on the roads is yet another symptom of they ‘It’s all about me’ society we live in.

    Most motorists are careful around cyclists, but when said cyclists show a blatant disregard for motorists (and their own personal safety)

    Heh. I have to agree to some extent – I also walk part of my way to & from work on a footpath used by cyclists (in their defence, the road access to where theyt’re going is pretty suicidal for a bike), the footpath has clear “No bike” signs, except for every 2nd or 3rd day, when a petulant cyclist has ripped them off their stands), most are considerate of walkers & I have no problem with them, but about 1 in 10 seems to think the “No bikes” path is a cycle racing track, I’ve seen a group of old ladies scattered by a bike not anticipating there may be pedestrians on the footpath, my own family has been scattered by a two wheeled imbecile.

    So yeah. Some of them do bear some responsibility.

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  36. Hagues (703 comments) says:

    “MP Darren Hughes says National should keep the tax, as councils in Auckland asked for it to be imposed.”

    What on earth is the former MP for Otaki doing commenting on an Auckland issue?

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  37. grumpyoldhori (2,362 comments) says:

    Komata, so you would have no problem with your furniture etc going by rail on a move ?
    Rail is good for long distance bulk goods, milk, coal etc etc, where it is going to a customer who has a rail link like a wharf or factory.
    But split loads to go on rail then to be run around town by a truck and trailer, cannot see any fuel savings etc in that.
    Nor do I have any problem with 90% of the road user funds from heavy trucks going toward a truck only lane on the side of state highways
    BUT, no road user money off trucks to go to local bodies, or to roads that they want sealed to keep tourists comfortable.
    Don’t want to damage local body roads, easy , just make it a gross weight of three tonne maximum.
    Of course that means a lot of tonka toys and tiny diggers to do your house site.
    More trucks, more profits for we contractors.

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  38. Patrick Starr (3,674 comments) says:

    is it the fuel tax they are scrapping – or is it more a case of not making further millions $ available to an organisation/s they are about to scrap

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  39. PhilBest (5,121 comments) says:

    # campit (21) 0 1 Says:
    March 13th, 2009 at 10:56 am

    “Redbaiter, you’re missing the point. I’m just suggesting that if motorists and freight companies want to reduce congestion, it makes more sense for them to fund PT to get cars off the road than it does to fund adding more lanes to a motorway. Adding more lanes to a motorway is a poor long term solution……”

    Campit, most people just have not grasped the realities that apply here.

    Roughly, 80% of people use cars and 10% use Public Transport.

    Subsidising Public Transport swallows up around 1 third of ratepayers money AND a few percent of taxpayers money already.

    It doesn’t take much mathematical genius to work out that providing enough new PT infrastructure to increase PT use by 100% and reduce car use by 10%, would drive our public finances broke instantly. But if we provided a few more roads and lanes, we could fix congestion very cheaply relative to the taxes paid by motorists; AND if we axed PT subsidies we would save a whale of money AND actually reduce emissions and resource use. TRUE. Believe it or not.

    As I said above, By subsidising these things, we are actually ending up with inefficient systems that waste more resources and release more CO2 and other pollutants, than if we did not have the subsidies. In other words, the effect of the subsidies is exactly the opposite of the reasons that we have them, which is often the case with government interference in the economy.

    Any Public Transport run at a profit would be an efficient user of resources. But running empty buses and trains around all day is something that we should stop immediately if there really is a crisis with resource depletion and global warming.

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  40. campit (467 comments) says:

    Redbaiter,

    I challenge your assertion that there is a long term benefit to motorists and or freight companies in forcing them to pay part of the costs of public transport

    Well, one example is the Northern Busway:

    It took 20 years to conceive and build, and now the $300 million-plus Northern Busway is being hailed as Auckland’s runaway transport success story of 2008…since it opened on February 4 last year, the busway has boosted annual patronage on the main-trunk Northern Express service between Albany and Britomart by 86 per cent – to 1.308 million passenger trips…That level of success has given the Transport Agency, which runs the busway in partnership with North Shore City and the Auckland Regional Transport Authority, confidence to plan a 23km extension to Orewa for $700 million to $1.2 billion.

    It has also contributed to a significant drop (4% off the top of my head) in traffic volumes across the Harbour Bridge, freeing up road based traffic.

    I also challenge your assertion that any perceived benefit automatically provides government with the right to tax them.

    How do you fund improvements to the roading network then? User pays toll roads? In the busway example, this was entirely funded from the National Land Transport Fund based on the “perceived benefit” to motorists who don’t actually use the busway, and the fact that it negated or deferred additional capacity requirements over the Harbour Bridge.

    Should car and truck drivers be forced to buy bicycles for those who want to ride them?

    No.

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  41. libertyscott (359 comments) says:

    David, benefit/cost ratios stop determining new road project funding years ago – for large projects anyway. Labour done away with it, which can be seen in why the Waterview extension gold plating, and Transmission Gully were on the agenda, as both are lucky to have a 1/1 benefit cost ratio (if that). Cost/benefit IS used for local road projects and for small projects to rank them, but economic efficiency got in the way of building the roads the last government wanted.

    So your idea needs government to get back to benefit/cost ratio based funding again in the first place, as a number of good higher b/c projects were delayed/deferred so that the big high profile ones could be advanced. Notably big public transport projects rarely have a good bcr.

    Treasury once said in the 1990s that they right level should be projects of 2.5/1 because if you take risks around cost escalation, overestimating benefits and the like, there needs to be some padding in the system. On that basis the Waterview extension would need to no longer be a tunnel, Transmission Gully would be many years off and road funding would go back to building large numbers of moderate sized projects across the country and the ones that seriously relieve congestion.

    Anyway well done on abolishing regional fuel tax – just another thing I suggested on my blog to Steven Joyce that he has followed. Good chap that!

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  42. libertyscott (359 comments) says:

    Campit: The ONLY justification for subsidising public transport from an economic point of view is a second best solution compared to road pricing. Replacing fuel tax with distance based road pricing by time, place and vehicle type would mean congested roads cost more and uncongested ones less, so congestion could be managed. Then public transport would not need to be subsidised as road users would be facing the marginal costs of their usage of congested roads. Note I DON’T mean London style, which is a very blunt tool indeed.

    Until then, public transport subsidies are justified only at peak times and only for services in congestion locations (not Invercargill, Napier or Whangarei). Those should only be based on putting public transport where it would be if road traffic was price to efficiently allocate road space, instead of the Soviet style queuing that we get with government run roads that charge everyone the same regardless of demand.

    In recent years though public transport spending has grown many times in excess of that, and the grandious Auckland rail projects are highly unlikely to deliver benefits anything remotely near the costs and loss of capital in building them. Until recently around half of all bus services in Auckland were unsubsidised.

    Meanwhile, new road capacity should be built where efficient – one option is for new lanes to be tolled, as happens in the US – so people demanding more road space pay directly AND get free flowing lanes. It could have happened for the Manukau crossing project now underway in Auckland, where 4 lanes are to become 8, but more focus was spent on providing for a frigging rail link than intelligently managing new capacity.

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  43. MT_Tinman (3,137 comments) says:

    # getstaffed (3008) Vote: Add rating 7 Subtract rating 0 Says:
    March 13th, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    I agree with your comment about earpieces and have commented here before about the stupidity of cyclists wearing them. For my part I want to hear the concrete mixer behind me.

    As for paying my part of the costs, I can assure you that the NZ government does VERY well out of me through fuel taxes, RUCs and ACC. I therefore commute and ride recreationally with a perfectly clear conscience.

    And suggesting that “the considerate cyclist is an oxymoron” and “I’m a minority of one”… I’d hope that someone who spends 60hrs per week on our roads would learn to open their other eye.

    I hope our paths never cross. I’d be the one left with tyre tread marks all over me I suspect.

    That’s twice you’ve resorted to personal abuse abuse to cover your piss-weak arguments.

    Try genuine debate, it’s much more fun.

    I also pay my share of fuel taxes, RUCs and ACC levies (twice) through my business so that argument has no credibility.

    We’ve already covered your other pathetic attempts to explain why I should subsidise your choices and each one has been refuted.

    So in conclusion the only reason you are putting forward for you and your cycling cohorts to be given (literally) a free ride is because you want it to be so.

    I can assure you I don’t.

    I can also assure you that the comments re the fictional “responsible cyclist” are based on many years observation and are correct in every detail and I have needed both eyes over those years simply to avoid the idiotic antics of those “responsible cyclists”.

    I pay full ACC levies on both my recreational vehicles plus RUC, fuel levies etc.

    There is no honest reason why cyclists should not do the same instead of sponging on mine.

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  44. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,746 comments) says:

    The regional fuel tax was a bloody stupid idea thought up by a bloody stupid government.

    Thankfully that government got the boot on 8 November 2008.

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  45. campit (467 comments) says:

    PhilBest:

    Subsidising Public Transport swallows up around 1 third of ratepayers money AND a few percent of taxpayers money already.

    Phil, where are you getting your figures from here? In Manukau City, for instance, up to half of all rates goes towards maintaining the local roading network. Only regional rate go to PT, with more funding coming from central government.

    You say PT should run at a profit, but how do you define profit? Do you apply the profit criteria to other transportation systems? How much “profit” do you think the local road network in Auckland and Wellington should make? How do you define revenue for local roads? In the costs, how do you incorporate vehicle ownership and running costs?

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  46. getstaffed (9,186 comments) says:

    MT_Tinman, Wow you’re angry. Setting that aside, your gripe seems to be cyclists not paying their share.

    Just this morning I passed a number of walkers, joggers, a kid on a scooter and yes, some of those evil cyclists all using the public road. None of these folks where paying per-step or per-pedal so that’s pretty unfair on you – yes?

    I guess the same could be said when I fill my lawnmower or my boat. The fuel tax I pay there to support roading is of little use as the lawn gets trimmed, or when the fish get pulled aboard (I wish!)

    Am I insensed that my fishing is subsidising your use of the roads? No.

    So why don’t you climb on down off your “I’m the king of the road” high-horse and get some perspective.

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  47. campit (467 comments) says:

    Liberty:

    So your idea needs government to get back to benefit/cost ratio based funding again.

    But it is legitmate to consider factors that are outside the benefit/cost ration calculation. Factors like loss of public amenity and adverse health effects, for instance. If we went by the BCR ratios as they stand at the moment, we would be doing things like putting 8 lane motorways through public parks.

    Replacing fuel tax with distance based road pricing by time, place and vehicle type would mean congested roads cost more and uncongested ones less, so congestion could be managed.

    I agree, but I think this would be practically and politically difficult to put into practice. You would have to convince the public that their rates and fuel taxes would reduce to compensate for this new tax. On top of that the cost of fitting GPS transponder units (or whatever) to every car would be horrendous, as well as billing systems. Then there would be the arguments about what constitutes peak time, and whether a 2 minute trip to the dairy in an outlying suburb should be priced at the same rate as a trip on the motorway through spaghetti junction.

    the grandious Auckland rail projects are highly unlikely to deliver benefits anything remotely near the costs and loss of capital in building them

    I’d be interested in seeing the figures you are using to come to this conclusion. And also a similar analysis for the $250m that has been spent on Spaghetti junction, or the Northern toll road.

    And getting more on topic, I still can’t think of a better alternative to a regional petrol tax that justifies writing off the thousands and thousands of hours of central and local government work, just as its about to be implemented.

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  48. PhilBest (5,121 comments) says:

    Campit, I don’t know about Manukau’s finances: I doubt very very much that half their budget is spent on local roads rather than on public transport subsidies. The way things are politically, you can bet there will be a lot of creative accounting going on under the “Transport” category so that ratepayers don’t revolt.

    People run their own cars by choice. The taxes they pay for petrol alone, covers the cost of roads and externalities. It is public transport that does not pay its way even for running costs let alone externalities.

    No-one would use public transport by choice if they had to pay the true cost.

    The worst thing here is that people are being lied to about what their hard-earned rates and tax money being spent on public transport, actually achieves. It has never achieved cost-benefit justifiable reductions in road congestion and it has never achieved real reductions in resource use or emissions, let alone cost-benefit-justifiable reductions. We would have been better off in every way to have never spent a cent on public transport subsidies, and built more roads and lanes.

    If there were no public transport subsidies, and no government interference in transport, entrepreneurs would identify opportunities to run appropriate vehicles on appropriate routes at appropriate times of day, and make a profit on it.

    If you understand economics, you will understand that if people buy product A because it is cheaper than product B, it is simply because the making of product A is a more efficient use of scarce resources than the making of product B. It is not necessary to attempt to trace the whole process from one end to the other: (refer to the essay “I, Pencil” by Leonard Read: to see how complicated it is to calculate all the inputs into making a pencil) the price is the quick answer.

    If public transport fares absent subsidies would have to be more than people would pay, then it is not an efficient user of scarce resources. Actually, you do not have to look very far into the way Public Transport is run, to get a gut confirmation of this.

    Society existed fine without cars for one main reason: mixed-use land use. If you want society to exist without cars again, you will have to remove all controls on land use. The vibrant slums in “Slumdog Millionaire” are a wonderful illustration of the sort of thing that would result. Look at some pictures of Victorian England, too: people and animals living in tenements above and around factories and offices. Trains were primarily a means for wealthy people to cover long distances faster than they could have by horse drawn carriage. As a means of moving the masses, they have never survived without public subsidies; they are simply too inflexible. At least buses can go anywhere there are roads; it would be simply unaffordable to build train tracks in as many places as there are roads, and they simply would not be used a fraction as efficiently as roads are.

    The USSR relied on trains and apartment living: look where it got them. Are you aware that the USSR was far worse a custodian of its environment than any capitalist nation? I have to ask, because tragically few people are aware of this. Their consumption of resources per unit of GDP was also the worst in the world.

    Our fixation with public transport and our mistaken underlying assumptions, involves a massive failure of the collective intellect; but it is just one of many massive failures of the intellect which cumulatively are leading to the economic death of our civilisation.

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  49. libertyscott (359 comments) says:

    Campit said: “it is legitmate to consider factors that are outside the benefit/cost ration calculation. Factors like loss of public amenity and adverse health effects, for instance. If we went by the BCR ratios as they stand at the moment, we would be doing things like putting 8 lane motorways through public parks”

    Well yes and no. The planning process through the RMA deals with public amenity, and that has been an overly conservative process since the RMA was passed. No construction funding was ever granted until it had gone through the planning process. Health effects are calculated by monetising emissions, and some quantification of noise impacts (positive and negative), typically these are small though. There hasn’t been an 8 lane motorway built from scratch in NZ, ever, although some have been widened to that.

    Campit said: “I agree, but I think this would be practically and politically difficult to put into practice. You would have to convince the public that their rates and fuel taxes would reduce to compensate for this new tax. On top of that the cost of fitting GPS transponder units (or whatever) to every car would be horrendous, as well as billing systems” Well obviously you would cut other taxes, or make it voluntary at first – fuel tax refund at the pump while paying basically a new form of RUC, Oregon has already trialled it. It is NOT horrendous, I can assure you of this. The first step is to make it part of all new vehicles, we are probably talking about NZ$150 per vehicle, and the billing systems? You already have part of it in the tolling system built for the Northern Gateway toll road, it is a matter of scale. Germany does it for more trucks than NZ has total vehicles.

    Campit said: “Then there would be the arguments about what constitutes peak time, and whether a 2 minute trip to the dairy in an outlying suburb should be priced at the same rate as a trip on the motorway through spaghetti junction” it would be distance, you could charge based on nil, moderate and high congestion. None of this is rocket science, after all the entire airline, hotel and rental car sectors all operate on a yield management basis which is easily as complicated.

    On Auckland rail some of it is pretty clear. At the moment it costs ratepayers and road taxation payers twice the cost to pay for a train trip than the actual person paying the train fare. Seriously, do you think the benefits to those payers are double the benefits to the person riding the train? The CS First Boston report I read a few years ago talked of an average increase of traffic speeds from Auckland rail of less than 1 km/h at peak times, for the sheer size of spending this is next to nothing. Ask for a serious BCR of Auckland rail and you struggle to get an answer. The lack of transparency is astounding.

    Spaghetti Junction upgrade had a BCR of between 3 and 5 (depending which bit you were talking about) and the revenue generated from road taxes spent from using that stretch of motorway well and truly paid for the cost. It shaved minutes from the journeys of hundreds of thousands of people and goods at peak times, add on saved fuel and it was well worth it. Northern Gateway? Well it has been greenplated to be more expensive than it need be, but half the cost of the road is being paid by tolls, the rest by road taxes – the big beneficiaries are people driving in Orewa and Waiwera, who now have a lot of through traffic (particularly trucks) no longer bifurcating their communities.

    “I still can’t think of a better alternative to a regional petrol tax that justifies writing off the thousands and thousands of hours of central and local government work, just as its about to be implemented”

    I can, write it off. The regional fuel tax was against some official advice, the last one was abolished in the 1990s. The small millions of cost of bureaucratic work is nothing compared to saving Aucklanders tens of millions of dollars annually to subsidise Aucklanders who work in the CBD (less than 15% of employment) a more luxurious commute than going by bus. In fact the sheer stupidity of the regional tax is that it applies to diesel, and half of diesel is used offroad by farmers, industrial users and the marine sector – so they have to apply for refunds. The regional fuel tax would apply to service stations from Pokeno to Warkworth and is about funding a system for a geographical area a fraction of that size.

    Quite simply – Auckland train commuters wont pay for the system. Auckland ratepayers refuse to pay for the system. So if they aren’t willing to pay, and the net economic benefits to the nation don’t justify prioritising it over other National Land Transport Fund spending, the project gets deferred. Meanwhile, if you think it’s worthwhile, go ahead and donate to it.

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  50. libertyscott (359 comments) says:

    Oh by the way, the road network does make a profit – which is the surplus of revenue from fuel tax and RUC after maintenance funding which is channelled into network improvements, plus the 15% of spending used to pay for public transport etc. In fact the government until recently took about 40% of petrol tax revenue as “profit” to spend on other things. Now that is all being rechannelled into land transport funding (mostly roads).

    Rail does not generate enough revenue to pay to keep the network at a steady state.

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  51. wikiriwhis business (3,883 comments) says:

    “Rail does not generate enough revenue to pay to keep the network at a steady state.”

    It was so good to see the rail link between Auckland and Wellington again.

    If tourism drops, we’ll probably lose it again. sigh :(

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  52. slijmbal (1,230 comments) says:

    I come back to trusting local government even less than the national one to spend our money wisely – stealing from Ralston – look at the latest fiasco – Beckham’s visit and the enormous profits it made for Auckland.

    Giving these guys more money to spend when they increase rates at substantially more than the rate of inflation year-in, year-out is downright silly – they’ve proven they cannot be trusted with it.

    If we add to that the monstrosity that is public transport in AKL, in particular, despite the large sums spent on it. The Northern Excessway is a good example – hundreds of millions spent to make the buses go a little faster on the motorway (they historicaly used the shoulder as a bus-lane already so the speed improvements are minor). The issue is getting to the motorway bus stations as they have poor connecting buses, insufficient parking and are difficult to get to as they are close to motorway entrances (the bulk of the time on the shore to get to work in many cases is getting on the motorway). They’ve pissed up several hundred million $’s against the wall on this one with no real effect. The stations look nice.

    Do not give them more money – I’m with Rodney take the money off them and make them do proper stuff like carting our poo off properly.

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  53. nzroller (1 comment) says:

    There is an incredible amount of narrow thinking from most comments here. How exactly can you argue against putting 30 people on a bus instead of in their cars – picture it: 1 bus, 30 cars. Now think about rail cargo, one train or 30 trucks? Amazingly, paying for rail and public transport benefits YOU the driver.

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