Guest Post: Fiscal prudence and transport priorities

April 23rd, 2012 at 1:53 pm by David Farrar

This is a guest post by Green MP Julie-Anne Genter, initiated after some questions in Parliament last session on this issue:

Let me just start with what this post is NOT saying:

  1. I am not saying that people should not, or will not, continue to use cars for many trips.
  2. I am not saying that all existing roads should be turned into dirt tracks for carts and horses.
  3. I am not saying we should ban anything, or eliminate all car parking.
  4. I am not saying that you should give up your car, if it doesn’t suit you.

 When we get past the straw man arguments, there is something you and I (and all New Zealanders) can be very concerned about: The Government is planning to spend $14 billion over this next decade — which is more than this year’s deficit and 75% of all new infrastructure spending — on a few new state highways with very poor business cases.

Most of that is on 6 projects it calls the ‘ of National Significance’. (The 7th, Victoria Park Tunnel, the project with the highest benefit cost ratio, has already been completed.)

It is truly extraordinary that the Government considers the RoNS to be a key plank in their economic strategy, because there is actually no evidence to suggest the additional motorways will have a positive impact on the economy.

A compilation of the benefit-cost ratios carried out by the Parliamentary Library show that, in total, they are projected to return just $1.40 for every $1 invested (if you excluded Vic Park, it would be less). Several of the individual projects will cost more than their benefits, most notably Puhoi to Wellsford and Transmission Gully, which cost nearly a billion dollars more than the benefits they would create.

Moreover, the Government’s numbers are too optimistic. The traditional traffic engineering approach tends to overstate the benefits and understate the costs (PDF) of motorway projects. One of the basic assumptions in the modelling is that traffic volumes will always rise — irrespective of fuel prices and the economy. The RoNS business cases are no exception: Puhoi to Wellsford assumed 4% annual traffic growth from 2006-2026, though NZTA data now shows that didn’t eventuate from 2006-2011. Traffic and freight volumes on state highways aren’t growing because of the impacts of high oil prices and low economic growth—in fact, they’re back to 2004 levels.

We all know petrol prices are at record levels — up 50% in the past five years — and are likely to go much higher this decade. This is a very strong case for deferring the RoNS in favour of more cost-effective projects that also reduce the oil-dependence of the transport sector.

Road users, ratepayers, and the economy will benefit from projects that will move the most people and goods for the lowest cost in the coming decades. And we need to be realistic about the increasing cost of fuel to cars and trucks.

There are better alternatives: Making it easier and safer for kids to cycle and walk to school is one of the cheapest ways to reduce peak hour congestion. By adding capacity to train and bus routes that are already experiencing huge (10-15%) annual patronage growth in Auckland, we can ease congestion on the roads, reduce household petrol bills, and improve the cost effectiveness of public transport. Freight priority (think truck lanes) can be cheaply implemented on key routes at extremely low cost.

Even if you drive everywhere, you benefit when we make it easier for others to leave the car at home, because it’s a cheaper way to reduce congestion (plus it’ll be easier for you to find parking…).

Resources are limited, so we must make choices. Expanding the existing state highway programme is expensive for little gain – but it also means that every other transport category will be squeezed for the next decade: including road policing, local road maintenance, walking, cycling and public transport. So it will be harder for people to get where they need to go. That’s going to mean more congestion, or more lost money in high petrol bills.

If we choose to invest in modern, smart transport solutions, we can spend less on petrol, reduce our international debt, and have a transport system that is better for our economy and better for our people. But, first, we need the Government to honestly re-evaluate its transport priorities.

I think scrutiny of an annual $1.4b spend is a good thing, and JAG makes some reasonable points around the fact some of the RONS do not have a positive benefit to cost ratio. There can be reasons to look at factors beyond the benefit to cost ratio, but Government should generally be careful not to cherry pick “winners”.

I’ve actually advocated that rather than vary the level of benefit to cost ratio which determines a transport project gets funded, we should instead set a constant ratio (maybe 1.5:1) and adjust the level of petrol tax automatically to fund projects which qualify.

On the issue of future traffic volumes, the link provided by JAG is worth reading, showing the recent change in both NZ and global traffic volumes. However I would be cautious about jumping to conclusions over future volumes as I think the three factors are petrol prices, economic growth and population growth. Petrol prices may continue to increase but population growth will remain, and eventually economic growth will be higher (but perhaps not as high as when fuelled by debt).

Thanks to Julie Anne for the post. With $14 billion being spent over a decade, it’s an important debate.

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121 Responses to “Guest Post: Fiscal prudence and transport priorities”

  1. gazzmaniac (2,307 comments) says:

    I love her statistic that Transmission Gully will cost $1Bn more than the economic benefit it will create.
    Unless the cost has tripled in the last couple of years, by her reckoning Transmission Gully must have a negative economic impact. But hey, that’s the grasp of economics we’d expect from the Greens.

    [DPF: I think the $1b reference refers to Transmission Gully and Puhoi to Wellsford - both, not either]

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  2. Jmac (16 comments) says:

    All this talk on cost./benefit analysis…

    How about a cost/benefit analysis on the Auckland train route currently experiencing ‘huge patronage increase’? If the Auckland CBD link gets funded, last I heard you’re looking at a subsidy of $27 per trip.

    Puhoi/Wellsford gets brought up as being not worth the cost. Why do the Greens dislike those in the Far Northorth so much? We’re talking about a highway which will open up economic growth in one of the poorest regions in the Nation.

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  3. Grendel (1,002 comments) says:

    How much of the increase in petrol prices is due to the additional levies that successive govts have dumped on us repeatedly and the greens want more of.

    an analysis of how much public transport and trains the greens take vs flying and cars would show up their hypocracy quite well. especaially the child mp.

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  4. dime (9,980 comments) says:

    I love how the Greens become concerned about government spending when it suits.

    So a new motorway may not be offset 100% by productivity… how about human happiness?? put a price on that hippy.

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  5. RRM (9,933 comments) says:

    We’re talking about a highway which will open up economic growth in one of the poorest regions in the Nation.

    Really?
    If you are in Auckland and you have a truck, you could get in it and drive to Kaitaia right now.

    Yes the Brynderwyns and a couple of other twisty bits will slow you down for a while – But take a drive to Napier or New Plymouth (or Palmerston North the City of the Future) and you’ll get that too.

    State Highway 1 isn’t what’s holding Northland back…

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  6. UpandComer (537 comments) says:

    A good post from her. I just am wary of alternative transport, because traditionally their cost/benefit ratio is absolutely abysmal. She is definitely right though about kids getting to school by walking or biking, although I think the ones that actually can do for the most part as parents will do anything to avoid having to drop a kid off or pay the massive cost of bus/train passes etc.

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  7. RRM (9,933 comments) says:

    dime (4,195) Says:
    April 23rd, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    So a new motorway may not be offset 100% by productivity… how about human happiness?? put a price on that hippy.

    So you DO wanna give us 12 months’ paid parental leave then?!? As you said yourself, how can you put a price on human happiness? ;-)
    We’ll make a leftie of you yet…

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  8. Brabus (31 comments) says:

    [quote]he traditional traffic engineering approach tends to overstate the benefits and understate the costs (PDF) of motorway projects. One of the basic assumptions in the modelling is that traffic volumes will always rise — irrespective of fuel prices and the economy.[/quote]

    Did anybody else catch the deep irony in a Green MP bemoaning policy decisions being made based off modeling given that she doesn’t agree with their primary assumptions? Don’t they have a word for such people?

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  9. Nostalgia-NZ (5,220 comments) says:

    I would have liked Jag to explain why after improving SH1 to the toll road we should abandon improving Puhoi to Wellsford. It’s a frustrating idea that sections of near virtual ‘dirt tracks,’ and traffic block crawler lanes, can be ignored in what is now a vastly improved highway. Has she been asleep during the waterfront stoush in Auckland, is she not aware that plans to hold the right to extend the Auckland Port have been halted. Does she also not have the barest idea that we have no option but to rely on trucks and that it is in the economy’s interest that they get from point a to b in the best possible time.

    By all means reduce traffic on Auckland roads, particularly one person to one car in peak hour – but that is already under way as rail use expands. Even the idea of kids walking to school has little merit because there is already suburb to suburb pupil migration to better funded schools already happening.

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  10. campit (467 comments) says:

    Great post Julie Anne. The current “tax and spend” strategy of the Government in relation to the RoNS needs a good fisking, and this is a great start.

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  11. virtualmark (1,531 comments) says:

    It’s no surprise the cost:benefit ratio of some of RoNS may be uninspiring.

    But I think that when Julie-Anne Genter then advocates we instead spend the funding on “modern, smart transport solutions” she’s probably getting ahead of herself, since the cost:benefit ratio of those (undetailed) solutions is likely to be no better and, if I’m fair in assuming her preferred solutions have a large public transport element, actually has a strong chance of being worse.

    Also, when we look at the economics of our transport investments I think we need to value optionality more than we currently do. Many of the environmentalists favoured choices – like light rail – are very inflexible. They go from A to B, and to make them go to C will require another very expensive round of investment.

    But roads provide for traffic to go from A to B or C or D today, while preserving the optionality to go to E next year. That’s largely because we’ve already made such a large investment in roading that we now have a vast interconnected network with positive “network effects”. But that is a fair and reasonable economic benefit that we should value and that alternative transport options typically can’t offer to the same extent.

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  12. dime (9,980 comments) says:

    RRM – lol i was going to add – lets see how this green MP feels when the new student loan thing comes out – no funding for courses that dont lead to jobs. bet ya economic productivity goes out the window then.

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  13. adze (2,126 comments) says:

    There’s a peculiar implicit assumption in the rhetoric around building roads that public transport doesn’t use them. What do buses run on again?

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  14. krazykiwi (9,186 comments) says:

    If we choose to invest in modern, smart transport solutions, we can spend less on petrol, reduce our international debt, and have a transport system that is better for our economy and better for our people

    Translation: Private cars aren’t modern. They’re not smart. They use nasty petrol which we have to purchase from evil, foreign oil companies, and it would really be altogether better if we spent time getting to know each other while waiting for buses and trains. In the rain. And to a route and schedule that suits central planners.

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  15. Tom Jackson (2,553 comments) says:

    “I love how the Greens become concerned about government spending when it suits.”

    Modern Green politics is largely about environmental economics. The caricature that it involves naked hippies swaying and chanting at trees and clawing dirt, although mildly titillating, is long past its sell by date.

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  16. insider (1,028 comments) says:

    JAG starts off by saying get rid of the anti green strawmen, which is fine, but introduces a few of her own.

    The first is her commitment to CBRs on investment. Anyone who has watched the greens for a few years will be amazed at their new found economic rationalism. If the Greens want everything done on a strictly cost benefit ratio basis, then they should be consistent and come out and say that. Let’s get them to run that analysis over the money being spent in Chch and see how popular it makes them. It would also be helpful if they said what is a good CBR and what is not, so we know where they draw the line (because 1.4 is apparantly a bad CBR).

    But of course they pick and choose, just like every politician, the ones that suit their agenda. CBR is useful for priorisation of spending but it is not the be all and end all of investment. Many of the RONS projects are considered strategic investments driven by a range of issues including govt political views on what will benefit the economy eg Transmission Gully for Wgtn is seen as a vital link to provide resiliance in an earthquake so would probably get funded no matter what. School commute congestion is not the only benchmark.

    Then she uses a very generalistic opinion paper from her old US university to claim that motorway spending overpromises and underdelivers, even though the paper is not about that and doesn’t actually say that, and ignores local papers that say the exact opposite http://motu-www.motu.org.nz/wpapers/10_05.pdf. And then she finishes off with the usual ‘if we did things in a completely new and untested way that conforms with green ideology, things would be a lot better. Honest!’

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  17. davidp (3,581 comments) says:

    NZ has remarkly few kilometers of motorway. The second lowest in the OECD after Turkey, if you ignore Iceland which is an odd outlier. We have 41km worth of motorway per million people. Current Shearer ideal country Finland has 140km per million. World leaders Canada have a monstrous 534km per million, and are often ranked as one of the best countries to live in. It is difficult to imagine that every other country in the OECD, except Turkey, have blown huge amounts of money on lots of motorways and are still expanding their networks… But none of it makes any economic sense. It is more likely that our business case system fails to take account of the full range of economic benefits that come from being a modern economy with flexible modern infrastructure.

    I also notice that Genter disapproves of motorway projects with poor business cases but supports Len Brown’s rail loop which also has a poor business case. She probably also supports wind power even tho wind power has an absolutely dismal return on investment. It’s okay to be motivated by ideology, but don’t pretend to be motivated by prudent financial management.

    So, when is DPF getting to make a guest post on Frog Blog? I suggest a guest post on xenophobia would be appropriate and timely. Try and convince the Greens that they don’t need to be scared of Chinese people just because they look different and there are a lot of them.

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  18. big bruv (13,929 comments) says:

    DPF

    Why do you let low life like this Yankee chick post her blatant lies here? Do you think that Frogblog would allow you to guest post about asset sales?

    The bullshitting Greens have their own soapbox to spout their lies, let them use that.

    Oh..and while I am at it, apart from providing humour at Question time (it is hilarious watching this stupid chick get hammered by Brownlee) I fail to see what she is contributing to NZ, [deleted by DPF and 20 demerits]

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  19. big bruv (13,929 comments) says:

    Also…what the fuck would the Greens know about fiscal prudence?

    These are the morons who think that raising benefits and giving bludgers WFF is the way to stop unemployment.

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  20. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    having watched/commented on those encounters genter had with brownlee..

    ..the reality is that genter was pushing brownlee all around the room…

    ..with her questions illuminating the paucity of knowledge from brownlee…

    ..and the economic case for the holiday highway…is bullshit…

    ..the only time that road is crowded is during the holiday jams..

    ..and..funny story..!..the geniuses that design these new motorways..

    ..thought it wd be a bit of a wheeze to make all that two-lane/new-road traffic to funnel down into one lane..

    ..at that tunnel..

    ..now..i wd seriously like to see an explanation of the rationale behind that little ripper of an idea..

    ..eh..?

    phillip ure@whoar.co.nz

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  21. insider (1,028 comments) says:

    @ phil

    The only time the Wellington Urban Motorway is crowded is a couple of hours morning and night. The other 20 hours of the day it is wasted. What idiot thought of building that economic basket case?

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  22. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    “..What idiot thought of building that economic basket case?..”

    the tentacles of the roading lobby are strong and long…

    ..does cedric allen represent them too..?..does that explain their successes..?

    ..y’know..!..that monty-burns-type lobbying character who represents both the buyers of crafar farms..and the sky-casino-leeches…

    ..the one who boasted on television of his influence/power over politicians..

    phillip ure@whoar.co.nz

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  23. gazzmaniac (2,307 comments) says:

    philu – we all drive cars and want better roads, except for some useless bums and hippes. Oh wait, every Green MP is a road user too. So I guess that means everyone uses roads.

    Dick.

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  24. david (2,557 comments) says:

    Oh David using the words “Fiscal Prudence” and “Green” in the same sentence! There has to be a word for that.

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  25. rouppe (971 comments) says:

    Again with the ideaology…

    By adding capacity to train and bus routes that are already experiencing huge (10-15%) annual patronage growth in Auckland, we can ease congestion on the roads, reduce household petrol bills, and improve the cost effectiveness of public transport.

    I live in the Wellington region, and have commuted between Porirua and Wellington (about 25km) in a car, on the train, and by motorcycle. So I think I can speak from experience.

    First the car. This is an expensive option. Apart from the inefficient use of it based on using the lower gears for most of the trip, there is the parking cost of between $200 and $250 a month depending on what you choose.

    Because of that I tried the train. The cost of a monthly pass to a station I can walk to is $180 a month. Now this isn’t so bad, except for the following; First, by the time I walk to the station, wait, take the train, walk to work, it takes me about an hour door to door. This is actually longer than it takes in a car (notwithstanding snarl-ups due to accidents). Second the train line is unreliable. On the rare occasions I have opted to take the train recently, it has either been cancelled or significantly delayed due to faults about half the time. Third, when I did take the train regularly for a year, I was never so sick as the winter I used the train. They are unventilated incubators of disease. Fourth, the weather. The walks at either end can result in getting soaked as I can leave Porirua in sunshine to be greeted in Wellington by rain. And remember that the train fares are heavily subsidised by the Wellington Regional Council.

    Because of this I bought a motorcycle, and have been commuting with it for coming up to six years now. Parking is free. Fuel is about $110 a month at the moment. It used to be a lot less. If you include the ridiculous motorcycle registration fee of $530pa it is still only about $155 a month – still less than the train. It takes me 30 minutes tops each way, regardless of the state of the traffic. I just go around jams. I am always fully kitted out in weatherproof riding gear so rain is not a problem. I get to come and go as I please rather than being tied to a train schedule that quickly reverts to only every half hour outside of peak times. That is time I get to spend with my family. I park outside my office.

    A recent test of commuting methods in Auckland also showed that scooters were the quickest way compared with walking, bus, train and car.

    So it is nonsense to say that using the train reduces household bills, and the only reason public transport needs its cost effectiveness improved is because it is not the most cost effective way to commute. It is slow, unreliable, and expensive.

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  26. insider (1,028 comments) says:

    @ david

    Naivety?

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  27. Chthoniid (2,047 comments) says:

    Hmm, I think it’s of value to get guest blogs like this. The issue here is about roading and transport, rather than the Greens Party per se. It would be a shame if Kiwiblog became an echo-chamber for only one political-node in the spectrum.

    Some of the criticism JAG generates is a little off I fear. All projects are done on the basis of best information. At a period where economic growth was robust and oil prices less pressing, a prediction of growing traffic volumes (cf Puhoi-Wellsford road) was not unreasonable. And even so, predicting the 2006-11 levels can be extrapolated to the economic life of the project (up to 2026) is a little disingenuous. It’s exactly the same type of thinking JAG criticised in her blog.

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  28. davidp (3,581 comments) says:

    insider>The only time the Wellington Urban Motorway is crowded is a couple of hours morning and night. The other 20 hours of the day it is wasted. What idiot thought of building that economic basket case?

    There is a perfectly feasible route out of Wellington that leads up Ngaio Gorge, through Ngaio, through Khandallah, through Johnsonville, through Tawa, through Porirua where Chris Faafoi fondly remembers the country’s first McDonalds, around Pauatahanui inlet, and then over the Paekakariki Hill Road to Kapiti. I have no idea why the country wasted all that money on an expensive motorway bypass when the old route was perfectly good for both horses and Model T Fords.

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  29. Richard29 (377 comments) says:

    Good on you DPF for inviting a guest post from an opposition MP. I strongly disagree with the sentiment of some posters here that Kiwiblog should not host opposing viewpoints. One of the great strengths of Kiwiblog is that DPF, whilst being pro National (rabidly so in the weeks leading up to a general election!) wants to create a political blog that includes a diversity of views and genuine debate and not just an echo chamber for exclusively right wing sentiments.

    Also good on JAG for having the guts to post on what is never going to be a very friendly forum for a Green MP.

    The interesting thing about the Greens is that they have not necessarily changed their views or policies to become more mainstream, but that the issues and policies of the Greens have become more relevant over time and the Greens have been political beneficiaries of this. Take for example the economist this week referencing an IMF paper on how accounting for peak production makes oil price forecasts more accurate: http://www.economist.com/node/21553034. The Greens have been arguing for years that Treasury should account for peak oil production in their long term forecasts. I can remember Jeanette Fitsimmons challenging Labour on this years ago.

    My other point would be that a lot of people here seem to assume that Green policy is to replace 14BN of transport spending on roads with 14BN of transport spending on trains. That massively privileges status quo allocation of funds between departments. Why would some of that money not go to other areas. It’s fair enough to ask the opposition to justify where the money will come from to pay for social spending like 200M a year on paid parental leave extension – but when an opposition MP writes a piece questioning the need to spend 14BN on roads they are attacked for it. I’d much prefer to have mums be able to stay at home with their kids for the critical first 6 months even if that comes at the cost of higher tolls on a self funding Northern Gateway and I know my parents in Northland feel the same way.

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  30. davidp (3,581 comments) says:

    rouppe>They are unventilated incubators of disease.

    Brilliant line! Maybe train users should be made to buy private health insurance, rather than bludge off non-disease spreading people?

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  31. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    gazz..i don’t think cars/roads are going to disappear..

    ..(i actually see conversions of current petrol vehicles to alternate fuels/engines to be a huge growth industry..sooner rather than later..

    ..but it is surely a matter of current priorities..?

    ..we have been pouring squillions into roads/motorways for decades/since the tearing up of tram-tracks in the 1950’s.

    …..all the while neglecting/ignoring/running-down the public transport imperatives..

    ..we need to catch up…

    ..’cos any city worth its’ salt has an effective/efficient public transport system..

    ..(and having lived in cities where you don’t need a car..i have seen those obvious benefits..)

    ..that is all that is being asked for..not unreasonable..surely..?

    ..are you ideologically-opposed to public transport..?

    ..or do you have rational/logical-arguments against public transport..?

    ..i mean..surely the rich want the peasants off the roads..?..so they can drive around easier..?

    ..everyone will be happy..

    ..what’s not to love about that..?

    phillip ure@whoar.co.nz

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  32. Monty (978 comments) says:

    Transmission Gully is expected to carry between 18,000 and 22,300 vehicles per day. I am not sure the % of those vehicles that are involved in people getting to or from some productive aspect of the economy – but I would think that it would be a significant proportion be that people driving to work, a plumber responding to a call, a truck making deliveries and the like.

    I drive up to Kapiti a lot – mainly for work, but often for personal reasons. The coastal road is nothing but a frustration. It can at peak times take well over 90 minutes to make the trip that usually is about 55 minutes (to my destination). With Transmission Gully and also the kapiti link Road I think the travel time may reduce to less than 40 minutes. There will be increased productivity, (at least 30 minutes on the return trip) and less fuel used. I think one needs to multiply the daily benefit of say 20 to 30 minutes travel time for a significant % of the 20,000 users and very quickly people will be able to understand the daily economic benefit. If for instance my time is worth $50 per hour (typical Trademan rate) and multiply that $50 by 3 hours or 150 hours increased productivity per annum then the benefit to me in this instance would be $7500 per annum. For some people it could be more, (I know an engineer who does travel this route every day and the increased productivity in that case could be closer to $30,000 per annum and probably much more). Now lets multiply that $7500 by the number of daily users and you end up with a lot of people benefiting their lives directly because of Transmission Gully. The benefit is not just financial – but also personal – more time with family, more leisure time, and of course less fuel.

    In addition the opening of the Transmission Gully Raod will open up that area so people afford to buy (and balance that with the commute into Wellington. The benefits of course will last forever. The road will be there for the benefit of generations to come, no matter the future modes of transport.

    The Greens are against people improving the quality of life. They are against people being able to buy homes that are affordable, and spending time with their family because of reduced commute times. The Greenies want to control people’s lives and make all their life decisions for them and not allow people to have choice. They are nothing but a bunch of negative and destructive Luddites who do want to ban everything (see the Greenies “Ban List”

    For my part I want to be able to travel out of Wellington as fast and as efficiently as possible. I do not want to be stuck in traffic jams, or take public transport (with no links to my particular destination). I don’t mind paying for fuel to have a quality of life I have worked hard for. I like so many people hate travelling at 80km hr (or less and an average of 50km on that stretch) from damn near the police college to the lights at Waikanae on third world roads – especially when there is a better option being planned.

    Piss off greenies – you do not speak for me and never will. I make my own decisions. Let your supporters live in caves, give all their money to the parasite classes, and take public transport everywhere. The rest of us want a decent standard of living, we want to be rewarded for our talents and efforts and risks. We want a nice private car that suits our individual needs.

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  33. krazykiwi (9,186 comments) says:

    roupee – Experience be dammed. It’s off to the re-education camps for you!

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  34. Richard29 (377 comments) says:

    @Rouppe

    I don’t think you and JAG are as far apart on ideology over transport as you think. The article is not pushing rail and buses at the exclusion of all other options (in fact she specifically mentions walking, cycling and truck freight) but she is arguing that we shouldn’t build a system which priviledges cars to the exclusion of all other options (as you rightly point out cars are not always the best option). In fact it’s transport planners like Julie Anne who have for years advocated for options like free parking for scooters and scooters being able to use bus lanes (at least they do here in Auckland, not sure what the story is in Wellington).

    If we are lucky the next left wing government in New Zealand might deliver us a qualified Green transport minister with years of experience in urban transport planning not a middle ranking Labour time server with a background in student politics.

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  35. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    monty said:..

    “..The Greens are against people improving the quality of life..”

    um..!..monty..any city praised for its’ quality of life…has an efficient public transport system..

    ..and wellington..compared to auckland..has a good public transport system..the one in auckland sucks..

    ..i tried living in ak without a car…the ‘boy’ and i lived in a warehouse space in the city for some time..

    ..and i could sorta get by being at the hub..but it was the soccer season that killed that no-car idea..

    ..public transport to and from soccer games meant half the day was gone..i surrendered..

    ..the greens are actually trying to improve ‘the quality of life’ for most..

    ..and a good public transport system is part of that formula..

    ..surely..?

    phillip ure@whoar.co.nz

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  36. Chthoniid (2,047 comments) says:

    @rouppe

    For similar reasons I tend to use a bicycle (mountain-bike) in Auckland. It’s more direct, & in the case of catastrophe (e.g. tornados) you can get home a lot faster as you’re not bound to the road network.

    I’m not entirely sure how you go about making roads safer for cyclists as the average Auckland motorist does seem to regard you as their natural prey, and that really hasn’t changed in over a decade of riding here.

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  37. Simon Arnold (109 comments) says:

    The investment in roading is badly astray. The problem is that the purpose of the Purpose Land Transport Management Act Section 3 as:
    (1) The purpose of this Act is to contribute to the aim of achieving an affordable, integrated, safe, responsive, and sustainable land transport system.
    (2) To contribute to that purpose, this Act—
    (a) provides an integrated approach to land transport funding and management; and
    (b) improves social and environmental responsibility in land transport funding, planning, and management; and
    (c) provides the Agency with a broad land transport focus; and
    (d) improves long-term planning and investment in land transport, including planning and investment in coastal shipping and rail; and
    (e) ensures that land transport funding is allocated in an efficient and effective manner; and
    (f) improves the flexibility of land transport funding by providing for alternative funding mechanisms.

    Section 94 of the Act states the Objective of the New Zealand Transport Agency is: The objective of the Agency is to undertake its functions in a way that contributes to an affordable, integrated, safe, responsive, and sustainable land transport system.

    No mention of cost/benefit anywhere. All passed in 2008 by the then Labour led government.

    I should add that gold plating is another problem – Transmission Gully could be done for less, but this would require dropping the arbitrary NZTA standards. For Wellington residents you might be surprised to find out that the bit of SH1 running alongside J’Ville (from S off ramp to N on ramp) is substandard – the side bits aren’t wide enough (in fact there aren’t any). For 50 years (is it?) we have been suffering. Couldn’t happen now.

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  38. rouppe (971 comments) says:

    @Richard29,

    Perhaps not. I was happy to use the tube in London, the Metro in Paris and New York when I have visted those places over the years. But you can’t use those cities as reasons why it would work in Wellington or Auckland. She talks about making public transport more efficient, but I never hear details. How are they planning to
    a) make the fares a couple of dollars
    b) make it so I can just walk to a station and know I’ll catch a ride within 10 minutes, any time of the day or night?

    The truth is they can’t. The cost/benefit ratio of spending sufficient money to make public transport absolutely compelling is much worse than any of the RoNS projects she wants cancelled.

    I honestly don’t know what the answer is, but I get sick of hearing folk trot out lines like “public transport is more effective” and “invest in the productive sector” but never, ever, back them up with real examples of what they would do and how it would achieve the result.

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  39. David Garrett (7,318 comments) says:

    I agree with others DPF…guest posts from “the other side” are a good idea…if only to show how tolerant we on the right are to opposing views. It would be a cold day in hell when the Standard invites a guest post from ..say…Garth McVicar, but I know Whale has offered Workman an opportunity to rebut my guest posts over there.

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  40. Leaping Jimmy (16,509 comments) says:

    …the greens are actually trying to improve ‘the quality of life’ for most….and a good public transport system is part of that formula

    The issue is, which the Gweens don’t acknowledge, is that Akld is NOT a hub and spoke model like Wgtn is.

    In Akld only 40% of working residents work in the CBD – 60% go from one suburb to another. This 60% is why the loop fails its business case. This is not like in Wgtn where it would be closer to 80% even 90% of working age people who work in the CBD. This is why public transport is efficient in Wgtn but you cannot repeat cannot assume it would work in Akld, the market and the environment are both different. And like I said, the Gweens never ever ever even acknowledge this fact, let alone deal with it by offering solutions which recognise it and take it into account.

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  41. insider (1,028 comments) says:

    @ LJ

    Weirdly the Greens aer fundamentally in favour accelerating the current auckland design to create communal hubs where people live, work and play. They want to return to the village. They don’t want people to travel (except if its Russel or Garteth on a national protest tour). CBD rail link is not in tune with that but they support it anyway because it has metal wheels

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  42. jarbury (464 comments) says:

    It has always puzzled me why right wing fiscal conservatives seem to exempt road building from their concern about whether that spending represents value for money. Surely your average Kiwiblog commenter should be all over the RoNS like a rash to ensure this 14 billion in government spending is justified.

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  43. Leaping Jimmy (16,509 comments) says:

    Personally I do have doubts about the business case for the holiday highway jarbury. It only seems to be a problem on 2-3 days a year. That to me, does not seem to be a very good “pro” and it’s about the only one I can see for that particular road, once you strip away the bollocks.

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  44. adze (2,126 comments) says:

    I’m actually most impressed with rouppe’s comment about scooters. Public transport is fine if you have the right population density, and good planning. But “public transport” is not a bloody synonym for trains! Buses use roads too, and heavy vehicles exert a greater toll on roads (in terms of wear and tear) than lighter forms of transport. Trains aren’t a complete answer because we can only justify tracking along narrow trunk routes.

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  45. chaffnz (6 comments) says:

    What’s with all this Quality of Life nonsense? QoL would be provided by everyone being able to drive their car from their door to their destination and park there, all affordably and in a sensible time frame. Even given that the driver is currently unable to read, work, shop etc like they MAY be able to do on other means, doesn’t make public transport better.

    Public transport is a COMPROMISE. Whether you are compromising for cost, the environment, or any other reason it remains a COMPROMISE.

    Who takes public transport because they prefer the walk to and from the station, or prefer to sit with other people, etc etc?

    The way QoL is used suggests public transport is a preferred option, when it is not! I have lived in London (and travelled the world) and people do not use public transport because it is better than a nice quick affordable car journey with a car park at either end, they use public transport because they don’t have that option.

    When auto-drive cars become a reality the one true benefit of public transport will be gone. If I want to hang out with other people I will do it on my own terms, the beach, the park, the coffee shop, not a train where, as in London, eye contact is not appreciated and you aren’t ‘supposed’ to talk to anyone.

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  46. Julie Anne Genter (18 comments) says:

    Cheers for posting DPF! I may not be able to respond to all of the comments, but I thought I could make a few additional points.

    1. Traffic engineers aren’t economists. They approach the traffic problem like civil engineers — building larger pipes to accommodate flows, and planning for peak demand (this all comes from water engineering). People aren’t water, tehy make different decisions based on cost and availability. Traffic engineers don’t factor in prices sensitivity of demand. They just say, traffic volumes are growing, we need to expand this road, never mind the cost.
    One the main reasons PT needs to be subsidised and few people walk and cycle compared to previous decades is because car oriented traffic engineering and planning rules have made cheaper and easier to drive than anything else. But it actually isn’t cheaper, it’s costing us a whole lot more money because cars aren’t the most efficient way to move a lot of people around towns and cities (that’s why we get congestion), and they take up a lot of land. So, before we expand road capacity, there is a lot of latent demand that can be met more cost-effectively by making public transport work better, making walking and cycling safer.

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  47. big bruv (13,929 comments) says:

    Julie

    What right do you have to come into my country and tell me (because the Greens are all about dictatorships) how to live my life?

    Do you not see the irony in being told how to do things by a Yank?, why not bugger off back to where you came from and try and fix your own country, we do NOT want you here and you are not welcome.

    Actually, let’s test that Julie, stand as a constituent MP next time around, should you get hammered (as you will) then how about you bugger off with your tail between your legs.

    Oh…and take Moonbat Delahunty with you.

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  48. Julie Anne Genter (18 comments) says:

    2. To respond to the long comment from Monty: the issue is that the RoNS has never been weighed up against any other type of alternative to see what will best address the “problem”. You say there is a problem: you can’t drive north of Wellington at peak hour. (We should also probably quantify this problem in terms of economic impact before throwing $2b at it…) Okay, well shouldn’t we evaluate and cost a number of alternatives to see what is best value for money? Why should we spend $2billion, if we can spend less?

    No one is saying you have to take public transport, but if we can upgrade the rail line and increase services, that will move more people in that corridor for a whole lot less than $2b. If all you do is build the motorway and get new cheap car-dependent development, you will get worse congestion people more people will be driving into and out of Wellington.

    This isn’t about values. It’s about geometry and arithmetic. An extra lane of motorway only moves 2000 people an hour in cars. A bus lane can move 10,000. A rail line can move 20,000. You’re right that public transport hasn’t been very attractive in NZ for the last 50 years, and that’s why people weren’t using it. But we can move more people for less money by putting more into public transport. And that doesn’t mean EVERYONE using it. Even if you don’t use PT, you will benefit from more people using it. That’s the fundamental point I am trying to make.

    You realise that regional roads and road policing and everything else are being completely starved ? no increase in funding over the next ten years, just to build this one project. Most NZers aren’t going to use any of the RoNS every day or every week. That’s why the business cases don’t stack up well, not many people will use them.

    I am not trying to tell anyone how to travel — I am arguing that some people would happily take better public transport, walk or cycle, if it was available to them, and allowing them to take that choice will move more people will less land, and less oil, and that’s good for the economy.

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  49. krazykiwi (9,186 comments) says:

    1. Traffic engineers aren’t economists

    If my life depended on sound economics, I’d trust a single traffic engineer over a stadium full of Greens

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  50. Julie Anne Genter (18 comments) says:

    (whoops, a few typos in comment 2, apologies)

    3. DPF, good point about population growth, but I note that we seem to have seen VKT decouple from both population and GDP growth, and that’s not surprising if you consider that there a number of transportation market distortions. We would expect VKT per capita to come down and there to be greater demand for walking, cycling and public transport if those distortions were addressed. More analysis on that here: http://transportblog.co.nz/2012/04/02/14-year-old-newsflash-kiwi-economy-waves-good-bye-to-state-highways/

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  51. davidp (3,581 comments) says:

    Julie G>A rail line can move 20,000 (persons per hour)

    Emphasis on the theoretical “can”. Auckland’s system has four lines (West, South, East, and Onehunga) and makes about 35,000 trips per day total. Averaged over 16 hours a day, that’s about 500 people per line per hour. Pathetic! Probably McDonalds handles more drive through customers an hour.

    You’d think then that there would be lots of excess capacity to scale Auckland’s system from the actual 500 trips per line per hour to your claimed 20,000. Apparently not, since we’re told the current system is close to capacity and needs several billion dollars of improvements.

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  52. krazykiwi (9,186 comments) says:

    This isn’t about values. It’s about geometry and arithmetic. An extra lane of motorway only moves 2000 people an hour in cars. A bus lane can move 10,000. A rail line can move 20,000.

    And a fleet of Airbus A380’s can move 50,000. So what? The bus lane moves people at a time and to a destination that suits the bus company. A rail line moves people at a time that suits the rail company, and to a destination fixed for all time and on land that is suitable of only that purpose. By contrast an extra lane of motorway moves people at a time, and to a location that meets their need at the time they choose to use that resource. I know the Greens don’t value independence. But I do. Highly.

    Even if you don’t use PT, you will benefit from more people using it. That’s the fundamental point I am trying to make.

    You’re saying that the public transport tax on my petrol will be removed, rather than increased to fund new PT initiatives? Great!

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  53. Julie Anne Genter (18 comments) says:

    Insider, I think the Litman paper covers off a number of salient points about the market distortions created by the traditional traffic engineering approach. It is fair to say that for the reasons outlined in that paper (though there are many other sources that back this up), traditional benefit cost analysis tends to overstate the benefits of highway projects, and road capacity increases in general. I really don’t understand where Grimes is coming from in his paper (other than surmise he is an economist who hasn’t studied transport enough to understand the ways in which the market is currently distorted). I have corresponded with Grimes and he acknowledges that minimum parking requirements, arguably the largest distortion in the transportation and real estate market, should be done away with. Yet we know from experience in NZ, where they are removed, demand for vehicle trips reduces, and demand for other types of transport/land use increases. His other analysis of impacts of transport infrastructure on land values seems to only acknowledge the increases on the fringe, and not the decreases in the centre. It’s effectively a transfer — not a productivity gain. And I think he’s over optimistic about the ability for NZ to substitute with alternative fuels or electric cars. Yes we will have those, but they’re going to be more costly than other options. I suppose I agree that traditional BCA is flawed and we should look for alternatives for evaluation and prioritisation of transport projects, but I would think that should be contestable for any type of transport improvement, not all allocated to one activity. It’s well documented that expansions to state highways have diminishing marginal returns, so the the logical place to invest is in projects or policies that have greatest marginal benefit.

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  54. Julie Anne Genter (18 comments) says:

    Davidp, sorry I have to run so can’t give a full response… But you are dividing daily ridership by hours in the day. What we are talking about is peak. That is what is relevant. What is the best way to cater for peak demand? The Auckland roads are virtually empty at least 12 hours a day, but I don’t see you arguing that we should do away with them.

    If we are dealing with peak congestion, the cheapest way to move more people is to increase the reliability and frequency of buses and trains, and to make it safer to cycle and walk. :) love all the people and comments on this thread! Seriously, you guys are a passionate bunch and I really don’t think we should disagree. It’s all just an (understandable) mistake of traffic engineering that we have such an unbalanced transport system. We can work through it and save money, and if driving is the most convenient option for you, I certainly think you should take it. I am all for letting people make their own trade offs, but traffic engineering solutions haven’t allowed people to do that.

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  55. Simon Arnold (109 comments) says:

    Julie Anne Genter, some comments:

    In my day Traffic Engineers studied economics. Your comment that water pipes are different from roads is not right. Just like roads people are at the end of water pipes. If you can peak shave in water management (or any network industry) you improve utilisation, and need to invest less. The problem in all cases is that both the value and the cost of the network changes with time of day, but we don’t charge on that basis. Any moves in that direction will improve economic efficiency. Electricity networks probably offer the best short-term opportunities to improve performance here, but we should try to do better in transport. It isn’t obvious that public transport will necessarily do better under these arrangements however. An individual that invests in a car for convenience doesn’t mind that the car only gets used occasionally – that’s why they bought it. The owner of a fleet of buses or trains on the other hand wants the investment to be used (like the road) uniformly across the day.

    In practice shifting car owners to run outside peak ours is probably where the real gains lie.

    On the Grimes stuff allocative efficiency is important for its dynamic effects. Upping the price on the fringe and decreasing at the centre has knock on effects that lead to better outcomes.

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  56. Simon Arnold (109 comments) says:

    Oh and BTW

    If you want cost benefit to be a key in land transport, why not go and see the Minster of Transport and propose that you remove the current purpose of the Act as enacted with the support of the Greens in 2008, and get the criteria put back in? The Nats opposed the changes at the time as I recall so it should be an easy ask.

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  57. Lisa72 (1 comment) says:

    Alas alas. Yes its another foreign lass here. So what does Miss JAG know, well quite a lot actually.

    For those or you slating her comments on BCR’s you clearly have no idea of the detail in them. In NZ the way transport projects are compared is not on a level playing field. If each transport project had to be assessed using the same criteria and assumptions then we would be better placed to compare schemes. Currently NZ doesn’t compare like with like especially when it comes to comparing trains and cars so you can’t compare BCR’s of different transport projects. In the good old days you had to have a BCR of 4 before the NZTA would fund a project now that sounds like something I’d invest in, not many of those left in NZ.

    As for Krazy Kiwi, why would you trust an engineer to do transport economics ? Surely you need an economist??

    Now walking and cycling projects and all those non-green things that gets you blogging people’s children keeping fit and having a safe journey to school. Despite the appauling assumptions and huge hurdles these projects have to have to be funded the BCR’s of most are higher than for a road building project. Incidently, education programme have had BCR’s over 10 but who’d believe that????!!! now they don’t get well funded I wonder why is it because they make people use their vehicles in a responsible manner?

    I keep myself amused in the morning looking at Ngaranga Gorge a 3 lane carpark in the southbound direction and 3 lane 60kph motorway in the other with the odd car. Building for peak hour congestion is old school. Spreading the peak will drive efficiency without huge investment, who’s looking at that?

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  58. insider (1,028 comments) says:

    Thanks for the response Julie. Just remember to have a life and not get bogged down here. :-)

    I’m far from being a transport engineer but I know quite a few senior ones and that’s not my experience of them. Their first reaction is to try and work with what they have because it’s cheaper. My experience of urban planners though is that they tend to occupy an alternative reality that is far removed from the vast majority of us plebs, and that the traffic engineers end up having to clean up the planners’ mess,which usually involves a bypass around their unwanted fantasies…

    The litman paper in my view was about efficient pricing. He thinks if you price everything possible into a car trip you will encourage other modes(and seems to see that as inherently a good thing). Maybe, but unlikely as people seem to price speed, privacy and convenience very much higher than green aligned planners. and I didnt note him mentioning pricing the alternatives similarly- why should pedestrians get a free ride for instance?

    As for car parks in the district plan, i agree but mainly because I don’t think it should be so prescriptive. I suspect most developers will soon put them in of their own accord due to tenant pressure – CEOs and execs don’t like to walk far. And if you are going to remove it it would only be fair to reduce restrictions on the growth of private car parks which I believe exist in some plans.

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  59. Alan Wilkinson (1,878 comments) says:

    Cost benefit complaint about Puhoi to Wellsford is as irrelevant as saying let’s build a highway without any bridges because they are too expensive. The point is that in order to upgrade the North Island’s SH1 to proper infrastructure level from Wellington to Whangarei it is an essential link. Plus the growth impact on economic development of Northland is unquantifiable in advance but is almost certainly underestimated.

    Just toll it in combination with the Orewa-Puhoi segment and let it pay for itself.

    The great waste in highway construction is the enormous amount being spent on building passing lanes on SH1 instead of spending a fraction more to make segments of four lane divided highway in a program to eventually link them together into a proper trunk roadway.

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  60. libertyscott (359 comments) says:

    Of course, it was the Greens who argued vehemently to eliminate economic efficiency as a criteria for rationing government spending on land transport projects – so quite why the Greens are using a system that they themselves reject (because none of their pet projects comes close to meeting the criteria) to damn road projects (wow, who saw that coming), is rather amusing. Indeed if you applied the same BCR methodology to almost every project Genter advances it would also fall flat.

    Beyond walking and cycling (which is frankly quite cheap really and far more effective at addressing short trips), the pet projects of the Greens are rail oriented – which is a quasi-religious belief that rail is inherently more fuel efficient (the only cost the Greens care about) and so the “saviour” of the economy and the transport sector. If this were true, then rail freight would today be a thriving sector more than able to meet the capital costs of renewing its infrastructure – but it isn’t, because fuel is only one cost input.

    Rail is very capital intensive bespoke infrastructure that is far more expensive to build, maintain and renew than road networks, and is only more cost effective when volumes are high enough for the fuel efficiency gains to offset that, and the inevitable double handling for most rail trips. Railways simply don’t go to and from the places where most people and goods want to go to and from, so there are transfers needed which take time, require bespoke facilities and cost labour and more capital. The Auckland rail “success” story is on the back of literally billions of taxpayer subsidies in capital that is effectively written off and requiring ongoing subsidies more than double that of the bus services that many of the rail users have transferred from. The Greens ignore the stats that show that only 12% of employment in Auckland is in the CBD, and that over half of commuters to the CBD do NOT drive now, but use buses, ferries, bike or walk. If you add up the estimates from the rail business plan, the Auckland rail project is expected to reduce car trips in Auckland peaks by 0.25%, the rest of the rail users are people shifting from buses or people who wouldn’t have travelled in the first place (encouraging MORE trips isn’t very Green).

    Genter embraces the 30 year old “smart growth” “build rail and they will shift mode” school of planning, which is highly controversial and extensively challenged in the US (the late Owen McShane was one of the key opponents to this, Peter Cresswell is another here) having failed to deliver any meaningful mode shift in the years that billions have been poured down the throat of failed metro schemes in that country. If only she’d embrace road pricing – the single most potent tool in addressing congestion, she’d have some economic credibility – for now she is touting hypocrisy. Yes, easy to damn the Nats for ignoring BCRs on big state highway projects, but at least the people paying for those projects are – broadly – the users, as motorists pay the hypothecated motoring taxes for them. The Greens ignore BCR analysis on rail projects, and want them paid for the people who aren’t using them (and who get very peripheral benefits from them). That is the reality evasion she is engaging in.

    I’m more than happy for benefit cost ratios to be applied across the board for all government land transport investment – but the whole rail fantasyland would fall over in an instant if it was. Then I expect the Greens to argue to tweak the methodology to suit their religious belief in rail.

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  61. Than (475 comments) says:

    First Julie, thanks for posting. On a right-wing blog like this your position will get a lot of negative comments (some of them needlessly harsh and personal), so thank you for your patience.

    You commented “An extra lane of motorway only moves 2000 people an hour in cars. A bus lane can move 10,000.” This really does not match my observation of Christchurch bus lanes. Buses are only on bus lanes for maybe a quarter of their total route. The bus lane only helps in peak traffic; in non-peak buses can go full speed down the standard lanes anyway. And given the number of buses (maybe one every 10-15 minutes down Colombo Street) and the number of passengers per bus, it’s very marginal whether the bus lane moves more people than a second standard lane would have.

    But my main objection to bus lanes is that they represent a significant safety hazard to cyclists. Until recently I biked to work as my primary means of transport, resorting to buses in poor weather. The bus lanes along both Papanui Road and Colombo Street occupy the left hand edge of the street, basically taking up what would have been parking space and cycle lanes. Many times I have been biking down the road with a bus idling along in the same lane, forced to slow to my cycling speed. Several times impatient bus drivers have passed me when they shouldn’t, nearly running me down.

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  62. jarbury (464 comments) says:

    Liberty Scott versus Julie-Anne Genter. Someone pass the popcorn this could be very entertaining.

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  63. libertyscott (359 comments) says:

    Jarbury: Haha. I’m more than happy to debate her, she lifts a rather critical debate from the inane dumbed down hypocrisy which was epitomised by Sue Kedgley, who once was driven to Palmerston North so she could ride a train to Wellington for a photo-op about sustainable transport, and also went by car from the Wellington Opera House to her Oriental Bay home after an election debate. I expect JAG to not lie like Sue.

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  64. davidp (3,581 comments) says:

    libertscott>epitomised by Sue Kedgley, who once was driven to Palmerston North so she could ride a train to Wellington for a photo-op about sustainable transport

    Brilliant! Sort of like Len Brown who has his chauffeur drive across Auckland to pick him up and then drop him off at the railway station so that Brown can take the train while the chauffeur heads in to town on the motorway.

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  65. pdonovan (1 comment) says:

    The biggest unaccounted factor in the transport system is space. And space in a city is very expensive. As Julie has mentioned previously, the Northern Busway carries 10 lanes of traffic over the Harbour Bridge? The cost of building another bridge is $4bn and I bet it wouldn’t add an extra 10 lanes!

    In terms of BCR criticisms of LibertyScott: I think that it is the irony of the BCR’s which is telling. That even under the conventional BCR’s which consistently over-estimated the benefits of road savings and under-estimated the space savings benefits of PT investments they come out lower!

    Let’s put Puhoi in perspective. Before the bypass, people were poor up there. After the new bypass, people are still poor. Yes, for a paddock in Puhoi this may be economically revolutionary, but for NZ as a total it is a poor investment and ignorance of agglomeration economies.

    Anyway, good work David and good work Julie. These $14bn discussion are worth having! Oh and LibertyScott; cheer up mate! Can’t you embrace the Green Party is at least maturing in the right (hehe) direction?

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  66. libertyscott (359 comments) says:

    Pdonovan: Indeed, and the poor pricing of road space and public transport capacity is endemic with little evidence of intelligent debate about addressing that. The Northern Busway is a great success, funnily enough outshining the performance of the rail upgrades by a long margin, especially considering any sort of measurement of cost per person and especially cost per person shifting from car to public transport – yet the obsession with rail continues.

    NZ has virtually nowhere that agglomeration benefits could ever be identified, it just doesn’t have that sort of economy or concentration of types of businesses.

    Yes, it’s nice to see the passing of Kedgley and have some more intelligence in this debate from the Green side, but it is still light years away from actually consistently embracing economics. Nostalgia for the Napier-Gisborne rail line, which has been carrying equal to a single truck load of freight every 8 hours, says a lot about how immature the analysis is, along with continued opposition to foreign ships carrying domestic cargo on the NZ coast as part of their international routings.

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  67. campit (467 comments) says:

    It does raise the question about how you actually measure benefits for transport projects. Typically the Economic Evaluation Manual has a heavy emphasis on travel time savings, based on the assumption that the less time spent travelling, the more time spent working.

    However this recent survey found that less than 10% of respondents would actually use the travel time saving to work more. Any time savings would be spent exercising, eating, sleeping, socialising or generally anything but work. 40% enjoyed their commute and only 3% specified a ‘zero’ ideal commute time.

    Overseas research has shown that average commute times don’t actually decrease after the implementation of transport infrastructure. What tends to happen is that people commute longer distances and their travel time “budget” stays unchanged at 1/2 an hour a day each way.

    None of this is modeled currently in the BCR equations.

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  68. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    Wow, an intelligent debate on a Kiwiblog comments thread (usual suspects excepted).

    Thanks DPF and JAG. Hope we have more of this here – arguments in comments threads based on evidence rather than ideology or outright abuse.

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  69. jarbury (464 comments) says:

    Campit, that raises the interesting question of whether transport spending is the best way to give people more spare time. I mean, for around $1.5 billion you could buy every Aucklander a dish-washer. That’d give them quite a bit of extra spare time. As most houses wouldn’t need more than one dish-washer, you’d probably end up saving a huge amount of money.

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  70. davidp (3,581 comments) says:

    jarbury>that raises the interesting question of whether transport spending is the best way to give people more spare time

    I find this whole “spare time” argument to be strange. My peasant ancestors only had to walk out the door of their miserable peasant hovel and they were at work. No commuting for them. What transport has provided is not extra spare time, but the ability to work in large urban centers that have huge developed economies and advanced services and entertainment. It provides most of us with an income well in excess of what we’d earn ploughing fields with an ox, and things to spend that income on.

    Genter seems to want to design urban areas with the objective of minimising the amount of land used by transport infrastructure. Who cares about this arbitrary measure? I’d rather that our cities were designed to maximise income and welfare. Part of that design is provision of efficient, flexible, high-bandwidth transport options.

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  71. libertyscott (359 comments) says:

    Let’s remember that time savings depend on the trip. There is a section of service businesses for which time saving is money – e.g. plumbers. Getting from job to job is a cost, the less of that the better. Certainly the entire commercial vehicle sector (which generates easily 40% of the revenue for land transport) means that less time equals more productivity. For commuters it is a tradeoff between where one lives, what job one gets and then the option taken to get from one to the other. Just because people might not work more doesn’t mean they don’t value paying for that time – the readiness by which drivers use rat runs to avoid congestion or change time of travel to avoid congestion suggests they value that – even if it is about comfort. Given revenue for most government land transport expenditure comes from people paying to use road vehicles on the public road network, it is a fair corrolary to say that what those people want should at least partly reflect what is bought for them.

    Of course the fundamentals are what perspective one comes to on this. Should this be up to reflecting what people are willing to pay for, or should people be forced to pay for choices based on what planners think will suit them?

    It is easy to look at the past and a series of mistakes made in transport funding and planning in Auckland – which is the tendency of some – and both central and local government has done this systematically for decades (and people kept voting for those who did that). The question of what to do now needs to come from a basis of principle and evidence. Those embracing the Green vision think that spending literally tens of billions will transform Auckland from a very decentralised, low density city with very diversified trip patterns into a hub and spoke more CBD focused city more conducive to rail trips and more public transport. To do that a lot of money has to be taken out of the pockets of taxpayers (and more stealthily property owners outside the CBD) more generally to greatly support property owners in the CBD, commuters to the CBD and the workers/providers of the rail services and infrastructure, so is a massive wealth transfer – but whether it creates improvements in productivity, increases attractiveness for business or improves general welfare is unclear – because it tends to be supported by vague assertions and evidence from self selected sources. The gamble on this is predicated also on assumptions that road transport wont get substantially more fuel efficient than at present, that oil prices will go sky high, that rail somehow can replace a substantial proportion of road trips (not the 0.25% currently estimated in the business case) and that it is economically efficient and equitable to make people not using trains in downtown Auckland to pay for those who will. The continued citing of the dated claim that rail is “4 times more fuel efficient” than road in moving freight (the source of which is a 1981 comparison done by the then Railways Department) shows that the evidential basis for the claims that get made on transport are weak. None of this justifies the Nats ignoring BCR on roads – but like I said before, it started when Labour wanted to do the same on road and rail spending under the last government – and the Greens were pushing for any reference to value for money or economic efficiency to be scrapped in the Land Transport Management Bill.

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  72. hj (7,033 comments) says:

    davidp (2,308) Says:
    April 23rd, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    NZ has remarkly few kilometers of motorway. The second lowest in the OECD after Turkey, if you ignore Iceland which is an odd outlier.
    ……..
    Iceland voted to keep its population low. We are denied that choice, thanks to developers on the right and bleeding hearts on the left.

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  73. hj (7,033 comments) says:

    jarbury (464) Says:
    April 23rd, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    It has always puzzled me why right wing fiscal conservatives seem to exempt road building from their concern about whether that spending represents value for money.
    ………….
    because roads are a subsidy to developers.

    The Savings Working Group:

    “The policy choice that increased immigration, given the number of employers increasingly unable to pay First-World wages to the existing population and all the capital requirements that increasing populations involve – looks likely to have worked almost directly against the adjustment New Zealand needed to make and it might have been better off with a lower rate of net immigration.”
    http://www.interest.co.nz/kiwisaver/52140/migration-policy-linked-inflated-housing-prices-government-spending-and-low-savings

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  74. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    (much as i love a good scooter….this is one for the scooter-advocates to digest..)

    http://whoar.co.nz/2012/why-motorbikes-can-be-worse-for-the-planet-than-cars/

    “…Hanoi is easily among the world’s most polluted cities.

    Some experts even think it’s the worst in Southeast Asia, but there are plenty of others that provide stiff competition.

    It’s apparent even as you approach the city – since the urban skyline is obscured by a heavy haze.

    Before coming here, I’d heard I would never see the sun in Hanoi.

    That has proven not to be much of an exaggeration.

    But unlike in US cities, the nasty air here isn’t from a fleet of cars.

    It’s from all the motorbikes and mopeds, which number at least 1.8 million in Hanoi.

    (That estimate is from 2008, however, and is likely far too low now given that the population has since swelled to 7 million.)

    Nationwide, there are about 20 million on the roads, buzzing and zigzagging along…”

    (cont..)

    phillip ure@whoar.co.nz

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  75. Falafulu Fisi (2,179 comments) says:

    JAG said…

    Traffic engineers aren’t economists. They approach the traffic problem like civil engineers — building larger pipes to accommodate flows, and planning for peak demand (this all comes from water engineering).

    JAG, before you made an uninformed comment like that, it pays for you to check out what papers or topics that they teach for transportation engineering courses at University of Auckland (UoA), School of Engineering. A few papers in Economics (in relation to traffic engineering) is being taught as part of the course. What they do there at Engineering School is much more advanced than what is being taught at Architecture/Planning faculty for courses in transportation planning engineering.

    I believe that the UoA, Departments of Physics/Mathematics/Mechanical-and-Civil-Engineering are still teaching a combined class for papers in differential equations & fluid-flow-dynamics topics (best as I can recall, 2 of them), it was when I was there. I asked my lecturer at the time, why engineers had to cross from the other side of Symond St (Engineering School), to do a lecture on those topics at the Science building, considering that the papers were not Engineering papers. His reply, was, the 4 Departments thought it was economical for one lecturer to teach the papers to combined students (from different departments) rather than 4 different lecturers teaching the same topics at their respective departments.

    I guess that your criticism of traffic engineering modeling stems from not understanding of what really they’re modeling, which is heavy numeric, something that’s not taught at Architecture/Planning faculty.

    BTW, the reason, traffic engineers study fluid-flow, is because vehicles are modeled as particles flowing in a body of fluid (traffic). This is a well established branch of traffic engineering and there are computer tools based on fluid-flow that have been developed for use by traffic engineers (for more than 2 decades now). Just take a peed at the paper below to get a rough idea of what a traffic engineer really models.

    Road traffic Modelling and Simulating with fluid-dynamic approach

    Don’t try to denigrate a whole profession (traffic engineers) as somehow they’re rubbish, because 1 or 2 traffic engineering consultants made some wrong estimations, because it made you (in their views) an ignorant person.

    PS : I’m not a traffic engineer, but I do know some of the modeling techniques that use.

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  76. Falafulu Fisi (2,179 comments) says:

    Chaffnz…

    When auto-drive cars become a reality the one true benefit of public transport will be gone.

    It’s already here. There are a number of different R&D groups from around the world who already designed these types of autonomous (self-driving) vehicles and test-driven on the high-ways/roads (in the presence of other human driven vehicles on the same roads). Here is one from Google:

    Google Car: It Drives Itself – ABC News

    Nevada is the first state to approve autonomous vehicles on its roads.

    Nevada Approves Self-Driving Cars after Google Lobbying Push

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  77. Julie Anne Genter (18 comments) says:

    Falafulu, my apologies, I am not trying to denigrate traffic engineers as a profession! I’m trying in a very plain language way (for the benefit of people who haven’t worked in this area) to expain why the traditional traffic engineering approach has resulted in a situation that wasn’t directly chosen by consumers, and hence isn’t economically optimal. I should have said that planning rules and planners are also a big part of the problem too!

    Here’s a civil engineer explaining some of what I am trying to get at: http://grist.org/cities/2010-11-22-confessions-of-a-recovering-engineer/

    You are right that engineers apply really complex fluid dynamics to vehicle flows — and that gets at the crux of my criticism. Traffic engineering practice has focussed on maximising vehicle flow at peak hour, rather than optimising the movement of people/goods. So what isn’t included (in traditional engineering solutions) is a consideration of price sensitivity of demand, and the ability of people and businesses to substitute with more cost effective modes or behavior.

    For example, Austroads and other engineering standards say for a given land use, there’s a trip generation rate and a parking generation rate. They do not consider location, availability of other modes, or relative cost. Planning rules then force the land use to locate in an area that can acomodate the large number of cars, and force a massive off street car park, which can be over 1/3 of the overhead land costs. This has complex economic impacts on location decisions, and also makes it harder for consumers to benefit from lower cost alternatives. If you cycle or taxi to the supermarket, you still pay for the big car park out the front. Widening roads and putting in free left hand turn lanes actually reduces adjacent property values and makes it harder for people to walk and cycle. So, in an environment designed to maximise the flow of vehicles, it’s understandable that most people drive for most trips — but that doesn’t mean it’s the best outcome for the economy.

    Incidentally, about 5 years ago during my masters at UofA I did take a traffic engineering course, and then took a transport economics class in the Civil department taught by transport modellor and economist Judith Wang — who then co-supervised my independent reasearch thesis, which was all about the NZTA economic evaluation of motorway projects. So, I am happy to send you a summary of my thesis, which goes into detail using a case study of a traffic modelling and economics for a section of the western ring route. (I got an A on this, so it’s pretty solid. I think Judith gave me an A+ actually, but the planning supervisor didn’t think it was theoretical enough so marked it down to an A). I was then accepted with two scholarships for a PhD that was going to bridge the UofA engineering and planning departments, but I turned it down to go work in a transport consultancy, where I did actual traffic modelling with SIDRA, PTV, and worked with the ART (ARC’s 4 stage mdoel) and SATURN outputs.

    Trying to sum it up simply – traditional traffic models as used by the NZTA and their consultants to evaluate projects don’t consider all the costs involved in vehicle-oriented solutions (most notably terminal capacity), don’t account for the dynamic ability of people and business to locate in different places, and don’t compare different types of solutions to chose the most cost-effective. They don’t even count walking and cycling trips — which is probably why we’ve ended up with a built environment that makes it extremely unsafe or impossible to walk or cycle.

    According to the way planners and engineers have traditionally approached problem definition, the worst thing that could ever happen is a traffic jam at peak hour, or a full car park, and the only way to solve that problem is to have wider roads and heaps of underutilised off street parking. I think it’s understandable why they approached it that way, but I think we have got to a point where it is no longer working for us, and is costing us a whole lot.

    We could instead focus on the producitivity of corridors, measured by movement of people and goods to find more cost effective solutions that will deliver more bang for their buck. And if we get rid of harmful restrictions like minumum parking requirements in district plans, we will see a more productive use of land in our towns and cities, which will also make it easier and more attractive for people to walk and cycle. And it will mean less subsidies for buses and trains.

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  78. David Farrar (1,899 comments) says:

    My thanks to JAG for her helpful responses in the comments, and to those who have debated issues with her. I for one have found it a good discussion.

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  79. big bruv (13,929 comments) says:

    DPF

    A debate should be about the truth. JAG is a stranger to that concept. She is a Green, they are not interested in debate, they want to force their fucked up thinking on the rest of us.

    If she really was into debating the issue then she would have to accept that a lot of what she has written is rubbish.

    Going to hold your breath waiting for her (or any Green) to do that?….I would advise against that.

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  80. davidp (3,581 comments) says:

    DPF>My thanks to JAG for her helpful responses in the comments

    I think the success or otherwise of this sort of post lies in the willingness of the poster to engage with commenters. If the poster views it as an opportunity to lecture then it will fail. If the poster shows a Peter F-like contempt for commenters or an unwillingness to engage on a peer basis then it will fail. Genter has handled this well, although I’d love to see her reply to Liberty Scott’s critiques of the Green’s policies and the viability of rail in NZ. Julie? (Or is it Julie Anne… do people address her with both first names in ordinary conversation?)

    I also give credit to Trevor Mallard for his occasional forays in to Kiwiblog. I doubt there are too many more hostile audiences, but he handles things with good humour rather than going off in a sulk or hitting back.

    I’m all in favour of DPF offering Kiwiblog to people with interesting things to say who are happy to enter in a too-and-fro with the rest of us. It makes this a more-interesting blog.

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  81. Paulus (2,632 comments) says:

    Typical Green conclusion.
    What “we” want – what “you” can pay for.

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  82. Julie Anne Genter (18 comments) says:

    Liberty, I’ll try to make a few quick points. I think it’s a fair criticism that previous Green MPs worked to reduce the importance of economic evaluation in the LTMA, and I think that has not served us well in terms of the current prioritisation of uneconomic projects like the RoNS, (which are justified solely in terms of “strategic fit” where the strategy is simply to build the RoNS. Very circular.)

    I would not take this approach myself, because I have a different, perhaps more recent perspective on the transport situation. But I think it’s understandable why they approached it that way, because previously the benefit cost analysis was quite flawed and biased towards vehicle oriented solutions, and under-valued walking, cycling, TDM, and PT.

    In broad brush strokes, I think for decades the debate went like this: leftie or greenies often looked around and thought, this is totally inefficicent and undesirable, we must get people to stop driving. Right wingers said, the market delivers efficient outcomes — people must want cars, that’s why they use them so much, so this must be efficient.

    They were both right and both wrong. In fact, the market didn’t deliver this outcome, and it’s not efficicent! Planning rules and regulations, combined with vehicle oriented traffic engineering solutions, have limited people’s choices and caused a surplus of car-dependent sprawl. When you say I am pro Smart Growth — what I am is anti sprawl-creating regulations. Google “The High Cost of Free Parking” and you will begin to see what I am talking about. Car-dependent sprawl was caused by planning, not a lack of it.

    I think that this is a really great news story, and it is why I am writing about transport priorities on this blog. Because we actually all stand to benefit from changes to planning regulations, policy and funding that reduce these transport market distortions. It means we can spend less overall on transport, both consumers and government, and get better outcomes in terms of access to goods and services. There are really no trades offs, and we don’t need to fight some nebulous “culture of the car”. We don’t need to force people to change their preferences, we just need to make costs and benefits more direct, and reduce bad regulation, to enable people to make their own trade offs.

    I’m not sure where you get the “spending literally tens of billions in Auckland” from. Our national transport plan before the last election saved over $3.5billion compared to the Govt’s GPS, and still allocated a few billion to state highways for safety upgrades. It funded 60% of the CRL and a number of busway projects, and significantly increased funding to walking and cycling. These solutions are cheaper than increasing road capacity. The Government and local government are spending literally tens of billions on car-oriented transport over the next decade, and consumers are spending literally tens of billions on cars and fuel to run them each year, and the real estate market has about ten billion a year in the annualised cost of parking (mandated by district plans). So, our changes will reduce spending.

    Also, I think you’ll find that there is huge latent demand for central living and office space, which has been hindered for decades by regulations. In 1996 fewer than 3,000 people lived in Auckland CBD, because planning rules forbade new residential development. In 2006, nearly 30,000 people lived in the CBD, and this number is growing. That’s very rapid change. For a number of reasons the new residential development hasn’t been all high quality. I don’t think high rise development is desireable or necessary to acheive greater density — but removing harmful regulations like minimum parking requirements and single-use zoning is a definite prerequisite to allowing medium density to occur. And if we expect population growth, there is the opportunity to improve some of the wasted arterial corridors in Auckland that currently are dead zones of empty ashphalt (e.g., New North Road, Great North Road, Great South Road), by changing planning rules and investing in people oriented transport infrastructure.

    Finally — I think one of the biggest distractions in a debate about transport spending is this focus on mode users as tribes. People use all different transport modes, usually whichever is cheapest and most convenient for them. If we make another more more convenient, some people will switch and benefit both themselves, and other road users, from the switch. You seem to think that because the budget is being spent on a few big roading projects, it’s justified because it’s paid for by fuel taxes and road user charges? One of the central points I am trying to raise is that most road users aren’t going to directly benefit from the billions spent on the RoNS. If you are a road user you should be MOST concerned about the amount being spent on the RoNS, because they will do nothing to help the average Kiwi get to work, drop their kids off at school, or get to the supermarket. Yet these are the people paying fuel taxes. It’s a very expensive and ineffective way to help freight, which ultimately won’t benefit them much because high fuel costs and demand are reducing their profits.

    I think we could have a more meaningful debate if we get away from thinking that people are defined by their mode of transport, that it reflects price-insensitive preferences. It’s silly to say that the best use of road user money is the RoNS just because they are roads. A certain percentage of people stuck in traffic paying fuel taxes would prefer to take the bus or train, but can’t. Those who would still prefer to drive would benefit from projects that reduce congestion, or improve local roads. Building new highways outside towns and cities is expensive and does little to reduce congestion in the medium term, and does nothing to improve all the other roads people drive on, so your average road users won’t benefit much from the current use of their fuel taxes.

    General rates pay for half of all transport improvements funded by local government –and this more than covers infrastructure for walking and cycling. In fact, local councils are spending less than 1% of heir transport budget on walking and cycling, even though more than 10% of people walk and cycle to work nationally, and many more people would like to but find it unsafe or difficult. Given the extremely low cost of maintenance for these facilities, and that they take up less space, it’s silly to say that walking and cyclign is subsidised by people using cars.

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  83. Pete George (23,591 comments) says:

    I haven’t had a chance to read through all this, but one thing is certain – excellent engagement with Kiwiblog Julie Anne. It works best when politics can be put aside and issues are addressed with actual knowledge facts, and it’s debated respectfully.

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  84. FlashinthePan (15 comments) says:

    why does philu write all of his posts..

    ..like this…

    ..all broken up…

    ..and dis…jointed…

    ..it’s..

    ..really..really..annoying!

    Just write a normal post!

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  85. freemark (581 comments) says:

    @ Falafulu Fisi

    Which is why it is ludicrous that we have reduced speed limits where motorways merge or narrow.. everyone knows when you squeeze a hose the water speeds up, so anywhere the number of lanes reduces, the speed limit should increase.. simple, if only people were better drivers.

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  86. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    genter for minister of transport after nov.’14..

    phillip ure@whoar.co.nz

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  87. big bruv (13,929 comments) says:

    “genter for minister of transport after nov.’14..”

    Phew!…well we now know that will never happen.

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  88. Falafulu Fisi (2,179 comments) says:

    The following are relevant to engineers on this thread.

    Self-organizing traffic lights (general readers)

    The article above is based on the original research paper below:

    Self-Stabilizing Decentralized Signal Control of Realistic, Saturated Network Traffic

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  89. kiwi in america (2,454 comments) says:

    This has been an interesting debate. I would like to add my 2c worth. I live in the Phoenix metro area – an area that epitomises urban sprawl with vast tracts of cheapish desert land (thanks to less restrictive land policies than neighbouring California where land prices have been forced to almost unaffordable levels by local authorities’ zoning laws and excessive environmental mandates and protections). Greater Phoenix could fit all of NZ’s population into its urban area having about the same population (4.5 million). I have travelled to and driven in dozens of the US’s largest cities and it has to be the easiest large city to get from A to B. Despite rapid growth (the PHX metro area doubles in size every 20 years), after a regional sales tax increase in the mid 80’s funded a massive expansion of their motorway network, Phoenix has been able to offer its residents in most (but not all) parts of the Valley excellent well built and well maintained freeways. Rush hour traffic is very manageable and the difference between a 25 mile (40km) drive from the East Valley to downtown Phoenix in peak hour versus non peak is only 10 minutes (22 mins vs 32-35 mins). Obviously accidents slow this down but they do on any motorway.

    Phoenix felt it needed a light rail and so at great cost it recently built one. Like other light rails in places like Portland and Salt Lake City it cost way more than anticipated and the commuter ridership (the core reason for its construction) is lower than anticipated. Where the PHX light rail differs is that its builders deliberately scaled back total ridership projections so actual ridership looks better than almost all other light rail systems that have rider numbers well below projection. The reason: most residents use the light rail for recreational purposes on evenings and weekends attending ball games at the baseball and basketball stadia located in the downtown area.

    Greens love to cite Portland as the nirvana for smart growth with its light rail and high density accomodation corridors around the light rail the centre piece of that strategy. This article compares Portland’s smart growth policy with that of Atlanta http://www.newgeography.com/content/001414-atlanta-ground-zero-american-dream. Greens like JAG want Auckland to be like Portland. In my discussions with Greens on this issue they invariably view transport through an ideological lens that favours public transport over cars/trucks and can and will cite numerous studies to back their view point. The trouble is, as Owen McShane taught us (his contribution to this debate is sorely missed) that there is a growing body of rigorous literature that contradicts much of the academic buttressing of the Green’s transportation position but so entrenched is the smart growth mantra in the planning departments of Australasia’s cities that alternatives are rarely considered with disasterous consequences in ever escalating housing costs.

    Whilst there are physical attributes of Auckland that channels growth north and south around the harbours as opposed to Phoenix that can grow in all directions, the ease that private motorists and trucks enjoy in moving around the Phoenix metro area constrasts vividly with the congestion I find on my regular travels to Auckland – a city a third of the size.
    

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  90. Alan Wilkinson (1,878 comments) says:

    The basic problem is that central planning doesn’t work as has been proved many times in many countries. Central planners have too little information – epitomised by Judith’s complaint that they don’t consider other cost effective alternatives. They also cannot possibly assess accurately the benefits of different options.

    The only sensible solution is to let free market competition invest, innovate and optimize in transport as it does in everything else. Get rid of Government and bureaucratic control of transport and allow user pay to find the right range of solutions.

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  91. Nostalgia-NZ (5,220 comments) says:

    philu

    You posted yesterday annoyance that the toll way tunnel north was only one lane. The reason for that is that the motorway, or toll road to that point is 2 lanes reducing to 1. Coming south is the reverse and that is why there are two southern lanes in the tunnel. I’m not sure but I’m confident the tunnel is capable of two northern lanes at any point in the future that two lanes are built to continue north from the tunnel. The toll road has been built with a highway in mind, not abbreviations of goat tracks.

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  92. Falafulu Fisi (2,179 comments) says:

    Alan Wilkinson…

    The only sensible solution is to let free market competition invest

    Correct. A self-organized system (non-central-planning) always trumped central planning, because of the fact that innovation originates locally (self-organized) rather than global (central planning), however innovation (perturbation) does propagate globally. Bottom-up is always more efficient that top-down.

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  93. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    chrs nost..i realised that shortly after writing it..(a doh!-moment..)

    ..i think the annoying aspect/my garbled inarticulation… is that the traffic jams are just moved a few kilometres up the road..

    ..which is what any big spend-up there will do..

    phillip ure@whoar.co.nz

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  94. davidp (3,581 comments) says:

    KIA>I live in the Phoenix metro area

    You’re lucky. The desert surrounding Phoenix is spectacular. But it is sooooo hot. I actually had a Sony Walkman melt when I left it in my car in nearby Tucson.

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  95. kiwi in america (2,454 comments) says:

    davidp
    You get used to the heat – its only about 10 weeks of uncomfortably hot weather in exchange for the remaining 42 weeks of mostly lovely weather. Cooler weather is had on the Mongollon Rim only 1 hr away and San Diego’s beaches only 5 hrs. Most locals find reasons to frequent both in July and August.

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  96. Julie Anne Genter (18 comments) says:

    Kiwi in America,

    I don’t think Portland has done everything perfectly, but they have saved a whole lot of money by investing in cycle infrastructure. Many of their main bridges have seen a vast increase in trips, but no increase in vehicle trips, because all the growth has been accomodated by the increase in cycling. The cost of adding additional lanes and bridges I am sure you will agree would have been huge. Their public transport investments haven’t resulted in a financial profit — but that doesn’t mean there aren’t significant benefits in terms of increased movement of people at peak hour. The freight industry in Portland very much support the city’s investment in public transport and cycling, because they know it frees up roads for freight at much lower cost, and businesses are now begging the council to remove car parks in front of their cafe or bar and put in a big bike parking station because they find that attracts more custom.

    That link you provided is to a site by Wendell Cox, from Demographia, and indeed Owen McShane always ran the same kind of lines. But neither of them ever admitted the huge distortions in the market caused by minimum parking requirements. That’s what I don’t get.

    I know Demographia tries to say that non vehicle oriented planning results in housing unaffordability — but I think there are a few methodological issues with this argument. Firstly, from what I can tell, they don’t count every dwelling type, only stand alone houses which misses the whole point. Secondly, they don’t consider the impact of minimum parking requirements on land prices, which is quite substantial. Thirdly, it seems to me that where medium density walkable development has been done well, it is extremely desireable and that is the reason for the price premium. It’s actually that the supply of good quality walkable neighbourhoods is too low relative to demand, and the reason for that market failure is quite clearly car-oriented planning restrictions and transport funding.

    So, just for the last time, I am actually advocating for increasing freedom and choice for consumers. One of the ways to do that is to remove off street parking requirements that impose huge costs on developers. These restrictions are also a large part of the reason metro rail and other public transport investments require subsidies, because they unintentionally subsidise vehicle trips.

    All modes of transport require 1. vehicles, 2. right of way and 3. terminal capacity (ie storage.) When you do the business case for a rail line or bus service, the cost of 1. ownership of the vehicle and 3. storage of the vehicle are included. The costs of access to the rail line (the right of way) are also included for rail.

    Yet for cars, the direct cost of vehicle storage has been completely removed from the transport sector by planning regulations, which shift this cost to real estate development. And this is arguably is the single most profound reason for the unbalanced transport system and an oversupply of car dependent sprawl: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/15/business/economy/15view.html?_r=1&src=busln

    You may question the academic papers and research I cite, and believe I am being ideological, but how do you account for minimum parking requirements? It seems to me that it would be intuitively easy for most people to grasp that using a two tonne vehicle, powered by imported fuel, taking up significantly more space, to travel short distances around an urban area (more than 50% of all peak hour trips are shorter than 5km, more than 30% under 2km), doesn’t make a whole lot of economic sense. Right? Certainly, using 25% of land space in a city cente for off-street car parking, most of which is empty at any given time, isn’t an economically rational use of land. So, why did things happen this way? And what you find is that traffic engineering and planning practices have forced it to happen this way. People didn’t have a choice. And maybe they didn’t want one back in the 1950s when only a few people had cars and it was very novel, but it’s safe to say that at this point in time, giving people more transport choice can save us money and be better for the economy.

    Especially given we’re looking at even higher oil prices over the next decade — and we’re not going to have the spare money for every Kiwi household to buy a new fuel efficient car. http://www.economist.com/node/21553034

    So, to answer some earlier questions about the economic viability of rail, when we do the benefit cost analysis of a rail improvement, we don’t count that actually there is a massive savings in car parks — people who don’t need to park at their destination. All the business cases for roading projects consider is the operating cost of the vehicles. It’s assumed that everyone will own a car regardless, and that parking will be provided. So, the high cost of a vehicle based transport system is built into everything, and consumers can’t avoid it. This means that not all consumers prefer to drive, they just can’t benefit directly from taking a more cost effective option (usually because it doesn’t exist), so they don’t. It also doesn’t mean that no one would drive or live in suburbia if the costs were more direct. Even in places like Zurich with excellent public transport (who also spend a far smaller portion per capita of their budget on transport) one third of people bike or walk, roughly one third take public transport, and one third drive — that’s still one in three people driving.

    So I’m not arguing that everyone has to stop driving — just saying that at the margin a greater benefit will be acheived with the transport budget by investing in the alternative modes and removing some of the harmful planning restrictions so the market works better. And I would think this point would be appreciated by readers of this blog.

    If you believe in markets, then you should be against minimum parking requirements, single use zoning, and you should be very sceptical of a Government Agency like NZTA arguing that they need to spend a huge portion of the transport fund on a few expensive motorways. What they are doing is in effect justifying their own existence as a motorway building bureaucracy. And it explains why they are so un-interested in investing in alternatives. As long as they keep people trapped in cars and freight trapped in trucks, with no alternative but to sit in congestion, they rake in more petrol tax and RUC which they can use to build more motorways. (That’s quite a skeptical dig on my part… I know there are great people in NZTA! But I think there must be a powerful group of managers from what was formerly Transit who advocated for the RoNS, because there really is no evidence or reason to believe they will have a profound impact on economic productivity.)

    However, Alan, on your point about private sector investment: since transport is a natural monopoly it would be impossible to get true competition or network benefits. So it’s not a simple as saying the private sector would do a better job. We can demand that our public sector providers do a better job by understand market distortions and rectifying them — it’s not impossible for them to do so!

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  97. Pete George (23,591 comments) says:

    Julie Anne – how much and what is done elsewhere to separate cycle lanes from vehicle lanes?

    You may not be aware of two projects in Dunedin, one is a motorway extension where planners are proposing cycle lanes right beside four vehicle lanes. And alternative cycle route that uses an old rail tunnel is being promoted by enthusiasts but is being resisted by council with what seems to be any excuses they can think of.

    Can you offer any advice or help in how to promote the dedicated cycle route? Ideally we’d like to get joint Dunedin MP support for this.

    Caversham Rail Tunnel

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  98. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    I’m starting to see why Julie-Anne Genter’s questions are too difficult for gerry Brownlee to answer.

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  99. Simon Arnold (109 comments) says:

    This is probably getting past its use by date but a couple of comments on your last contribution are called for.

    First there is no such thing as a free lunch, so in the end someone is paying for the parking space. That it might not be the driver directly doesn’t mean that they aren’t paying for it via higher prices at the supermarket because it cost more to develop, or perhaps shifting the cost onto rate payers etc. The latter raises complex arguments about who benefits from car access to the city and how those costs associated with it should be apportioned.

    In practice I suspect that there are far greater evils distorting the transport markets such as a number of the subsidies paid to public transport and the failure to charge transport infrastructure users for the true cost of their use at peak times. These are the things you should perhaps be more focused on getting rid of.

    Second I wouldn’t be too critical of the NZTA and what they do. As I’ve noted above there job is spelled out in the LTMA and the things you want it to do were removed with the amendments the Greens supported back in 2008. If you’ve changed your mind and feel that a system that accounts across all modes for costs and benefits and externalities more explicitly is what we need then good on you. Just go and talk to the Minister of Transport about changing the legislation rather than rail (probably inappropriately) against the powerful managers in NZTA. If you changed the law (being your job) you might find they start doing exactly what the new law says.

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  100. Alan Wilkinson (1,878 comments) says:

    Julie, transport is not a natural monopoly at all. Shipping, trucking, buses, taxis, air services, parking, vehicle manufacture and servicing, freight forwarding, courier services just to name a bunch off the top of my head are all competitive private enterprises.

    Governments create monopolies by legislation and regulation. They are not natural. Road transport corridors are an example. If private enterprise is empowered to build and manage such corridors they will do so innovatively and efficiently – and without converting their customers into criminals which bureaucracies do just because they can.

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  101. Julie Anne Genter (18 comments) says:

    Simon, thanks for your comments. I did say earlier that I don’t think the LTMA approach was very helpful, and it wouldn’t have been my approach. I do try to do my job well, but getting an audience with the Minister and changing laws isn’t completely straightforward for an opposition MP. Especially one who is saying something quite surprising. Anyway, at this point I think it would be more important to convince them to make different policy decisions, rather than change the legislation, as they do whatever they want anyway.

    “First there is no such thing as a free lunch, so in the end someone is paying for the parking space.” You are absolutely right about that!

    We are all paying for off street parking through higher rents, prices for goods and services, whether we use a car or not. The whole economy is held back by these regulations. It’s the reason we have such an over supply of parking. There are about 4 empty car parks for each on that is being used, at any given moment. That’s a lot of land not being used for eocnomically productive activities. It also inhibits development close to the centre, and drives development to where land is cheaper. Which makes destinations further away, so harder to walk to, cycle to, or serve efficiently with PT.

    The best way to know the value of car access is to let users pay for it directly. Or at least let developers choose how much to provide. Please, if you are interested in this, there’s a lot of fascinating reasearch by economist Donald Shoup — his book is called the High Cost of Free Parking. Or click on the link above. I think it is really the fundamental observation that changes all the old assumptions and debates about transport. But it’s a great opportunity to save money and stimulate economic development, just by removing these regulations and managing parking better.

    Agree with you about variable charging for infrastructure used at peak times. I think you will find that the subsidies for PT are largely needed because of parking requirements and lack of peak hour infrastructure charging. What distortion in the market do you think they cause?

    Alan, please explain how you could have true competition in the provision of the street network.

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  102. big bruv (13,929 comments) says:

    ” I think you will find that the subsidies for PT are largely needed ”

    AKA another bloody tax the duplicitous Greens would put on us.

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  103. Alan Wilkinson (1,878 comments) says:

    Julie, there are probably lots of ways to break down the Government roading monopolies most of which result from hideous central planning controls beloved of the red Greens.

    First, allow developers to structure and manage green field community developments as they wish. Second allow existing communities to structure and manage their own infrastructure. That should include contracting out its management to competitive tender. Third, allow private enterprise to buy and manage trunk land transport corridors wherever there are alternative routes – subject to preservation of competition. Fourth, sell the rail corridors to private enterprise with the proviso they must be used for transport and/or communications.

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  104. bhudson (4,740 comments) says:

    Agree with you about variable charging for infrastructure used at peak times. I think you will find that the subsidies for PT are largely needed because of parking requirements and lack of peak hour infrastructure charging.

    Oh that is so richly amusing Julie Anne. What you are saying is that subsidies on PT are necessary because we choose not to tax alternative transport (which people prefer) to the extent that it compels them to use PT.

    In other words it is an admission on your part that subsidy-free PT cannot be viable without punitive measures to force people to relinquish their cars miles.

    Sort of undermines all of the “this is not anti-car” messages you have been trying to push here these past couple of days.

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  105. Simon Arnold (109 comments) says:

    Julie Anne you can’t expect the NZLTA to break the law. They can’t take account of cost benefit analysis until the law is changed. Like asking the reserve bank to increase inflation to 10%.

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  106. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    “..I’m starting to see why Julie-Anne Genter’s questions are too difficult for gerry Brownlee to answer..”

    yeah..he isn’t even in the same room…

    phillip ure@whoar.co.nz

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  107. Julie Anne Genter (18 comments) says:

    bhudson, how is not forcing developers to provide parking a tax?
    Do you believe in markets and letting people make trade offs themselves? If so, you wouldn’t argue that direct and efficicent pricing is bad thing.

    Simon, how would NZTA be breaking the law? They aren’t legally required to build RoNS. The way the LTMA is worded they can clearly do whatever they want, because RoNS won’t acheive any of the items listed in the purpose of the LTMA. The policy decision is the GPS determined by the Minister, but both NZTA and MoT could at least tell the Govt that the RoNS aren’t going to improve economic productivity…

    That’s it. I’m done. I swear! :)

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  108. bhudson (4,740 comments) says:

    Julie Anne,

    Forcing developers to provide parking? Risible. The parking they offer is to meet a need. (And they are unable to provide enough of it – roadside at least.) To prevent them creating that parking to service that need is akin to taxing car use.

    Your argument reverts to compelling people to use PT by articficially imposing costs on private cars in a vain attempt to force them to live the way you want them to.

    Despite your attempts to try to portray a fair and balanced, car-friendly(ish) approach, your ‘solutions’ still revert to imposing costs on car use and subsidizing PT in an attempt to make PT look cost viable. It is inefficient in the simple sense that (even when heavily subsidized) people choose not to use it in favour of private cars.

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  109. Nostalgia-NZ (5,220 comments) says:

    Julie Anne Genter

    It’s reassuring that you’ve managed a 2 paragraph post.

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  110. libertyscott (359 comments) says:

    Julie Anne: Firstly, I am truly pleased to find the first intelligent voice out of your party on transport policy. I spent several years dealing with politicians from multiple parties in NZ on transport policy when I lived there, and frankly most of the Green discussions were “off the planet”. Roland Sapsford bringing the view that anyone driving a car with an engine greater than 1.3 litres is “evil” and another (whose name escapes me) saying traffic congestion is a good thing, and is a tool to punish road users for the poor choices, simply meant that Labour turned to United Future, and treated the Greens on transport as useful, but peripheral. Whilst I am a vast chasm away from the Greens on most areas of policy, I can respect that you have applied your mind to this area, even if I think you are wrong in some respects.

    I’m glad you are rejecting the previous Green phobia for economic efficiency and benefit/cost analysis. Bearing in mind that BCR analysis is simply a tool to allocate resources in the absence of effective price signals to adequately reflect costs and preferences. It is best used as a ranking tool, because you can compare similar types of projects and prioritise them. As a tool for deciding whether or not to “do something” it is less effective on its own, because it depends entirely on a wide range of factors which I am sure you are aware of, and which it is easy to debate (e.g. value of time, value of statistical life, discount rate, evaluation period). I’m not a great fan of it, but it is better than politically driven allocations and until there is a shift to price based allocation of land transport infrastructure assets and revenue, it isn’t a bad backstop and frankly light years ahead of transport spending allocation mechanisms used in most of the Western world (with the US, Japan and much of Europe still in the dark ages on this).

    I agree completely that we have nothing like market driven outcomes, because there are barely any market signals at all in the state provision of roads, state taxation of road use and the planning framework. So anyone critiquing the status quo for reflecting a free market is completely wrong. What there IS a free market in, is the provision of transport services outside the urban passenger context. Freight, by and large, operates in a commercial competitive market, as do long distance passenger services (air, coach and until recently in NZ, rail). The infrastructure operated on isn’t of course, and there are qualitative restrictions on market entry to protect safety, but the question then is to what extent this create distortion.

    Setting aside the safety element, which would exist in any free market scenario in one way or another, the issue is whether what users of the relevant networks are charged (and what is spent on them) creates cross subsidies. In the easy cases, ports and airports operate largely commercially, so these can be put to one side. Excluding urban transport (which has specific issues), intercity transport of people and goods by road means trucks, coaches and cars paying for state highway capital (which they do) and for spending on state highway capital to not exceed that revenue (which it has more recently but only in cities). As such, although there are clear regional cross subsidies (until the earthquake, Canterbury paid far more than it got back, whereas Northland got more than it paid), the system was self sustaining. The rail network was, in parts, but not on the periphery.

    In the urban context things get a bit tricky, largely because demand for road space regularly exceeds supply, and because provision of urban passenger (though curiously not freight) transport is subject to significant subsidies, typically justified as a “second best” option in the absence of road pricing to correct the demand/supply issue with urban roads. In NZ there is also rates funding of local roads, which could be argued as a charge on properties for access, and although there are arguments about making users pay for this 100%, the likely effect of changing this is going to be small.

    I am thrilled you are against planning regulations that create sprawl (a pejorative word), as am I. I doubt you are going to embrace the sort of common law/property rights approach advanced by Peter Cresswell, but I would welcome measures that mean that there are no minimum or maximum parking rules, single use zoning or other regulations inconsistent with extending private property rights. That also includes abolishing urban growth boundaries. I’d be interested in your views on that.

    The billions of subsidies are past spending on rail in recent years, which has been a massive destruction of taxpayers’ wealth. I will dispute that expanding road capacity is more expensive that throwing money into bespoke infrastructure for a small number of users that cannot even pay for the cost of operating the services on them, let alone the cost of capital poured into it. You need to argue this on a case by case basis, and the only sound economic and equitable argument for transfers from road users to public transport is to deliver net economic benefits to road users by reducing the externality of congestion. The Auckland CRL project does not deliver this, and would be $2 billion of capital that is utterly irrecoverable.

    The term “car oriented transport” of course neglects the point that roads are not just about cars, but the only ubiquitous land transport network there is. Freight doesn’t move without them, neither do buses. Remember where the money comes from for this – those who use them. This is not the United States where large swathes of general taxation is poured down the hole of road spending, it is and has been for a considerable time, a self funding system for state highways. Indeed, local roads are starved of adequate capital expenditure, in part because relying on rates for a significant portion puts off councils spending money on them, but also council management of road corridors has resulted in far more mixed results than the NZTA/Transit management of its corridors.

    There is a sound argument about whether the RoNS are all the best priority for expenditure on roads. I can think of multiple different ways to cut the cake in the current environment, and one I prefer is to treat capital expenditure on new roads (that can’t be efficiently tolled) as a function of the revenue on that road. For example, if you can calculate the revenue collected on a new road over its depreciated life, and determine if you can recover its cost of capital from them, then it is a fair investment. By that measure, some of the RoNS would succeed, others would not (I could go into detail about which ones I think would and wouldn’t meet this, but that’s not the point). A separate approach would be used for spot improvements (e.g. realignments, intersection improvements) which can be valuable assessed and ranked by BCR. However, what this would do is determine whether the capital expended is a cross subsidy to the users or not.

    To be fair, Auckland road users have long generated a significant surplus in revenue collected from then relative to what has been spent in Auckland – until the last decade, in part because a good 30 years of spending on roads was focused on safety, eliminating bends, narrow bridges and other elements of the rural state highway network that had high accident rates. Saving lives always has a higher value than saving time. However, that work is largely done now, with the accident issues remaining on high volume single carriageway routes (e.g. SH1 north of Cambridge, SH2 east of the Bombays, SH1 north of Puhoi). Auckland has been getting something back and most of the motorway projects in Auckland have been very high value.

    The Land Transport Pricing Study in the 1990s found that, by and large, rural NZ’s roads were cross subsidised by road users in major cities, whereas those in provincial towns and cities were largely self funding (revenue balanced expenditure). So for much of the country (outside the main metropolitans), they get value from their fuel taxes because it keeps their roads maintained and they get high value spot improvements. Wellington always got value, as a region, because of its high spend on public transport, and there is a direct correlation between the rail to the Hutt and the Porirua basin at the peaks, and ameliorating congestion. Christchurch always got much less than it spent, Auckland also did relatively poorly. However, if you want to make rural NZ pay more for its roads, then feel free to make that argument.

    IN conclusion, I agree with you about walking and cycling, although it needs to be on a case by case basis, but on highways it is simply too general to take a broad brush approach opposing building new highways outside towns and cities. They CAN relieve congestion, they can also save lives. The real key is whether those benefiting from it, pay for it. I’d support a review of the RoNS based on the approach I mentioned above – that is whether the users will pay for them through their depreciated life.

    However, arguing about whether highways are worth building, from the point of view of those paying for them is one thing. You can’t sustain that argument when it is about making all motorists pay for a railway system that benefits hardly any of them, but is a massive transfer to the people using it and indirectly their employers who choose to locate somewhere getting improve access at no additional cost.

    Of course, with economically efficient road pricing, you will find public transport can be economically self sustaining in cities, but I doubt it will be the extremely expensive capital intensive rail system that is treated as if it is some great saviour – when it so clearly is not.

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  111. Falafulu Fisi (2,179 comments) says:

    Alan…

    which result from hideous central planning controls

    That’s a good point. The following theoretical studies touched on that point, ie, some comparisons of bottom-up (self-organized) versus top-down (central planning).

    Cities as Complex Systems – Scaling, Interactions, Networks, Dynamics and Urban Morphologies

    From theory to modelling : urban systems as complex systems

    Also, the one below is relevant to professionals planners (very deep theoretical analysis).

    The “Thermodynamics” of the City : Evolution and Complexity Science in Urban Modelling

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  112. big bruv (13,929 comments) says:

    ““..I’m starting to see why Julie-Anne Genter’s questions are too difficult for gerry Brownlee to answer..”

    yeah..he isn’t even in the same room…”

    Phool has obviously missed Big Gerry making a complete fool out of this unwanted Yank twice in the house over recent weeks.

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  113. Simon Arnold (109 comments) says:

    Julie Anne the problem is that the current Act as passed with Green support is so wide that it is difficult to hold a Government or its agencies to account for clear outcomes. If there was a clear statement about cost benefit rather than blather about sustainability you could imagine a Crafar farms type challenge.

    I had a quick glance at “High Cost of Free Parking” and couldn’t help wonder about its relevance reflecting on its age and being from another jurisdiction (does Wellington city still require this stuff, and what difference has it made)?

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  114. libertyscott (359 comments) says:

    The points by JAG on parking are interesting, but I’d argue that the solution to the problem of a regulatory distortion is to remove the distortion. If that was removed tomorrow, then land use patterns in cities that apply it (note Wellington doesn’t have minimum parking requirements downtown, it abolished them 20 years ago and imposed caps) would alter, as land use would progressively be reallocated to more profitable and more desired usage. Transition would be slow.

    The answer is not to pour money into modes which are peripheral at best. #

    However, you are right that the core problem is pricing. Funnily enough, the STCC study did conclude (and I know the lead author personally) that in Auckland both roads and public transport are significantly underpriced at peak times. The problem of public transport economics in cities is the enormous capital cost of providing capacity that is only used for a couple hours every weekday largely in one direction of travel, which then stands idle most of the day. Two-thirds of trains and buses spent most of their operating lives doing nothing beyond those two two-hour periods, and there are people hired for that, and the bespoke infrastructure is built to do that. You can argue the same about cars, but people do choose to buy cars and shoulder that cost themselves. Roads built for peak demand face the same issue.

    So if you want to change things, you need to change pricing from being predominantly fuel tax to being usage driven, with it being cheaper off peak and more expensive in the peaks. Public transport should be the same, peak commuters should pay the cost of the capacity needed for them, whereas off peak it would be very cheap.

    It would have been interesting to see how things would be today if the 1990s roads reforms had progressed – as roads would now be held by half a dozen or so companies, as SOEs, with Transfund buying roads services off them, motoring taxes frozen at the levels of the time, and roads companies required to toll, in some form, to increase revenue including enabling people to contract out of paying fuel tax and pay the road companies directly. Public transport subsidies ultimately would be paid by road companies buying such services to address demand where it was efficient to do so.

    That would have addressed the arguments that we don’t have a free market approach to land transport infrastructure.

    However, it was opposed by Labour, the Alliance and the Greens, because it was thought it could be a precursor to privatisation and local authorities hated losing political control over transport.

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  115. Simon Arnold (109 comments) says:

    libertyscott, just as an idle footnote on history I was a member of the committee that proposed the 1990 road reforms. I note from memory we didn’t include local roads. In practical terms I think the barriers were still technical then in getting time of day charging, but I think that will cease to be an issue in the immediate future, and I see no reason right now for RUC not to move to that approach (the redistributive effects mightn’t be popular). The interesting game in town right now that gives a clue as to how networks might be charged under a more economically efficient regime is in the electricity grid – you see there the large percentage of costs that is based upon use at peak times. With grid connected equipment getting smarter we’ll see more demand response etc.

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  116. geo_kiwi (43 comments) says:

    Kia Ora

    Thanks to Julie Anne Genter for the guest post. It was a brave thing to do and I hope that the Greens let a conservative M.P. in Parliament do likewise on their Frogblog at some point.

    I think New Zealand needs to take a broad approach to transport planning, and not rule out or seek to limit the use of any one or more transport modes. One thing that I think we are lacking in investment in aside from railways, is the merchant marine. I think that there is significant job creation potential in buses, railways and the merchant marine. Prior to the Christchurch earthquake’s there was a relatively well run bus service around the city, which took advantage of the ring road and radial roads that made – with the exception of the Comet and the Metrostar (whose contribution to Christchurch I have never really understood) – buses the ideal way to get into town if you are short on money. Cycling lanes and cycleways were also introduced. The cycleways are as popular as ever, but the buses have taken a heavy hit.

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  117. Alan Wilkinson (1,878 comments) says:

    I note Julie didn’t answer any of my challenges. Perhaps she agrees with them, in which case she needs to educate her party first before she tries to make changes in Parliament.

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  118. Scott B (23 comments) says:

    “Forcing developers to provide parking? Risible. The parking they offer is to meet a need. (And they are unable to provide enough of it – roadside at least.) To prevent them creating that parking to service that need is akin to taxing car use.”

    Removing minimum parking requirements is in no way a tax on car use. Currently retail developers for example are required to provide a minimum number of car parks per square meter of retail space. Some developers choose to include more car parking to make there development more sale able to high volume retailers (supermarkets jump too mind). However for the likes of a furniture store (lots of bulky stock on display, low volume, high markup business model) the minimum parking requirements are truly excessive. The cluster of furniture stores in mt wellington is a good example of this.

    Allowing each developer to chose an appropriate amount of parking is surely more efficient than forcing a set amount via regulation.

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  119. bhudson (4,740 comments) says:

    Scott B,

    If the change in regulation and/or practise is sought with the knowledge or intention of creating an under supply of car parking in order to artificially create a favorable condition for PT, then it most certainly is akin to imposing a cost on car use.

    I believe that that is exactly what Julie Anne is seeking when she refers to the problem of parking requirements. (Somewhat reinforced when she notes, in the same sentence, that it is further exacerbated by a lack of peak hour charging – i.e. a lack of artificial costs imposed on car use are to are to blame for subsidies required for PT.)

    As to why the minimums are set as they are today, that is a questions for those authorities setting them. Logical speculation, however, would suggest that ensuring that the shopping complex can service demand goes hand in hand with ensuring that the development will remain viable and that the authority will reap ongoing rates and charges (not to mention any ancillary benefits from increased consumer traffic in the area.). Taking those steps are prudent to ensuring an ongoing return which makes it worthwhile allowing such use of the land in the first place – ghost town malls do no one any good.

    What is more a set percentage of parking is the only practical way of ensuring the above. If they tried to second guess what the make up of the retailers I the complex might look like, they would be indirectly stipulating what sorts of retailers would be allowed to occupy the complex now and into the future. Further more, to place it simply in terms of comparison between a supermarket and furniture store is overly simplistic. If i took the example of Queensgate in Lower Hutt, there are far more outlets of high volume, small purchases than of large, low volume goods such as the furniture retailer.

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  120. geoff_184 (3 comments) says:

    @big bruv: Julie-Anne Genter has not told you “how to live your life” at all. On the contrary, she advocates greater choice of travel modes, whereas current official thinking locks us all into cars. I don’t care where she comes from. Sometimes when I look at the backward small town thinking that dominates New Zealand politics, I think how much better our country would run if our leadership had more people with global knowledge onboard.

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  121. Scott B (23 comments) says:

    I am a strong believer in the benefits of removing minimum car parking requirements. I feel the current regulation adds cost too developments, and provides heavy subsidies for car users (which I do enjoy).

    There are two schools of thoughts on the issue.

    The first is that parking should be regulated like bathrooms requirements. We don’t want developers skimping on bathrooms, (causing for example long lines, and office workers running to other nearby buildings to use there bathrooms (spillover) so we regulate to ensure the provision is sufficient. The same thoughts can be applied to parking – we should build enough within every development so everybody can park easily, even on a really busy day. That way there will be no spill over to on-street parking or to the car-parks of other nearby developments.

    The second is that parking should be left to the market, and the market will decide the economically efficient level of provision. Price signals will indicate the true cost of parking and spill over is no big deal (if parking is correctly priced) as it will allow more efficient use of resources.

    The first case (conventional policy) is what happens over most of auckland excluding areas near the CBD and new-market. The latter is what happens within Auckland’s CBD

    The problem with conventional policy is that it results in an over-supply of parking. This places a significant dead weight loss on our society as parking is really expensive to provide. For example the new parking building at the Auckland hospital cost $15m and holds 400 cars. This comes out at $37500 per space (simplified calculation). The oversupply of parking forces the direct price of parking to zero, the real cost of the parking is placed onto the land owners whether they want the provision or not. This means car users are not exposed to the full cost of there driving and, as such car use has a financial advantage over other modes.

    The problem with the latter case is that people love parking easily for free (me included).

    I think developers would still make decent parking provisions even if minimum parking requirements were removed. (look at say the vero tower in the CBD where there are no minimum parking requirements) as I think tenants/owners are prepared to pay for parking. I don’t think any developer would build a suburban mall with no parking – clearly malls need to make it easy for people get there.

    I think the removal of minimum parking regulations would rather allow developers to greater flexibility, allowing them to provide an appropriate level of parking, rather than what the council thinks is a good idea.

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