Time savings from Roads of National Significance

October 1st, 2012 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Labour and the Greens regularly slate the seven of National Significance that National has identified and funded as priorities.

Now my view is that generally all decisions should be based on a there being a positive benefit to cost ratio, and in fact petrol tax levels should adjust to fund all  projects that have a significant benefit to cost ratio.

The Greens recently asked some PQs to the Minister of Transport of some of the RONS. Not surprisingly they have not highlighted the answers. They are:

  • Waikato Expressway will save 35 minutes off peak time travel between the Bombay Hills and some four kilometres south of Cambridge township – that is around a 33% improvement in time.
  • The Wellington Northern Corridor will save 45 minutes northwards in the afternoon peak and 35 minutes southwards in the morning peak, between North Levin and Wellington Airport. That is a 45% reduction in travel time northwards!
  • The Puhoi to Wellsford RONS will save 26 minutes southbound and 15 minutes northbound during peak times, between Johnson Hill Tunnels and south of Te Hana. That is around a 70% reduction in travel time southbound and a 45% reduction northbound.

Worth remembering that when people rail against them.

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55 Responses to “Time savings from Roads of National Significance”

  1. Barnsley Bill (983 comments) says:

    The left screeching about the Puhoi to Wellsford road is particularly irritating to those of us living in the North.
    The road in its current form is a shocker and should have been done 20 years ago. The road has more crosses than any other piece of road I have driven on and needs to be fixed.
    There is little wonder that Labour cannot buy a seat north of the Harbour bridge.

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  2. libertyscott (359 comments) says:

    I’m no fan of the RONS process because it is not about BCRs or best value for money, and they should be funded on the basis of future revenues from RUC and fuel tax on those corridors, but it is worth noting that the alternatives posited are worse than useless.

    The big elephant in the room about the rail projects pushed by the left is that they will have no discernible impact on congestion or mode share for trips on the corridors concerned.

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  3. Simon Lyall (60 comments) says:

    The problem with Puhoi to Wellsford is that it is a lot of buck ($1.7 billion) for not much bang, here are a couple of alternatives that cost about 20% of the money for most of the benefit and don’t take 10 years:

    http://transportblog.co.nz/2011/11/02/looking-closer-at-operation-lifesaver/

    It is a shame that NZ has got into a “roads=right Public Transport=Left” mentality. I feel sort of strange going to public transport meetings and not seeing any National MPs to go with the Labour and Green ones.

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  4. labrator (1,850 comments) says:

    Worth remembering that when people rail against them.

    You left the humour tag off.

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  5. Sam (501 comments) says:

    Don’t pretend you haven’t heard of a well-studied/proven phenomenon called induced demand. which will see those time savings reduced rather markedly, and in some cases, rather quickly. NZTA might not factor those figures into their analysis, but that doesn’t mean we should all be as single-minded as they are.

    There is also the fact that the business case analysis used for the RONS projects is not the same as used to evaluate other projects. RONS analysis is artificially inflated by including other factors, which would be fine if the same methodology were used across the board.

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  6. flipper (4,051 comments) says:

    Barnsley, the present road north may annoy you, but as a tax (all forms) paying driver from the south, it pisses me off.

    Silly red Len and his red melon followers will never get support for their crazy rail ideas from the rest of New Zealand.

    Labour need yo re-think their position. The “westies” do NOT want a rail bound existence. They do not need a university “education (aka indoctrination) to tell them what they want. They know. They have time limited holidays. They want the freedom to go where they want, when they want.

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  7. Griff (7,679 comments) says:

    Someone puts a link to the trains at all cost blog
    big choo choo on the heading baised you bet
    Auckland north relies on a crap two lane road from Warkworth to Wellsford with a 80kmh for a significant proportion of its length
    The leftys call it the holiday highway sane people call it a road a huge importance to those who live in the north

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

    Do road planners aware of the vehicle of the futures so that they can start planning in advance for the next 50 years or so?

    Self-driving cars (autonomous vehicles or driver-less cars) will be the transportation of the future. Autonomous cars are here already, the only question is when are they going be allowed on our roads. In fact, Nevada had given a the go ahead earlier this year to allow self-driving cars (from Google) on their public roads. Here is an opinion about autonomous cars:

    Self-driving cars: Are humans headed for obsolescence?

    In fact, the earliest self-driving car/s that had been tested on public roads was a project from the Robotic Institute at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in the early 1990s called ALVINN (Autonomous Land Vehicle In a Neural Network). For those who loved the Terminator movie, the algorithm in that embedded computer chip depicted in Terminator, called ANN (artificial neural network or neural net) is the same algorithm developed into the ALVINN car, which is a self-learning algorithm. I’m sure that self-driving cars of today use ANN algorithm directly or perhaps a combination of ANN with other self-leaning algorithms (there are many of those self-learning algorithms available today in the literature).

    Here are some youtube videos of self-driving cars being taken for test drive.

    Google’s Ass-kicking Self-Driving Car

    Self-Driving Car Test

    Volvo’s self-driving cars take to public roads for first time

    Congestion & car crashes will be a thing of the past when autonomous vehicles are very common & accepted by society to be allowed on our public roads.

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  9. graham (2,335 comments) says:

    Simon Lyall at 8:39 am – The alternatives presented for Dome Valley seem to be restricted to installing safety barriers. Problem is, that road is single lane for much of it’s length, restricted to 80 km/h (although a lot of drivers ignore that), and very twisty.

    While safety barriers may help with cutting down the road toll, I don’t see how they will improve the overall travel experience between Wellsford and Warkworth, Albany, and Auckland.

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  10. Fairfacts Media (372 comments) says:

    The Puhoi-Wellsford road is not a holiday highway, but an essential Northland Development Route.
    It is high time Transit NZ rebranded it that.

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  11. Julie Anne Genter (18 comments) says:

    If you believe those rubbish answers, you are more naive than I thought DPF!

    Firstly, they did not answer the question we asked, which was about average time saved. Secondly, the times savings listed are not based on actual travel times, they are predicated on unrealistic growth scenarios (as the entire traffic modelling process is).

    So, assuming unrealistic traffic growth scenarios and fixed land use assumptions, they’ve modelled a situation in the future (which will never be tested) and said if we improve capacity it will reduce congestion relative to this unrealistic situation.
    Of course that theory is completely undermined by the actual evidence which shows that increasing capacity is quickly met with additional demand, therefore eroding any time travel savings benefit. http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.101.6.2616 and http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01441640701642348

    Of course, if there is low traffic growth bc of high oil prices and deteriorating global economic situation, the future congested scenario wasn’t going to happen anyway, in which case projected savings are also incorrect.

    This method of evaluation doesn’t ask the question, “what is the most cost effective and beneficial way to manage peak demand?” And it’s obvious to any young, intelligent person working in the transport modelling field that new expressways are not the best use of money to a) reduce travel costs (of which time is one component) or b) facilitate economic development.

    But even worse still, I don’t believe the answers given are even correct according to their flawed methodology — certainly I’ve read official reports that the Waikato Expressway is going to shave 4 minutes off the journey between Auckland and Tirau.

    [DPF: Thanks for comment. That reference to 4 minutes may be the average time, not the average time at peak times. A wider road won't speed up traffic when there is no congestion. However at peak times, it may make a huge difference as traffic no longer travels at the speed of the slowest car]

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  12. Pete George (23,559 comments) says:

    Julie Anne, taking the Puhoi to Wellsford RONS as an example, what alternative would provide at least as an effective transport link with Northland, and what would be the estimated cost? I presume you can point to information on this, I’m interested to see what the alternatives are.

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  13. graham (2,335 comments) says:

    And it’s obvious to any young, intelligent person …”

    Ooh, mee-ow!!!

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  14. Chris2 (766 comments) says:

    Julie Anne Genter @ 9:38am wrote:

    And it’s obvious to any young, intelligent person working in the transport modelling field

    Dear Readers please note this 32 year-old American-born Green party MP who received just 1258 personal votes in the 2011 election (4.01% of total votes cast in the electorate she stood for) seems to have a problem in her relationships with older people. Why else would she use the term “young”, when the correct term is “inexperienced”.

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  15. tom hunter (4,809 comments) says:

    Self-driving cars (autonomous vehicles or driver-less cars) will be the transportation of the future.

    Ha! FF beat me to it. That’s exactly right and so these roads will not become cost sinkholes or victims of “induced demand” because the technologies described in FF’s links are going to allow them to be used ever more efficiently, packing more cars with greater safety. And
    as this article in The Atlantic points out, the change will not just be in the car – but in the entire transport system:

    Don’t think about the driverless car as a fossil-fuel powered car replacement; think of it as one mode of a radically more efficient system: what could you do now within a system that now has free-floating semi-autonomous people transporters?

    right now, people buy big old SUVs and cars that drive 400 miles on a tank because they are buying for the maximum number of use cases. Really, most people drive their cars a few dozen miles at most and they do it alone. People have WAY more car than they need. So, Templeton’s conceit is that if we had roaming driverless vehicles that would show up at your door when you called one, you might be inclined to buy “less car” because you’d get the rest on-demand.

    My own thought: perhaps when you bought a small, electric vehicle, you’d get a “service plan” that came with X number of trips in a driverless vehicle of your choosing; your bundle would be the small, energy efficient daily car and access to self-driving vans, trucks, station wagons, and sports cars.

    The article links to a more detailed article that explores various other aspects of Robocars.

    But one thing won’t change, in such a system individuals will still be able to go where they want, when they want, stopping as many times as the want in between – unlike that fabulous 19th century piece of technology called the train that our “progressive” Greens so love.

    But don’t feel too bad for the left on this one. First of all, those rail corridors they’re fighting to keep open will eventually be seen as additional corridors for the robovehicles (trucks probably), so the money being spent by Len and company won’t be entirely wasted.

    Better yet, as autonomous vehicles proliferate and demonstrate (incrementally) superior safety and establish trust, the call will soon grow to get those dangerous creatures called human drivers out from behind the steering wheel. All manner of ‘persuasive” methods will be employed – from higher insurance premiums, to tougher policing and penalties to general shaming and shunning. It will be like the anti-smoking campaigns. What joy!

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  16. ChrisM (103 comments) says:

    In answer to Ms Genter and as someone who has regularly driven Taupo to Auckland over the last 25 years, the expressway and SH2 saves a lot more time than she is claiming. The other big benefit which isn’t in the stats quoted is the reduction in deaths , accidents and holdups resulting from them. Before the road was divided, there were regular tailbacks of 10k or more from crashes. I can’t remember one occurring since the new bits opened.
    I notice both the articles that she links to are behind paywalls. She wouldn’t be so naughty as to just go off fancy sounding bstracts rather than comprehend the full paper would she?
    The roads also do facilitate economic development, albeit indirectly. Look at Te Rapa. The road is being diverted around there as it has turned into a big industrial commercial area.
    And why is she slagging off at modelling? The Greens put all their faith in climate models that are a lot more dodgy and can’t even hindcast.

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  17. Juan (1 comment) says:

    Something about the numbers for Puhoi to Wellsford don’t add up.

    A 26 minute time saving Southbound which reduces journey time by 70% means the journey must have changed from a 37 minute journey to an 11 minute journey.

    The distance between Johnson Hill Tunnels and south of Te Hana is 34km as the crow flies and to do that in 11 minutes requires a speed of 185km/h.

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

    ChrisM said…
    And why is she slagging off at modelling? The Greens put all their faith in climate models that are a lot more dodgy and can’t even hindcast.

    ChrisM, very good point. Modelling is fundamental to the work of engineers. Julie Anne Genter is not an engineer though. So, modeling of traffic flow is bad but somehow the Greens view of modeling of climate is good & make more sense.

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  19. Chris2 (766 comments) says:

    From Ms Genter’s Wikipedia entry:

    She is recognised within the transportation industry as an expert on parking policy

    Maybe best to stick to what you know about Julie and leave the method by which cars reach your carparks, up to the grown-up transport planners!

    [DPF: Maybe you could respond to her on the issues, rather than get personal]

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  20. Griff (7,679 comments) says:

    “Green” says it all, electric cars and pious hybrids are good so is public transport individual freedom is bad.
    We will be burning dead dinosaur juice in individual cars for the next forty years at least the environment cost of the batteries in electric cars and hybrids is far more then the minor benefit in fuel consumption they offer. As the Luddites refuse to allow more hydro or nuclear power in NZ the electricity for cars will be produced by more hydrocarbon based power stations If the greens were rationally green they would be pushing diesel cars now not their stupid emotionally based bullshit dreams.

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  21. Camryn (543 comments) says:

    When the Wellsford RONS fills up again, that’s not “induced demand” it’s the demand that was always there but was not previously possible. Northland needs a good road connection, otherwise it’ll continue to perform below its economic potential.

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  22. graham (2,335 comments) says:

    Are people considering only cars when debating these points? What about trucks?

    I’m no transport expert, but it occurs to me that deliveries are needed. In Warkworth, there is a New World supermarket, a new Countdown opening, I think a new Warehouse, plus a Warehouse at Snells Beach, and many other shops. Goods have to be delivered.

    There are also a number of forests, you may have noticed. How do the logs get out, if not by road? And if you’re going to use trains, you still have to get the logs to the trains.

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  23. Chris2 (766 comments) says:

    The Green (with envy) Party always talk about what a dreadful waste of money building roads are because they encourage private use of motor vehicles.

    What they never mention is that all the public transport they want us to clamber onto and use instead, uses these very same roads too. They never ever refer to the benefits that public transport gets as well from the building of roads.

    So next time you are on a bus stuck in gridlock, remember it was the Green (with envy) Party that left you sitting there longer than you otherwise might have! Remember that at the next election.

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  24. SGA (1,019 comments) says:

    Does the southern portion of the Waikato Expressway basically follow the SH 1b spur east of Hamilton? Just curious – that’s been our route of choice for family treks North as it is. Going through Hamilton is a bit of a drag.

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  25. campit (467 comments) says:

    DPF, if you support projects that have a significant benefit cost ratio, then the Puhoi to Warkworth project is not one of them, even if you accept the travel time savings put forward.

    Estimated costs for the Puhoi-Wellsford project are $760m for the Puhoi-Warkworth and in the order of $1b for the “geo-technically challenging” Warkworth-Wellsford section. According to the NZTA, the Puhoi-Warkworth section has a BCR of 1.5 and the overall Puhoi-Wellsford project has a BCR of 1.0.

    NZTA’s own assessment also concludes that Northland’s economic issues are unlikely to make a significant contribution to the viability of the project.

    The Wellington Northern corridor is also similarly about 1.0.

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  26. campit (467 comments) says:

    I’m calling bullshit on the claimed 26 minute travel time saving from Te Hana to the Johnson tunnels. Google maps says this is currently a 39.7km trip that can be achieved in 34 minutes – an average speed of 70km an hour.

    http://www.google.co.nz/maps?saddr=Te+Hana+Service+Station,+State+Highway+1,+Auckland&daddr=Puhoi,+Auckland&hl=en&ll=-36.385913,174.58992&spn=0.347698,0.610428&sll=-36.386175,174.590265&sspn=0.347698,0.610428&geocode=FZ3J1v0dT8xmCiFRvH4mU5_poClfTYTfxO4MbTFRvH4mU5_poA%3BFeLS0v0doCRpCil5CyM4Rx8NbTEgxaJDYe8ABQ&oq=te+hana&mra=prev&t=m&z=11

    Let’s be charitable and assume that there is such a thing as a peak period for these two remote points and say it takes 40 minutes to do the trip at this time. Also assume the new toll route will be shorter by 5 km. That means it will be possible to travel 35km in 14 minutes – an average speed of 150km / hr.

    Absolute bullshit!

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  27. Paulus (2,626 comments) says:

    I bet when the Green/Labour/Winston parties attain power in 2014 they do not stop the Northland route.
    Betcha

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  28. davidp (3,581 comments) says:

    >The Wellington Northern Corridor will save 45 minutes northwards in the afternoon peak and 35 minutes southwards in the morning peak, between North Levin and Wellington Airport. That is a 45% reduction in travel time northwards!

    That pretty much agrees with my experiences as a frequent visitor to Kapiti. You slow down through Plimmerton, where we currently dump a whole motorway worth of traffic on to a street lined with houses. You can often be delayed 30 minutes merging for Pukerua Bay. And you can often be delayed 30 minutes between Raumati and Waikanae. Generally it takes 90 minutes to drive the 50ish km to Waikanae, and it can take a couple of hours if it is a Friday evening and it looks like it is going to be a good weekend at Ruapehu.

    The Greens often come up with bizarre estimates of time sayings on these routes that probably come out of the computer models they love, but don’t have even the slighest connection with reality.

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  29. tom hunter (4,809 comments) says:

    Absolute bullshit!

    Your analysis relies entirely on the assumption that a peak period of just 40 minutes exists between these two points, in order to produce the obviously absurd result of 150km/h in order to meet the saving of 26 minutes southbound that is claimed.

    In fact on several occasions before the Orewa motorway extension I’ve been stuck in traffic for 60-90 minutes at peak periods while southbound just between Warkworth and Puhoi, let alone between Te Hana and Puhoi. Things have improved by a good 30 minutes since those extensions were completed several years ago, reducing the backlog that pushes back up the system, so a southbound 26 minute time saving for this work is readily acceptable.

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  30. Grizz (605 comments) says:

    Its funny how CBR matters when building roads. However it seems to make perfect sense to throw good money after bad when trains and railways are concerned.

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  31. labrator (1,850 comments) says:

    JAG goes on about dodgy modeling and then throws this in as if it’s fact:

    Of course, if there is low traffic growth bc of high oil prices and deteriorating global economic situation, the future congested scenario wasn’t going to happen anyway,…

    Humans will not suddenly stop travelling places independently because of anything to do with oil. It doesn’t matter if oil prices keep going up, we are already working on other ways of moving independently and more efficiently. Solar power, algae bio-fuels, wood by-product bio-fuels. The fixation on “peak oil” and a Green utopia where suddenly cars won’t exist is totally absurd and against everything that we’ve achieved since the industrial revolution.

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  32. flipper (4,051 comments) says:

    Modeling is not an art frozen in stone. But it is frozen by the assumptions made.

    More often than not the modelers miss something really important — human ingenuity in discovering, extracting and innovating.
    They miss a lot more. What generally goes wrong is the mistaken application ceteris paribus — the idea that initial assumptions will not change over time.

    Modeling is a useful tool. But it is nothing more than that.

    As for Genter:

    “Depart I say, and lets have done with you. You have already been here (in the House of Representatives with just 4% odd of your constituency vote nd we are supposed to take you seriously) too long for any good that you are doing. In the name of God , go.” ….. (to paraphase Cromwell /Amery ).

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  33. adam2314 (377 comments) says:

    China is bringing in a NO TOLLS on holiday times to ease the traffic problems..

    Sounds like good common sense to me..

    Toll Free Puhoi on Holiday weekends !!.. Nah !!.. Think of the lost revenue..

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  34. doggone7 (801 comments) says:

    An ironic thought that, “… people railing against them” [holiday highways.]

    Like the feigned concern about the importance of the economic well-being of Northland. How many years in the past 60 years have we been a virtual one party region in Parliamentary representation, with them being the Government, and we have been ignored?
    Thank goodness for the proliferation of baches, (holiday homes), in Mangawhai and the Warkworth district. That’s why I will call it the Holiday Highway.

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  35. RF (1,396 comments) says:

    I take it that Greens and Labour fuck wits will never drive on these roads. Yea right !!!!

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  36. RRM (9,916 comments) says:

    Hmm, I’m sure these self-driving cars are very good when they’re new, but I’m not sure I’d want to share the road with someone’s 14-year-old self-driving car..

    But whatever. I’ll believe the self-driving cars when I see one on the road. (Weren’t we all supposed to have flying cars or jet packs by now?)

    But we’ll definitely be driving something on the roads for a long long time to come…

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  37. graham (2,335 comments) says:

    adam2314, remember there is a toll-free alternative to the Puhoi highway – through Orewa, Hadfields Beach, Waiwera. Takes a bit longer but only a few minutes. The choice is yours.

    Or, take SH 16 through to Wellsford (wave to David Garrett as you zoom through Kaukapakapa) and avoid Dome Valley. Very scenic route, but takes a lot longer.

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  38. nasska (11,468 comments) says:

    ….”But we’ll definitely be driving something on the roads for a long long time to come…”…..

    If the Greens get anywhere near the levers of power it will probably be bullock carts.

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  39. wat dabney (3,756 comments) says:

    Of course that theory is completely undermined by the actual evidence which shows that increasing capacity is quickly met with additional demand, therefore eroding any time travel savings benefit.

    And when you build more hospitals, people use them. Ergo we should not build more hospitals.

    More brilliant logic from the Greens.

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  40. Steve (North Shore) (4,559 comments) says:

    RF @ 5.58
    “I take it that Greens and Labour fuck wits will never drive on these roads. Yea right !!!!”

    You are right, they will never drive on these roads, the road lice ride their fuckin bikes – and make sure the motorist knows that road lice have rights. They pay no road tax, or fuel tax, but they have a right to ride on a road paid for by others.
    Hang about, they did pay some tax – that was GST when they bought a bike

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  41. Steve (North Shore) (4,559 comments) says:

    ‘Bollock’ carts not bullock carts nasska

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  42. hane (69 comments) says:

    @Steve

    Local roads are 50% funded through rates and bike riders pay this tax just like everybody else. If anything it is car drivers who are being subsidized…by the non driving taxpaying minority. So get your facts straight.

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  43. adam2314 (377 comments) says:

    Graham 1 says

    “adam2314, remember there is a toll-free alternative to the Puhoi highway – through Orewa, Hadfields Beach, Waiwera. Takes a bit longer but only a few minutes. The choice is yours. ”

    It is not about taking the longer FREE choice..

    It is about traffic flow … Is that not why the road was built ??

    Making it Toll Free on holiday weekends .. Would alleviate the major problem associated with that area and allow for the staff on overtime to also have an holiday :-))

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  44. Julie Anne Genter (18 comments) says:

    FYI for this wondering why I am criticising traffic modelling. My masters thesis (completed some years ago) was an analysis of the economics and traffic modelling methodology as applied by NZTA & their consultants. I received the highest mark possible, and it was marked by a traffic modelling and economics professor in the engineering school. I also built micro simulation models in VISSIM and undertook traffic impact assessments as a consultant. Parking policy is also highly relevant to some of the shortcomings of traffic modelling & economic evaluation as it is currently practiced.

    I apologise for the misleading reference to “young intelligent” people working in the field. I was thinking of former colleagues & people I know who work in the field, including one of the top modellers in the country. They are all well aware of the criticisms I also raise. They have to solve the questions put to them by policy makers and projects managers, but they know the nature of the question is wrong. Professionals & practitioners in the field all know the RoNS are very silly projects. They don’t speak out because it could compromise their jobs, or they think it is not their place (so leave it to politicians).

    Sorry also those links were behind pay walls… I have read both of those papers in full and I believe they are available for free if you go through a public library.

    I find it unfortunate that people jump to conclusions based on their political leanings. My criticism of the traditional approach to traffic engineering is based on conventional economic principles. There is no reason for transport policy to be so politicised… It’s one area where the right and conservatives could find common ground with the greens, if you we’re prepared to consider the content of what I am saying, and not be blinded by ideology.

    I have never said there will be no cars in the future. It is simply a better use of our money to invest in more cost effective solutions at the margin. We have a road network, we need to maintain it and use it better. Managing demand rather than expanding capacity to deal with peak issues. Duplicating or replacing an existing link at a cost of billions of dollars will have extremely poor returns because it is not going to significantly reduce transport costs.

    Finally, demand for basic health services is somewhat inelastic (prob not elective surgery though), but demand for travel is demonstrably price sensitive, and traffic volumes in NZ have not grown since oil prices have been high. We should invest in solutions that reduce transport costs given high oil prices.

    If you don’t believe things are changing and govt infrastructure planning needs to account for this, check out last week’s Economist magazine.

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  45. graham (2,335 comments) says:

    adam2314 at 8:29 pm

    Graham 1 says

    “adam2314, remember there is a toll-free alternative to the Puhoi highway – through Orewa, Hadfields Beach, Waiwera. Takes a bit longer but only a few minutes. The choice is yours. ”

    It is not about taking the longer FREE choice..

    It is about traffic flow … Is that not why the road was built ??

    Making it Toll Free on holiday weekends .. Would alleviate the major problem associated with that area and allow for the staff on overtime to also have an holiday :-) )

    Not sure where you’re going here. Are you not aware that the tolling on the Puhoi highway is fully automated? There are no toll-collectors sitting in toll booths.

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  46. graham (2,335 comments) says:

    Julie Anne Genter says:

    I find it unfortunate that people jump to conclusions based on their political leanings.

    I fully agree. Somewhat ironic for a Green Party member to say that, but I’ll assume you’re being sincere. :)

    I woul return to one of the points I made originally – what about trucks?

    I’m no transport expert, but it occurs to me that deliveries are needed. In Warkworth, there is a New World supermarket, a new Countdown opening, I think a new Warehouse, plus a Warehouse at Snells Beach, and many other shops. Goods have to be delivered, and I don’t see any realistic alternative to trucks.

    Another area that occurs to me is logging. Obviously the logs from forests have to be transported out somehow.

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  47. Julie Anne Genter (18 comments) says:

    Graham, fair point. We have roads for trucks to drive on. Trucks make up 10% of trips overall, about 1-2% of peak traffic in Akl. As I said when I presented to the RTF conference a few weeks back, the trucking industry is not benefiting from current transport policy.

    First, they pay disproportionately for expensive road widening projects to deal w congestion caused by commuters. If commuters had better options, and a small portion of them were able to take reliable buses, trains, or safely walk & cycle, this would free up roads more effectively at lower cost.

    Secondly, bc kiwis are stuck spending so much money on cars & fuel for transport, when petrol goes up it means they have less money to spend on goods & services. The economy takes a hit, and this is bad for freight.

    So trucks will benefit from greater investment in passenger transport in towns & cities, better maintenance of existing roads especially in rural productive areas, and cheap innovations like freight priority lanes in some congested areas.

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

    Julie …

    My masters thesis (completed some years ago) was an analysis of the economics and traffic modelling methodology as applied by NZTA & their consultants. I received the highest mark possible, and it was marked by a traffic modelling and economics professor in the engineering school. I also built micro simulation models in VISSIM and undertook traffic impact assessments as a consultant. Parking policy is also highly relevant to some of the shortcomings of traffic modelling & economic evaluation as it is currently practiced.

    See, flipper’s comment above.

    I do modelling for a living. If the modeler makes some misguided assumptions, then the model’s output will be misleading. The judge & jury for any proposed model is the data itself. I agree to some extent of your criticism of modeling, however there’s a difference in criticizing models based on its weak assumptions (or perhaps its algorithmic shortfalls) and dismissing them completely. You appear to be adopting the later. I’m in the camp that believe in extracting empirical laws from the data itself rather than assuming an apriori scenario from the outset (again, see flipper’s comment). This is why I criticized certain climate models. I hit at the weaknesses of the assumptions and also the inappropriate use of certain algorithms which can lead to misleading results.

    So, IMO modeling should be data-driven (primacy of existence – discover empirical laws from the data) rather than spurious deduction-driven (primacy of consciousness – ie, assuming of what reality should behave apriori). This doesn’t mean that deduction-driven modeling is useless or completely misleading as you seemed to think, because I believe that whatever modeling you were using in your thesis were all deduction-driven modeling. It means that you already have an idea in your head of how traffic flow should look like in the real world, then you translated those ideas into input parameters into your simulation & modeling. Whatever model parameters you chose as your inputs, those were not empirically derived, but purely come from what you think they ought to be (it comes from the imagination of the modeler). So, you criticized other modelers for using deduction-driven modeling but you yourself used exactly the same model driven methods.

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  49. graham (2,335 comments) says:

    But transport options between Wellsford/Warkworth and, say, Albany or Orewa are few and far between, Julie. Nobody in their right mind would cycle through Dome Valley, bus options are almost non-existent, trains – yeah right.

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  50. labrator (1,850 comments) says:

    Since we’re now ideology free and since it’s demonstrable that traffic levels are significantly better when kids are on school holidays; would the Greens support charter schools on the basis they are more likely to be local to the community and thus generate less traffic?

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  51. Julie Anne Genter (18 comments) says:

    Falafulu Fisi, I agree with Flipper & your comments about models being a potentially useful tool, all dependent on inputs and assumptions.

    I am not criticising all transport modelling, but traffic modelling and economic evaluation as it is currently applied by NZTA to new state highways.

    As for Puhoi to Wellsford, the benefits if replacing that road are very marginal. It would have a much greater positive impact on the economy to upgrade that road now to deal with safety issues, and spend $1.4b on projects that will impact many more trips. The percentage of daily vehicle trips in NZ in 2030 (assuming huge traffic growth) on that route will be less than 1%. seems a bit disproportionate.

    Giving northland producers greater access to markets through upgrading northport, or investing in training & skills will have much more significant economic development impacts than building a multi-billion dollar new expressway in ten years, that will save about 10 minutes on journeys in the Auckland region, and do nothing to shield households and business from higher oil prices. (Northland is not going to have a bunch of electric vehicles in ten years — what would the cost of that be?)

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  52. Julie Anne Genter (18 comments) says:

    labrator, I do believe Ministry of Education needs to take transport into account when planning location of new schools, and possibly hours. No idea why this would make charter schools more or less relevant.

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  53. tom hunter (4,809 comments) says:

    Labrator was being somewhat sarcastic, so I’ll be more direct.

    I find it unfortunate that people jump to conclusions based on their political leanings.

    There is no reason for transport policy to be so politicised… It’s one area where the right and conservatives could find common ground with the greens, if you we’re prepared to consider the content of what I am saying, and not be blinded by ideology.

    I’ve seen this ploy from left-wingers so often it’s become a joke: we’re not ideological, we’re pragmatic, you should join us to solve real-world problems. The argument that people who do not do so are blinded by ideology is usually implied rather than being stated as baldly as it is here. The implication is that you and the Green Party which you represent are not ideological, while your debate opponents are.

    That approach to the arguments is designed from the start to place your opponents on the defensive as unthinking people and as such it is already a political and ideological approach, and one that has been seen many times before. You are being ideological from the outset.

    Put another way on another topic: many right-wingers have argued on this site that the poor in NZ are being screwed by the public education system and that approaches such as charter schools might offer a better education route. Many of us have argued from what we think is a pragmatic, non-ideological perspective of pointing at low levels of functional literacy and numeracy in these groups and the very human good that is obtained from having more choices in life. Yet I’m not aware of any of our left-wing opponents who have granted that we’re not being ideological! On the contrary the regular dismissal of the arguments is that we are being ideological fanatics.

    There have been decades of criticism from the Left of cars and their effects on society, from the base aesthetics of “petrol heads” and car culture, to the way they enabled the growth of the dreaded suburbs as people escaped the inner cities. Cars and the “car culture” have long been held to be an example of the typically wasteful excesses of Western capitalism, much like the rest of our Western culture. Most of these arguments pre-dated the more recent rise of Green concerns such as AGW and cost-benefit analysis.

    Moreover, your claim that you’re coming at this from a non-ideological perspective contradicts the long-held ethos of the New Left that gave rise to the likes of the Greens – that everything is political: the jobs one does, the car you drive (and whether you drive a car at all). In the past, whenever I simply tried to claim that I was coming at a problem from a non-political perspective, I was loftily informed by left-wingers that there was no such thing!

    So frankly I don’t believe you and I don’t trust you anymore than you would a right-winger who claimed that the welfare system needed changing because it actually hurts the poor.

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  54. Julie Anne Genter (18 comments) says:

    Okay Tom, you are right that for years the left and the right both misunderstood the reasons for car dependence, and the arguments against it therefore weren’t very persuasive. It turns out that car dependence wasn’t caused by the free market or people’s choices, it was caused by bad government planning and regulations. It doesn’t facilitate economic development — it strangles it because it is very, very costly to households and business. If we remove the bad government regulations and give people more choices, we can reduce congestion and facilitate economic activity at lower cost. This doesn’t mean no cars, it just means more trips by walking, cycling and public transport for those who want to and currently don’t have that choice. That frees up the roads for the trips that need to be made by road.

    In New Zealand car ownership and use is no longer increasing anyway, which means the tools we have used to plan for future infrastructure investment need to be reevaluated and updated.

    You may not trust anything I say just because I am involved in the Green Party. But would you trust the (not notably left-wing) Economist magazine? Because they pretty much cite the same trends I do when I argue that the Government’s current transport policy doesn’t make economic sense.

    http://www.economist.com/node/21563280

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  55. WarrenS (1 comment) says:

    On transport matters this lady (Julie Anne Genter) is smart and the National Party of which I am a member should take note. There is no doubt that expenditure of $1.7 billion on the Puhoi to Wellsford Ron is excessively expensive for a gain of 12 minutes travelling time and the construction of the city rail link would bring greater benefits to all transport users whether they travel by car or commute by other means in the Auckland metropolitan area. I quite frequently travel northwards on the Puhoi to Wellsford section and while I acknowledge avoiding it on about four pertinent week-ends a year for obvious reasons, can truthfully say I have never been delayed.
    I am disappointed at some of the comments on this subject because they do not concentrate on the topic but seem to unfairly attack a serious submitter on what is a subject of great importance merely because she belongs to an unfavoured political party. We could expend taxpayer monies much more effectively.

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