Days to the General Election: 35
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National proposes introducing congestion charges and charging all motorists based on how much they travel; It reaffirms its commitment to scrapping Auckland's fuel tax and not hiking the petrol excise duty in its first term

National proposes introducing congestion charges and charging all motorists based on how much they travel; It reaffirms its commitment to scrapping Auckland's fuel tax and not hiking the petrol excise duty in its first term

National is proposing to better target motorists with charges to cover the costs of maintaining and building roads, should it be elected into government in 2020.

It’s seeking feedback on whether it should introduce “revenue-neutral” congestion charging so that people who drive on certain roads at certain times pay a fee. The aim would be to encourage commuters to avoid travelling at busy times, take different routes or use public transport.

The party is also floating the idea of applying road user charges to all vehicles. Currently this charge is levied on diesel and heavy vehicles like trucks. Owners of most of the vehicles that fall under the scheme need to buy a new licence every 1000km driven.

National is wary that using fuel as a proxy for road usage, as is currently the case, is becoming problematic as vehicles become more efficient.

It also recognises there's a shortfall of revenue collected via the National Land Transport Fund to pay for roads and rail. The fund raises revenue through petrol taxes, road user charges and vehicle licensing fees. These funds are ring-fenced and managed by the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA).

National, in a transport discussion document released on Monday, said “better alignment between those who use infrastructure and those who finance it” is needed.

The party has committed to repealing Auckland’s 10 cents per litre (excluding GST) regional fuel tax and won’t increase fuel taxes in its first term of government.

The Coalition Government has increased the petrol excise duty by a total of 10.5 cents, to 66 cents per litre (excluding GST). The National-led Government hiked this by 17 cents over the nine years it was in government.

National, in its discussion document, also proposed “aggressively working with the private sector to explore alternative financing and funding arrangements, including the use of road tolling”. 

“There has been a general unwillingness at local government level to use private capital, such a public-private partnerships as a funding tool despite private capital often providing a reduced and more equitable financial burden on ratepayers,” it said.

“National believes local councils should make greater use of private capital to deliver new infrastructure.”

Finally, National said it was open to the Crown topping up the National Land Transport Fund.

The party proposes reintroducing a priority for funding Roads of National Significance and introducing a new funding priority of Roads of Regional Significance.

It is also seeking feedback on whether it should introduce a second generation of Roads of National Significance.

It highlighted 12 roading projects either cancelled or delayed under the Coalition Government, saying it would next year detail which ones it would commit to funding.

The NZTA has suggested some of the additional $6.8 billion the Government last week committed to new transport infrastructure go towards some of these roads.

Cabinet will decide which projects it will fund, rather using the $6.8 billion to top up the National Land Transport Fund, thus leaving the decision with the NZTA. 

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55 Comments

Great to see electric vehicles finally pay their fair share.

Merry Chriistmas to all A&E staff that do such a great job repairing e scooter injured riders. And e assist peddlers too.

National don't really get the whole pollution/global warming thing so, yeah, EVs wouldn't get special treatment.

Re A&E - people might be hurting themselves on scooters but we still need a solution for last mile travel if more people are going to use public transport. E-bikes are a great option but a key part of the solution is to make downtown more pedestrian-friendly, i.e. less car friendly. Congestion charging makes sense and it's interesting that National are taking the lead on this.... wow!

"a key part of the solution is to make downtown more pedestrian-friendly" Agreed, and that involves getting e-scooters and bikes of all types off footpaths and malls - pedestrians are going to get killed, the speed that some of the riders go. Let them stick to the bike lanes created for them at massive expense, or stick to the roads.
Pedestrian, (noun): meaning - a person walking

I was using the more general term for pedestrian, i.e. from wikipedia (aka the truth) - "In some communities, those travelling using tiny wheels such as roller skates, skateboards, and scooters, as well as wheelchair users[6] are also included as pedestrians." Once we have wider sidewalks there'll be room for everyone!
Perhaps we do need to bring in further regulation for "extra-pedestrians" so let's keep an eye on harm numbers. We haven't banned cars yet, while "On average, every week in New Zealand, nearly 20 pedestrians (around 1,000 annually) are injured seriously enough to require hospitalisation"

By the sound of it, pedestrians seem to be the problem. Let's ban walking!

There aren't that many bike lanes in case you didn't notice. I trust you are advocating for more?

EV's don't need special treatment, they will be cheaper than IC engine vehicles within 5-10 years.
The misanthropic/ascetic anti-car zealotry does nothing for the country - convenience is king, and where the zealots hold sway they just make cities less financially viable - eg they have driven people and businesses out of Christchurch's CBD by making it so difficult to access via car.

12
up

There have been trillions of dollars given by taxpayers to the fossil fuel industry (and to the automotive industry) internationally over the decades. New Zealand has been no exception to this largesse. The negative externalities, not normally accounted for, have also been borne by all us in terms of climate change, pollution costs and health consequences.
But yet, you think EV users aren't paying their fair share. Petrol and diesel would have to be a lot higher in price, to even begin to account for the true costs.

The positive externalities of fossil fuels are so massively outweighed by negative externalities, the world would be so much better off if we had never discovered fossil fuels. We would probably all be flying in electric plane-cars by now and not even need any roads.

I don’t understand the resistance to EVs. If they become cheap, don’t cause air pollution and allow us to become less reliant on oil,
what’s not to like?

The lack of beautiful combustion engine sound. : )

Formula 1 sure isn't the same as the old V10 days!

But in an electric car you can dial up different internal combustion engine sounds based on your preference on the day. Spec the added feature.

People we don't like, need to be the ones paying for the roads, truck drivers and petrol heads and rednecks pay the most. I deserve free roads because of my climate conscious.

.. people who live in new houses are up themselves ... we should take that pretentious smug look off their faces by making them pay more when they drive on our roads ...

Specuvestors should pay the most.

At the moment, affordability and charging infrastructure

Great idea. Fair way to go about funding while creating good incentives for mode shift. What the heck is going on - National actually proposing progressive transport policy while Labour scuttles light rail and looking like they plan to allocate billions for new motorways in the new year.

I suspect National have no actual plans for road pricing; there will be discussion documents and workshops and a 10 year plan but it is actually just a way to pay for more roads out of general taxation (more road subsidies) while pretending to fix the problem in the future.

More taxes then RUC for all. Imagine if this was a Labour policy..there would be 50 negative comments by now from the usual suspects.

Yeah, but they are couching it in "revenue neutral" (i.e., tax switch-type) claims. If they do go RUC for all... I can imagine lots of additional $$$ that will be collected on fines. Many of which will end up clogging the court/collections system.

they would hurt there farmer friends who have a lot of travel as they live miles from anywhere.
not to mention how they will manage the switch over
and how about enforcement will they do it at WOF time to save countless stops for the police.
last how do you determine rates for each type of vehicle.
to collect on petrol is a simple process with less compliance cost than by RUC,
unless they use new tech ie GPS linked similar to what some trucking companies use now
i dont see a starter here

"last how do you determine rates for each type of vehicle."

They are already set, light passenger diesels already pay RUCs, why would a light passenger petrol or EV pay a different rate?
No new tech needed, every post office and VTNZ already has the REGO/RUC label printers, and every car made in the last 30years has an odometer.
This is one national policy that isn't complete shit, simply adjusting to the reality that fuel taxes are being made obsolete by technology changes.

I have to pay the road tax for my boat with a petrol motor, even though it never goes on the roads, how crazy is that?

.

do you pay RUC I do and its a pain in the A, it is an old system that needs modernizing.
I even on one stop where the cop told me I was over when I was about 3000k under so he had to go back and read the sticker again because he was looking at the wrong number.
not to mention how you go about claiming back for off road use what a pain that is.
if they want to do it they will need to modernize it otherwise there will be a lot of pissed off people not just a few of us

User pays makes sense. We'll get better quality because of the greater investment possible with a strong revenue stream.

So, they plan to dump some taxes but introduce others making the whole exercise "revenue neutral"?

And, they will 'top up' the National Land Transport Fund - but (I assume) given the above "revenue neutral" aim of congestion charging, that top up will come from general taxation.

It's going to be an interesting election as it seems National plan to abandon the efficiency and effectiveness (i.e., austerity/smaller government) mantra. , whilst at the same time suggesting they will lower your tax burden.

Add of course collecting tolls costs much more than collecting fuel tax - so if they intend it to be revenue neutral it will actually cost us much more.
I think the long term plan is to tax the city folk in congestion more while giving the National regional voters lower fuel prices.

Edit: I didn't read.

...and on the topic of public transport, Sydney has just realised the error of its ways - spending billions reinstating a limited tram line, that was itself a billion over budget and years late on delivery.
"Sydney's new CBD light rail line is unlikely to be expanded because...."trackless trams" are more suitable for the city's future needs"

You mean "bendy buses"? "Autonomous Trackless trams" are the do-nothing tech bro solution to get out of paying taxes towards a solution that Auckland needs now, not five years in the future when it *might* be viable (it won't be).

160,000 passengers used the Sydney light rail over the weekend. That is similar usage to a motorway, but running down the middle of a narrow road, without any noise or air pollution, without the cost of a motorway, and actually making the place nicer than worse. But I know which National would prefer for Auckland...

Great comment re the externality costs of light rail versus motorways.

“There has been a general unwillingness at local government level to use private capital, such a public-private partnerships as a funding tool despite private capital often providing a reduced and more equitable financial burden on ratepayers,” it said.

“National believes local councils should make greater use of private capital to deliver new infrastructure.”

Good lord. With interest rates at historical lows they still want to find a more expensive way of doing the projects by lining some offshore pension funds coffers.

Appalling and everything that is wrong with that party is summed up in those two short sentences above.

They really don't give a shit about NZ, it's all about looking after their crony mates.

I take it you are prepared to level this criticism at Labour, who let an unsolicited PPP bid for Auckland's Light Rail derail the entire Auckland Light Rail network project?

Absolutely GV, Twyford should be booted down the road for that shambles.

Then we are in absolute, total agreement. I'm also exceptionally wary of PPPs given debt is cheap and we should be building as much as we can, instead of locking in above-market returns for private international benefactors at the expense of future maintenance/expansion of our existing networks.

Congestion charges are great. Get the poor people off the road when I need it...

There is a myth in NZ that fuel taxes pay for the full cost of building and maintaining roads. This is not true. The vast majority of NZs road network is classified as local roads.

Local roads are approximately 50% funded by fuel taxes via the National Land Transport Fund and 50% by rates. Only state highways have no local rate funding.

Oh, Brendon, bringing Facts to a thread full of Rants is just knife-to-gunfight.... And the 'Let Them All Cycle on Goat Tracks' brigade rather ignore the fact that, in a country on the other side of the world, two millennia ago, them Romans found they needed Roads.... It's the old AND/OR dichotomy, with urban tribalism as a driver. Oops, driver bad, rider good....

I wonder who National thinks should be the recipient of congestion charging revenue? Central or local government? Rightly it should go to local government not Wellington. Local elections can then decide whether the revenue goes to reducing rates or improving infrastructure.

"Rightly it should go to local government not Wellington. "

Give more money to the even less competent arm of govt, that manages to draw even less of a response from the voters at the ballot box?
I'll pass on that thanks.

So you would prefer a congestion tax be imposed on a highly localised group of urbanised drivers and for the revenue it generates to go 100s of km away to central government in Wellington to detemine how to redistributed it?

I don't believe in general that the saying 'taxation is theft' is true, but if a future NZ central government takes control of congestion charging it will be an example of central government stealing from city based local governments.

For Simon Bridges and Chris Bishop they have declared congestion charging as a central plank of their transport policy so they need to explain how they will implement it.

Is congestion charging a support for local government i.e. does it replace regional fuel taxes.

Or is congestion charging a tactic for future National governments in Wellington to exert control over urbanised local governments?

"So you would prefer a congestion tax be imposed on a highly localised group of urbanised drivers and for the revenue it generates to go 100s of km away to central government in Wellington to detemine how to redistributed it?"

Yes. Next question.

Conceptually congestion charging drivers using busy congested streets is the same as car parking metering drivers when they park on the side of the street.

The spatial economics of the propositions has been well established decades ago by the likes of Vickery( roads) and Shoup (car parking).

The difficulty in implementing these policies is high transaction costs. Even charging a fixed per km road user charge based on odometer recordings is a pain as some commentators have noted when they use the Road User Charging system for diesel vehicles.

GPS technology could be used so that drivers are charged in real time a fixed rate for driving on public roads and an additional rate if the roads become congested. In fact the same technology could handle on-street car parking too. Thus eliminating car parking meter readers...

So if Chris Bishop is intending that modern GPS technology in motor vehicles be compulsory then fuel taxes could be replaced. But if his intention is that this technology not be compulsory then the transaction costs of the Road User Charging system will not be reduced and his policy proposal of replacing fuel taxes is not viable.

I wonder if any journalists will ask National and Chris Bishop its Transport spokesperson the hard questions about their policy proposals? These being
1. Who gets the revenue from congestion charging urban roads -local or central government?
2. And will GPS technology be compulsory for all motor vehicles in NZ?

More National party piss poor policy....I don't rate the proposal very highly at all. Congestion charging by itself is pointless if there isn't a fall back option to use instead of a car, i.e. mass public transport. As a concept its decades old so don't go singing Nationals praises thinking they have invented the concept, they have not. Having said that, I have seen that in an integrated transport environment congestion charging works brilliantly, I was in London when they introduced it in the early 2000s, made a huge difference inside the zone, at least. Beyond that, this Country faces huge challenges with its transport issues...out of date attitudes and insufficient funding....not at all convergent...I don't quite know how we will solve them.

It also doesn't help that our major cities are poorly designed which makes introducing any transport infrastructure a nightmare

Yes, they all pretty much became established in the era of the motorcar. Having said that I am aware of many cities overseas that have turned their back on cars, ripped up roads and turned them into cycleways or parks, that sort of inspired thinking. Quite a leap of thinking for that to happen in NZ though...

The idea has merit, and with the increasing use of electric vehicles the road users charges on all vehicles will be inevitable. We do need to invest in public transport, so people on low incomes have choices.

Just how you police this is another issue, and I would suggest hubodometers are the only way.

the toll idea can work really well,maybe they noticed last time we paid for them to have a holiday in brisbane.costs about 5 dollars to do the clem tunnel or the airport road,saves going through all the sets of traffic lights and takes half the time.applying RUC charges to all vehicles will not get any votes.

Didn't National oppose congestion pricing in Auckland while in office?
Re A& E , the effects of excess Alcohol will keep them busy , regardless of what mode the affected were travelling when they crashed. When will any party be brave enough to put high ACC levies on Alcohol?

Will National charge truck users for the actual cost of damage on roads? (Via more reflective RUC.)

oh come on, who says a 56 tonne HEV causes more damage...oh only the doubling in TNZ road repair bill this summer...Interest.co.nz should report on that. Btw the Waikato Expressway is wrecked and has to be completely rebuilt...how is Kapati looking? Thanks John Key ;-)

Utterly dismal policy.

Road tolling would need to be done very carefully, otherwise we would end up like Sydney with Transurban extracting monopolistic rents/profits & excessive tolls.
There is also the flip side where many toll roads have been built and then bailed out as the traffic flows dont meet expectations (can toll on availability as an alternative).

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Days to the General Election: 35
See Party Policies here. Party Lists here.