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Tizard Speech: Land Transport In 2002

19 April 2002 Speech

New Zealand Land Transport In 2002

Speech to the New Zealand Automobile Association annual conference

19 April 2002, 9:15am - 10:00am Christchurch Convention Centre

Kia ora koutou, talofa lava and greetings to you all. Thank you - Mayor Gary Moore - for your introduction and welcome.

On behalf of my colleagues, the Minister of Transport Mark Gosche (who is overseas), and also the Prime Minister, I would like to welcome you to this conference.

In particular I would like to welcome my fellow speakers: Belinda Vernon, Sue Kedgley, Peter Brown and Rodney Hide, and the graduates of Lincoln University’s successful transport studies programme.

I want to start by giving you a brief outline of land transport in New Zealand, and the Labour-Alliance government’s initiatives.

Introduction

We love our cars. For a population of 3.8 million, New Zealand now has nearly 2.3 million vehicles. We have the fourth-highest ratio of vehicles-to-population in the world.

Each year, we increase the distance we are driving by an average of three percent, on the approximately 92,000 kilometres of formed road we have in this country.

These cars are now, on average, 11.68 years old. This has increased from an average of 11.28 years in 1999. As used, imported vehicles form close to 70 per cent of annual registrations, the average age of our fleet is increasing as the age of these imports has increased to almost 7 and a half years old from just over 6 years old in 1996.

While cars are increasing in popularity, we need to have a government policy that looks at the safety and sustainability of these trends.

Land Transport Package - Moving Forward

In February, this government released its land transport package - Moving Forward.

The $227 million dollar land transport package is one of the largest single injections of funding into land transport in recent years. This is on top of the $1.3 billion this government already spends on land transport each year.

Years of under-investment in land transport by previous governments have meant that current demand cannot adequately be met. At the same time, construction and maintenance costs have increased and growth in revenue is not keeping pace with demands on the National Roads Fund.

New Zealand has an unacceptably high road toll and regional development has been hampered by an inadequate transport infrastructure. And then there were severe constraints on involving private sector finance.

With the Moving Forward package, this government recognised that land transport is critical to our economy and to our social and environmental well being.

We also recognised the fact that land transport is about more than just roads. Rail, passenger transport, walking and cycling are integral parts of the land transport system - and they all struggled to get funding under the previous system.

While roading continues to be the main focus of government land transport spending, this government wants a more balanced mix.

These changes reflect the government’s vision for the future of the New Zealand transport system which is to have, by 2010, a transport system that is affordable, integrated, safe, responsive and sustainable. The New Zealand Transport Strategy is currently being developed and we anticipate making an announcement later this year.

Over the next 14 months, however, the Moving Forward priorities are to:

„X Reduce severe traffic congestion

„X Improve passenger transport

„X Promote walking and cycling

„X Assist regional development and alternatives to roading, and

„X Improve road safety.

In this package, we have allocated an additional $94 million to projects that help reduce severe traffic congestion. This recognises the large economic impact, as well as the frustration, of severe traffic congestion on areas such as Auckland.

This congestion is a drag on the whole economy and reducing congestion has benefits for regions outside the major urban areas. It is estimated that Auckland traffic congestion costs the whole country almost $1 billion a year.

We’ve allocated a further $36 million to further boost public transport usage. You only have to look at this city to see examples of how successful our patronage funding scheme has been. There has been a 9.4 per cent increase in the number of public transport trips taken in Canterbury since the scheme began in 2001. We want to build on that success.

We have also allocated an additional $34 million to road safety education and enforcement, on top of the $230 million allocated this financial year.

A total of $30 million has been targeted for regional development assistance so that the transport sector can play its part in facilitating economic development.

We’ve also made provision to boost funding for alternatives to roading by $30 million, in addition to the $9 million already allocated for 2001/02. We expect that over time this will lead to improvements in our under-performing rail system.

One of the most exciting new measures is the proposal to put $3 million into walking and cycling initiatives. This is an area that has been sadly neglected, even though these modes of transport make up some 20 per cent of all trips taken by New Zealanders. The government will also be developing a national cycling and walking strategy.

Extra expenditure has to come from somewhere.

To raise revenue for the $227 million package, petrol tax was raised by 4.2 cents a litre, from the 28th of February, and road user charges for light-weight diesel vehicles were increased by an average of 30 per cent, from the 1st April.

As a result, there have been some small increases in the cost of running cars. The increases have added approximately $1.34 per week (including GST) to the average household’s weekly spending on petrol.

For the biggest group of diesel vehicle owners affected by the RUC increase - that is owners of two tonne vehicles - this has meant an extra $6.28 for each 1,000 kilometres (including GST). All revenue raised by these excises goes into the National Land Transport Fund, as the current National Roads Fund will be called in the future.

While this government is significantly boosting the amount of money in the land transport system, many of the issues won’t be fixed by money alone. Major changes have had to be made to the funding framework.

Perhaps the most significant change is the change in focus of the funding system. By making sure that both Transfund and Transit New Zealand think in terms of the broader land transport system, they are both now required to review all major projects currently planned - to ensure they meet the new strategic objectives outlined in this package.

Both organisations are also now to have 10-year revenue and expenditure plans so that long-term planning is improved. These plans will also be closely aligned with the government’s goals.

Tolling is one manner in which extra funds can now be acquired for new roads. Partnerships between the public and private sectors to finance some large roading projects will also provide benefits. Tolling will only apply to new roads and not existing roads. Ownership of any roads built under public-private partnerships will remain in public hands.

There are other land transport policy changes planned to implement the government’s land transport vision:

„X Regional councils will be able to fund and, under certain circumstances, both own and operate public transport infrastructure and services

„X Legislative barriers to greater cooperation between road controlling authorities will be removed, and

„X Road management powers will be consolidated and updated.

The government’s transport agencies, Ministry of Transport, Transit and Transfund, are working closely together to ensure the government’s initiatives are implemented as soon as possible within the existing legislative framework.

Some aspects of the package do require legislative amendments and we expect to be making the detail of those proposals available shortly. We are determined to see key components of this package passed in this term of Parliament and we are working towards that objective.

I want to talk now about improving the process for increasing Road User Charges

To ensure there was no repetition of the considerable frustration, imposed costs and inconvenience experienced last time RUC was increased in 1998, this government has repealed section 21 of the Road User Charges Act 1977.

The Automobile Association was vocal in calling for a change to this Act. This government has listened and, I’m sure you’d agree, implementation of this increase has been relatively stress-free this time around.

As well as being the Associate Minister of Transport, I am also the Minister appointed to look after Auckland Issues. In terms of Auckland, transport is one of the biggest issues.

But I’d like to dispel the myth that this recent package is all about Auckland. As the Minister assisting the Prime Minister with Auckland Issues, I would be delighted if this was the case!

In reality, Auckland is now, finally, getting the funding it needs. Over a number of years, Auckland has contributed more to the national roading system than it has gained.

There are swings and roundabouts over where the road funding goes, because we are funding a national network and the demands in different parts of the network change.

The government will continue to spend most of the National Roads Fund on maintaining and improving the whole of that network.

But as I said earlier, all New Zealanders will benefit from initiatives that will reduce severe traffic congestion in Auckland.

As part of this government’s dedication to improve transport in Auckland, Mark Gosche and I appointed Grant Kirby as Auckland’s Transport Advocate last December. Grant is working with all parties to remove barriers to progressing the government’s strategic priorities and the regional land transport strategy.

Planning and construction work is progressing well on key projects in the region, including:

„X the Grafton Gully to Port link ($85 million),

„X stage one of the North Shore Busway project ($1 million)

„X and the Puhinui road interchange ($17 million).

By 2004, we expect work to have started on:

„X Spaghetti Junction improvements ($90 million),

„X the North Shore Busway and Esmonde Road interchange ($176 million),

„X Waioruru Peninsula interchange ($68 million),

„X the extension between SH20 and SH1 ($95 million),

„X extending SH16 at Brighams Creek ($30 million),

„X improvements to SH18 between Greenhithe and Hobsonville ($140 million)

„X and the Mt Roskill extension on SH20 ($57 million).

So the jigsaw pieces in Auckland’s roading network are being put in place.

Transport emissions and the environment

It’s impossible to talk about Auckland without referring to air pollution - that is, unless one is in Christchurch! With regard to transport-related air pollution - we are doing something about improving the situation.

A survey conducted by the Police has revealed that the ‘10 second rule’ is working. That’s the rule that means owner of any vehicle that emits a visible stream of exhaust fumes for 10 seconds or more can be fined $150 ! This “rule’ was introduced in March last year and since then, the number of “smoky vehicles’ has decreased nationally from 14 per cent to 9.4 per cent. Here in the south, the figure decreased from 12.1 per cent to 8.8 per cent.

On a less celebratory note is the news that, like other developed countries, New Zealand also has an invisible road toll. This road toll is caused by minuscule particles released into the environment by cars, trucks, trains and the like. A report conducted by the National Institute of Water and Air estimates that approximately 399 people over the age of 30 are likely to die prematurely each year from vehicle emissions.

The report estimates that 64 per cent of the vehicle-emission caused deaths will occur in the Auckland region, 14 per cent in Wellington and 10 per cent in Christchurch.

This government is already working on remedying this situation. The Ministries of Transport, Health, the Environment, and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority are collaborating on a number of ways of addressing these issues.

From 1st of August, sulphur levels in diesel fuels sold in the Auckland and Northland regions will be required be lowered. In a show of good will, BP, Caltex, Mobil, NZ Refinery Co and Shell began implementing this requirement in January - on a voluntary basis. Gull already complies with the reduced sulphur levels.

The Minister of Transport is also considering introducing a vehicle emissions rule later this year. The rule would apply to all vehicles, whether they be light, heavy, new or used, and would require them to be manufactured to recognised emissions standards.

Work is also being done on new ambient air quality guidelines that will set minimum requirements for councils and central government to work towards, through regional air quality plans and national plans.

The Ministry of Economic Development is in the process of finalising its review of petroleum product specification regulations, which is expected to be released this financial year.

Organisations such as the AA also have a key role to play in combating this road toll. It certainly helps when an organisation with almost a million members gets behind these initiatives, and your support of the Smoky Vehicle rule has been much appreciated. [Ref: AA Press Release 15 Feb 2001]

By continuing to encourage your members to keep their vehicle engines well maintained and tuned, we can minimise the impact of emissions on our health.

It’s a good time now to talk about Climate change and the Kyoto Protocol

This government’s goal is that New Zealand should have made significant greenhouse gas reductions on business as usual and be set towards a permanent downhill path for total gross emissions by 2012.

We are intending to ratify the Kyoto Protocol in Johannesburg in September.

This is subject to the Select Committee consideration of the National Interest Analysis, introduction of the necessary legislation for ratification and final policy decisions on the government’s preferred policy option. An announcement is imminent.

The final decision on ratifying the Protocol will be made by the government after final policy decisions and a further round of public and stakeholder consultation. This is expected to take place in the next few months.

During the first round of consultation, many participants felt that the government should support greater use of public and alternative transport, especially rail, and that road users should pay the full costs of pollution. On the other hand, people were concerned about the potential economic costs if road transport became more expensive.

Oil and transport sector representatives indicated that policy measures should be a combination of price-based measures and measures that change individuals’ behaviour. Policies discussed included congestion pricing, minimum fuel efficiency standards, the use of financial incentives (to target improvements in vehicle fuel efficiency and increase research into cleaner fuel technology), and the ineffectiveness of passing on the price of carbon through fuel prices.

In general, stakeholders were concerned about commenting on ratification without knowledge of the probable pricing mix.

So, in the meantime, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Automobile Association for your participation in this process to date. Your contribution has been appreciated.

Road safety

As I said earlier, we are dedicated to improving safety on our roads. Already under this government, funding of road safety initiatives has increased by 38 per cent.

New Zealand has made significant road safety progress over the past decade - fatalities have decreased from 729 in 1990 to 455 in 2001. But we still have some way to go.

This has been due to a concerted road safety effort, and investment in key initiatives such as:

„X Identifying and addressing crash blackspots on our roads

„X Introducing graduated driver licensing

„X Strategically enforcing and intensively marketing high risk behaviours, particularly drink driving, excessive speed, and not using seat belts and other restraints

„X Introducing a dedicated highway patrol, and

„X Introducing safer vehicle standards.

In October 2000, the government began consultation on proposals about the future of road safety in New Zealand. This posed the questions of what level of safety we should be aiming for, and how we should be achieving this.

Public and interest group meetings were held, along with focus groups, hui and fono throughout the country. Over 850 written submissions were received.

Since then, road safety proposals have been further refined and government, through its initial work on developing a New Zealand Transport Strategy, has been working to clarify the place of safety within the broader transport context.

As a result of this work, the government has identified one of its current priorities for land transport expenditure as “improving road safety in order to achieve a significant reduction in the road toll by 2010’. And as I said earlier, we put more money into road safety education and enforcement initiatives in the Moving Forward strategy.

The government is now about to consider further proposals about the future of road safety in New Zealand.

These proposals include consideration of potential safety targets to 2010, the general approach that will be used to achieve these, and the make up of a package of new initiatives that will build on our current successful road safety programmes, and ensure we can maintain - and increase - our safety momentum. Announcements are expected to be made shortly.

Vehicle safety standards

A number of new rules have been made by the Minister of Transport to improve the safety of vehicles on New Zealand roads. Following consultation, 11 of these rules came into effect at the beginning of this month (1 April).

Among them was the Frontal Impact rule.

Over half of all injury crashes and one third of fatal crashes involve a frontal impact collision. The likelihood of serious injury or death is 25 per cent less if the crash is in a vehicle that meets a frontal impact standard. Now, passenger cars entering the New Zealand fleet will have to meet an approved frontal impact standard. So called “classic cars”, that is, cars first registered outside New Zealand 20 or more years ago, are exempt.

Also from the beginning of this month, damaged or deployed airbags will need to be replaced in vehicles up to 14 years old.

Space-saver tyres can now only be used in an emergency and the vehicle can only travel at the speed the tyre is rated for. All space-saver tyres must have a label with clear safety instructions.

Rules relating to seats and seat anchorages, brakes on light vehicles, door retention systems, interior impact, steering systems, external projections and head restraints also came into effect earlier this month

On top of this, the Vehicle Standards Compliance rule sets out the requirements for inspection and certification of motor vehicles to ensure they are safe to operate on New Zealand roads.

From the 1st of October this year, all passenger cars will be subject to annual Warrant of Fitness (WoF) inspections until they are six years old, with inspections required every six months after that. Currently, used imports must have a WoF inspection every six months, regardless of their age.

From the 1st of April next year, retractor-type seatbelts that fail a Warrant of Fitness inspection must be replaced with webbing clamp-type seatbelts, where available. These seatbelts are safer but will only be required provided they can be fitted without structural modification to the vehicle, and if the seatbelt is not part of an integrated frontal impact system.

There are a number of rules forecast to be consulted on later this year and they relate to: road use behaviour; traffic devices such as signage, road markings and traffic lights; vehicle equipment such as TV monitors and sun visors; vehicle lighting, heavy motor vehicle and manufacturing standards. We will let you know when these take place.

Driver licensing

Your members may wish to know about the changes that are being made to the driver licensing system.

This government is committed to improving the existing system by making it more user-friendly and reducing compliance costs for commercial drivers, where possible. Progress is already underway with a number of changes coming into force in December last year.

We are committed to introducing a conditional licence for older drivers. This is intended to improve the mobility and independence of older drivers. It will also give them the choice of either sitting the current older driver test, and receiving a driver licence with no conditions, or sitting a simpler, conditional older driver test, and receiving a licence with a condition restricting them to driving in lower speed zones. I know that the Automobile Association has been public in its support for such a licence.

A number of other improvements are also being considered such as the introduction of telephone bookings for practical driving tests, and amending vehicle weight classifications for commercial drivers. The Land Transport Safety Authority will be consulting on these and other proposals with the public and key stakeholders, such as the AA, in the next month or so.

Conclusion

We have been working our way through some of the big transport issues that have been left to us. This government has put in place a number of initiatives and we are steadily working through a lot more.

It is difficult at present to determine when exactly these proposals will come into effect, particularly as it is election year and there is a large amount of legislation to get through.

But we’re dedicated to improving land transport in New Zealand and our considered approach is bearing fruit - the road toll is decreasing, vehicle standards are improving, and some of the large, traffic congestion-relieving projects in Auckland are now underway. Things are certainly improving.

I’m afraid I can’t stay for the rest of the day as I have to head back to Auckland to see how those projects are coming along!

However, an official from the Ministry of Transport, David Corlett, will be here to pass on to my colleagues and me any messages arising from today’s conference. I would like to wish you a successful and thought provoking conference.

Thank you for inviting me to speak to you today. Drive well, drive safely.


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