No Minister

Posts Tagged ‘Transport

No Chips, no motion

with 8 comments

A couple of weeks ago in The Veteran’s post on Taiwan, I included a graph showing the degree to which the world relies on Taiwan for silicon chips.

I also made the point that the world would likely not even be able to feed itself if there was a major, lengthy disruption to the production of silicon chips, given the degree to which tractors and other farm equipment depend on them to work nowadays.

Here’s the latest evidence, from The Truth About Cars:

Have you heard the one about the dead cars? No, not the ones we find in junkyards, but the ones that haven’t had life yet, thanks to the chip shortage.

These so-called “dead” cars are vehicles that have rolled off the assembly line, otherwise ready for sale, sitting in fields or on lots near the factories that produced them, just waiting for chips.

… that number is set to grow, as GM announced that plants in Indiana, Michigan, and Mexico that produce the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra will halt next week, thanks to, you guessed it, the chip shortage.

GM had so far avoided chip-related shutdowns by skipping some features, and by … building some trucks and adding the chips in later

Written by Tom Hunter

July 24, 2021 at 11:55 am

The Song Remains The Same

This is outstanding news:

Tens of millions of dollars have been spent on Auckland light rail since Labour came to power, despite there being no shovels in the ground to build it. 

Information released by Waka Kotahi-NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) shows $34.8 million has been spent since October 2017 on business cases, project management, legal costs, office space and equipment, and Ministry of Transport funding. 

With more projects like this we’re going to able to stand up and proudly proclaim to the world all the wonderful things we’re doing to halt Global Warming… whilst actually doing abso-fucking-lutely nothing about it.

Plus there’s the wonderful Keynesian effect of all that money passing through the hands of lawyers and consultants and into the pockets of Mercedes and Tesla dealerships and Auckland real estate companies.

Now be honest. What more could you want from a government?

The only problem is that they’re showing signs of becoming restrained:

The Government was left with a $47 million contingency in its $6.8 billion NZ Upgrade transport package after $211 million worth of rail projects were put into the package at the last minute.

This was despite repeated warnings from officials the contingency might be too small to pay for any cost blowouts.

Those warnings were prescient, as new cost estimates for the transport projects have led the Government to back away from promises to build everything they proposed a little over a year ago – something that could have been avoided had the projects been given larger contingency funding.

I’m sure they’ll learn from this and put in a bigger contingency for next year’s budget. About a billion dollars should do it.

On the other hand their extreme restraint in achieving anything may actually start being translated into spending as well, with that contingency problem perhaps not being the usual Labour screwup as an indicator of where they’re going, as Chris Trotter points out:

Let’s begin with the Labour Government’s decision to impose a three-year wage freeze on three-quarters of the Public Service. Under the old Political Rule Book, such an action would have been deemed extremely unwise. That rule book would have explained the sheer folly of effectively decreasing the purchasing power of some of the Labour Party’s most loyal supporters. This is hardly surprising: “Look after your electoral base.”; has always been the first and most important rule of electoral politics.

Chris thinks that this is all part of keeping onboard those National voters who crossed the aisle last year, but it’s more likely that Robertson has taken a look at the deficits and debt and finally got the wind up about blowing more money on stuff, especially as he considers how much of the spending to date has produced nothing of consequence or, in the case of poverty and healthcare, seen things go backwards.

To me it therefore seems quite a natural and logical progression for Labour to start down the He Puapua route of separate Maori development. As I have pointed out several times Critical Race Theory, which is currently shredding the USA, was always going to make it down here to New Zealand where it would be gleefully taken up by Maori activists and academics as an even more extremist extension of what used to be called Political Correctness (now “Woke” Politics).

But the reason why the political and activist Left have glommed on to it is that the traditional Left ideas have failed Maori, just as they’ve failed Blacks in the USA.

Public education. Public Healthcare. Social Welfare. And still Maori are suffering worse in education, health and poverty than other ethnic groups in our society.

What else has the Left got to offer Maori? Nothing, which is why this new ideology has taken hold so quickly on the NZ Left. I think it will ultimately prove to be even more useless than traditional Socialism, but for the moment it’s a salve for Maori activists and a possible electoral winner for White Leftists who otherwise have no idea what to do to improve their public institutions beyond simply dumping in more money.

There’s also increasingly a lot of moaning from the Left about why their wonderful Labour government can’t get anything done. Certainly a lot of this is due to their shambling incompetence; they are the most useless shit shower of a government that I’ve known in my lifetime.

But the simple fact is that you can’t build the same thing twice. Is Adern’s Labour government going to build another Social Security system? Another Public Healthcare system? Another building to house the bureaucracy for them? The low-hanging fruit was plucked by the First Labour government. There may be equally revolutionary things like a Universal Basic Income that they could try to implement, but I see no signs of such things from this government.

Which, as a Right-Winger, suits me just fine. I may even vote for them in 2023 on the sound basis that the more useless a government is the better it is for the individual.

But then I recall that even a government that’s too useless to build anything can still stuff things up badly by constantly saying “No” and stopping people doing things, and that’s so easy that even this government can do it. In fact it seems to be their speciality.

Labour 2023: Vote For Nothing.

If I could have just one extra promise from Labour though it would be that their post-2023 government spend less for nothing.

Thanks Jacinda. Next Step is the Kaimai Expressway

Well that’s what I’m going to call it. It will be the next logical step to connect to the Waikato Expressway which will be finished in 2021 with the completion of the Hamilton section.

Kaimai Expressway – Cambridge, Piarere, Te Poi, Kaimai, Tauranga

Incidentally, another section of that network, the Huntly Bypass, will finally open on February 16, which is going to be a big deal for those who have trekked through the crimped, dangerous Huntly section of SH1 over the decades.

SH1 through Huntly                             Bypass through Taupiri Mountain

An awful lot of crosses and flowers mark that path and I know of nobody who has not had at least one bad fright over the years. Strangely the most dangerous part was a set of straights just North of Huntly along the Waikato River, a section not bypassed until the mid-2000’s with the Ohinewai expressway – which then sat stranded for over a decade with two-lane connections at each end. Such is our decision-making.

And here is yet another example of that. The intersection of SH1 with SH29 at Piarere, which is a shocker. I’ve been driving that route since the early 1980’s and the intersection has not changed in all that time. But the traffic load certainly has.

Piarere intersection SH1-SH29, North Island

Last summer I happened to be driving north on SH1 when I reached this intersection and saw a 2-3km long trafffic jam on SH29 coming from Tauranga/Mt Manganui, all waiting to to turn right onto SH1.

There are rumours it may be replaced with a roundabout, which will improve things, but only to the extent that desperate SH29 drivers will be tempted to gun the engine and hope for the best. It’s a bandaid.

All this came to mind yesterday with the announcement that the Labour-led government is going to put $6 billion into roading, notably including a number of projects it inherited from the previous National-led government and placed on hold in 2017.

It was inevitable really. NZ MMP government at its “best”, wobbling from side-to-side before coming back to the sensible middle.

In this case, roads.

Let’s Retcon the crap out of this.

They can carry everything from foot-traffic and ox-carts (SHTF scenario) to autonomous electric cars and trucks. Vastly more flexible than those things with concrete cross-ties and steel rails.

People in Europe are still riding on roads the Romans built, or at least the remnants of them, covered in modern materials

The only waste being time; in this case two years of virtue signalling.

There’s also some caveats.

First, this is election year, which always means lolly scrambles. But following the election we could be looking at a Green-Labour government (I always put the Green’s first because they’re the ones who will lead Labour with ideas). Such a government could simply reverse this decision and decide to spend the money on some grand Auckland-Hamilton-Tauranga rail-link upgrade. The Greens have seen what Winston does with real power and they will have learned.

Second is that pressure had been growing on the government from the likes of Fulton Hogan and other road-builders with regard to future work. With nothing more in front of them than completing the twelve major projects started under National and with progress varying between 30% to 90% on each of those, such companies were already getting close to capping and then reducing their people and equipment, which could hobble future government plans. I had thought that might be the intention. This announcement will likely retain the capabilities, but the real question is what will be done with them.

Which brings up the third point: this government has shown that it’s big on announcements and small on delivery: $6 billion is not actually that much money in the context of new highway construction. For example Local Government alone is expected to spend some $90 billion on infrastructure in the next ten years. This money could easily evaporate away into thousands of piddling “upgrades” of roading – like the notorious chain-link fencing placed on the Long Swamp section of SH1 years ago even as dual-carriageway roading was built North and South of it.

But assuming that at least some of the RONS projects are reinstated and then actually started this announcement will be a good thing, although it will enrage the Greens.

During a varsity Old Boys reunion a year ago I had an interesting chat with a Waikato-based roading engineer about two projects in particular.

The first was the awful section at the Northern end of the Desert Road: why had nothing been done about it over the decades? His answer was that it’s to do with government land on one side and Iwi land on the other. It’s just never been possible to reach agreement on the land swaps that straightening SH1 would require in the area for bridges, fillings and cuttings. Perhaps it’s simply that not enough focus has been placed on it, as I find it hard to believe that some compromise could not have been reached between the parties, but here we are.

The second was around my idea of a Kaimai expressway. He told me that there were plans to extend the Waikato Expressway to Piarere and then along SH29 to Tauranga / Mt Manganui. They’d even begun land purchases and/or notifications in the hills above Lake Karapiro. All mothballed by Genter and company the moment they got into government in 2017.

Mind you, as he said, plans once written are never trashed. They’re sitting in cupboards, filing cabinets and back-up HDD’s just waiting for a future government that will have no choice but to deal with the swelling commercial and private traffic in the SH1/SH29 region. For all the yammering about this generations nuclear-free moment the Kaimai expressway is going to happen. Just not until the 2030’s probably.

Written by Tom Hunter

January 30, 2020 at 6:33 pm

Roads and Bloggers

Having done some work this afternoon on an issue raised by Psycho Milt as a result of a horrific drive he had from Rotorua to Palmy – Great facepalm moments in NZ Journalism – I realised that I did not have to stick to the restrictions of our comments section, so…

First up is this nice little chart here from NZTA, Revenue & Investment flows 2015-2018 (click to enlarge), which they treat as a three-year period:

Obviously that’s largely from the previous government but RUC estimated total revenue was $4,292 million, which comes out as an annual average of $1,430 million.

Now the proportions of this that come from the trucking industry itself don’t seem to be broken down, but there was this government study from 2009, which had it at 76% (p. 26).

And of course that RUC calculation already includes the “fourth power” calculation.

So that gives us $1,087 million annual average revenue from the trucking industry: it’s likely to be a bit higher in 2018/19. And of course that’s not counting revenue from their new vehicle registrations and other road-related charges.

NZTA also has an interactive page on road maintenance spending.

It shows that in 2016/17 the nation spent $609 million on “Pavement and Sealing”, which would seem to cover the specific area of complaint about road damage.

That’s 37% of the $1.641 billion spent on “Road Maintenance”, which also covers things like (you can click through the above chart):

– $235 million, Corridors
– $309 million, Emergency Reinstatement
– $211 million, Environment & Drainage
– $192 million, Network & Property Management
– $ 84 million, Structures

So it looks to me as if the government revenue from the trucking industry alone more than covers all the spending on repairing road surfaces.

There you go! Courtesy of your local, friendly and unpaid blogger you get information the average “ONE News journalist” was either too clueless or too lazy to dig up.

Now if the road surfaces are still crappy then perhaps we should throw another few hundred million per year at them or even more to get them up to spec, and we can bump the trucking charges further if needed to pay for that. I’m a big believer in user-pays!

But before doing that I’d like to take a very close look at those other line items first to see if some of that should not be re-directed to “Pavement and Sealing”.

And that’s before looking at re-directing the spending on poor old hopeless KiwiRail – or cycleways.

Not that those railways should be sold off. As driverless trucks become more commonplace we’ll likely just rip up the rails and use the corridors for dedicated robotic truck convoys.

Written by Tom Hunter

June 24, 2019 at 3:36 am

Posted in New Zealand

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A couple of informative pieces of commentary on SI transport chaos have appeared at Whaleoil, obviously written by someone with knowledge of and experience in the transport industry.

In an otherwise excellent dissertation, I was surprised to see the writer toss out the idea of air transport on the grounds of relative cost.

Air transport indeed was too expensive up until two weeks ago but that has all changed.

Low cost, efficient road/rail transport no longer exists.  It is gone and wont be back for perhaps five to ten years.  The correct comparison to make is between air transport and the now very limited and inefficient road transport available.  There will be many people for whom the choice will be be ‘no delivery or air delivery.’

The only questions they will ask is:-   ‘Do I want to pay the price?’

I think many will say yes.  Take for example a 1,000 kg shipment of long grained rice, imported into Auckland from Thailand.  Currently sold for a bit under $2.00 per kg in supermarkets.  If air freight were to cost $1,000 per tonne would  people pay $3.50 per kg to buy the product?  I think so.  There will be plenty of other products which will stand a large price hike when people see the reason for it is genuine.

Some enterprising fellow will lease a dozen C130 Hercules aircraft and run a shuttle service between Palmerston North and Christchurch, moving up to 1,000 tonnes of freight per day.

Written by adolffinkensen

November 17, 2016 at 11:35 pm

Posted in New Zealand

Tagged with