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Posts Tagged ‘Transport

Wellington is not moving.

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I’m a firm believer in blogs like this connecting to other blogs rather than the MSM (breaking news aside) because blogs often provide a level of expert analysis and detail of subjects that the MSM does not.

In this case I’ll link to two blogs, Not PC and Liberty Scott on the matter of transport and do so in two separate posts. But they should be read together.

First up is Not PC, run by Peter Cresswell, an architect who has spent decades writing and thinking about urban planning. This particular article is a guest post by The Uncivil Servant, and focuses on transport in just one place, Wellington, and one group there planning it:

A RUNNING JOKE AROUND Wellington is the organisation for activist bureaucrats Let’s Get Wellington Moving (LGWM). A running joke, because it is a symbol for how bureaucracy barely lets anything move at all.

The last National Government foolishly set it up to try to get agreement with local government on fixing transport problems in Wellington. Labour however has since changed its objectives, and painted a wide band of Green all over it. So now it isn’t really much about transport at all.

You could say the same about MBIE, set up at the behest of ACT. When are our “Right-wing” parties going to realise that setting up new bureaucracies to get things done simply results in these scenarios? All that happens is that the lovers of the State, the Left, have a new home to burrow into. In this case the writer details how the organisation’s primary objectives have been changed:

The upshot of this capitulation to blancmange is that LGWM is now less about transport and more about enabling intensification for housing development, and reducing carbon emissions. In fact, almost all about carbon emissions. Note: not noxious emissions like particulates…

The autistic focus gets worse than that:

It is also single-mindedly focused on reducing emissions solely by mode shift. Not by travelling less, not by moving to electric or hybrid vehicles, or by reducing traffic congestion to waste less fuel. LGWM is instead now almost solely focussed on enabling more housing (on one corridor), and on making peasants like you drive less by using public transport more.

They already have the statistics in front of them that show that their approach is not going to work, even on their own terms of reducing CO2 emissions. One third of traffic enters Wellington only to get to other places, and the primary reason for the congestion is that there is no bypass:

The problem is easy to identify: Wellington’s urban motorway ends abruptly at Te Aro at one end, and at the other end, SH1 from the airport stalls at the bottleneck of Mt Victoria Tunnel, with one lane in each direction. This causes congestion all day long and on weekends as well. Plus between 15-40% of traffic along Wellington’s waterfront is travelling to avoid that congestion, according to LGWM, that’s traffic that helps separate Wellington city from its harbour.

But LGWM is just not interested in solving that problem. Although the author does not say so I reckon that they’re actually happy with the congestion, thinking it will force drivers on to their trains, trams and buses, much as the Greens are happy about the Covid-19 lockdown destruction of our tourist industry, since it means fewer CO2 emitting planes ferrying people to and from our shores.

One of LGWM’s primary proposals is some sort of tram system that will cost $2.2 billion. That’s their estimate: public transport systems around the world regularly blow out such forecasts, often by multiples of two, three or more. Auckland’s ring train being merely the latest local example. The LGWM idea won’t do a damned thing for CO2 emissions either. In fact it has a different objective:

This policy of LGWM is straight out of the North American urbanist planner playbook, which calls for more “PT” (public transport) to induce more high-density housing. A policy that  has had the same success in addressing housing shortages and traffic issues there (i.e., virtually  none) as it would in Wellington. 

The other idea is fiddling around with the Mt Victoria road tunnels; building one for walkers and cyclists only and the other for buses only. Seriously, do these people even live in the city? I’ve walked and cycled around the place and on the rare nice day of sun and little wind it’s great, but there is no way I’d do it most of the time, especially during Winter and Autumn (Spring is not great either). There is already a dedicated bus tunnel of one lane only: why not just enlarge it? Probably for the following reason:

So all of the proposals essentially keep the current road capacity and do nothing at all about the bottleneck. This is straight out of the Green Party “building new road capacity is bad” school of thinking, on the basis people might have the audacity to drive (even with an electric car). One has to suspect the proposals are designed to just be dumped for being uneconomic, because they won’t encourage housing, won’t reduce emissions, nor encourage people to shift modes.

There’s nothing for the rest of Wellington either, even for other places with bottlenecks and congestion, like Karori. What a future National/ACT government should do about this is pretty simple:

If we want to ever get Wellington moving, a first step must be to remove Let’s Get Wellington Moving. It must be stopped.

Thereafter, [NZ Transport Agency] should be directed to finish SH1 in Wellington with a second Terrace Tunnel and Mt Victoria Tunnel; to trench the highway under Te Aro; and to grade separate at the Basin Reserve. Wellington City Council should put in place bus-priority measures at strategic points across the network.

On the other hand perhaps we just let Wellington drown in its own juices? Despite countless fuckups I see the locals regularly voting in very Lefty and Green councillors so Mencken’s rule of democracy should perhaps apply.

The only problem with that approach is that the rest of us, via central government, would end up paying to dig them out of their crap sooner or later. Better to stop them now before they hurt themselves.

Written by Tom Hunter

October 26, 2021 at 9:41 am

No Chips, no motion

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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

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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

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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

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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

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