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Brittle Thinking

This post is a follow on from Stu’s, here, on the transport minister’s extraordinary answers to questions in parliament concerning the wisdom of his extremely unbalanced transport spending programme.

You will recall that Mr Brownlee thinks that petrol price is irrelevant to decisions about transport investment. Or at least I think that’s what he means by:

“it’s clearly evident then that the pump price is an extremely irrational input into the consideration of strategic transport policy.”

And that somehow supermarket discount vouchers are the proof of this… or something? The use of the word irrational here is apt as it is increasingly becoming the right word to describe almost every utterance by Mr B on transport matters. Regardless, let’s try to look at what he seems to be saying.

Basically the idea is that the only rational transport policy is one that builds roads whatever the price of the fuel needed to be able to use those roads. He is not saying that he thinks petrol is going to get cheaper, or even stop getting more expensive, but rather that it doesn’t matter how expensive it gets- we will still always need more roads than we have now. And why, because people will always drive more and more no matter what it costs; there can never be enough roads. And as this government always repeats, our exports need more and more roads to be able to get to port on trucks. So much so that these special new roads, despite duplicating existing ones and existing rail lines are certain to greatly add to our nation’s wealth; they are of National Significance. No matter like fuel cost can apparently have any bearing on this. It is all rather faith-based after that, because the mechanism for these great outcomes are hard to identify beyond a few incremental efficiencies; like slightly lower fuel costs, exactly the work that would be undone by higher fuel price.

As petrol has been rising pretty much all this century we can probably test this price-doesn’t-matter theory of Mr Brownlee’s with some facts. Here is the average pump price adjusted for inflation from our friends at the MED [a little out of date - we're well in the $2.20s/l now].

As has been observed we are not quite in the price territory at the pump that we were in the mid 1980s when we adjust for inflation, so we have yet to see unprecedented prices but we do seem to be heading that way. It is also interesting to note that that earlier peaks were initially because of a rise in crude price but persisted in NZ because of a crash in the NZD after the crude prices declined, as the chart below shows. The mid 80s was a time of the big retreat in price after the end of the OPEC embargo and the beginning of the long period of stable western supply from the North Sea, Mexico, and Alaskan fields, all now well in decline.

[The figures below are for continental US deliveries not the Tapis or Dubai crude that our supplies typically are- which are usually higher]

It is also obvious from the chart above that we are now in crude price territory that when it last happened was called a ‘shock’ [the red peak]. That price event, a clear discontinuity, was caused by a cartel of major producers, OPEC, withholding their supply. This time the ever rising price is caused by an inability of all the world’s producers going flat-out to meet demand. And this is despite unheard of sums of money being used to squeeze every last drop from difficult and inaccessible sites with ever trickier and more risky technology. The production from these new and expensive unconventional, ultra deepwater, and shale plays only means that the decline in older conventional fields is just being kept up with- for now. Supply/Demand on a knife edge: Price goes up. Economics 101.

Who knows what lies ahead but this is already a longer lasting and more serious discontinuity from the long term average than the OPEC shock. So at the very least there is a good risk of the crude price continuing to rise simply because of the increasing demand from the big developing nations; China, India, Brazil etc. and a continued inability to increase the rate of production simply because the accessible stuff is no longer to be found. Compounded by the fact that the marginal barrel is now so expensive to extract.

Going back to the first chart and we can see that the curve of the price rise this century at the pump in NZ is not nearly as steep as the crude price rise. This is principally because the NZD dollar has appreciated against the USD throughout this period [and because the taxation part of the price has not risen as fast]. So we have been shielded from much of the rise by our unusually high dollar.

OK so here’s a second level of risk; perhaps the crude price will stop rising, well even that won’t stop the prices at the pumps going up if the NZD settles down to its historical average of around 60 USc. Or even both could happen at once! Oil up and NZD down… $3-4 a litre anyone?

Chart below from ANZ RESEARCH here [thanks to Kent]

So the point here is that the RoNS by entrenching an already unbalanced [another way of saying inelastic] infrastructure is in fact a dangerously risky policy and the complete reverse of what Ken Shirley describes as ‘sensible’. It increases the nation’s exposure to both crude price risk and exchange rate risk. Its a radical and low odds gamble with our tax money [No Ken it is not yours]. 12 billion is not a trivial sum to gamble with.

Or does this not matter at all? No-one’s bothered by higher fuel prices; we don’t need any alternative to filling her up? We won’t change our habits; driving is too damn useful and enjoyable.

Ok so price at the pump has risen from the all time low in 1999 even if not as much as it has before or what might be ahead. Let’s now look to see if there have been any changes in driving through this period, you know; elasticity.

Here is a chart from the MoT. They aren’t so free with their info as MED, at least in terms of datasets easily available to download on their website, so this doesn’t cover as much time as I would like but still there is a lot to see.

VKT by vehicle Type

*VKT=Vehicle Kilometres Travelled.

First we can see that for all this government’s framing of transport decisions as being about what the road freight lobby wants by far the greatest users of our roads are passenger cars. So especially when it comes to congestion it is all about light passenger vehicles. Secondly we can see that there is a clear levelling off of VKT in this sector despite the population growth throughout this period. Some elasticity then. It seems we hit a kind of a wall around 2005 and have been wobbling around on a kind of VKT plateau for the next six years. Important to note that this change precedes the global downturn significantly. In 2005 the price at the pump was only around $1.50 on our chart above and of course it’s now over 25-50% higher than that. I have no idea if there’s a magic price where we are likely be ‘encouraged’ to bend in an even more visible way but it may well be that we haven’t reached it yet.

It looks like light commercial vehicles have increased their travel a bit over the period, as have motorcycles. Of course we know that in Auckland over this period PT use has grown consistently. A rise in PT and more use of lighter vehicles is a rational response to rising fuel costs and something I expect to continue. And, as described here this offers some exciting opportunities for improving our cities and our lives, as well as our efficiency.

Is this not elasticity? 3m to 11m in around 8 years. Even the plateau shows elasticity as the growth hits a limit it slows, and the limit here is the capacity of the network, critically limited by a lack of rolling stock and bottleneck and deadend at Britomart. Elasticity enabled by improvements to service and amenity. All PT use in Auckland is increasing of course; 50m to 70m in the last six years, in direct contradistinction to all the driving stats which are flat at best.

But there is way in which what Brownlee says is true and that is we have built a system that simply does not allow much elasticity in transport mode choice, because for most people there are few options if any, that are as complete, as well funded, and therefore viable as driving. So therefore we are mostly all forced to cut almost every other item of spending before we stop buying petrol at any price. At what point does that become impossible? At different times for different households and businesses I guess. Essentially though I am arguing here that there is an inelasticity of opportunity not simply a cheerfulness about paying any price at all for petrol, ‘cos we just love our cars so much!’ as the minister implies.

But this only goes to highlight the great risk of a policy that further reinforces this inflexibility; what is another word for the inelastic? Brittle.

We have an extremely brittle infrastructure set that is highly vulnerable to exactly the sort of price escalations we are seeing. And what is more likely to snap is outside of transport statistics; peoples lives and livelihoods are what will snap. For example families not being able to pay for other essentials including food because they have to buy petrol to work. As they say in the US: ‘No transit; no job’.

So by all means build huge highways to lift the profitability of big trucking and to smooth the way for Omaha bach owners, but expect to keep having to pick up the tab at the other end of society, in social welfare, unemployment, housing costs, and all the other deficits of increased poverty and inequality. As is usually the case when user pays is applied to public spending it is regressive; it reinforces advantage and increases exclusion.

So in summary:

1. people do seem to be trying to bend away from dependence on the increasing costs of driving where they can, but most have little option.

2. we may not have yet reached the breaking price point but it won’t be pretty if we do, and I’m sure it is already contributing to real hardship now.

3. having identified an inelasticity wouldn’t a wise government seek to increase options rather than be so determined to reinforce this vulnerability in our nation’s infrastructure and therefore the brittleness of society’s fabric?

Or to put it in terms that the government might understand, with its strange conflation of its work with that of running a business: The RoNS are a classic management mistake: a bold investment in last century’s successful line, which is now mature and certainly needs maintaining and some improving but is no longer growing, and missing the opportunity to invest in the new growth products ‘moving forward‘.

We can only build for the future.

 

Adendum: Comparison with the US: http://www.advisorperspectives.com/dshort/updates/DOT-Miles-Driven.php

 

40 comments to Brittle Thinking

  • Trev

    Nice post. I think the key point is that the market is working in terms of a transport outcome from higher fuel prices. While many people are continuing to drive, because it makes sense for them, a number of people are changing their habits and either switching modes or simply travelling less.

    This is a good thing as additional roading infrastructure is generally required to cater for the marginal user during the peak period. In other words, we only need a small proportion of people to drive a bit less and we do away with the “need” for a huge amount of additional roading infrastructure.

    • Your second paragraph- exactly.

      My main point, though, is that we mostly have little choice but to drive, so what is ‘bending’ are social outcomes, and that the recklessly rushed and ill-conceived RoNS programme is making that worse.

    • Hamish O

      You could say the same about the rail network though. If patronage dropped of just a bit the trains wouldn’t seem nearly as crowded, and you certainly wouldn’t say that we needed the CRL any time soon.

      • Bryce

        The key question in response would be: which one is going to give the biggest return on the investment? Building a motorway, to Warkworth for instance, will only give incremental improvements whereas the CRL is very likely to make a big difference to the number of people using the train as exemplified by Perth.

        • Bryce

          As in ‘build the network’ and they will use it.

        • Hamish O

          Agree, and that’s a much better way of comparing projects as opposed to looking at their supposed ability to reduce peak congestion or overcrowding – benefits that only exist in the short to medium term anyway. I like the idea of using BCR’s as the main measure of a projects worth, but the system would clearly need a complete overhaul. I think the only benefits that should be measured a economic ones. We should also measure how fast the benefit stream might diminish, if it will, and what the risk is that the benefits won’t be as high as expected (i.e. if oil prices rise).

      • NCD

        Hamish, We needed the CRL yesterday.
        Imagine if the main road from West Auckland to the city went via Newmarket and then Parnell, and then someone tried to suggest that the lack of people driving from the West to the city proved driving wasn’t a good choice for the future?
        The CRL is the only viable way to meet needed capacity in the future (and we’re not talking rail capacity- rather, “getting people into the city any viable way” capacity), and it will transform the city. Meeting marginal rail demand isn’t really the issue.

        • Hamish O

          I agree fully NCD, and fully support the CRL as well as other rail/PT projects, I just wanted to make a point that reducing the use of both roads and rail will make the route seem a lot less congested or crowded respectively. I do not think we will ever see a reduction of congestion on our roads long term in Auckland (ignoring energy issues), but by giving people the opportunity to get around Auckland free of the congestion, like in most other cities, it will become less relevant. No city has ever actually reduced their congestion, I do however think we can slow down the rate it’s growing at, even with high population growth.

        • conan

          This is exactly the point. At no stage was there serious discussion of not building the WRR and instead adding 4 lanes to the Southern and Northwestern instead, and that what just about any anti-CRL discussion seems to involve.

  • Mr Plod

    Hamish, that’s the whole point of Patrick’s post; “We can’t ignore the energy issues”. His second point is that it’s all very well you and I blog posting over this but it doesn’t change anything. We really need some politicans (and Brownlee in particular) to grow some awareness and real balls and shape a future that exploits the inevitability in the energy issues rather than behaving like some latter day King Canute.

  • Okay being the social liberal Tory that I am, it is time to throw a different ball curve at this at look at this from a paradoxical angle.

    Replying to Patrick’s four valid points:

    1. people do seem to be trying to bend away from dependence on the increasing costs of driving where they can, but most have little option.

    That is correct. As a Social Liberal and a true Tory I practice Individual Freedom, Individual Choice and Individual Responsibility. But with transport how on hell’s name can we practice Freedom, Choice and Responsibility when there is no freedom or choice in Auckland’s transport market. You often are coerced into your transport choice through lack of actual choice due to Government’s failure (along with Council too) to lay down a viable 50:50 split between roads and smart transport (including rail freight). I am lucky where I live; 2 mins to Papakura Station to take a train to town, and 10 minutes by car to Manukau for the shopping or movies. I have freedom and choice there as I can easily flip my options and drive to Britomart and catch a train (well two) or a bus to Manukau. But for most Aucklander’s they are often stuck with the car even though they would love to use other options. So I think we can all see the problem there. In my opinion (and dont need to agree) you should be given the access to road or smart transport and be allowed to exercise your Freedom, Choice and Responsibility which includes consequences to your actions (negative and positive)…

    2. we may not have yet reached the breaking price point but it won’t be pretty if we do, and I’m sure it is already contributing to real hardship now.

    In short it is at breaking point – I see it down here in Papakura. However 91-gas sits anywhere between $2.099/litre to $2.22/litre depending which end of the Great South Road you are between Mahia Road – South Manurewa and South end of Papakura near the Papakura Interchange. Again point one applies here but does does point three which I shall cover now.

    3. having identified an inelasticity wouldn’t a wise government seek to increase options rather than be so determined to reinforce this vulnerability in our nation’s infrastructure and therefore the brittleness of society’s fabric?

    If the Government has an ounce of a bloody brain between its ears and a transport minister that knew what the hell they were doing, they would suck the lemon on both sides of this coin and implement the following transition program:
    From my submission to The Auckland Plan

    This is how I see the progression through the energy sources (in this case transport) from traditional to new over the next 100 years.

    Traditional (Oil based)
    Hybrids (as a complement not as a replacement)
    Electrics (as a complement not as a replacement)
    Synthetic Fuels (coal based as New Zealand and Queensland have enough coal for at least 100 years)
    Hydrogen fuel cells (as a total replacement for of traditional and synthetic fuel sources)

    Synthetic fuel being: http://www.scribd.com/doc/87865499/Synthetic-Fuel

    Using the process here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karrick_process

    Now I do not need people to agree with me, but respect my opinion on this as I personally see the path New Zealand (providing we get a true progressive Government – this means future Minister of Transport in Waiting Julie-Ann Genter might very well bite the lemon in this transition path) going down as we head towards to 50:50 split in road:smart transport funding and a true low carbon economy. I say this as we need to ease New Zealand through – not go shock and awe unless we want the economy to fail rather spectacularly fast and hard (remember people hate sudden change quickly).

    This is my opinion on how to turn Brittle Thinking into something more solid.

    Now unless we get Nuclear Fusion next year, and every car, truck, freight train and bus running on water/fuel cells I would love to see how we transition over without impinging on ones freedom’s, choices and responsibilities as citizens of NZ

    • With respect your solutions all rely on magic. Or at least involve no near term answers. We can’t wait. We need to live now, this year, next year. Fusion; the poster boy for the ‘the cavalry are coming any moment now’ school of wishful thinking every year for the last 60 years.

      Your last sentence gives away the flaw in your and the rest of the NatPat’s thinking; everyone always driving everywhere does not equal freedom. It is actually the self imposed prison that we now find ourselves in.

      We just need the opportunity to be able to wind this monomania of movement back a little. Give us the option to need less fuel, to need less road space. We’ll be better off immediately and, who knows; that might buy us enough time for cavalry to arrive too…..

      • Hence my point Patrick, Fusion is not going to be with us until at least 2050? So what are we meant to do between now and 2050? That is why I said the transition program with (now expanding on this) using what we have got now. Synthetic fuels are hear already and have been hear since at least World War Two when the Nazi’s of all people realised its importance when traditional oil was no where near by. New Zealand already has the synthetic fuel infrastructure in place down in Taranaki thanks to Muldoon and Think Big. Granted the Methanex plant uses Natural Gas to flip into Petrol but at least its there and able to be converted to coal-to-petrol/diesel/kerosene.

        And did I say: everyone always driving everywhere does not equal freedom. It is actually the self imposed prison that we now find ourselves in? No I said: “You often are coerced into your transport choice through lack of actual choice due to Government’s failure (along with Council too) to lay down a viable 50:50 split between roads and smart transport (including rail freight). I am lucky where I live; 2 mins to Papakura Station to take a train to town, and 10 minutes by car to Manukau for the shopping or movies. I have freedom and choice there as I can easily flip my options and drive to Britomart and catch a train (well two) or a bus to Manukau. But for most Aucklander’s they are often stuck with the car even though they would love to use other options. So I think we can all see the problem there. In my opinion (and dont need to agree) you should be given the access to road or smart transport and be allowed to exercise your Freedom, Choice and Responsibility which includes consequences to your actions (negative and positive)…”

        Stop picking key words to shape an debate I am not steering down.

        Read the that piece again carefully: I am lucky where I live; 2 mins to Papakura Station to take a train to town, and 10 minutes by car to Manukau for the shopping or movies. I have freedom and choice there as I can easily flip my options and drive to Britomart and catch a train (well two) or a bus to Manukau

        I have my freedom and choice to chose train, bus or car to my select destinations. 99% of the time because that total choice and access (crap timetable is another thing) I chose train to Britomart. 99% of the time again I chose to drive to Manukau.

        I have that freedom and choice to: Give us the option to need less fuel, to need less road space from my proximity to Papakura Station.

        The bulk of Auckland does not have that choice because as you said: As they say in the US: ‘No transit; no job’. No car – no job.

        So lets finish the rail network, decide what we are going to do with our Port, finish Waterview and get a bus system complementing rather than competing against everything else and you might find: Give us the option to need less fuel, to need less road space.

        50:50 both roads and smart transport are needed

        • conan

          Fusion is always going to be 30 years away. Patrick is right, we need to deal with what we have and know right now. Pods, driverless cars and jetpacks are too much of an unknown factor to be able to be sensibly incorporated into near future plans.

          The synthetic fuel plant turned out to be the worst of the think big projects and has not contributed motoring fuel to NZ for a long time, in fact I believe it is idle at the moment. Even at current fuel prices it is not economic and that’s not going to change anytime soon.

          I totally agree with the rest of your comments- freedom of choice is not a matter of which of the 5 lanes of the motorway should I drive in, but ‘how best can I get to my destination’. At the moment the default answer is ‘by car’ and we need to do way more than we are to provide a balanced choice.

          “50:50 both roads and smart transport are needed”

          Even 75:25 would pay for everything that would make sense. A few motorways to nowhere would die as a result, but transport in general would be better for such a split.

    • MFD

      In order to gain respect for opinions on engineering matters I would need to be convinced that those opinions were based on qualifications and/or experience in the relevant fields.Your comments re hydrogen fuel cells suggest otherwise.

      • How about actually advancing an argument rather than making sly personal judgements. I make no claim to being an engineer [or an economist, or a transport planner], but I don’t see why that discounts me from observing that investing PT and rail freight is to relay on proven and currently available technology. You have info about a mass market fuel cell car about to hit NZ streets in the near term? Let’s hear about it.

        • MFD

          Voakladmin asked that his opinion be respected. Opinions are not all equal. When it comes to medical matters I place a lot more value on the opinion of a surgeon that somebody who looked something up on Wikipedia. Similarly with matters engineering in nature.

          Hydrogen fuel cells as a total replacement for traditional and synthetic fuel sources is a nonsensical statement. It’s not even a partial replacement or any sort of replacement. It’s comparing apples with mattresses.

          • All good MFD, I was not offended by your previous remark at all :)

            And fair enough, you said: I would need to be convinced that those opinions were based on qualifications and/or experience in the relevant fields.Your comments re hydrogen fuel cells suggest otherwise.

            I shall reply and go seek out some engineers in those relevant fields to back up or refute what I just said

          • Bryce

            As someone who has followed fuel cell tech over the past 12 or so years, I am not ready to predict its future uses in the automotive field however to count it out as a replacement for a large part of the private vehicle fleet would be premature.

          • MFD

            A fuel cell is not a source of energy in the same way that the engine of a car is not a source of energy.

          • Guys can we not get hung up on Fusion or Hydrogen Fuel Cells please. I did say transition over 100 that is ONE HUNDRED YEARS – so 2112 if we take it from the current date.

            I am more interested in synthetics in place of traditional if we come to that point and Brownlee not giving us choice nor access for that matter to a free transport market. That is both road and smart transport TOGETHER – INTEGRATED!

          • MFD

            Some background reading on hydrogen and associated fuel cells:
            http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/the-hydrogen-hoax.

          • I saw ethanol and methanol in there? Apart from Natural Gas, Coal (oh look Synthetic fuels much) and land fills where else would you get the amount of etha and methanol from?

          • MFD

            Why the fascination with synthetic fuels? A great way to increase carbon dioxide emissions and decrease overall thermal efficiency.

          • Because I have not seen from you a viable alternative from Traditional Oil. And I for one will never EVER support fuel for cars coming from our food supply of corn as well…

          • TimR

            I’m not sure I can share that respect for engineers, as a broad generalisation (I know some good ‘uns who prove the rule). The urban environment I see around us in Auckland has suffered from far too much linear engineering-think, blind to the non-measurable and intangible consequences if their work such. Engineers who can think beyond their silo are rare in my experience, unfortunately, even amongst the younger emerging generation.

            The future needs people like Patrick, with a broad, observational, human-centric view of how issues really interrelate and play out in the real world, to help us move on from the staid thinking of the last century. And I’m looking forward to a time when engineering in NZ can be characterised as being progressive.

          • MFD

            Who is asking for respect for engineers? The issue is one of quality of opinion. Would you ask a dentist if, in their opinion, the 25 kV power supply for the new trains in Auckland was going to be fit for purpose? Engineers generally do what they are asked to do within the confines of budget, legislation etc. If you ask engineers to do something mundane and built to a price that’s generally what you will get. If you cannot provide progressive scopes and the budget to go with it don’t be surprised if you don’t get progressive engineering.

  • I found an excellent article by the Victoria Transport Policy Institute on elasticity and induced demand. Just search on Google. It is called:

    “Generated Traffic and Induced Travel: Implications for Transport Planning” Todd Litman, November 2011

    Not really anti or pro roads or rail, just examining the evidence on the issues.

  • I’m no physicist either but if fusion is our best hope then we really are stuck. There is a running joke at the bottom of Tom Murphy’s excellent energy blog Do the Math: he used to always write: Next week: Fusion. And of course next week never arrives. I think he had to stop as he got too many requests for him to actually write it!

    And for qualifications on matters mathy he’s pretty good, proper scientist:
    http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2011/11/peak-oil-perspective/

    • So Peak Oil, we hit it and traditional oil declines. The answer is then what? Fusion – I think I’ll see old Winston Peters being sober first before Fusion in my time. Fuel Cells – again Winston being sober?
      We are now stuck. Cars, trains, ships, planes, buses, large scale power stations all need a fuel source.

      Okay with large scale power stations we have hydro and nuclear fission.

      Ships and Planes, ummm we going to go down Gerry Anderson’s Thunderbirds path and have atomic powered tankers and atomic powered hypersonic aircraft (Fireflash) streaking across our sky?

      Cars, trucks, buses and trains – well what seriously. You go electric on the lot and by 2020 you will need a Huntly 2 through five each producing 1.385GW (current Huntly) to the energy supply up we need.

      So folks where to next?

      • MFD

        “You go electric on the lot and by 2020 you will need a Huntly 2 through five each producing 1.385GW (current Huntly) to the energy supply up we need”

        Less gratuitous travel, lighter vehicles, lower speeds, renewables such as PV, wind and geothermal in conjunction with large scale storage (such as vanadium flow batteries) and there will be no need for any increase in thermal generation at all.

  • Amen and Hallelujah voakladmin01 .

    I agree with you 100%. It is about choice. There are times that I want my car and the mobility and flexibility that brings. Things like visiting friends and family or heading out if Auckland.

    But for 90% of most trips accessibility is more important than mobility. I need to get to a place as quickly and easily as possible even if 10,000 other people want to get there at the same time. PT is the best option to give me that accessibility.

  • Greg N

    Interesting co-incidence of a sorts.
    Last night, was listening to RNZ at about 2:30am Saturday (slight insomnia) when they re-run the episodes of Bluesmoke the audio documentary tracing some NZ pop music heritage.
    [more about that here: http://www.radionz.co.nz/concert/programmes/bluesmoke if you're interested ]

    Anyway, last night they played a song called “did you hear about Jerry?” about a mule named Jerry, link to a Youtube rendition is here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRuKSaa8prw
    This version was by Kahu Pineaha. This is a version of a an old ’30s folks song I think.

    But some of the lyrics struck me as extremely apt, as they related to Gerry Brownleee and his “mule like” approach to RoNS and funding an the fact “he can carry a heavy load…” (yeah – of horseshit)”
    Not all the lyrics are quite 100% apt as it says that Jerry [the mule] is the working mans friend, don’t think we can say that about our Gerry.

    Also on Gerry and the RoNS TV3′s The Nation had an interesting piece on the RoNS and how they are causing headaches for councils elsewhere in NZ, that had an panel interview with Brownlee on the RoNS.
    Where the journos on the panel asked Brownlee some very pointed comments about the CBRs for the PuFord RoNS and the CRL and if they are surely the same CBRs so are equally important?

    [to which Gerry said not they're not the CRL has a worse CBR and is an inferior spend of money because in part its so expensive per km to build - which you assume is he sees it that way as NZTA could build Kms of roads for the same $ as the CRL would require].
    Also he was asked about delaying the RoNS spend a few years and why the NZTA can’t front up with detailed spending figures for the RoNS.

    This program will be repeated 8am Sunday, so take a look (if you dare get up that early) or catch it on TV3+1 at 9am, or on their website.

    I’d like to make one point that the Mayor of Southland says that they are responsible for 16% of the exports of NZ. That may be true, but most of those exports are in the form of Aluminium ingots from Tiwai Point which doesn’t need heaps of roads to be built. And if excluded from her figures would reduce the actual exports of products from Southland to probably 5% at best (e.g. dairy, timber etc).

    • tuktuk

      Apologies if the link has already been pasted, but here is the link to the piece on RoNS by TV3 –

      http://www.3news.co.nz/Benefits-outweigh-new-road-costs–Brownlee/tabid/1356/articleID/267649/Default.aspx

      There is a real gem by Gerry Brownlee at @ 15:21 “If you went back to the [19]50′s, none of the motorway projects, or the Auckland Harbour Bridge, or a number of other projects would have been done, at that time if they’d simply slavishly looked at cost-benefit ratios”

      For the first time an admission that Auckland’s motorway network and harbour crossing was built, the CBD was just about strangled by said motorways, and presumably Auckland’s tramway network ripped up, all because some previous National government thought it would be a good idea!

      It starts to make clear that right from the beginning, there was no rational economic basis for the actions in the 1950s and 1960s that saw Auckland in particular, and New Zealand in general, move from a balanced transport network into one dominated by roads.

      • Well I agree but disagree in that the BCR methodology used in NZ is deeply flawed anyway… too short term, values a PT user’s time as 43% as valuable as that of a car driver [!]. Indeed vastly over values time savings, totally under values quality of pace and environmental costs. Seems to be open top all sorts of gerrymandering. Joyce didn’t like the first BCR for Puford [0.4] so he buried it and got another one full of all sorts of legerdemain [1.1]. Of course the CRL one is fully bogus, assumes endless cacpacity for buses and cars on city streets, fails to grasp network advantages, assumes very low demand… and all the other stat managing of the auto-lobby government…. Et Cetera. But Brownlee wants to ignore them when they can’t even get their own massaged ones into positive territory. This is a government of crooks and thieves.

  • Here are the numbers for the US, that country we have been apeing in all matters automotive for decades:

    http://www.advisorperspectives.com/dshort/updates/DOT-Miles-Driven.php

    Chart from this page added to bottom of post above.

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