Should drivers be further penalised?

Should drivers be further penalised?

A report, Managing Transport Challenges When Oil Prices Rise, which was commissioned by the Government’s New Zealand Transport Agency, is recommending that drivers should pay more fees to use roads, and higher car park costs so that the Government has more money in its coffers to fund public transport.

Because I haven’t read the detail of the report, I’m just going to make spurious accusations and moderately defamatory remarks about it…mainly because it makes me feel better.

Anyway, the report predicts petrol prices will be $2.80 in 2014. Well, if you do the maths, that only equates to approximately 5% a year, which is somewhere around the real rate of inflation – big deal.

Other recommendations include narrowing roads and making them more pedestrian-friendly. This is pretty ridiculous. The current rate of increase in the number of cars means that many of our roads are already too congested. Making them artificially more so will simply increase pollution, reduce economic productivity, increase frustration (which often makes the roads less safe), and ultimately potentially drive industry out into areas where there aren’t these restrictions. Whole areas that had previously experience economic abundance could find themselves short of workers to patronise the cafes that sprung up to service them.

80% of the NZ population travels by private car, but do we have a target for what this should be? In Auckland and Wellington surely the figure is less because we already have buses and trains (or trams). In provincial towns it’s likely to be more.

Let’s just get back to the higher car park costs. I already often avoid going into the city to see a movie, favouring a suburban cinema where the parking is easier. I always avoid going shopping in the city, and I don’t work in the city (even though I’ve recently moved very close). In fact, I work 2km from home now, but if I took public transport I’d need to take two buses and it would take me over half an hour. Perhaps I should walk, but 2km is a bit extreme in winter, carrying a laptop and other things.

So is the report the solution? I’m a great believer in the market meeting the requirements of a population, but I also agree in a small amount of intervention to kick-start things. The northern busway is a great idea, park and ride is a great idea, and so on. But with an economic downturn assured over the next couple of years, penalising motorists will compound an already grim-looking situation.

It’s easy for these reports to make blanket assumptions and propose broad, sweeping changes (just as it’s easy for me to sit here and write why I disagree with some of the points). Any government that tries to sell in the recommendations of these reports will certainly meet with some resistance.

A report, Managing Transport Challenges When Oil Prices Rise, which was commissioned by the Government’s New Zealand Transport Agency, is recommending that drivers should pay more fees to use roads, and higher car park costs so that the Government has more money in its coffers to fund public transport.

Because I haven’t read the detail of the report, I’m just going to make spurious accusations and moderately defamatory remarks about it…mainly because it makes me feel better.

Anyway, the report predicts petrol prices will be $2.80 in 2014. Well, if you do the maths, that only equates to approximately 5% a year, which is somewhere around the real rate of inflation – big deal.

Other recommendations include narrowing roads and making them more pedestrian-friendly. This is pretty ridiculous. The current rate of increase in the number of cars means that many of our roads are already too congested. Making them artificially more so will simply increase pollution, reduce economic productivity, increase frustration (which often makes the roads less safe), and ultimately potentially drive industry out into areas where there aren’t these restrictions. Whole areas that had previously experience economic abundance could find themselves short of workers to patronise the cafes that sprung up to service them.

80% of the NZ population travels by private car, but do we have a target for what this should be? In Auckland and Wellington surely the figure is less because we already have buses and trains (or trams). In provincial towns it’s likely to be more.

Let’s just get back to the higher car park costs. I already often avoid going into the city to see a movie, favouring a suburban cinema where the parking is easier. I always avoid going shopping in the city, and I don’t work in the city (even though I’ve recently moved very close). In fact, I work 2km from home now, but if I took public transport I’d need to take two buses and it would take me over half an hour. Perhaps I should walk, but 2km is a bit extreme in winter, carrying a laptop and other things.

So is the report the solution? I’m a great believer in the market meeting the requirements of a population, but I also agree in a small amount of intervention to kick-start things. The northern busway is a great idea, park and ride is a great idea, and so on. But with an economic downturn assured over the next couple of years, penalising motorists will compound an already grim-looking situation.

It’s easy for these reports to make blanket assumptions and propose broad, sweeping changes (just as it’s easy for me to sit here and write why I disagree with some of the points). Any government that tries to sell in the recommendations of these reports will certainly meet with some resistance.

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