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23rd September 2017

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Limited opportunity for lower freight emissions from coastal shipping and rail, says MoT

Coastal shipping and rail have less potential in the drive to reduce carbon emissions. Photo / 123RF

Coastal shipping and rail have less potential in the drive to reduce carbon emissions from the transport sector than the optimistic view expressed in a Productivity Commission issues paper on decarbonising the New Zealand economy, says the Ministry of Transport in a submission to the commission’s inquiry.

“We concur with your assessment that electric vehicles (EVs) are by the far greatest emissions abatement opportunity New Zealand has to lower transport emissions,” says the two-page response to the issues paper sent on September 4 by Joanna Pohau, the ministry’s acting manager, people and environment.

However, the ministry is less optimistic about the potential for coastal shipping and rail to move freight out of road-based trucking, mainly because so much of New Zealand’s freight ‘task’ involves sending goods over short distances and because customers have come to expect ‘just-in-time’ deliveries that ships and trains struggle to fulfil.

“Much of our freight moves over short distances,” the ministry says. “This is a movement that is typically only economic for road freight. As well, some cargo, for example liquid milk, best suits being moved by road” and “not all locations have access to rail and/or coastal shipping.”

The ministry expects that lower emissions from long-haul freight operations will emerge from a combination of some cargoes shifting to shipping and rail, greater collaboration among cargo owners, more fuel efficient trucks, increased use of bio-fuels and, ultimately, “adopting new fuel and vehicle technologies as they arise”.

This could include electric heavy long-haul trucks “if they become available”.

The submission coincides with the announcement of an EV car-sharing scheme in Christchurch that its backers claim is the largest in the Southern hemisphere.

From late November, some 70 of an eventual fleet of 100 EVs will be available for Canterbury businesses and residents through fleet management company Yoogo, which has been selected by Christchurch City Council to implement the services.

The company’s “electric car sharing model breaks down barriers around cost and charging infrastructure, making pure electric vehicles accessible and affordable,” Kirsten Corson, Yoogo general manager, said in a statement.

The service will be available for the CCC, Ara Institute, engineering firms Aurecon and Beca, the Canterbury District Health Board, law firm Chapman Tripp, Environment Canterbury, Meridian Energy, architects Tonkin and Taylor, and Warren and Mahoney, and, Christchurch Airport, as well as for the general public.

In its submission, MoT agrees with the Productivity Commission’s suggestion that “current policy settings may need to be revisited if we are to achieve a widespread uptake of EVs” and endorses setting fuel efficiency standards as one route to achieve that.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges announced late last month that the government was setting a target of one-in-three of the government’s car fleet being EVs by 2021.

Brian Gaynor: Winston Peters’ port plan fails to make grade

One of the more intriguing aspects of the general election campaign is New Zealand First’s policy “to move all container operations from Ports of Auckland to Northport by the end of 2027”.

According to NZ First leader Winston Peters, “the days of the Ports of Auckland as a container port and as a car yard are numbered”.

He went on to say that “New Zealand First will bring forward legislation to move all operations from Auckland to Northport. This will start with vehicles on Captain Cook Wharf ahead of the America’s Cup. Aucklanders want their harbour back while Northlanders want the jobs and opportunities that would come from Northport’s transformation”.

Peters added that this policy “is a cast iron commitment from New Zealand First but it needs New Zealand First to be in a pivotal position to demand it”.

Not surprisingly, Peters hasn’t released any details on the costs of moving Ports of Auckland to Northport.

There are three ports involved in this proposal, directly or indirectly: Ports of Auckland; Port of Tauranga, which is 220km from Auckland; and Northport, which is 144km north of the main Auckland port.


Ports of Auckland (POA) listed on the NZX in October 1993. This followed the sale of 39.8 million shares, or 20 per cent of the company, by the Waikato Regional Council at $1.60 a share. This gave Ports of Auckland a total sharemarket value of $318 million, with the Auckland Regional Services Trust retaining its 80 per cent stake.

In April 2005 Auckland Regional Holdings announced a takeover offer for POA at $8 a share, valuing the company at $848m. This compared with the pre-offer price of $6.44 a share and Grant Samuel’s value of between $7.69 and $8.55 a share.

The $8 a share bid was successful, POA delisted and is now 100 per cent owned by Auckland Council Investments.

POA has been a disappointment under 100 per cent Auckland Council ownership. In the 13 years since 2003-04, its revenue has increased by only 35 per cent, to $222.4m, and net profit after tax by 36 per cent to $60.3m.


Port of Tauranga (POT) was listed in 1992 after issuing 20 million new shares at $1.05 each and the Waikato Regional Council selling all its 12.6 million shares at the same price. After the initial public offering, the company had a sharemarket value of just $80m, based on its $1.05 issue price. The Bay of Plenty Regional Council had a 55.3 per cent holding.

POT, which now has a sharemarket value of $2,960m, has been one of the most successful listed companies over the past 25 years.

For example, since 2003-04 POT’s revenue has increased by 69 per cent to $255.9m, compared with POA’s 35 per cent rise, and POT’s net profit after tax has swelled 148 per cent to $83.4m, compared with POA’s more modest 36 per cent profit increase.


Northland Port also listed on the sharemarket in 1992, shortly after Port of Tauranga. This followed the sale of 10 million shares, representing 24.1 per cent of the company, for $1.25 a share. This gave Northland Port a sharemarket value of $52m at the $1.25 IPO price, just slightly below POT’s listing value.

The Northland company provided ship handling services to the NZ Refining jetty at Marsden Point and at Port Whangarei.

In 2002 the port activities at Marsden Point and Port Whangarei were transferred to Northport, a 50/50 joint venture between Northland Port and Port of Tauranga. NZX-listed Northland Port subsequently changed its name to Marsden Marine Holdings.

Marsden Marine is now an investment company with a 50 per cent stake in Northport, valued at $46.1m, and investment properties valued at $66.4m. These include freehold land, a marina and a commercial complex adjacent to Northport.

Its largest shareholders are Northland Regional Council, with a 53.6 per cent holding, and Ports of Auckland, with 19.9 per cent stake.

Marsden Marine has been a disappointing listed company, with a sharemarket value of only $215m. The company’s directors received $198,000 for the June 2016 year, a large figure for an investment company with few employees.

Chairman Sir John Goulter, who is also chair of the hugely disappointing Metro Performance Glass, received director’s fees of $54,000 for the June 2016 year and an additional $40,000 as chairman of Northport.

The opportunity to rationalise the port sector, and reduce commercial shipping activity at the Auckland port, was missed when Ports of Auckland withdrew from merger talks with Port of Tauranga in March 2007.

The Mount Manganui based port was clearly disappointed and chief executive Mark Cairns had this to say: “The economic and financial modelling demonstrates that the merger would generate significant financial benefits to be shared with customers and shareholders alike.

“The merger would also generate substantial public benefits: reducing CO2 emissions; facilitating better opportunities for coastal shipping; and making a start on the inevitable port rationalisation that needs to occur in New Zealand in the future with the advent of larger, faster container vessels.”

He went on to say: “In a country with a population of approximately 4 million people (similar to Sydney) New Zealand’s tax base simply cannot sustain the funding of high quality road and rail infrastructure connections to all 13 ports.”

The proposed merger between Ports of Auckland and Port of Tauranga made far more sense than the Ports of Auckland/Northport scheme. There are several reasons for this, including:

• The cost of building an extensive road and rail network from Marsden Point to Auckland would be prohibitive and take decades to complete. Coastal shipping could be an alternative, but these ships would continue to use Ports of Auckland

• Northport is small and would need substantial expenditure on its facilities, particularly container handling facilities

• The move from Ports of Auckland to Northport would put huge pressure on the Marsden Point facility. For example, 673 container ships visited Auckland in the June 2017 year compared with only 36 berthing at Northport. In addition, Auckland had 181 vehicle carrier visits while Marsden Point had none in the same 12-month period. Thus, if Ports of Auckland moved its container ship and vehicle carrier operations to Northland, the Marsden Point facility would have to facilitate 854 of these vessel arrivals every year instead of 36 at present

• There is a mismatch between Northport and Ports of Auckland because the former is a bulk port and the latter is predominantly a container port. Northport had export log volumes of 2,808,000 tonnes for the June 2017 year, representing 77 per cent of its total bulk exports, while Ports of Auckland container volumes were 952,331 TEU (one TEU equals one standard 20-foot container).

The obvious solution to the Ports of Auckland issue is the partial privatisation of the company and a listing on the NZX. There are two main reasons for this.

Port of Tauranga and Auckland International Airport have been great performers as listed companies and are paying large dividends to their council shareholders. By contrast, Ports of Auckland has been a disappointment since the Auckland Council acquired its 100 per cent holding.

Under a sharemarket listing, there is a far better chance of a merger, or a joint venture agreement, between Ports of Auckland and Port of Tauranga. This is because local body politicians, who are usually opposed to these commercial agreements, would have a limited influence.

An Auckland/Tauranga agreement could lead to a sharp reduction in commercial ship visits to Auckland and enable Auckland importers and exporters to switch their business to a well governed and well managed port facility at Mount Manganui.

A merger between Ports of Auckland and Northport doesn’t make sense from a commercial or cost point of view.

• Brian Gaynor is an executive director of Milford Asset Management.

The Big Read: Roads v Rail – political parties at the crossroads on transport

The Big Read: Roads v Rail – political parties at the crossroads on transport – NZ Herald

The wheels are turning in voters’ minds as they consider which party offers the best deal on transport. Photo / Nick Reed

National has returned to a familiar theme with a $10 billion plan to build 10 major highways around the country, while Labour and the Greens have latched onto modern trams in Auckland and long distance trains between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga.

Also in the mix is NZ First, with a strong emphasis on upgrading heavy rail, including improved access to Northland and its port at Marsden Pt, trains to Auckland Airport and re-opening the Napier to Gisborne line.

The most visible battleground is Auckland, where congestion is choking the city at a cost of $2b a year and people are flocking to trains, buses and ferries to travel to work. Transport, and the crucial role it plays in housing and growth, is on everyone’s mind – and don’t politicians know it.

National’s record in office dealing with Auckland transport is mixed, from rubbishing the City Rail Link to embracing it, the crazy decision to upgrade the Northwestern Motorway without a busway and completing the $1.4b Waterview tunnel – a huge pre-election success story.

In fact, National is using figures showing the tunnel has halved travel times from the city to the airport to stick with cars and buses to the airport in the foreseeable future, while other parties argue over trains or modern trams along the route.

Trams running on light rail along Dominion Rd to the airport. Source / Auckland Transport

Jacinda Ardern’s first public appearance as Labour leader was to announce the party would spend $3b to build tram lines from the Auckland CBD to the airport and West Auckland within 10 years, and complete the first leg of the airport route to Mt Roskill by 2021.

This would be followed by light rail to the North Shore in the second decade.

The Greens have gone one step further and promised to build the full 21km tram route from the CBD to the airport by 2021. They are also promising light rail from the Wellington railway station to Newtown by 2025 and Kilbirnie and the airport by 2027, and a wholly electric bus fleet for the capital city.

Labour and the Greens would allow Auckland Council to introduce a regional petrol tax – possibly 10 cents a litre to raise $100m a year – to hop on board a more ambitious public transport programme for the city.

The two parties have adopted the tram policy from lobby group Greater Auckland, which has also persuaded them to adopt the first stage of its ‘Regional Rapid Rail’ policy for a $20m trial train service between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga.

If it’s a success, Labour and the Greens will invest in stages two and three of Rapid Regional Rail, delivering trains that can travel at 160km/h, new rail lines to Rotorua and Cambridge, and a tunnel through the Bombay Hills to reduce travel times from Auckland to Hamilton to 70 minutes.

Labour’s decision to adopt Greater Auckland’s agenda is blatant pitch into Green territory, but it doesn’t bother Greens transport spokeswoman Julie Anne Genter, who believes voters know who is more committed to implementing the policies, and will vote Green to be sure Labour follows through.

The Greens have also made a pitch for the youth and student vote by promising these groups free public transport costing $70m to $80m a year, which they say is less than 1km of new highways being built by National.

Not everyone is on board Greater Auckland’s agenda, and debate still rages within transport circles over trams versus trains to the airport.

NZ First’s plan is for a 7.5km rail line from Puhinui to provide a 30-minute journey by train from central Auckland to the airport terminal – part of its “Railways of National Importance” programme.

NZ First wants to reopen the Napier to Gisborne rail line.

NZ First wants to reopen the Napier to Gisborne rail line.

The party’s transport spokesman, Denis O’Rourke, says NZ First is not afraid to intervene and invest heavily in rail. The party has 13 immediate investment priorities, including upgrading rail in Northland to allow containers and cars to be moved from Northport to an inland port at Kumeu, and extending commuter rail to Kumeu and Huapai in West Auckland.

The Maori Party has proposed a new “IwiRail” network for freight, tourism and regional employment. The party believes the project has the capacity to add $1b into the regions and will be asking their potential coalition partner to invest $350m.

The plan involves connecting Gisborne to the East Coast Main Trunk Line in Kawerau and bringing back the mothballed Napier to Gisborne rail line to create 1250 jobs on the East Coast.

National’s focus is unashamedly on roads while recognising rail has a role to play. It is centred on extending its “Road of National Significance” – begun in 2009 and largely complete – into a new set of major roading projects.

Motorists would get a four-lane highway from Auckland to Whangarei, the $1.8b east-west link through Auckland’s industrial belt and other highway projects throughout the country.

National has also come up with a $2.6b election transport package for Auckland that includes building a new highway alongside the Southern Motorway costing $955m and $615m for the Ameti transport project in southeast Auckland.

The $1.8 billion east-west link through Auckland's industrial belt. Source / New Zealand Transport Agency

The $1.8 billion east-west link through Auckland’s industrial belt. Source / New Zealand Transport Agency

That’s not to say, National is all about roads and Labour and the Greens are all about public transport and long distance trains.

National has spent $1.7b electrifying rail in Auckland, it is paying half the cost of the $3.4b city rail link, committed $267m to rail over the next three years, a third rail track on the busy southern line between Westfield and Wiri, and $835m for a Northwestern Busway.

Labour has announced it will increase regional transport roading projects from $140m to $280m a year, and will proceed with the east-west link in Auckland, albeit a scaled back version of National’s $1.8b scheme.

One area all the main parties agree on is the need to improve cycling and walking in our cities, with National keen to build on a $333m urban cycleway programme and Labour promising to pay for the $30m SkyPath cycle and walkway over the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

Transport policies


A strong focus on roads by extending its “Roads of National Significance” to 10 new projects costing $10b, including a four-lane highway from Wellsford to Whangarei and the $1.8b east-west link through Auckland’s industrial belt.

A $2.6b package for Auckland, including a new highway from Manukau to Drury, $615m for the Ameti transport project in southeast Auckland and a $835m Northwestern busway.

National favours cars and buses to the airport in the foreseeable future.

A $267m rail package includes $130m to electrify rail from Papakura to Pukekohe and $37m for Wellington, including double tracking the Hutt Valley line between Upper Hutt and Trentham.

A target of one in three electric or electric hybrid cars in the Government’s fleet of 15,500 cars by 2021.


Adopted the policy of lobby group Greater Auckland for a congestion free network in Auckland.

The main focus is $3b to light rail for trams from the Auckland CBD to the airport and West Auckland within 10 years, and complete the first leg of the airport route to Mt Roskill by 2021.

This would be followed by light rail to the North Shore in the second decade.

Allow Auckland Council to introduce a regional petrol tax – possibly 10 cents a litre to raise $100m a year.

Adopted the Greater Auckland policy for Regional Rapid Rail, starting with a $20m trial train service between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga.

If successful, invest in stages two and three of Rapid Regional Rail with trains that can travel at 160km/h, new rail lines to Rotorua and Cambridge, and a tunnel through the Bombay Hills to reduce travel times from Auckland to Hamilton to 70 minutes.

Fund the $30m SkyPath cycle and walking path over the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

Auckland is the main battleground for transport at this election. Photo / Peter Meecham

Auckland is the main battleground for transport at this election. Photo / Peter Meecham

Green Party

Free public transport for students and anyone under the age of 19.

Like Labour, adopt the policy of lobby group Greater Auckland for a congestion free network in Auckland, but put it on a faster track.

Build light rail for trams from the Auckland CBD to the airport by 2021, and light rail from Wellington railway station to the airport by 2027.

Light rail towards Helensville and dedicated rapid busways to Howick and Botany.

A new track on the southern line to speed up commuter and freight trains.

Adopt the Greater Auckland policy for Regional Rapid Rail, starting with a $20m trial train service between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga.

If successful, invest in stages two and three of Rapid Regional Rail with trains that can travel at 160km/h, new rail lines to Rotorua and Cambridge, and a tunnel through the Bombay Hills to reduce travel times from Auckland to Hamilton to 70 minutes.

Allow Auckland Council to introduce a regional petrol tax – possibly 10 cents a litre to raise $100m a year.

NZ First

Emphasis on rail on “Railways of National Importance” and potential for modern tram routes in Auckland over the long term.

Wants to upgrade Northland rail, including a line from Oakleigh to Northport; reopening the Napier to Gisborne rail line and progressive electrification of the main trunk line for improved freight and passenger trains with extensions to Dunedin and Tauranga.

Build a commuter rail link between Swanson, Kumeu and Huapai; heavy rail to Auckland Airport.

Toll state highways in Auckland. Opposed to a regional petrol tax.

Investigate Northport taking some of Ports of Auckland business at Marsden Pt from an upgraded freight rail link to an inland port at Kumeu.

Maori Party

A new “IwiRail” network for freight, tourism and regional employment with the capacity to add $1b into the regions. Ask a potential coalition partner to invest $350m.

Connect Gisborne to the East Coast Main Trunk Line in Kawerau and bring back the mothballed Napier to Gisborne rail line to create 1250 jobs on the East Coast.

IwiRail would receive $100m a year for regional line upgrades and maintenance.

Act Party

Increase the use of funding options to better reflect the principle of users pay, such as tolls on new and existing roads, congestion charges, peak time charges and preferential lanes.

Revenue from tolls should be offset by cuts in petrol taxes.

Technology and entrepreneurship should be encouraged in transport, including ride-sharing, car-sharing, congestion charging and high occupancy toll lanes.

Encourage private sector investments in roads. Review regulation to ensure the viability of autonomous vehicles.

Opportunities Party

Transport is very simple, says deputy leader Jeff Simmons, “politicians should get their grubby hands off it” and leave it to New Zealand Transport Agency to decide on a cost-benefit basis taking into account carbon emissions and accidents.

New round of RONS will help NZ catch up

Press Release – Road Transport Forum

Road Transport Forum Chief Executive Ken Shirley has welcomed the National Partys announcement of a new round of roads of national significance.21 August 2017

New round of RONS will help NZ catch up
Road Transport Forum Chief Executive Ken Shirley has welcomed the National Party’s announcement of a new round of roads of national significance.

“The fact is that New Zealand still faces a major transport infrastructure deficit,” says Shirley. “These new RONS will go a long way to helping us catch up, while improving resilience and safety.”

“Of course, there will also be the usual detractors to these projects, but it is worth reflecting on the success of the first round of RONS and the positive impact they are already having on communities and the economy.”

“I am glad that both major parties have now made formal commitments to finding an enduring solution to the Manawatu Gorge, it is a vital freight route that links the eastern and western sides of the lower North Island.”

“The East West Link is a similarly critical project to freeing up freight movements around Auckland, says Shirley. “But currently there is a lot of uncertainty with it before in the Environment Court. It is encouraging that the political commitment is there to see it through however.”

“The Katikati to Tauranga project is absolutely necessary from a safety point of view, just recently that road was identified as one of the most dangerous in New Zealand. If we are serious about getting the road toll down we must address such routes.”

“Finally, the extension into Northland with the Wellsford to Whangarei route is a natural progression to further realise the potential of the Northland economy and improve its connectivity to Auckland.”

“The road transport industry looks forward to the certainty of other political parties committing to these projects also, they are far too important to be treated as political footballs,” says Shirley.

RTF is joining with a number of other transport organisations including the AA, the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, New Zealand Shipping Federation and Bus and Coach Association to host the Election 2017 Transport Summit at Te Papa tomorrow. This is a great chance to hear directly from the political parties on their transport policies and quiz them on issues important to the broader transport sector. Information and tickets are available at www.transportsummit.org.nz.

Ten new roads of ‘national significance’ announced by National, costing $10.5 billion

Ten new roads for the country, costing an estimated $10.5 billion, have been announced today by the National Party.

‘These are vital for the country’ – Bill English says new roads will help grow economy

Prime Minister Bill English announced the new major routes during a visit to Hawke’s Bay.

The new roading projects have been labelled the ‘next generation of Roads of National Significance’, adding to seven previous roads created in the project.

National Party Transport Spokesperson Simon Bridges said, “The time has come for the next generation of nation-building projects so today we are announcing that 10 of the country’s most important routes will form the next generation of Roads of National Significance”.

New Zealand Transport Minister Simon Bridges at a New Zealand Transport Agency event in Auckland.
New Zealand Transport Minister Simon Bridges at a New Zealand Transport Agency event in Auckland.


The new roads would be: 

·         Wellsford to Whangarei

·         East West Link in Auckland

·         Cambridge to Tirau

·         Piarere to the foot of the Kaimai Range

·         Tauranga to Katikati

·         Napier to Hastings

·         Manawatu Gorge

·         Levin to Sanson

·         Christchurch Northern Motorway

·         Christchurch to Ashburton 

“The new roads are expected to cost around $10.5 billion, on top of the estimated $12 billion invested in the initial seven,” Mr Bridges said.

“The chosen projects are our highest volume roads and they are a sensible and logical extension of the original seven projects. Together they will help provide a strong safe highway network that links our regions effectively with our major cities.”

“Like the first tranche, they will be funded from the National Land Transport Fund and the use of Public-Private Partnerships,” Mr Bridges said.

“The initial funding will come from our record infrastructure investment of $32.5 billion announced in Budget 2017.”

Car system stuffs up transport system

Up to 65 young, quality truck driving graduates come off the production line in Tauranga each year but far too few to satisfy the needs of the road freight transport industry.

“We are just meeting our area needs,” says Dean Colville of Toi Ohomai Institute’s specialist road transport training centre in Mount Maunganui.

But then, on reflection, “in fact, not even that. Because there’s a shortage of thousands”.

It’s a national problem and an historic one.

For example, the amount of freight carried on our roads has increased 60 per cent since 2000 but the number of people with class 5 licences, the big rig drivers, has increased by only 10 per cent.

“The road freight transport industry regularly contacts Toi Ohomai wanting our students but we just don’t have enough of them. And there aren’t too many students left over at the end of the 16-week course who haven’t got a job to go to straight away.”

When the students are out on work experience they get snaffled up.

“If they do half a good job they’re generally picked up or referred on to someone who needs a driver.”

That’s because it’s an ageing industry. Since 2013 road freight transport has lost 3000 drivers to retirement, illness or injury. The problem just worsens as drivers get older.

A survey three years ago found 85 per cent of 150 transport companies nationwide were short of drivers and there’s no reason to believe this has improved.

“The problem, in a nutshell, is the graduated driver licensing system,” says Dean. “The car system has stuffed up the transport system.”

A full car licence is a pre-requisite to enrol for the New Zealand Certificate in Road Transport Level 3 at Toi Ohomai.

“So they are 18 to 18 and a half years old and then there’s a six-month stand-down before they’re eligible for the 16-week course,” says Dean.

“And 6000 kids leave high school each year and the industry sees none of them because they don’t have a full licence.”

They don’t qualify to learn to be truck drivers, so the disenchanted would-be truck drivers go elsewhere to work.

Dean says the system means most new drivers are coming into system in their mid to late 20s. “Great having that maturity but we are losing most people in the 18 to 25 year range when they could be really beneficial to the industry, providing manpower that we lose year on year.”

However the pull to be part of the road transport industry is hard to shake. “And they come back eventually,” says Dean. “But most of our students are over 25 and they feel they’ve wasted several years getting into the industry they wanted to be in in the first place.”

There are a lot of initiatives aimed at resolving the problem.

Like the initiative driven by the government-led Sector Workforce Engagement Programme which aims to improve employers’ chances of getting reliable and appropriately skilled staff at the right time and place.

It’s talking with the industry and tertiary providers about the recruitment issues and how to resolve them. It’s a push that hasn’t happened in the road transport industry before.

“People are talking, people are working together and being smarter,” says Dean. But will it work?

“Truth be told, no. We are always going to have the problem of the driver licensing system. And until they change that and allow us to get younger drivers through quicker, nothing will change.”

There are other issues. “The hours and wages also mean difficulties around attracting young people to an industry that is not looked upon favourable as a career path,” says Jon Reid, national transport sales manager for freight operator GBC Winstone.

But it’s also an industry that has its attractions for young people. Ask Dean Colville.

“A lot of it’s to do with lifestyle, being your own boss, travelling the country, the romantic notion of trucks,” says Dean. ”People just want to drive trucks, they have grown up watching trucks and want to be part of it.” And, he says, there are hundreds of different trucks jobs.

”You can do 20 hours a week or 70 hours a week; you can do night shift or early mornings; there are smaller trucks around town, the bigger trucks that operate regionally and then you have the bigger truck and trailer units running up and down the country.”

And because there is such a shortage of drivers they can almost pick and choose what they want to do and where. Dean has a different take on the money.

“It’s $18 to $20 an hour for someone with not much experience, then up to $25 to $30.But if you are driving a milk or fuel tanker it could be up to $38 an hour. So work long and hard and potentially it’s a good lifestyle and a very good earner.”

And there’s lots of work to do. Thirty-two per cent of the country’s freight is carted on roads in the Bay of Plenty and Waikato. Now SWEP and the industry is focused on drawing 1000 new drivers into the road freight transport industry to help move that product and fix a problem that just won’t go away.

Intelligent transport: More talk, no action?

Transport Minister Simon Bridges has announced plans for a study into how New Zealand’s economy can benefit from intelligent transport systems, without making any mention of the Government’s existing intelligent transport plan.

On 18 June 2014 the Ministry of Transport released its Intelligent Transport Systems Technology Action Plan 2014-2018. It listed close to 50 specific actions that the Government was supposed to have undertaken by the end of 2015.

The plan’s web page says: “There are a number of key areas where the Government has an essential role to play in advancing the adoption of ITS technologies. These include: strategic leadership, direction setting and collaboration; providing a supportive regulatory environment; funding and procuring infrastructure or services; using the information and opportunities provided by ITS.”

It gives no indication of what the government has done to fulfil this “essential role”.

The Ministry of Transport has partnered with BusinessNZ to commission the new study. It will be overseen by an advisory group chaired by Dr David Prentice, chief executive of the New Zealand arm of Opus, a NZX-listed global infrastructure development and management consultancy headquartered in New Zealand. He is also chairman of the New Zealand Business Infrastructure Committee.

The group also includes the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and a range of other players from the public and private sectors.

Bridges said it was critical that the Government engaged with the private sector, which is developing much of the technology.

“The study is expected to be completed by the end of 2017, and will make recommendations for how we can develop and grow ITS market opportunities where we have a competitive advantage, and identify areas to be strengthened,” Bridges said.

“There are companies in New Zealand already working in the growing ITS market, as well as companies who could do so. A number of international companies have also expressed interest in developing their ITS technologies in New Zealand.

“Leveraging off these advantages to support businesses, and attracting international companies to come and develop their technology here, will have significant benefits for transport in New Zealand, and the broader economy,” he said.

Manawatu Gorge closure puts transport businesses in a pothole

Road works on Woodlands Rd, between Saddle Rd and Woodville.

Saddle Rd needs constant maintenance to cope with heavy traffic.

Trucking companies are counting the cost of the indefinite closure of the Manawatu Gorge route.

The road has been closed since April 24 when a large slip covered both lanes of State Highway 3, between Palmerston North and Woodsville.

Palmerston North trucking company, Winiata Distribution owner Nigel Winiata said the alternative Saddle Road route added 15 to 20 minutes each way to his trips to and from Hawke’s Bay.

Winiata has a fleet of four trucks that deliver groceries for Foodstuffs around the lower North Island.

Foodstuffs owns the Pak ‘n Save and New World supermarket chains.

He said for a business with small profit margins, the road closure took its toll on his bottom line.

He had not sat down to calculate the costs of the extra petrol, tyre replacements, and other wear and tear since April but said he would hate to look at it.

“You can’t wear that sort of thing because the margins are just so fine. It’s a very cutthroat industry.”​

Winiata said the Saddle Road and the Pahiatua Track had “taken a hell of a hammering” with the increased traffic.

A month ago two trucking accidents on each of the alternative routes halted traffic for an entire morning on the Saddle Rd and caused congestion on the Pahiatua track.

New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) has spent $8.5 million dollars upgrading Saddle Rd from a “goat track”, but Winiata the road is rapidly degrading.

“We’ve got pothole after pothole, it’s just getting chewed right up.”

“Definitely an alternative route up to highway-standard would be good.”

NZTA regional transport system manager Ross l’Anson said more work on the road was planned.

“The reality is that the Saddle Rd will effectively be functioning as the state highway connection for this part of the country for some time.”

About 5500 vehicles a day on Saddle Rd in June according to Tararua District Council figures.

The NZTA took over the maintenance and management of Saddle Rd on Friday from the Tararua District Council.
Council chief executive Blair King said it still in negotiations with the NZTA over maintenance of the Pahiatua Track, where an incident could back-up traffic for four or five hours.

King said about 75 per cent of traffic that once used the Manawatu Gorge was now using Saddle Rd twhile the other 25 per cent used the Pahiatua Track.

Upgrades on Saddle Rd have focused on making the road less winding for trucks, but King said this also made the road steeper.

King said when Fonterra milk trucks start using the Pahiatua Track in about two weeks, the roads would deteriorate even faster.

Road Transport Forum chief executive Ken Shirley is urging NZTA and the Government to “bite the bullet” now to commit to an enduring solution for the Manawatu Gorge.

“It is vital that we find a solution that can be relied on and will not require the almost constant remedial work the gorge has required in recent times.”

Shirley said if money was no object a tunnel would be the most logical option.

ANZ chief economist Cameron Bagrie said the gorge closure would have a regional economic impact, but not a national one.

“That Gorge hasn’t been operational for a little while already so by and large business is still going on, it’s just that the easiest route is out.”

Bagrie said an expensive “gold-plated solution” might not be the best idea.

“There are endless possibilities, but of course there is not a bottomless pot of money.”

– Stuff

Horror story

For anyone interested in seeing what a nightmare it was for road transport operators in the pre-deregulation environment in New Zealand, check out some of the Transport Licencing Appeal Authority cases from our dark and distant past – and give thanks we have an open and deregulated industry now.

Millennials and anyone else too young to remember this crap will be amazed.  And old farts like me can reminisce and have a laugh at some of the cases.



New $1.8bn road for Auckland is not a ‘motorway’

A view of new east-west link road (in relation to Onehunga Harbour Road). Image / NZTA

One of the biggest roading projects in Auckland – costing up to $1.85 billion – is not a motorway, but an arterial road, a board of inquiry heard this morning.

Public hearings have started into the east-west link, a four-lane road connecting State Highway 1 at Sylvia Park to State Highway 20 at Onehunga, which is costed at between $1.25b and $1.85b.

In an opening statement for the New Zealand Transport Agency, Patrick Mulligan said the project presented once-in-a-lifetime benefits to the environment and community.

The transport improvements were important, Mulligan said, but it would also transform the landscape and urban design, including community aspirations for Onehunga Wharf.

“Evertyone said we are building a motorway and that’s not the case. It’s an arterial road.

“It is more than just a connection. It is also what is on the side of the road that makes people pause and feel like there is some interaction between them and the traffic on the road,” Muilligan said.

The board of inquiry, chaired by retired High Court Judge Dr John Priestley, is set to run until August 25.

The board will release a draft decision on October 9. Following comments from submitters on minor or technical matters, the board is due to make a final decision on November 22.

Construction is expected to begin late next year and be completed by 2025.