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21st August 2018

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Southern flavour for 2018 road transport conference

This year’s Road Transport Forum Conference, which is now only two months away, will celebrate the important role of the road transport industry in the Otago and Southland regions, says RTF Chief Executive Ken Shirley.

The Conference, which is to be held on 26 and 27 September at the fantastic Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin features a range of influential and inspiring speakers to inform and entertain delegates.

“We are grateful that Transport Minister Phil Twyford has committed to returning after speaking at our 2017 conference and we look forward to learning more about the Government’s new transport plans that will have such a major impact on our industry,” says Shirley.

“Other speakers include highly regarded economic commentator Cameron Bagrie, who will provide an analysis on the state of the New Zealand economy; Chairman of HW Richardson Group, Rex Williams, who will share his experiences of being involved in the iconic Southland transport company and Graeme Gale from Helicopters Otago, owner of one of the largest commercial helicopter operations in New Zealand.”

“Specific industry issues such as driver fatigue and impairment, and training and qualifications will also be discussed by panels involving subject experts and road transport operators.”

Well-known Dunedin entertainer Doug Kamo will MC the Conference while Otago sports icon and legendary rugby commentator Paul Allison will entertain delegates with stories from his days both on and off the sports field. There will also be trade and vehicle displays supplied by sponsors and supporters of the industry.

The prestigious New Zealand Road Transport Industry Awards Dinner will be held on the evening of the 26th September in the Dunedin Town Hall and will be a celebration of some of the outstanding achievers in road transport as well as a great night of local entertainment.

The 2018 New Zealand Truck Driving Championships Final, traditionally held alongside the Conference, will this year start a day early and take place on the ‘East Slab’ of the stadium, which should make for a tight and technical course in a spectacular setting.

The Conference website, including an online registration facility, accommodation options, sponsorship packages, transport and a partner’s programme is available at www.rtfconference.co.nz.

The Road Transport Forum represents the interests of the road transport industry and our member associations – National Road Carriers, Road Transport Association NZ and the NZ Trucking Association.

Woodville gets preview of new Manawatū Gorge route

NZ Transport Agency traffic consultant Jo Healy discusses the map with Woodville residents Fiona Nesbit and Glenn McDean.

NZ Transport Agency traffic consultant Jo Healy discusses the map with Woodville residents Fiona Nesbit and Glenn McDean.

Residents of a town hit in the pocket by the closure of the Manawatū Gorge have given the proposed replacement route two thumbs up.

New Zealand Transport Agency is running information sessions in Tararua and Manawatū about progress on the Manawatū Gorge replacement route.

State Highway 3 through the gorge has been closed since April 2017 due to large landslips falling on the road.

The agency announced in March its preferred replacement, which would run between the gorge and the current de facto highway, the Saddle Rd, and should be built by 2024.

Agency highway manager Ross I’Anson​ said the initial corridor given in March was about 500 metres wide.

Samples of earth were taken along the corridor in May, giving the agency a better idea of where the road could go.

That helped the agency come up with the design shown off at the information sessions, although it may move slightly, I’Anson said.

“We are pretty confident it’s able to be built there.”

The agency had a map of the proposed route on display in Woodville on Wednesday night, as well as a digitally produced flyover video of the route.

Betty and Athol Sowry, from Valley Rd, Woodville, with the timeline information brochure from the meeting.

Betty and Athol Sowry, from Valley Rd, Woodville, with the timeline information brochure from the meeting.

The video was only an indication of the route, but the map contained much more detail.

The route would use the existing bridge across the Manawatū River east of Ashhurst, before curving north and across the river via a newly built bridge and curving back to the east.

Various small side roads attached to the route would give access to wind farms, with at least one possibly requiring an underpass beneath the new route.

However, some wind farm access roads, such as one off the Saddle Rd, would have to be closed instead of linking to the new route.

The route would the head south down the Tararua side of the ranges, before joining the route that used to take Manawatū Gorge traffic into Woodville.

Almost the entire route would have two lanes in each direction.

Meeting attendees view an animated fly-over video of the proposed route.

Meeting attendees view an animated fly-over video of the proposed route.

People who attended the information session in Woodville on Wednesday night were happy with the route.

John Gooding​ said he was more than happy with the proposal, as it would have long-term benefits for real estate and business.

“It seems like a pretty good quality route.”

Steve and Fiona Nesbit moved their business, Powerhouse Tattoos, from Palmerston North to Woodville after the gorge closed.

Fiona Nesbit said the proposed route was “amazing”.

Woodville residents Ian Cumming and Marty Lean discuss the new road map with NZ Transport Agency traffic consultant Jo Healy.

Woodville residents Ian Cumming and Marty Lean discuss the new road map with NZ Transport Agency traffic consultant Jo Healy.

“I didn’t expect it to be this tidy. It covers all the bases.”

Steve Nesbit said he was most impressed with how straight the proposed route was once it got onto the range.

“It’s just like a highway.

“Having it so straight, compared to the Saddle Rd, is a major. It’s a direct link [between Woodville and Palmerston North].”

The next information sessions will be at Palmerston North’s Convention Centre on Thurdsay, Dannevirke Sports Centre on Tuesday, and the Pahīatua Town Hall on Wednesday, all running from 4pm until 8pm.

Sessions have already been held in Ashhurst about proposed changes to the town’s traffic layout.

For more information on the sessions, and maps of the Ashhurst changes and Manawatū Gorge replacement route, see nzta.govt.nz/projects/sh3-manawatu-gorge.

State Highway 3 through the Manawatū Gorge has been closed since slips fell on the road in 2017.

State Highway 3 through the Manawatū Gorge has been closed since slips fell on the road in 2017.

Truck towing connections: Auto-brakes fail on loose trailer

An investigation into truck safety problems has revealed the auto-brakes failed on a fully-loaded trailer that came loose on a highway.

The Transport Agency (NZTA) investigation is also looking into whether heavy vehicle certifers have been signing off towing connections by looking at photos instead of checking them in-person.

The auto-brakes, designed to immediately stop any trailer that comes loose, failed on a 48-tonne truck-trailer that snapped off, careened across State Highway 6 and into a bank last August. No one was hurt, but the incident helped prompt a safety alert this year.

NZTA has blamed the failure on “poor maintenance standards” on the unit.

NZTA cut its heavy vehicle compliance team of a dozen in half in 2014, even as more and more bigger, 50-tonne, 700-horsepower trucks were being allowed on the road – now it is adding five auditors and engineers.

It started bringing in other changes last year, aimed at doing targeted checks based on “intelligence”, in place of a broad-brush approach to auditing certifiers.

NZTA is also introducing extra inspections of semi-trailers, plus rules for getting trucks modified so corrosion can be spotted more easily.

A safety sweep in Nelson has led to 500 heavy vehicles being re-certified, with another 400 needing even more work, such as repairs or replacement towing parts, despite being on the road up until recently. Another 500 vehicles still need to be inspected.

In a second lot of safety inspections of 1000 refrigerated semi-trailers nationwide, big reputable operators found problems: Hall’s in Auckland had to repair or replace 12 towing connections mostly due to cracks after checks on 150 trucks.

Hall’s raised semi-trailer design and safety concerns with the agency in March 2017.

‘Ticking time-bomb’

NZTA has confirmed its investigation is also looking into whether certifiers had been signing off truck-trailers by ‘remote’, that is, doing a design, sending it to a workshop, then okaying it on the basis of photos only.

Sources told RNZ this has been happening.

But NZTA said it couldn’t provide any further details while the investigation was underway, “as any such evidence could be used to support decisions to suspend or revoke the certification authority of the individuals under investigation”.

NZTA has also refused or delayed six Official Information Act requests from RNZ, saying it’s because investigations are ongoing.

Industry insiders won’t talk publicly for fear of jeopardising contracts or becoming a target of the agency or trucking industry. But those who have talked to RNZ on the basis of anonymity include certifiers, truck operators and other engineers.

“This sort of thing has been a time-bomb ticking away for the last few years and I think that the problem is even worse than reported,” one said.

“A lot of engineers in the heavy vehicle side, they are out of their depth really,” another said.

Two certifiers estimate 5 to 10 per cent of the 80-strong workforce of heavy vehicle certifiers were either deliberately cutting corners to capture business, out of their depth or under such pressure from overwork they were prone to mistakes.

One insider said: “I could name four or five other certifiers which I’d be very surprised the Transport Agency is not looking at.”

It had taken too long to get to this point, an industry veteran said, adding “NZTA’s auditing of certifiers is a joke”.

“Like all modern-day audits, if the paper trail is correct then the job must have been done well. The physical aspect of the certification process only rates as of minor importance.”

Two other sources raised the problem of heavier truck designs relying on lighter-grade, higher-tensile steel that is much harder to weld, and that while the welders were qualified, the welding process was not being inspected as it should be.

Other issues included questions about braking standards.

“The brake rule … was introduced in 1991 and it contained errors. Those errors exist today despite industry groups trying to get them rectified,” an ex-certifier said.

An agency proposal to allow the maximum tyre pressure for some trucks to rise from 825 to 900 KPA was also a problem. The agency said this was for safety and fuel efficiency; however, it puts more stress on the trailer and the road.

Road transport conference in September

Dunedin is to host the Road Transport Forum's (RTF) annual conference in Dunedin in September. Photo: Yvonne O'Hara
Dunedin is to host the Road Transport Forum’s (RTF) annual conference in Dunedin in September. Photo: Yvonne O’Hara

Labour shortages, driver training and qualifications, and fatigue and impairment in the road transport sector will be some of the key issues to be discussed during the Road Transport Forum’s (RTF) annual conference in Dunedin in September.

RTF communications manager Hayden Cox said one of the big issues was the need to provide training and qualifications to workers in the industry.

He said it was important that operators were encouraged to provide training opportunities for their staff, in addition to gaining their relevant licences.

”It was something the forum needed to promote within the industry – that qualifications matter,” Mr Cox said.

He said driver fatigue and impairment from drugs, alcohol and prescription drugs was also a problem for transport industries around the world, not just in New Zealand.

Business New Zealand’s Paul Mackay will be talking about changes in employment rules.

”They will have a big effect on all transport operations,” Mr Cox said.

Steve Driver, of the Sector Workforce Engagement Programme (SWEP) will talk about addressing the transport sector driver shortage and raising the industry’s profile.

In addition there will be four sector meetings, including those for the livestock and forestry transport sectors.

Mr Cox said there were problems affecting livestock transport, including Mycoplasma bovis in relation to stock movements.

He said stock effluent containment during transport was another issue for the livestock transport sector.

Livestock transport operators were getting ‘pinged’ when the effluent tanks got full.

”Farmers are meant to stand their stock before transport, but many are not.

”Councils are meant to provide effluent disposal sites but many are not, and transport operators carry the can.

”It doesn’t take a lot of stock to fill up effluent tanks in trucks,” he said.

The conference will be at the Forsyth Barr Stadium from September 26 to 27.

In addition to a formal dinner and industry awards, the final of the 2018 New Zealand Truck Driving Championships will be held as part of the conference.

Traffic chaos on Auckland’s motorways causing commuter headaches

A truck has broken down on the Southern Motorway. Photo / NZTA Twitter
Photo / NZTA Twitter – Truck branding obscured by “unknown”

Crashes and a breakdown on Auckland’s motorways have caused headaches for commuters heading into the city this morning.

One crash on the Southern Motorway after the Te Irirangi on-ramp temporarily closed two lanes while a vehicle was recovered and debris cleared from the area.

The New Zealand Transport Agency says the crash occurred around 8.20am and that congestion through to Manukau was now easing quickly.

Meanwhile, a truck breakdown that partially blocked the citybound on-ramp to the Southern Motorway at Takanini has been cleared.

NZTA says that the truck has been towed from the area and asks that motorists allow for extra time for travel from Papakura to Takanini.

A crash on the Northwestern Motorway is blocking the left lane from Newton Rd heading towards the Port but is not currently causing delays.

Earlier today a crash on the Northwestern Motorway after Western Springs has resulted in congested traffic through the area.

Safety shares top spot in new transport priorities

A vastly increased commitment to road safety, public transport and competitive freight efficiency were promised by the Government yesterday when it released the Government Policy Statement (GPS) on Transport.

To achieve all three goals, there will be a renewed focus on both Auckland and the regions.

Meanwhile, there were queues at some petrol stations around the city as drivers looked to beat impending price rises.

Those price rises will come from new taxes announced by both the Government and the Auckland Council.

Yesterday morning the council adopted its 10-year budget, which includes a regional fuel tax of 10 cents per litre (11.5 cents with GST). It will come into force on Sunday.

In the afternoon the Government’s GPS announcement included a nationwide rise in the excise levy, or fuel tax, of 3.5 cents per litre (4.025 cents with GST) for each of the next three years. The first rise will be imposed on October 1.

From that date, the average Auckland household will pay $3.80 more per week for petrol.

Those with the lowest 30 per cent of incomes will pay an average $2.26 more per week. Households with the highest 30 per cent of incomes will pay more than twice that: an average $4.79 more per week.

Both the Government and the council say the extra taxes will allow them to undertake what Finance Minister Grant Robertson has called “New Zealand’s largest ever 10-year plan for transport investment”.

Standing in the giant KiwiRail freight yards at Onehunga today, Robertson promised “a long-term pipeline of transport projects that are fully funded”.

“The GPS prioritises linking production with distribution,” he said, “and that means a focus on freight.”

Transport minister Phil Twyford said that “for the first time” rail would be fully considered alongside roads when the Land Transport Fund was allocated by the NZ Transport Agency. “They will consider the merits of road and rail on a case by case basis and allocate the funds to whichever will do the job best.”

The Government would also “lift the standard of roads right across the country”, he said, adding that “the vast majority of serious crashes are on local roads”.

Associate transport minister Julie Anne Genter spelled out some of the detail of the increased commitment to road safety. She said $2 billion more would be spent on state highways with a focus on safety, and $800 million on local roads, also with a safety focus.

More median barriers and roadside barriers will be introduced for open roads, and some stretches may have lower speed limits too. There will be more roundabouts and other measures to make roads safer in built-up areas.

The Government has also made a 99 per cent boost to funds for promoting road safety and the use of public transport, cycling and walking.

Government spending on transport will rise from $3.6 billion in 2017/18 to $4 billion in 2018/19. By 2027/28 it will be $4.7 billion.

The way funds are allocated to local regions will change. Currently, the Government tends to match the funds of local councils, dollar for dollar.

“We pay 50:50 now,” said Twyford. “That will rise in many cases to government paying 75 or even 80 per cent.”

For example, funding for high priority projects around Tauranga will rise to 75 per cent, and in Gisborne it will be 84 per cent. That takes pressure off ratepayers and gives councils significantly more bang for every buck they commit themselves.

The Government Policy Statement (GPS) contains four “strategic priorities”: safety, value for money, access and the environment. It sets out spending priorities for the whole country and complements the Auckland Transport Alignment Plan agreed between the Government and the Auckland Council.

Changes to transport spending

• $4 billion over 10 years to “establish rapid transit investment”.
• 116 per cent increase in funding for walking and cycling infrastructure.
• 99 per cent increase on road safety promotions, alcohol interlocks and promotion of cycling and walking.
• 96 per cent increase in regional transport projects that improve safety, resilience and access.
• 68 per cent increase for public transport, to be spent on operational subsidies and new projects.
• 42 per cent increase on local road improvements.
• 11 per cent less on state highway improvements.

Transport GPS welcome but New Zealand falling further behind

“The Government’s Policy Statement on Transport confirms record investment over the next decade, but with capital investment levels half what they are in Australia, ongoing congestion, housing unaffordability and constrained economic growth will continue,” says Stephen Selwood CEO of Infrastructure New Zealand.

“The final GPS for Transport released today locks in record transport spending of $4 billion moving to $4.7 billion per annum over the next decade, supported by new fuel levies.

“The funding certainty this provides to the New Zealand Transport Agency, councils and transport industry is welcome and it’s clear that the Government is doing as much as it feasibly can with existing transport tools.

“But it’s not enough. In fact, it’s well short.

“New South Wales has announced a A$14.7 billion transport capital programme for the 2018/19 financial year.

“By comparison, just $2 billion – $3 billion of GPS spending this year will be focused on improving transport networks.

“Even after top-ups from the consolidated account to pay for Auckland’s City Rail Link and council expenditure, New Zealand’s investment in transport improvements will be half what the New South Wales government alone is doing on a per capita basis.

“This is why New Zealand’s cities are among the most congested for their size in the developed world and it is why we can’t unlock enough land to house our population.

“It is also why nothing is going to change, in spite of record investment, until we change the way we plan, fund and deliver transport.

“Asking road users to cover the cost of projects increasingly oriented towards urban development separates those funding improvements from those who will benefit – landowners.

“Constraining investment to levels road users are prepared to tolerate holds back the economy and urban development.

“We need to double investment if we are serious about tackling congestion, improving safety and delivering homes.

“Projects with strong benefit-cost ratios and significant strategic benefits need to be accelerated.

“Major transport projects need to be debt financed. It is not realistic to fund a long-term investment programme by an annual allocation from road user charges.

“Debt should be repaid by beneficiaries – road users, property owners and the Government via GST, income and corporate taxes which grow with the economy.

“A shift to road pricing would not only provide the mechanism to fund needed investment, it would also manage congestion much more effectively.

“Record transport investment is a step in the right direction, but New Zealand remains a giant leap behind our competitors.

“If we want to change our transport performance, we need to change our outdated and restrictive transport funding system,” Selwood says.

Transport industry determined to tackle road safety with technology

A report released in June by GPS tracking provider Teletrac Navman shows that members of the road transport industry are taking driver safety very seriously – and there is a thirst for developing driver safety technologies over other emerging business technologies.


Transport professionals are responding seriously to the concerning leap in New Zealand’s road toll. The 2018 New Zealand Telematics Benchmark Report conducted by Teletrac Navman, a global leader in GPS tracking technology and services, has found that safety technology is taking investment priority over other emerging technologies, as companies look to improve driver safety through alerting and fatigue-monitoring technology.

As of the end of May 2018, the road toll in New Zealand reached 164 deaths, an increase of 10 deaths from the same time period last year. The Telematics Benchmark Report found that even though truck drivers have primary responsibility for only about a third (32%) of the fatal crashes in which they are involved, the transport industry is taking action.

The rise of fatal road crashes is a strong incentive for transport companies to develop more safety measures, particularly as some drivers are so fearful of crashes that they are leaving the industry.

The Telematics Benchmark Report represents the responses of 250 New Zealand fleet operations and fleet management professionals in the transport, construction, manufacturing, retail, government and professional services industries. It was conducted as part of a global survey of 2400 fleet operations and fleet management professionals.

Key safety findings for New Zealand include:

  • • The top two emerging technologies that organisations are considering for implementation in 2018 are driver warning and alerting technology (26%) and fatigue monitoring (18%)
  • • Driver warning and alerting technology (at 36%) is the top choice of emerging technology that organisations expect to have the greatest impact on business operations in the future; it is followed closely by fatigue monitoring (18%), big data analytics (17%) and artificial intelligence (16%)
  • • One in five respondents (21%) cite improving driver safety as a top business goal
  • • Around one-third of respondents (34%) reported fewer accidents as a result of using telematics – an increase of 11% from 2017
  • • Speed prevention is the top safety benefit realised by using telematics, cited by nearly half of respondents (46%), followed by monitoring and benchmarking driver behaviour (29%) and monitoring hours to prevent driver fatigue (24%).

“The report indicates that Kiwi organisations are placing an even larger focus on driver safety going into the future,” says Ian Daniel, vice president and managing director, Asia Pacific. “Technology is driving change in the fleet management area, from driver safety technology and cameras to EVs and autonomous vehicles. Pair technology innovations with changes in laws and regulations and you will find that fleet managers are increasingly tasked with guiding major business decisions.”

Second tow bar engineer suspended by NZTA, spotlight on another

A truck towbar that required re-certification.


A truck towbar that required re-certification.

The New Zealand Transport Agency is investigating its heavy vehicle certifiers after suspending two of them over safety concerns.

Suspension of Dick Joyce based in Lower Hutt follows the suspension last year of Peter Wastney after truck tow bars were found to be deficient.

​The agency is also investigating one other heavy vehicle certifier, in response to a recent complaint.

The split tow bar connection of a truck and trailer unit.


The split tow bar connection of a truck and trailer unit.

This Auckland-based certifier has not been suspended, pending the outcome of the investigation, which NZTA said was unrelated to the investigation of Joyce.


Joyce has the right to appeal his suspension to the District Court. He has carried out certification work for the Transport Agency for several years including to peer review work on a 2012 research paper on freight transport efficiency.

Some trucks have been unable to tow trailers until the drawbars are re-certified.


Some trucks have been unable to tow trailers until the drawbars are re-certified.

“Joyce was suspended following safety concerns identified during the Transport Agency’s regular auditing process,” a spokesman said.

“In the area of specialist heavy vehicle certification, we rely on the support of a network of qualified professionals to carry out the services which they are appointed to provide to a high standard.

“It is extremely disappointing when a person appointed to carry out these specialised services fails to perform their duties to the high standards required.

“We will be strengthening our capability in this area as an urgent priority. We are currently recruiting for three additional auditors and two additional heavy vehicle engineers, and we will also be working to build engineering capability in the sector.

“Once the decision to suspend Joyce was taken, the Transport Agency immediately commenced a process to examine other certifications carried out by him to determine whether there were any further safety issues in addition to those identified through the audits that gave rise to the suspension.

“Any additional safety issues identified will be addressed, and also taken into account by the Transport Agency in considering whether to take action to revoke Joyce’s authority permanently.”

The Transport Agency was also auditing other certifiers, as part of its safety auditing regime, “and we will continue to take enforcement action wherever it is warranted in order to ensure public safety”, the spokesman said.

Meanwhile, Road Transport Forum chief executive Ken Shirley said while he believed there was too much unnecessary regulation in general, the area of certification appeared to have been under resourced.

Fortunately there had been few truck and trailer uncouplings, he said.

“One of the problems is there’s a chronic shortage of skilled engineers nationally. Certifiers need highly specialised skills.”

Shirley said the work of re-certifying 1500 Wastney-certified truck tow bars was about half way through and they should be completed by Christmas.

“I wouldn’t criticise the agency for its response, they came to the party and picked up the tab for re-certifying, although there is the potential for loss of business and customers. It was probably a timely wake up call,” Shirley said.

 – Stuff

New Zealanders spent $20b on transport last year

New Zealanders spent $20 billion on transport last year, according to Statistics NZ.


New Zealanders spent $20 billion on transport last year, according to Statistics NZ.

Transport costs for households jumped $2 billion within one year, according to Statistics New Zealand.

Between 2016 and 2017, the average amount New Zealand households spent on transport rose from $18b to $20b.

A decade earlier, households spent $13.4b on transport collectively.

Auckland public transport users spend $174 a month, according to an international report.


Auckland public transport users spend $174 a month, according to an international report.

The numbers are pulled from Statistics NZ’s final consumption expenditure (FCE) calculations, which shows the cost of transport has been rising steadily since 1994.


A Deutsche Bank report said Auckland public transport users spent an average of $174.51 a month, making it the third most expensive city to commute in, after London and Dublin.

Auckland's fuel tax will cause transport spending to continue increasing.


Auckland’s fuel tax will cause transport spending to continue increasing.

New Zealanders’ spending on transport is set to continue to rise as Auckland implements an 11.5 cent per litre fuel tax and councils in other cities look to follow suit.

Post prices and goods like food may become more expensive too as freight firms who transfer goods around the country will incur the extra tax and pass it onto consumers.

 – Stuff