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16th July 2018

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Auckland’s $6 billion plan for modern trams could extend to Kumeu

Dave’s comment – When so much money has been or is being spent on development of the Auckland heavy rail network, why do Auckland council and the Government continue to ignore the expert’s calls for the proposed CBD – Dominion Rd – Mangere – Airport to be abandoned in favour of minor extensions to the heavy rail network?  At lower cost and with significantly less disruption than the proposed tram lines.

In an exclusive interview with the Herald, NZTA chief executive Fergus Gammie said the plan for trams from the CBD to Westgate will probably be extended to Kumeu.

Gammie also revealed that NZTA believes that the best route between the CBD and the airport is by train to Puhinui and transferring to buses or trams for the 6km leg to the airport.

What we are trying to achieve in the longer term is a system that enables people to spend a lot more of their life on public transport.

The transport agency still intends to build a $3.7b line for modern trams, referred to as light rail, from the CBD to the airport but sees the line as combining transport and development opportunities along the corridor, Gammie said.

For this reason, the project has been renamed the CBD to Māngere project, which will still serve the airport and allow workers to travel to the airport, a major employment centre.

The changes have been made after Labour handed over responsibility for light rail from Auckland Transport to the transport agency, which is going from being a road builder to looking at all forms of transport to benefit people and communities.

New homes like this one in Westgate are adding to congestion in the northwest
New homes like this one in Westgate are adding to congestion in the northwest

“What we are trying to achieve in the longer term is a system that enables people to spend a lot more of their life on public transport,” Gammie said.

Labour has promised to build light rail from the CBD to the airport and West Auckland within a decade, described as a “game changer” by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Labour’s plans for fast public transport separated from vehicles, known as rapid transit, also include a busway running from Botany to Puhinui train station, and on to the airport.

A spokeswoman for Transport Minister Phil Twyford issued a brief statement, saying the minister was on the same page as Gammie and there was nothing more he could add.

Extending modern trams to Kumeu is being driven by already congested roads from a housing boom and projections of 25,000 more homes in the northwest by 2032.

However, the idea is not supported by the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA), which favours extending rail from Swanson to Kumeu and running rail directly from the CBD to the airport via Puhinui.

PTUA co-ordinator Jon Reeves said trams are slow and very expensive, whereas trains can provide fast, frequent and reliable service at less cost. What’s more, rail can carry freight to the airport and reduce congestion on the roads, he said.

Reeves said there had been no official study comparing the cost of rail, modern trams or a busway from Puhinui to the airport.

He said running trains directly from Britomart to the airport via Puhinui would take 33 minutes. Auckland Transport has estimated it will take 42 minutes for light rail via the Māngere route.

Jon Reeves, co-ordinator of the Public Transport Users Association.
Jon Reeves, co-ordinator of the Public Transport Users Association.

Gammie said the transport agency was undertaking detailed business cases for the two light rail lines, which would be completed by early next year, and would soon begin public consultation.

“These projects are not easy because they do make a big difference to the local community,” said Gammie, who as the former director-general for transport services in New South Wales was involved in light rail projects in Newcastle and Sydney.

“Every light rail project around the world has been disruptive, but everyone loves light rail when it is finished,” he said.

Trams or rail ‘as long as it’s faster’

Yelena Khalevina was excited to hear Auckland Transport's plans for a possible tram line to Kumeu. Photo / Greg Bowke
Yelena Khalevina was excited to hear Auckland Transport’s plans for a possible tram line to Kumeu. Photo / Greg Bowke

When quality time with your three-year-old son consists of being stuck in a car for three hours a day, the prospect of modern trams is very enticing.

Every workday, Yelena Khalevina, her husband and son leave home in Huapai at 6.30am for the long 30km crawl into the city. With jobs and daycare over, they get back in the car at 5pm and don’t get home until 6.30pm.

There’s a stash of books and toys for the “quality time” they spend with their toddler, who’s tucked up in bed soon after they get home and feed him.

“I would gladly take the bus,” says Yelena, except it takes longer than the drive to and from her job as a digital analyst in the city.

The family recently moved into a new subdivision in the rural community of Huapai, part of a housing boom in the northwest causing congestion with more than 18,000 vehicles driving on State Highway 16 per day and causing a bottleneck through Kumeu.

Yelena says the family made the decision to move to Huapai for the lifestyle, knowing that being stuck in traffic is something that goes with living in a big city.

They plan to live in the area long-term, says Yelena, who is very excited that one day, perhaps 10 years away, they will be able to go into the city on trams or rail.

As well as plans by the New Zealand Transport Agency for modern trams, locals are campaigning for trains to Kumeu/Huapai with billboards erected on the roadside encouraging people to sign up.

It wouldn’t make any difference, trams or rail, says Yelena, “so long as it is faster than being stuck in traffic”.

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.

What did experts say at the World Transport Convention in Beijing?

From June 18 to 21, some 6,000 representatives in the field of transportation, about 15 percent of whom were foreigners, attended the 2018 World Transport Convention in Beijing. Serious and scripted, the convention was opened by China’s transport minister and an academician from the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

Though the theme, “Better Transport, Better World,” indicated nothing special, expert’s words and the tech models on display gave audiences a picture of Chinese achievements and ambitions in the field.

A long list of “World Firsts”

By the end of 2017, China had a transport network with a total length of over 5 million kilometers. In-service railway mileage across the country reached 127,000 km, with high-speed railway stretching for 25,000 km – 66.3 percent of the world’s high-speed railway mileage.

As for waterway transportation infrastructure, China had 2,366 berths for 10,000-ton ships and above, equivalent to 18 times what it had when opening-up and reform started four decades ago.

By the end of 2017, the in-service railway mileage across China had reached 127,000 km, with high-speed railway stretching for 25,000 km. /VCG Photo

The list goes on and on. Both the in-service mileage and traffic of China’s urban railway transit are world firsts. China’s highway mileage reached 136,000 km, with 98.35 percent of rural roads open to traffic, also taking the world lead.

In a deeper sense, a transport network of such scale and density pushes the growth of the delivery business. According to a report released by the China Highway and Transportation Society (CHTS) at the convention, an estimated 40 billion packages were delivered across the country last year, making China the biggest driving force in the international express market.

Tech innovation

While China keeps developing its transportation infrastructure, it never forgets what its people need and what the environment requires – security, low energy consumption, less pollution, to name only a few. These were all represented in the transportation technology exhibition at the convention.

A robot for driving safety developed by G7, a company dedicated to smart logistics, can monitor every truck from the company in real time.

Equipped with an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm, it is able to assess the road condition and detect whether the vehicle is speeding or the driver dozing or distracted by a phone. Voice instructions or alerts will be made remotely by staff if any problem is detected. The accident rate has dropped by over 75 percent after utilizing the robot, according to the company.

The safety robot is able to detect whether the driver is dozing or distracted by a phone. /Screenshot via g7.com.cn

Shouqi Group, one of China’s largest travel service companies, has launched a self-service car rental platform, “Go Fun,” which helps integrate users’ fragmented needs for cars, providing convenient, green, fast and economical travel service.

“The development of the Internet of Things and mobile payment makes it more acceptable for people to opt to sharing travel mode,” said Tan Yi, president and chief operating officer of GoFun, adding that the platform now offers service in over 50 Chinese cities with nearly 30,000 in-service vehicles, and will be built into an integrated sharing platform to meet people’s catering, shopping, accommodation and entertainment needs.

The “GoFun” sharing car. /VCG Photo

China’s super-speed train: Maglev + Hyperloop

China is now working on the feasibility of a super high-speed train that can reach a theoretical speed of 1,500 kilometers per hour (km/h), adopted with high-temperature superconductivity magnetic suspension and vacuum valve technology, said Zhang Weihua, chief professor of Southwest Jiaotong University, at the convention.

The speed boundary for wheel-rail transportation is 600 km/h due to many factors, said Zhang, and “high-speed magnetic suspension rail transport will be the major direction of the future development for railway transportation technology.”

The scale model train test line of the world’s fastest evacuated-tube high-temperature superconducting maglev train is now under construction in Chengdu, capital of southwest China’s Sichuan Province. It is expected to be completed and tested by the end of this year. The test speed can be as fast as 400 km/h, while the speed of the same-type train developed by American company Hyperloop One reaches 387 km/h.

The evacuated-tube high-temperature superconducting maglev test platform in southwest China’s Chengdu. /VCG Photo

Magnetic suspension plus vacuum creates an operation environment with low resistance, which can effectively improve the speed of future high-speed trains, said Zhang.

China could meet the test speed of 1,500 km/h as soon as 2021.

A Floating Dry Dock for New Zealand is Needed Now

Media Release
2 July 2018

“New Zealand needs a suitably sized dry dock facility to allow the servicing of our coastal fleet,” says the new President of NZ Shipping Federation, Clive Glover.

“Ship operators are aware of the many discussions with interested parties with regard to bringing a floating dry dock facility to New Zealand that will take current and future ships. We encourage those involved in the decision to actively progress it,” he said.

“Federation members are neutral with regard to the location of a floating dry dock, as anywhere here in New Zealand is significantly closer than the alternatives in the Philippines, Sydney or Singapore. We should retain the work and follow-on benefits within New Zealand.”

He said the Federation only asks that the choice of location is based on the factors that relate to functionality. These include:
• Ability to operate 24 hour, seven day a week.
• Suitable draught channel to the floating dock facility for all potential users including international vessels.
• Wharfage close to the dry dock for work that occurs pre and post docking time.
• Reasonable costs of access, port fees especially pilotage.

Federation members are less concerned about an existing workforce being in place prior to the dock being installed. “We are confident that the dry dock will attract the necessary associated businesses, including skilled workers, opportunities for apprentices in the relevant trades, accommodation and support services.”

“The sooner, the better,” said Mr Glover.

The New Zealand Shipping Federation began in 1906 and is the key representative body for New Zealand’s coastal shippers.
Members of the Federation are:
Coastal Bulk Shipping www.coastalbulkshipping.co.nz Anatoki Bulk cargo
Coastal Oil Logistics (COLL) www.coll.co.nz
Holcim www.holcim.co.nz Buffalo Cement
InterIslander www.interislander.co.nz Aratere Cook Strait ferry
Kaiarahi Cook Strait ferry
Kaitaki Cook Strait ferry
NIWA www.niwa.co.nz
Tangaroa Research
Kaharoa Research
China Navigation Aotearoa Chief Cement
www.pacship.co.nz Spirit of Canterbury Container cargo
Silver Fern Shipping www.sfsl.co.nz Kokako Fuel
Matuku Fuel
Strait Shipping www.strait.co.nz Straitsman Cook Strait ferry
Strait Feronia Cook Strait ferry

New President and Vice President Shipping Federation

New President and Vice President

After the Federation’s AGM on Friday 29 July, the Federation is pleased to advise that Clive Glover is now President and Keith Brown is Vice President.

Clive Glover is well known to the sector as General Manager, Marine Operations at Strait NZ, he has previously managed NIWA Vessels and was responsible for the build and delivery of the Tangaroa. Mr Glover was formerly the Vice President of the Federation.

Captain Brown came to New Zealand in October 2017 to take up as General Manager, Silver Fern Shipping. He has 29 years’ experience in the industry, both afloat and ashore.

Mr Glover thanked the outgoing President, Steve Chapman for his service to the Federation as President for 3 years and VP for the previous 3 years. Mr Chapman remains on the Council.

“The Federation has an important role in the political infrastructure of New Zealand as the representative of an important part of the transport sector. Maritime issues are important strategically and the Federation can help to ensure that government is well informed when it makes decisions that affect the sector, “said Mr Glover.

“As incoming President, I will be reviewing with every member what they expect from the Federation. It is also a good time to review our gaols and processes to ensure that we are maximising the value of membership by meeting members needs and expectations.”

Trains return to Wairoa– Napier line

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones gives the thumbs-up to the reopening of the Wairoa–Napier railway line – Photos courtesy of KiwiRail

Trains are moving again on the Napier to Wairoa line for the first time in six years following the reopening of the railway line in early June.


The first train travelled along the Napier to Wairoa railway line between Napier and Eskdale to deliver ballast as part of the project to reopen the line. Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, KiwiRail and Napier Port have been discussing the reinstatement of the mothballed line for several years.

Repairs to the line to enable it to be reopened were made possible through the provision of $5 million from the NZ government’s Provincial Growth Fund, which will eventually allow a low-speed forestry service to operate between Wairoa and Napier, delivering logs from forestry blocks to the port.

At the official reopening event, KiwiRail chief executive Peter Reidy said, “Today sees a work train travelling up to Eskdale from Napier, the first time there has been a train on the line since 2012. The reopening of the Wairoa–Napier line is one of the first to be funded from the Provincial Growth Fund, and would not have happened without it. It is a significant event for KiwiRail on a number of levels, and recognition of the tremendous value that rail delivers to New Zealand.”


Hawke’s Bay Regional Council group manager strategic development Tom Skerman says that while credit should go to KiwiRail for achieving this important milestone, he wants to acknowledge Councillor Alan Dick, chairman of the council’s regional transport committee, for his vision, perseverance and advocacy for the reinstatement of the service.

“With central government behind the project, our focus now is to support the establishment of a commercial operation on the line. We expect this to deliver many regional benefits, such as resilience of the transport network, effective management of the anticipated growth in demand for log transport, and reducing the carbon footprint associated with the logistics of harvest,” says Mr Skerman.

Mr Reidy says KiwiRail has given the government a list of ‘shovel ready projects’ that will enhance the company’s role, particularly in the regions, of which the Wairoa–Napier line is the first to get underway. “Having work trains running is an important part of getting the line open to shift logs by rail and take trucks off the road,” he notes.


Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones, who attended the official event, says the government is making safety a higher priority when it invests in transport, and taking logging trucks off challenging roads contributes to that.

“We’re strongly committed to making significant investment in regional rail and I look forward to being able to make more announcements with KiwiRail in the coming months,” he says. “KiwiRail is experiencing growth in its overall forestry business – a result being driven by an increase in the volume of logs – and the government sees substantial benefits in using rail to decrease the number of logging trucks on our roads.”

Mr Reidy says the reopening of the Wairoa–Napier line is an important project for the region, for New Zealand and for KiwiRail. “It lifts the regional economy, makes the roads safer, and helps the environment by cutting carbon emissions – every tonne of freight carried by rail is a 66% emissions saving over heavy road freight.”

KiwiRail estimates that using the Wairoa–Napier line to move the logs could take more than 5500 trucks a year off the road, and cut carbon emissions by 1292 tonnes. The line is expected to be ready for logging trains by the end of the year.

Seawalls completed north of Kaikoura on SH1

The seawall at Ohau Point was completed in May

The last of more than 7500 seawall blocks just north of Ohau Point along the Kaikoura coast have been installed along State Highway 1.


NZ Transport Agency earthquake recovery manager Tim Crow says this is a significant milestone for the recovery work in what was one of the most damaged areas following the November 2016 earthquake.

“We’re pleased work has progressed so much on these structures, and it’s down to the efforts of the crew who have been working hard to get the job done. All the seawalls have now been completed just in time for winter,” he says. “Seawalls offer long-term sustainable protection to the road and rail transport corridor from the coastal elements and seismic activity.”

In order to reopen the road for last Christmas, the seawalls had temporarily been built at a lower height. Since then, work has been underway to build them up for long-term resilience.


To prevent significant traffic interruptions, some activities could only be done at night. This involved importing large volumes of construction material, along with the removal of slip material.

When SH1 was opened to traffic by day, the seawalls could only be backfilled at night. Night crews have raised the height of the road at Ohau Point by 5 m since Christmas, and around 150,000 cu m of backfill has been placed behind the seawalls.

Tim Crow says completing the seawalls was a momentous occasion for the crew, particularly as some team members who had laid the very first foundations also helped place the final blocks.

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.”