Contentious transport decisions will affect journey times – Transporting NZ

In Uncategorized, News5 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineJuly 5, 2024

Keeping us moving

Keeping traffic moving is a priority for Transporting New Zealand, and it’s been a big week on that front.

Heavy trucks operate efficiently, transporting the vast majority of the freight task while only making up around eight percent of all kilometres travelled on our roads. However, congestion and road-related travel delays pile costs onto trucking businesses and the business and consumers they supply.

Practical speed limit changes

We can start with some good news on journey times. Next week, Transporting New Zealand will be submitting in support of new speed limit rules, rolling back the previous government’s unpopular programme of blanket reductions. Good speed management should be evidence-based, specific to particular locations and times, and considered alongside good road engineering and policing.

When considering new speed changes, NZTA and local councils will have to consider economic and travel time impacts alongside safety and community considerations. Consultation requirements for NZTA will also be strengthened, and both NZTA and councils will have to explain how they considered feedback, rather than just filing it away.

Many speed limits reduced since 2020 will be reversed, and there will be greater use of variable speed limits outside schools, rather than full time 30 km/h limits covering extended local areas.

The new rule will also make it easier to set expressway speed limits at 110km/h, and we’ll be supporting limits of up to 120km/h where roads are built, maintained and managed to safely accommodate it.

The 90km/h speed limit for heavy vehicles is out of scope of the Ministry of Transport’s current proposed changes, and we won’t be instigating  a change. Initial discussions between Transporting New Zealand and the other national road freight associations indicate  that the  implications of increasing the heavy vehicle speed limit are likely to  outweigh the benefits.  Also the 110-120km/h limits will cover such a small portion of the national network.

However, we are open to feedback on the heavy vehicle speed limit   as we appreciate  there will be  a range of views within our membership. You’re welcome to send your views on the 90 km/h limit to

Pushing back against raised crossings

At a more local level, Transporting New Zealand has joined with local Wellington members, the AA, and local councillors in condemning Wellington City Council’s plan to install five raised platforms within 1.7km on a key commuter and freight route into the capital.

We initially raised concerns about the impacts on travel time, fuel use and emissions, vehicle maintenance and construction costs back in 2022.

We are hopeful that with sufficient scrutiny and public pressure, Wellington City Council will reconsider the design of the road, used by 11,000 vehicles and carrying more than 10,000 bus passengers each day. This follows Auckland Transport announcing earlier this year that it would reduce use of raised platforms and consider alternative safety measures.

 A constructive debate on congestion pricing

Finally, the removal of the Auckland Fuel Tax has led to discussion about whether time-of-use (congestion) charging will be a viable solution for urban traffic woes, or simply cost road users more to get around.

We’re pleased to see time-of-use charging being examined and debated, and that there is bipartisan support for legislation allowing councils to introduce it. Congestion in our urban centres is worsening, with flow-on effects for productivity and growth across the economy. The average Auckland commuter spends five days per year stuck in traffic, and freight delays are causing more and more frustration.

Our support for time-of-use charging isn’t unconditional. In order for Transporting New Zealand to support a particular proposal, we would need to see robust public engagement, a focus on improving travel times and overall efficiency rather than revenue generation, and addressing valid concerns the general public and road freight operators have around privacy and up-front implementation costs.

There will be more from us on this issue next week, as the New Zealand Initiative releases its latest report on road pricing. I’m also happy to be contacted directly with any feedback or questions on this or any other policy issues.

– Billy Clemens, Policy & Advocacy Lead, Transporting New Zealand