LAST MILE – Let‘s hear the full story

5 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineMarch 26, 2020

On 18 December 2019 NZ Post issued a press release stating that in the previous week they had typically delivered 300,000 parcels each day but expected Thursday 19 December would be their busiest, with more than 350,000 parcels expected to be delivered. While NZ Post may have the overall largest market share of the parcel delivery business, it has to be expected that other companies were also busy coping with the surge in pre- Christmas deliveries. Good on all these businesses; they are providing a service that the customer wants. No doubt some of these deliveries were made to people who are very anti-truck but who gave little or no thought as to how the parcel got to their front door or wherever it was delivered to. One thing I am sure about though is that very few, if any, of the journeys of each of these parcels would have included a ride on a train.

Surely then this announcement would have been a golden opportunity for our industry associations and representatives to come out and remind all those who had parcels and other such things delivered in the build up to Christmas that what they got was brought to them partially or entirely by truck. Unfortunately there appears to have been a deathly silence from these groups. It is not as though the pre-Christmas demand on road transport has not happened before so why no industry comment/reminder? Maybe the silence is a just another example of how our industry associations appear to be out of touch with the real world their members operate in. Perhaps ‘deathly‘ is not misplaced.

Effectively, it will legitimise stealing money from road users to subsidise an inefficient rail network to the point that perhaps the bill should be renamed The Highway Robbery (Dick Turpin) Bill.

Also, just before Christmas, the Land Transport (Rail) Legislation Bill was introduced to Parliament. In a nutshell, this bill seeks to bring planning and funding of the rail network under the land transport planning and funding regime set up in the Land Transport Management Act. This act currently deals with the planning and funding of public transport, state highways, road policing, and local roads only. Effectively, it will legitimise stealing money from road users to subsidise an inefficient rail network to the point that perhaps the bill should be renamed The Highway Robbery (Dick Turpin) Bill.

As a side but related issue, the Ministry of Transport announced that there were now 18,000 electric vehicles in New Zealand. What they did not say was that there were now 18,000 vehicles operating on our roads that do not pay road user charges yet still contribute towards traffic congestion, resulting in more fuel been consumed and adding to our carbon emissions. Couple this with the bill introduced and you should be able to visualise where all this is heading.

Also in December, the Ministry of Transport released the Action Plan 2020 to 2022 of the Government‘s Road to Zero document. Nobody can argue against the general idea of this document, zero road deaths, but suggesting that cycling and walking are viable ways to reduce road trauma is still hard to fathom. Tucked away in the Action Plan, in Focus Area 3, Work-related road safety, is an action to ‘Strengthen commercial road transport regulation‘. This action includes a review of work time and logbooks, including exploring nonregulatory ways to increase the uptake of electronic logbooks, an examination of the use of telematics for monitoring compliance, and reviewing the roles and powers of regulators.

Finally, and also in December, the Associate Minister of Transport, Julie-Anne Genter, announced a scheme whereby public sector workers will be offered a discount on the purchase of e-bikes. The announced discounts are substantial, between 10 and 50%, which raises a couple of questions: are non-public servants subsidising the purchase of these bikes? Should the Commerce Commission undertake a review of e-bike pricing? Will government departments and agencies be providing taxpayer-funded onsite parking and perhaps charging facilities for these bikes to be stored during working hours? 2020 is going to be an interesting year!