Urgent clarification sought on RUC discount period

In News3 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineDecember 16, 2022

The Government’s announcement that it will axe the transport support package next year has raised pressing questions for road transport operators.

With discounted road user charges (RUC) due to end on January 31, should operators, or can they “stockpile” RUC to take advantage of the lower prices?

Transporting New Zealand has approached Waka Kotahi for urgent clarification on the issue.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson told RNZ’s First Up: “The first thing about road user charges is people do buy them in advance so there is some benefit beyond the date when the scheme ends beyond 31st of January.”

Heather du Plessis Allan, on NewstalkZB, asked Transport Minister Michael Wood whether he was OK with the Finance Minister telling drivers of diesel vehicles they could “essentially stockpile road user charges.”

Wood replied: “I don’t think that’s quite what he said. What he has acknowledged in his commentary states by definition when people purchase road user charges they are purchasing it for use in the future…We don’t expect or encourage people to stockpile in a big way, for a long period time, and in fact Waka Kotahi keeps an eye on that and will have a word with people if they see that happening. But when people are purchasing their RUC they are purchasing it for a period ahead.”

Asked whether it would be OK for people to buy enough RUC in January to last them till June, Wood replied: “Well yes, people are able to reasonably do that, yes.”

But aren’t they supposed to buy three months at a time? Wood replied:

“There are particular controls on the way in which heavy vehicle RUC is purchased where there has been a change in price, it only applies for about the following month, but by definition, RUC can [be] is purchased for the period ahead over a few months.”

Clear? Not really. Here’s the link to Waka Kotahi’s RUC website: https://transact.nzta.govt.nz/v2/purchase-ruc

It says: “This discount is only intended to cover distances travelled while the RUC reduction scheme is in place. Go to www.nzta.govt.nz/ruc-reduction-scheme for the dates this discount covers and full details of the reduction scheme.”

Purchasers of RUC must agree to this declaration:

“I declare that I’m only buying enough RUC to cover the distance the vehicle is expected to travel during the temporary rate reduction period. I understand that Waka Kotahi can charge the owner or operator the non-discounted rate, if it finds that RUC purchases at the discounted rate have been excessive, unreasonable, or are an abuse of the temporary rate reduction.”

We will update members as soon as hear back from Waka Kotahi.