“The giant transport money-go-round”

PartisanZ posted a comment yesterday about New Zealand’s “giant transport money-go-round” regarding transport funding and spending. This is worth more exposure here.

In the Winter 2016 edition of ‘AA Directions’ magazine there’s an excellent article “Taxing Truths” by Peter King about “the giant transport money-go-round”, with additional information & stats by Mark Stockdale.

While “the numbers are enormous”, as they say – $10bn allocated from vehicle taxes + $3.9bn from rates revenue June 2015 – June 2018 – an MoT survey shows “79% of trip choices and travelling time is either driving or riding in a motor vehicle.” Walking comprises 17%, public transport 2.8% and cycling 1.2%.

Our spend-up is not extravagant by international standards. Of 48 nations in the international transport forum, NZ’s spend as a proportion of our economy is 46th.

The stats regarding funding sources are fascinating to me. Public Transport Users = $320m, Tax Payers $460m, Rate Payers $1.6bn and Motorists $3bn. Of the Motorists contribution, Rego = $183m, while Petrol Tax – which makes up $1.00 of a litre of petrol costing $2.00 – total = $1.6bn. Around 65% of this goes to the National Land Transport Fund.

As the owner of a ‘Light Diesel’, what strikes me as a possible ‘funding source’ discrepancy is RUC’s at $410m for Light Vehicles and only $790m for Heavy Vehicles? I believe heavy vehicles do more than twice the damage to our roads? If the U.S. data is relevant this is true – “Jun 2, 2009 – Freight trucks cause 99% of wear-and-tear on US roads, but only pay for 35% of the maintenance.”


And an exhaustive NZ study pdf, which seems to support the idea – e.g. axle passes – although I haven’t read it carefully – (80 pages) –


The spend is also interesting – Roads (includes footpaths and bus lanes) = $3.546bn, Public Transport = $1.61bn, Policing and Education = $390m and Walking & Cycling = $27m
So public transport’s spend clearly outweighs its preferred usage, although perhaps it must be offset by whatever reductions are achieved in fuel consumption, congestion and pollution?

The article is spiked with comments from politicians, ranging from National’s Simon Bridges, “We’re focused on enabling economic growth rather than simply responding to it.” through Labour’s Sue Moroney, “… this doesn’t look like a winning strategy to me. NZ needs a smart, integrated transport system to get things moving.” to The Green’s Julie Anne Genter, ” … National … putting up fuel taxes to pay for a few eye wateringly expensive highway projects, which will actually make congestion worse, and lock people into paying higher fuel taxes … if they spent the same amount on public transport and rail and sea for freight, the roads would be safer … and we’d have a world-class transport system.”

Finally, three examples of ‘typical’ annual contributions. A family of 5 in Auckland with 2 vehicles, own home = $2,621.51, a Uni Student in Wellington, renting, who uses PT and owns a scooter = $290.77, and a retired couple in Nelson, own home, with one vehicle + PT = $873.98

King finishes well IMHO, “But this huge money-go-round is going to have to change … the future is electric … any solution will require robust discussion about who pays for what and who gets subsidised by whom.”

Drive safely everyone …

PartisanZ added:

Major changes coming in the transport realm though. Fuel tax has apparently been rising partly (or mostly?) as a result of increased fuel economy? As vehicles become electric and to a lesser extent hybrid this form of funding – and tax increase – will be impossible to justify.

I wonder what people think the possible solutions are? Cheaper fuel and more Local Govt road tax? Toll roads? Some kind of combined registration and RUC’s for all vehicles? The technology exists to do almost anything nowadays …


I am interested that the authors have picked a win with the statement that the future is electric. I would have thought hydrogen power cars might be a significant contender..

The amount of tax on a litre of petrol is truly eye watering and is incredibly regressive have a disproportionate impact on the poor segments of society.


Yes, both hydrogen powered – with the hydrogen produced elsewhere – and perhaps water-powered, where water is converted to HHO or “Brown’s Gas” onboard? [I know almost nothing about the chemistry or technology – I’m not that way inclined].


http://www.nlcpr.com/Deceptions10.php – claims “Water4Gas HHO and Brown’s gas are frauds and scams”

Brown Gas Generator – Alibaba
http://www.alibaba.com › … › generator › gas generator

Other more sustainable options should be competing with electricity in a so-called ‘free market’, although both access to water and electricity production surely have their environmental and geopolitical implications too?

Years ago I read a tiny news item in the Herald or Star about a Kiwi man arrested at Auckland airport trying to leave the country carrying trade secrets. He apparently worked for a company which produced and sold welding equipment based on Brown’s Gas – or similar – where the one set of equipment could do all forms of welding? [My remembered details are sketchy]. The same technology could apparently be applied to an internal combustion engine with very few modifications?


Might have been something like this PZ http://watertorch.com/

Or maybe this, which looks a little more crediblehttp://www.safeflameproject.eu/technology/

My understanding is that they are just very efficient electrolysers. Instead of using a constant DC power source, like we did at school, they use electronics to deliver pulsed DC at just the right frequency.

As for powering a car with one, well you would need a big battery that you would still have to charge from an outside source.


A little further reading: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resonance

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  1. Gezza

     /  20th July 2016

    Ronya PG

  2. Brown

     /  20th July 2016

    Electric is just a feel good thing that ignores how expensive and dirty batteries are over their life cycle. Petrol and diesel will be around for many more years because they are by far the most sensible at present. A shift to alternatives will come when its needed but that shift is not yet needed. Forcing change for no good reason is stupid.

  3. I agree with your proposition Mr/Ms Brown. The present developments in battery/accumulator development use rare metals that are very difficult to extract, and dirty. This technology will still need development of the “electrical engine” type of technologies to establish the efficiencies needed. What about modernisation of steam engines? Is there a break through there? Hydrogen based fuel cells are a possibility, but I studied a range of options in this area in Canberra in 1962 and we did not make any meaningful breakthrough.
    At this stage we still do not have the total answer about the most cost effective means of transportation – but 100km/hr sure as hell beats 5-10km/hr with a horse drawn transport!

    • Brown

       /  20th July 2016

      I love steam buts had its day in respect of transport at the level of the vehicle because thermal efficiency is rather poor. Union Pacific did develop a coal fueled steam turbine loco in the 1940’s (?) but the turbine’s metals could not cope with the abrasive coal dust and suffered erosion in operation. It was in other respects fantastic as the boiler was small because the design could generate and maintain steam in large quantities within a relatively few minutes of cold start up.

      Hydrogen is promising but still a hassle compared to what we have now. I suspect it will be the best option unless there is a battery breakthrough that takes things way beyond where Tesla are now. Presently there is plenty of oil so we may miss out an interim energy source that looks promising now because something even better will pop up.

      • patupaiarehe

         /  20th July 2016

        Hydrogen is just downright dangerous IMHO. LPG and CNG are only flammable, yet vehicles with tanks of either are required by law to display a warning label. Hydrogen is EXPLOSIVE…..
        IMHO electric vehicles are the way of the future. But as BJ said,

        The present developments in battery/accumulator development use rare metals that are very difficult to extract, and dirty.

        So how could we overcome this problem? How can we remove the battery from the vehicle?
        What if an electric vehicle could be powered from a remote transmitter, wirelessly. No battery, just an aerial & some circuit boards. A bit like a crystal radio. This technology was actually patented by Nikola Tesla over a century ago.
        Before any of you write me off as a raving loony, consider the following…..
        This guy is A LOT smarter than he sounds. This is not a party trick, it is a real demonstration of wireless power transmission on a small scale.

        • patupaiarehe

           /  20th July 2016

          Here is a quote from Mr Telsa, from 95 years ago….

          Power can be, and at no distant date will be, transmitted without wires, for all commercial uses, such as the lighting of homes and the driving of aeroplanes. I have discovered the essential principles, and it only remains to develop them commercially. When this is done, you will be able to go anywhere in the world — to the mountain top overlooking your farm, to the arctic, or to the desert — and set up a little equipment that will give you heat to cook with, and light to read by. This equipment will be carried in a satchel not as big as the ordinary suit case. In years to come wireless lights will be as common on the farms as ordinary electric lights are nowadays in our cities.


          • Gezza

             /  20th July 2016

            Yeah I watched the video clip pp. Haven’t read the wiki article yet. Has anyone done a demo of a vehicle of any kind actually being powered along by this method? Not sure I’d want to be shaking hands with Young Sparky, in the green T-shirt, when he’s doing one of these demos … :/

            • patupaiarehe

               /  20th July 2016

              No, though some small scale proof of concept demonstrations have been done successfully. Read the wiki article. The only KNOWN transmitter capable of powering a proper demonstration was destroyed in the early twentieth century.

            • patupaiarehe

               /  20th July 2016

              Most people only think of a tesla coil as something that makes impressive electrical arcs, and makes your hair stand on end if you touch it. Have you ever heard of plasma speakers G? Here is a really good demonstration of them. The Super Mario Bros music is ideal, as it is 2 channel audio. Enjoy…

  4. The fraud argument is an ignorant one, excess energy is available as the entropy increases when H20 and fuel goes from a liquid to a vapour state.


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