Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Green party faith based initiative

Ahhh the regular ballot for private member's bills has brought up one of the loony Green ones, which I already blogged about last year.
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In my assessment last year the "Climate Change (Transport Funding) Bill" was the second looniest one of the lot. What does it do? Well it aims to dramatically increase the proportion of your road taxes (fuel tax, road user charges and motor vehicle licensing fees) spent on modes where the users don't pay any (or the full costs) of any contribution to that fund.
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The effect of this would be to run many of the country's roads into the ground, because it would increase funding of slow modes of transport so much that it would cut significantly into the maintenance budgets for roads. Some work undertaken by Transit NZ in the early 1990s indicated that there were fuel savings/emissions savings and safety gains by maintaining roads to a high standard - something that the USA and much of the UK hasn't learnt - that would be destroyed. So this bill could be the "potholes and lower speed limits" bill.
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You see the Greens see money collected from road users for roads as being money that can be pillaged to pay for their pet projects. Unhappy with a funding framework that has shifted from regarding economic efficiency as the primary criteria for funding transport projects, to a multi-faceted criteria (which they agreed with). Unhappy with a funding framework whereby the Minister can direct Land Transport NZ to spend larger amounts of money on public transport, walking, cycling and the like, now the Greens want to make it mandatory.
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It is a faith based initiative.
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For starters it is anti user pays. The Greens don't like road users money being spent on roads, I mean, how ludicrous that you pay for what you use? They far prefer road users spend money on other people travelling by other modes, or freight going by other modes -EVEN if the benefits to road users are less than what is spent on the subsidy.
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Apparently, the travel time savings, fuel savings, safety improvements and environmental improvements from many road projects are simply ignored by the Greens, but the merits of railways and public transport simply don't need evaluating - they are good so should be funded. The Greens reject objective appraisal criteria to decide if it is better to pay for a road or a railway, because odds are the railway probably wont win, and this goes against the Green article of faith: railway good, road bad. Bus better than car, train better than bus, electric train better than diesel train.
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Jeanette's complete naivety or rather, willful stupidity (as the Greens have advisors who understand the system but don't like its results) is shown in this statement
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"With the cost of fuel steadily increasing, people are already seeking alternatives to using their own vehicles. It is pointless to keep pouring money into more and more new roading projects, which will only end up being very expensive white elephants."
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Well actually Jeanette, if the appraisal by Land Transport NZ indicates that the projects will be little used and not worthwhile, the project wont be funded.
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She waffles on: "It will also decrease the amount of freight transported on roads. Getting freight onto coastal shipping and rail has huge benefits. It gets long-haul trucks off the roads, saving fuel and reducing the amount of CO2 emissions."
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Huge benefits really? That's why the shippers aren't actually choosing to do this without others subsidising them to do it? Utter drivel. If it saved so much fuel, the freight would go by the other modes, but then it isn't all about fuel Jeanette, some of us value other things too.
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Finally the Green press release emits "In the 2007/08 year the National Land Transport Programme spent six times as much maintaining and expanding the road network as it did on providing more sustainable options like public transport."
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Oh sounds awful, except that almost all of its funding came from road users. The faith is seen here, because public transport is "sustainable". How on earth something that requires people who don't use it to be forced to pay for it is "sustainable" takes a belief in the Green faith to cloud your mind to sustainability being about anything other than the environment. You see, nearly empty trains and buses are good, cars are bad.
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Scratch the surface and you see the Greens are completely banal on transport. They treat any emissions from cars and trucks as "bad", but emissions from buses and trains as "good", because those modes CAN carry more people. The holy grail is electric transport, bikes and walking of course. The difficulty they have is threefold:
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1. People make choices based on a whole host of factors. Fuel use, travel time, availability/convenience of parking/public transport, flexibility and other costs/benefits. If you don't respect that, you wont understand why you see trucks carrying freight beside railway lines, or people driving past bus stops. People make the choices best for them.
2. Oil will never "run out", at the most it will become unaffordable compared to other fuels, which are numerous. The trend to private mobility has been inexorable since the 1920s, there has been no sign of this changing, it simply changes pace.
3. Refusing to accept objective analysis that goes against their holy grail. Just because you believe it is so, doesn't mean the evidence supports you. Electric rail in Auckland will do virtually nothing to relieve traffic congestion, and cost a fortune to do it - that's a fact - along with the fact that the users will not pay any more than a small fraction of the cost to have this toy. The Wellington Inner City Bypass is another tale, a tale of constantly refusing to accept the evidence, even after the Greens changed legislation to meet their vision of the transport funding world, the project still got funded. So their own beliefs, when applied objectively, failed to be backed by evidence.
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My point is simple. If fuel cell cars and trucks become economically viable within the next 10-15 years, what then is the environmental argument against them and in favour of, what is basically, collectivised transport?
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The USSR restricted car ownership for control, and advanced railways over roads, for control. Is not the "if only people caught the train" mentality a weakened reflection of this failure to understand that in a free society, people often make decisions you don't think they should?

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Transit already have lota dollars to spend on 'walking and cycling initaives'. Most are utterly bullshit.

I have a hard enough time trying to find money to adequately maintain the State Highway network I look after.

Dumbarse greens.

EXOCET

Manolo said...

Despicable luddites the Greens are!