Monday, April 20, 2009

Rudman gets much wrong on transport, again!

Oh dear, after doing quite well lately, Brian Rudman has it badly wrong.

On Auckland he claims "That Aucklanders were willing to pay an extra regional fuel tax on top of the fuel tax the rest of the country paid".

Um Brian, the government that passed the legislation for this tax was voted out, rather comprehensively, by Aucklanders as well as the rest of the country. I wouldn't have thought that meant "Aucklanders were willing to pay".

Then he says...

"It's not that Auckland wants special treatment. It just wants an equitable share of the budgetary cake.

In the past I have given examples of how Auckland was for years ripped off by the state road builder Transit New Zealand when it came to the distribution of road-user levies."

Brian has an interesting view of "equitable" being that Auckland gets money taken from road users, but he wants it spent on public transport. He doesn't mind road users being pillaged to pay for public transport, but don't let fuel tax paid in Auckland get spend on roads in Southland. Equity for Brian is geographical, but not modal.

Moreover, he doesn't even understand that Transit New Zealand (which doesn't exist now) hasn't been responsible for distributing road taxes since 1996. Not good for a man who writes so frequently about transport to not even understand the funding framework. Transit used to bid for funds, it did not distribute them - and in fact the public transport projects Brian likes never went far for so long because they have such poor returns - Labour had to change the funding framework to allow poor value projects to proceed.

Then he quotes the Green Party Transport Research Unit!! Wonderful stuff, people who evade facts that there is little difference between trucks and trains in environmental impact, people who lie about the nature of road projects (witness the nonsense about the Basin Reserve flyover in Wellington). The Greens claim Auckland got 40% of what it paid in road taxes. Now I don't know the basis for that (Brian doesn't publish the documents so we can actually determine if mistakes have been made), as it could simply be the fact that the majority of fuel tax until this year went to the Crown anyway.

Then he makes the fantastic non-sequiter "Imagine the wonderful rapid rail system, complete with spur lines to the airport, Aucklanders could be enjoying now if that money had already been spent here." Yes imagine Brian, because until Labour got re-elected, the rapid rail system would NEVER have been funded because it has always been an inefficient project. The money would have gone on roads.

Furthermore, Brian avoids confronting you with the truth that IF such a system existed, Auckland ratepayers would have had to pay 40% of the capital costs and the ongoing operating subsidies. Road users don't pay all of the subsidies paid out by the ARC, nor should they.

Finally he says "Over the last couple of years, the progress was there for all to see. Double tracking of the rail lines was under way, Spaghetti Junction was expanded, the Northern Connection was completed." Yes, the double tracking was funded by former Infrastructure Auckland money. Spaghetti Junction expansion came from road users and was accelerated at the cost of the "Northern Connection" (I guess he means the Northern Gateway toll road).

Sorry Brian - you can't claim it is inequitable to spend Auckland motoring taxes outside Auckland, but somehow fair that economically questionable rail projects get subsidised by those who don't use them (and don't pretend it makes a jot of difference to congestion).

Moreover, don't pretend that if motorists were pillaged to pay their "share" of the costs of a rapid rail system that Auckland ratepayers would pay "their share". It's a nonsense, Aucklanders have proven they don't want to pay - stop trying to find non-users to pay for your expensive rail fetish, when there is no evidence that it will do anything besides gold plate the commutes of maybe 5% of Aucklanders.




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