Thursday, May 07, 2009

Keep politicians away from roads

The nonsense of Auckland City Councillors arguing about whether a barely used bus lane should be allowed to have wider usage speaks volumes about why politicians are profoundly incompetent at running what is essentially a utility service.

It's very simple. The NZ Herald reports that the Auckland City transport committee has decided to allow the Tamaki Drive bus lane to be open to any vehicles with 2 or more occupants, largely because the lane lies empty every 7.5 minutes at peak times, whilst parallel lanes are congested. An intelligent decision, although it could be better (as there is no reason why all heavy vehicles couldn't use it, since they pay more than any other vehicles to use the roads anyway, and have no reasonable alternative.

However, the leftwing halfwits at City Vision disagree. They would rather a precious scarce resource (road space) remain empty, whilst cars, taxis and trucks sit held up, wasting more fuel (and emitting more pollution and CO2) than would otherwise be the case. They baulk at money for the conversion coming from the "public transport fund", which of course is a little precious.

It's a quasi-Soviet central planner attitude that people using cars are "bad" and should be punished (presumably also trucks, because freight should go on rail), but public transport is "good" and everyone else should be forced to subsidise it.

Auckland's local roads should be given over to a new council controlled organisation, at arms length from all politicians, with a board, and a mandate to operate the road network to encourage free flow of people and goods and make a profit doing so. It would get money from kerbside parking (which it would run to maximise profits), any tolling, rates (as a transitional measure) and bidding funds from the National Land Transport Fund (as councils do at present). It should also be allowed to hand over local streets to body corporates of adjoining property owners if they so wish, and build new roads (tolling them if it sees fit).

Then you might get roads for those who pay for them, with the highest priority going to those who pay the most - at the moment truck owners and private cars.

So do that along with amalgamating Auckland councils (and getting rid of the power of general competence), and you might help address Auckland transport far more than an electric train set.

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