28 August 2009

For those want to "invest" in public transport

You believe the price of petrol is going to go sky high. As a result people will drive a lot less and want a cheaper alternative.


So here's a way you can do it, without force.

Take your savings, in fact set up a company, and speculate on oil futures. Buy as much as you can. It must be a safe investment, and watch your capital grow.

From the massive windfall profits you make from this, use it to invest (you always say invest) in public transport. Hybrid buses or indeed new trains. By then peak oil will be so obvious, that you could have borrowed from the bank to do so. People will be gagging for public transport so much, you'll get many investors willing to join you. New Zealand has a free market in public transport, just set up a bus company and go for it. In fact, the government may be happy for you to buy trains and run them on its track.

Run services, charging fares to cover costs (you're not into profits), so that people get the alternative you care so much about. Yes the trains may take longer, but surely with the empty roads you predict, the hybrid buses will operate with ease, quickly and efficiently, full of eager fare paying passengers.

Not willing to put your money where your mouths are? Well keep your hypocritical hands off of everyone else's.


Richard McGrath said...

Spot on, Scott. I wonder if the Greens will act on this advice, or perhaps they don't actually believe in peak oil after all?

Owen McCaffrey said...

I thought that Greenies were first and foremost worried about the environment. In that case their argument for public transport would be based on proof that it causes less environmental damage from emissions.

It doesn't cost any money to work that out.

Were the government to replace spending on new roads with spending on public transport the environment would be better off.

the counter that no money should be spent at all by the government ignores the fact that a low cost efficient transport system is what helps sustain our standard of living. Were government not to control the network of roads or rail then one person could pull the country to a screeching halt by demanding exhorbitant fees to use their road. Or would you prefer 3 roads going to every single house? Yes...that would be "efficient".

scrubone said...

Heh, good stuff.

Then there's the whole thing about even hybrid buses using oil, not to mention roads. I've always been at a loss as to how buses are to run without roads to run them on.

Libertyscott said...

Owen: The problem is that unless public transport has average patronage above a certain level AND attracts those users from driving cars it does NOT cause less environmental damage. Buses and trains have several times the emissions of cars, so need to replace a certain number of existing car driving trips. It did cost money to work that out by the way - it is in the STCC report.

However, patronage of public transport includes a wide mix of users. Those who would have driven, those who would have been passengers in cars, those who would have walked or biked, those who wouldn't have travelled at all. Environmentally only the first group are a gain, the rest are not (excluding Mohring effect which complicates things, but I think can safely be ignored for now).

You make a non-sequitur - why would spending on more bus and train services be better for the environment than fixing a dangerous intersection or building a passing lane, or eliminating a traffic bottleneck?

Food and housing and electricity help sustain our standard of living, but I don't need to be made to pay for everyone else's.

Why would one person own all of the transport networks? Where and when has that ever happened? Why would that person want to price people from using his asset anyway? The idea is in the ludicrous realms of cartoons.

Who said I'd sell all the roads to one owner? I've written several times about privatising roads, and have long advocated all access roads be given to body corporates comprising the property owners.

Why shouldn't people pay for urban transport, for some reason all intercity transport works wonders without subsidies (aviation, long distance rail and bus). Subsidising a sector that is blamed so much for pollution is absurd, but it shows how the Greens divorce evidence and analysis from their warm fuzzy religious approach to so many issues.

Owen McCaffrey said...

Of course public transport needs critical mass to achieve emissions.

You are also right, it is the trips in private cars that are what need to be reduced.

A dangerous intersection has nothing to do with the environment.

Public transport is exactly the way to reduce bottlenecks - take more cars off the roads.

how does your food get to your house? What about the network that carries your electricity? That would be public networks. Making them private would make them more inefficient and the property rights issues in connecting such a network would be almost impossible to manage. Just one link in the distribution chain could prevent your "necessities" arriving.

The transport networks would yes go into many smaller hands and just one of those holders of a crucial link could hold the whole country to ransom. Thanks. Good solution.
That situation is in the ludicrous realms of cartoons.

People do pay for urban transport through their taxes. The problem is not paying for them the problem is the property rights of those owning the networks.

Which is why transport networks the world owner are kept in public hands. Exactly for that reason. Long distance rail and bus always run on subsidized networks so that is no point.

The greens have lobbied to subsidize green public transport. You advocate dirty private transport.

Libertyscott said...

Owen: The thing is you can't force people to catch a more frequent public transport service. Bus frequencies in Hamilton doubled, but patronage increased 5%, a net loss for the environment.

However, there is precious little evidence that there is any significant mode shift in New Zealand from car drivers (not passengers) following major public transport. Just because more services are subsidised doesn't mean there are many less car trips.

Actually Owen, electricity gets to my house on a privately owned grid. Ownership doesn't matter. Frankly you know next to nothing about the electricity sector in NZ. Electricity gets to your house produced by private or SOE owned generator (e.g. Contact), through a different SOE grid operator (Transpower), through a private or trust owned local lines companies (e.g. Orion), to sell you electricity measured by a private or SOE retail company (e.g. Genesis).

All of these have contracts with each other, the property rights issues have long been clear since there has never been one owner/operator/retailer of the whole system in NZ. It has always had at least 2. It's the same in quite a few countries, so I don't know quite how you can throw example around about an industry you're clearly ignorant about.

Who will hold the country to ransom? The roads in NZ are held by 74 different entities, private companies own a majority of Auckland airport and Wellington airport, funnily enough all of the water companies in England are private and nobody has dehydrated yet (and in real terms prices have declined compared to Scotland).
The telecommunications sector has plenty of suppliers with several networks, but you clearly shiver with fear that Telecom's board will sit one day and rub its hands with glee and say "ha ha we'll shut down the country and demand a billion dollars".

I don't pay for food through taxes, I don't see why I should pay for transport other people use. It's theft. Why is there a problem with the property rights of network owners?

No Owen. Transport networks the world over are NOT kept in public hands. In the UK the rail network is privately owned, it is in Japan as well, and indeed virtually all of the USA, and half of Canada's networks. Indeed almost all of the UK rail network was built and privately owned, as were the first roads, and canals.

What subsidised networks do long distance buses run on? State highways? The network that creates a financial surplus from revenue raised from its users. You're making it up as you go along, you have a belief about a sector you are ignorant about.

"Dirty private transport". Actually Owen I advocate user pays. A bus has 8x the noxious emissions of a car, when it isn't carrying 8x the people a car is carrying, it is dirty.

You missed my points before, they went over your head. Much spending on roads is about projects that don't have any negative environmental impacts, LIKE improving intersections and dangerous corners, bridge replacement and the like. You made the vapid point that diverting this money (effectively from saving lives) to subsidising buses and trains is good for the environment. It's quite wrong, since you don't understand what the NLTP is spending money on. Have you read the NLTP?

Have you read Surface Transport Costs and Charges?

Where do you get your ideas about the transport sector, sources other than Green Party press releases?

Owen McCaffrey said...

No one needs to be forced to take a bus or catch a train. Have a look at systems overseas which are extremely well patronised.

Hamilton bus services are not frequent enough for people to be able to give up their cars. Also intercity transport is not adequate for someone to do without a car. So Hamilton is the worst example you could give for public transport failure.

There is no place you can live in NZ that you could get by without a car and still be able to conveniently undertake commuting and intercity transport. Once intercity transport is improved then commuting will also follow.

The electricity is transported around our country by transpower which is a publicly owned utility. Don't you remember the public problems when they tried to build cables up the north Island to connect generation to distribution. Good luck to a private operator trying to connect a grid with any sort of efficiency. The answer has already been more dirty coal power generation in Auckland to overcome property rights problems in distribution. This would only get worse under private networks.

Explain how a 100% private network would achieve more efficient distribution than a public network given the extremely high resistence to pylons on peoples properties?

As for the UK water industry...you obviously have not read the actual information on this industry. It is heavily regulated by government to ensure minimum standards of performance and human rights are maintained. Hardly an example of "fully privitised". I hae no problem with the UK model because it still maintains some basic rights with the public through regulations.

Your taxes does pay for your food. How doyou think it get's to you? on government subsidised roads. How is your food in transit protected from theft - by government subsidised police force. If you had to pay those costs yourself then you should add them to your cost of food.

You still haven't explained why GST on your last technological purchase was allocated 100% to help you get that? The fact you are missing is that I was a tax consultant and know that collection of tax is usually unrelated to its eventual use.

Next quetion.

Libertyscott said...

Owen: Apparently you want to bribe them to catch a bus or train though, which of course is forcing others to pay for it.

Hamilton isn't the worst example. Half hourly is a fairly normal service frequency in many cities.

Nonsense Owen. I lived for 9 years in Wellington without a car, I was a 30-40 minute walk from work, or I could catch a bus (15-20 minutes). I used taxis, I caught planes, buses and trains, and rented cars. I know a few Wellingtonians who do the same.

Owen, Transpower is only the national grid. It does not distribute power to your home. There are 43 registered network telecommunications operators in NZ, most privately owned. They have built a range of telecommunications networks some over vast distances across the country. They seemed to build a network successfully. Vodafone for example has the most ubiquitous one, but Telstra Clear also has an extensive intercity cable network ala Transpower.

It doesn't damned well matter. The US and UK national grids are privately owned, and functional and develop with little difficulty. So where is your evidence that ownership matters? Like I said, local lines companies are a mix of private and community trust owned operations, but do any of them have difficulties building networks because of ownership?

Transpower's problems were funnily enough as a SOE - so ownership apparently didn't make it easier.

UK, water is privately owned, but yes regulated too. So you have now defeated your argument that ownership matters, when it is regulation.

Owen. Please state how roads are subsidised again, repeating the same point when it gets rebutted, means you're just making it up. Not a cent of my non motoring taxes goes into state highways.
The Police argument is a bit specious of course given I have yet to notice a Police escort for most goods, and indeed the Police have a pretty poor record in protecting anyone's property rights from theft. Besides the marginal share of the Police in that transaction would be tiny.

You may have been a tax consultant, but you did not look after or have anything to do with the National Land Transport Fund. I explained, but you're clearly too pig headed to understand, all FED, MVR and RUC revenue is legally hypothecated to that fund, which can only be spent under the NLTP. It is the only hypothecated tax in New Zealand. It is different from other taxes. I didn't mention GST, so you're question is dud. GST isn't hypothecated.

It might help for you to research things you know nothing about, because it is frankly quite tiresome.

So don't parrot out your religious beliefs around motoring taxes which don't correspond to the law, and don't parrot out the subsidisation of road, without explaining how and by how much. I've already explained about road subsidies, there are none for state highways, and for local roads it isn't much. Have you read the STCC report, or does actually reading non-partisan research about an area you polemicise about a bit too difficult?

Owen McCaffrey said...

Without police, courts and a justice system...you would need to pay for all or some of these things yourself. A portion would relate to your food. So taxes do pay for some of your food.

No-one talked about bribing anyone. It was you.
The Treasury website clearly states that historically RUC covered only 70% of transport costs. So where did that other money come from? Thin air? Um, taxes, sorry. You keep splitting roads and highways but I simply said roads. Read treasury website to see that RUC only covered 70% of transport costs. It is written in pretty simple English.

Arguing that highways pay for themselves seems like a strong point. Until you realise that if there was a well-functioning rail system and hardly any roads, that the rails would pay for itself in that instance too. You see it is the same as saying that McDonalds is profitable in a town and therefore no other restaurant could compete there. But it Pizza Hut came in McDonalds revenues would reduce and Pizza Hut could make a profit. Arguing that roads pay for themselves NOW is a silly as arguing that McDonalds is profitable without any competition. MOST things are profitable without any viable alternative/competition.

So your argument that highways pay for themselves (even whilst other roads obviously do not) is useless as a reason to further support roads at the expense of public transport. A rational and intelligent person would consider more than just the current scenario, but you haven't.

It does matter that the UK water utilities are heavily regulated because heavy regulation negates my only criticism of your idea - which is that one link in the network can raise prics or cut off services at their discretion. So if you are advocating the same system in the UK fo NZ roads, and other networks it is fine with me. Because regulation would ensure all consumer rights are upheld.

Sorry but you have never lived in Auckland have you? Rush hour buses are at least every 10 minutes. Even this is not adequate because at non-peak times they are 30 minutes or more which is unsuitable for someone without a car (in comparison to a car).

Transpower carries power down the backbone. You do realise how much electricity crosses the Cook Straight in to the North Island don't you? Well that means that basically MOST of NZ'ers are using Transpower as part of the distribution of their electricity and Transpower is a public utility. Point to me.

Mobile telecommunications are different to land-based ones because property rights are far less of an issue. If you cannot realise that...

I understood what you said. ALL taxes have to be calculated somehow. Every tax has a calculation. Until last year RUC were pooled into general tax. Have a look on Treasury's website where it says this clearly. It seems you only understood the tiny little square in which you worked rather than the bigger picture. Unfortunate.

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