Given the blogosphere in NZ in terms of transport policy debate is dominated by one (well-meaning) blog that is almost entirely focused on one dimension of transport (how people move about in cities, specifically one city), and with one philosophical perspective (central planning, state funded, as opposed to market driven, user funded), I thought I'd do a quick review of parties' transport policies for this election.
My test for them all is:
1. Understanding of the transport sector: Most politicians don't know who owns what, who is responsible for what and what exists and doesn't exist. Those that do deserve some credit.
2. Support for competition, innovation and entrepreneurship: New entry both of operators and vehicle types, and new modes of transport should generally be encouraged. This includes those who wish to do what the government fails to do.
3. User pays: Taxpayers generally shouldn't be subsidising users of transport services or infrastructure, but it does allow cross-subsidisation of marginal users of networks that are inefficient to charge for (e.g. footpaths). Infrastructure costs should generally be recovered by users of those networks, not by other network users.
4. Economic rationalism: Where the state does intervene, the net economic benefits should exceed costs, demonstrably. This includes spending and reducing compliance costs for unnecessary regulations.
5. Wider impacts: Make this safety, environmental and social impacts, and say I'm being soft. What this basically means is, will the policy help or hinder reductions in accidents, noxious pollution, and improve people's ability to access what they want (bearing in mind the impacts on others who may have to bear the costs of the measures).
I'll give each a score out of 5, giving a total possible score of 25. Bear in mind I am looking at land, air and sea transport. Any party that says nothing about any mode is presumed to agree with the status quo, which is generous I believe. I am guided only by the parties' expressed policies online, unless there is a statement by a leader or leading spokesperson that gives cause to vary this.
National: 5, 3, 3, 2, 3 = 16 out of 25. It's about big roads, some of which aren't good value for money, some of which are. There's a lot for public transport, not enough for the fundamentalists, and spending on Kiwirail is likely to be the best last chance it gets to show it is worth anything.
NZ First: 2, 2, 2, 1, 1 = 8 out of 25. Suddenly an obsession about public transport, especially reviving long distance passenger trains. Remember the Northerner, the Southerner? They'd be back. Get rid of road user charges, replace them with fuel tax, then replace fuel tax with tolls like road user charges. Usually silliness you'd expect from a cult that gets one member to write policy.
ACT: 3, 4, 4, 4, 3 = 18 out of 25. It's all about roads, and having them run like businesses, with user pays for public transport and allowing the private sector to build competing roads as well. It's light in terms of content, with nothing on other modes, but given air and sea largely look after themselves, that's not a bad thing. It's a start, and it would mean some of the Nats' pet road projects would come under closer scrutiny.
Labour: 1, 2, 1, 1, 2 = 7 out of 25. "The current government has been obsessed with a handful of hugely expensive projects that it selected for political reasons" then Labour selects the ones it agrees with, for political reasons, including the big Auckland underground rail loop, building a new line to Marsden Point and reopening the Napier-Gisborne railway, so it can carry the 12 truckloads a week it once carried. Lots of spending, lots of utter drivel, and it supports the so-called "congestion free network" promoted by leftwing/greenie/central planner ginger group "Generation Zero" (which will do next to nothing for congestion on the network people are prepared to pay for). It's Green Party policy-lite and just as intellectually robust, with silliness on motorhomes and trucks not being allowed in fast lanes on motorways to give NZ First something to admire.
Democrats for Social Credit: 2, 1, 1, 1, 1 = 6 out of 25. Central planning obsessives with weird statements like "Air New Zealand as an important means of transporting perishable goods to overseas markets". The mental contortions required to give credibility to the funny money men adds to it (but then funny money is more common than we think).
Greens: 3,1,0,1,2 = 7 out of 25. So much money wasted on road projects with poor economic returns, stop them and build railways with even worse ones. Well that's not what they say, but it is the truth. The Green mantra is that walking, biking and riding rail based transport puts you into the promised land, but driving is a curse. Those who drive are "auto-dependent" and are "forced" to use your car, and you're just aching to walk to a tram stop to wait to ride a tram with lots of other people to go to the place you want to go. If only everyone could get about this way it would be smart. Except its not. It's a tired, old-fashioned obsession with building your way out of problems, except this is with railways and busways, not roads. What's got to be most stupid is that unlike green parties in other countries, the Greens have ignored congestion charging as a way of reducing traffic congestion and pollution. Politics over evidence.
ALCP: no policy
Maori: no policy
Internet Mana: 2, 0, 0, 0, 1 = 3. Well you didn't exactly expect much did you? Rhetoric on nationalising parts of the transport sector that are already government owned, but the big deal is free public transport. Everywhere. It's an old-fashioned tired old leftwing proposal that claims it would free up the roads, but what it would do is shift a lot of air by rail and bus. It wont ease congestion, it will cost a fortune (uncosted), and don't expect any innovation or competition, but a large union dominated set of monopolies.
Conservative: no policy
MORE TO COME