Bad news for Len’s tolls plan

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The government has poured cold water on Len Brown’s jacked up solution for paying for his monuments via road tolls.

Lenny clearly wasn’t listening when John Key said he could have his rail loop but only if four conditions were met. One of those was no tolls.

The Government has rejected two proposals for getting Auckland road users to pay for an estimated $12 billion shortfall in funding for roading projects.

The first proposal – suggested by a think-tank commissioned by Auckland mayor Len Brown – involved ongoing higher rates paired with fuel tax increases of 3.5 cents annually and the second included higher public transport fares and charges to use existing roads. 

The Government rejected the proposals when in draft form in April and the stance has been reiterated by Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee, Radio New Zealand reports.

“It doesn’t appear that they have heard some of the views of the Government – particularly on tolling of existing roads and then the somewhat perplexing idea that you can raise revenue by reducing traffic through congestion charging,” Mr Brownlee said.

“I don’t think that those two things are compatible and I don’t think it’s a particularly secure way to go about looking at future funding.”

  • Orange

    Crash and burn Len. Hey, here’s an idea for you, drop rates.

    • AnonWgtn

      Silly Boy.

    • Alman

      And drop the salaries of those at the top…… Just a restructure to free up some more money for roading projects

  • Clever Harry

    That Consensus Building Group is a cunning sham. Hand picked by Lenny and made up of leftist public transport lovers and a few suckers from right wing lobby groups wanting to job non and feel important. Get that lot together and you have some predictable ideas.
    I doubt the National government sanctioned the group in any case and without their approval anything suggested by the group was likely to be poo poo’ed. what a surprise.
    Len was dumb to think he could use lobby horses and left loonies to swing and polarise the Government the government under pressure. Duh!

  • Nick F

    The Mayor is so keen to push through his ideas and then later accept all the credit that he doesn’t care how much it costs.
    I’m glad old Gerry gave those ideas a good rinsing.
    I like it a lot when Gerry tells local government to piss off.
    Go ya good thing!

  • Shelby

    Len’s a dumb arse.

    The motorways he wants to toll for his Council’s benefit are owned by the crown not Auckland Council.

    And because the tail does not wag the dog he can’t be so stupid as to think that he can order the Government around and expect they will so whatever he suggests?

    What a fucking narcissistic self congratulating who maniac!

  • sheppy

    Without John Key this country would be truly stuffed!
    Auckland Council needs replacing with a bunch of people who realise that taxes / rates aren’t a bottomless pit to be squandered at every opportunity and that their primary purpose is to serve Aucklanders in a cost effective manner

    • jaundiced

      Your unquestioning faith in our Dear Leader is inspiring.
      Anyway, before knee-jerking on this, how about a bit of reasoned discussion. Such as, what’s so wrong with tolls? If you don’t want to use them, don’t. Drivers can make their own cost-benefit decisions – just like on the Auckland-Puhoi route.

      • jagilby

        I tend to agree actually.
        I can’t see what’s wrong with a user pays approach to these things.
        If under current circumstances you drive your car into the central city along with everyone else at peak times that results in a traffic back-log. You don’t like sitting in traffic. More roads/transport alternatives (whatever they may be) are required to resolve the traffic back-log.
        Well then stump up if you’re travelling at times of high congestion.
        Same applies to the buidling of a train set or a new bus network. Don’t subsidise any form of travel. If it costs $X.XX per journey then charge $X.XX per journey to those who use that mode.

        • Agent BallSack

          Yeah but then the loop couldnt be built and britomart would need to be ripped up. None of those will ever make a profit.

          • Orange

            Excellent idea

        • James

          But what if you don’t mind sitting in traffic? If you are investing in new infrastructure then that is pretty much the only time that it is reasonable to borrow money.
          You borrow the money and then pay it back by charging the people who are using the infrastructure. Tolling existing users of paid for infrastructure in order to subsidise future users of new infrastructure is completely arse about face.

          This has the benefit of demonstrating that the value of something exceeds its cost – if people value it then they will pay for it, if they don’t value it then they won’t. If people don’t value it then you shouldn’t build it.

          • Bunswalla

            Exactly. They tried the same thing in Tauranga – charging tolls for years after the original bridge was paid for (several times over, plus enough money in the maintenance fund to never need another cent).

            They were given very short shrift when people simply refused to pay the toll as it broke the specific law that was enacted to enable them to collect tolls in the first place. They tried to argue that since every road in the country eventually joined up with the harbour bridge, they could collect tolls for the purpose of building new ones that would also join up. Got laughed out of court.

          • Get a grip

            Nothing like rewriting a bit of history eh:-) Buns.
            Tauranga bridge paid for several times over eh.
            You must live at the Mount because Mounties were against the tolls while Tauranga side had a bit more sense about the whole thing and understood that the bridge needed access roads and better to have it user pays than rates funded.
            But never let the facts get in the way of a good dob of emotion eh :-)

          • Mr_Blobby

            The trouble with tolls is look at the Auckland Harbor bridge in the end it was costing 22cents to collect 25 cents. Look at the Tauranga bridge once it was paid for they just kept on collecting.

            Once you go down that path the taking never stops.

      • James

        The Auckland – Puhoi route has a viable alternative that has been paid for long ago. The toll is to pay for the new route – and is there to ensure that the users of it are the ones who pay for the road.
        Tolling existing, paid for roads, to pay for new infrastructure is the complete opposite of this. If there is demand then get the private sector to build it and get the users to pay for it; if there isn’t demand then don’t build it.

      • mike

        You can’t put a toll on an existing road

        • jaundiced

          You can do whatever you want if you’re in government. But I’m not arguing for that. In the Auckland-Puhoi case, the toll is to help pay for a new road, and drivers can choose whether or not to use it. Seems perfectly logical, and is purely user -pays. Can be a public-private joint venture.

          • Bunswalla

            You can only do whatever you want if you get enough votes. Toll roads in New Zealand require acts of law to enable collection of tolls.

            The way it has worked so far (Tauranga Harbour Bridge, Route K in Tauranga, and the Puhoi one) is that a bill is presented that allows the collection of tolls after the road is built, to repay loans for the purpose of then building the roads.

            I doubt very much that a bill would be passed to toll existing roads for the purpose of building train sets or other roads. In fact the government has specifically rejected it.

      • sheppy

        I don’t have a problem with user pays, indeed its why we have tax on fuel already, and I am happy for that to be used to look after the roads. I have a problem with paying TWICE especially when most of the tolls collected will likely go on running the collection service rather than improving the roads. Its what happens everywhere else in the world that its been imposed.
        I have a problem paying for a trainset that is unlikely to make much difference to congestion especially as it will open the flood gates to permanent subsidies to run it. I’ll happily pay for road improvements out of my fuel tax but PT fares should pay for PT improvements.
        I also have a BIG problem with a VERY wasteful council WASTING MY RATES money and then coming begging for more.
        Wasn’t the amalgamation of the councils supposed to make things more efficient?

  • ratesarerevolting

    LBIAFC !

  • Sthn.Jeff

    Road Tolls on Motorways…. Another Great Idea! Can someone remind me what the one on the Northern Motorway returns to the LTSA? About 30 to 40% after costs if I recall correctly.

    • jaundiced

      As opposed to 0% if they came out of rates or petrol tax?

  • LesleyNZ

    So there we go Mayor Len. Now who do we vote for, for Mayor in the upcoming elections? The Centre-right are not up to much with suggestions – so it will John Pagani. Why is the Centre-right not openly supporting John Pagani?

    • GazzW

      It’s not John Pagani Lesley – he’s more of a lefty than Len. Think you mean John Palino. Unfortunately I think that the absence of Maurice Williamson means that we are doomed to another term from Len which means that its imperative that you vote for whoever passes as a right wing candidate as a councillor in an effort to keep Mayor Len under control.

      • LesleyNZ

        You are so right – won’t be voting John Pagani!

  • Muffin

    So when is a think tank required to come up with the ground breakingly innovative idea of raising taxes to pay for things? how much were these geniuses paid to come up with that brilliant plan.

    would have been better to put their salaries in the pot in the first place

  • Sir Cullen’s Sidekick

    Very simple fellows. Fat boy Gerry will slap a countrywide petrol tax of 15 cents a litre. This decision is going to backfire big time on National. If Aucklanders want roads, they should pay for it. Not my aunty from Rongotai.

    • Orange

      Len wants the money to pay for his billion dollar train set

    • Phill

      If Christchurch want a stadium they should pay for it. Not my Aunty from Henderson. What a wonderfull world we would live in if we all thought like you.
      So they ask 100 workers in the CBD (who use public trasport anyway) and 74% say not opposed to tolls. Loopy Len then tells the media (who run with it) that this equates to “almost 80% of Aucklanders”.
      Len is full of shit!

      • Sir Cullen’s Sidekick

        Aucklanders want to pay toll, what is your problem bro?

  • cows4me

    I think a major part of the problem is the sheer expense any infrastructure project costs in this country. The trouble seems to be every man and his dog clips the ticket as the project proceeds, it’s just about out and out corruption. We seem to pay for everything three times over in this joint. Perhaps you should ask your beloved leader in Auckland how much local government will need to advance these projects. I’m picking only one dollar in three actually goes into tar, bitumen and white paint the rest just gets pissed up against a bureaucratic wall.

    • GazzW

      There was a retired international transport expert speaking to Leighton Smith this morning who quoted the Sydney airport rail link as the classic example of public transport blunders. Simply, it cost three times as much as initially budgeted for and carries one third of the passengers stated in the projections. Result = financial disaster carried by ratepayer and NSW taxes.

      • Mr_Blobby

        That is pretty standard for all big projects overstate the benefit and understate the cost.

      • Phill

        And they didnt have a taniwha to pay off either!

    • Mr_Blobby

      You are not far wrong cows. I saw a project for a small bridge the budget was 2.3 Million. The actual building cost was 4.6 Million the total cost was something like 10.6 Million when I inquired about the extra 6 Million I was told it was for professional services.

  • Mr_Blobby

    How about this, take the subsidy of public transport and make people pay what it really costs.

    That will reduce the funding shortfall by 85 million per year.

    • GazzW

      Gerry Brownlee is reported as saying today that every passenger boarding a train from Henderson to Britomart costs the taxpayer/ratepayers $10 a time.

      • Mr_Blobby

        Then add it to the fare, and let people decide whether to travel or not.

      • Agent BallSack

        So in other words its @#$%^ing useless and costs $6 to the taxpayer everytime a person gets aboard.

        • GazzW

          No ABS – that’s $10 plus the fare!

  • Ururoa

    All this from Gerry who has only just managed to find out which way his arse is pointing after his big u-turn over the city rail loop!

    The real issue for those Wankerton tossers is that if Auckland gets tolls, then Auckland (quite rightly) gets to decide where to spend that money. Note how Wanker Gerry also scotched the idea of raising rates? (No-one wants rates rises, but that is none of his fucking business! That’s for Auckland to decide!) All those Wankertonians want is to control the money, so then they can choose which of their mates they dish it out to to get the nice directorships on retiring from parliament.

    We used to have a toll on the harbour bridge, but the Wankerton fatsos cancelled that as well. The toll should have been kept there and the funds built up over the years to pay for the second harbour crossing. Makes perfect fucking sense, doesn’t it?

    I say dig a big fucking ditch from Porirua to Petone and cast the lot adrift, preferably in a good Northerly so they end up in fucking Antarctica and don’t become a plague on any other civilised beings.

    To paraphrase one of the regular posters here, GBIAFC!

    • James

      Once you have paid off the loans for the bridge, and the interest, then it is wrong to continue to toll for it. If you want another crossing then make sure there is / will be demand for it, go about chatting to the private sector and get them to build it. In return they collect the tolls for a certain amount of time to pay it off (and give themselves the requisite margin if they can – and a higher margin if it is under budget), and then hand over the asset back to the government / ratepayers as applicable.

      This ensures that it is only built if there is demand, there isn’t a subsidy (as that is basically evidence that there isn’t demand), it is built in the right place, it is built at the right time and without putting Joe Bloggs from Invercargill on the line to pay for something that he won’t use and won’t get any benefit out of.

      Keeping or putting tolls on an existing road to pay for a new one is simply an admission that the economic value that people put on the new road / crossing / rail link is lower than its cost. Only an absolute idiot would then say that it should be built anyway.

      • Ururoa

        Every single business in the world (or at least every single one that wants to stay in business) builds into the cost of current products a portion of future capital requirements to develop and market the next product. When you buy a new phone you are not just paying for the phone you have bought, but for the next generation phone that the company will develop.

        Likewise with infrastructure. We could have kept tolling the harbour bridge, and after paying off the original cost, saved that money for the second crossing. Or, we could have put aside some of the money saved over the years by the efficiencies gained from having the harbour bridge, to pay for the second crossing.

        We did neither. Now we have to find all the money from scratch. But Gerry et al now decide they want the projects, but won’t let us toll, wont let us place a tax on fuel, and wont let us raise rates (all Auckland specific taxes). Why? He must want Invercargill to pay for Auckland!!

        Your short sighted, poorly thought out economic dogma is exactly what has put us in the bind we are in now. Individuals do not put a price on a new road, a new hospital or a new school. The numbers mean nothing to the individual, and the individual has no way of assessing the value of any of these massive infrastructure projects to themselves (and their descendants) over the life of the investment. It is idiotic ivory tower economists who propose inane models like this, models that have no bearing on the real world at all, that have dropped us in this shit in the first place.

  • out2lunch

    The price for trains just went up the other week. Add transaction fees every time you top up your hop card. And now Len wants tolls, to make it a wonderful smorgasbord of costs for the daily commuter in Auckland. What about internal belt tightening i.e stop sponsoring gay bloody pride events, axe the useless maori council, stop salary increases for inept council members, get rid of the costly V8′s rubbish, and geez spend money on projects which Auckland can actually afford.

  • GregM

    What about the 30,000 CBD residents ? We don’t need the trainset, don’t need more motorways, and don’t need the second harbour crossing.
    Take note Len, keep your thieving mitts out of our pockets. C**t.

  • JerryLewis

    The easiest way to stiff Len is to not own a property in Auckland. Take our $$, invest in other locations, rent of some poor sap who will pay 4 times the current rates and then drive across Auckland’s excellent non-motorway network, live close to work and basically avoid paying anything towards the cost of PT. That’s a sure fire method for living in Auckland and getting off scott free any contribution to something dumb.

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