Transport

Claire Trevett on the ClusterTruck

Claire Trevett’s column today explores Labour’s idiocy with their clustertruck policy.

Former Labour Finance Minister Michael Cullen’s 2006 prophecy of “jam tomorrow” will come to fruition today, although it may not quite be the kind of jam people were hoping for.

It will be a traffic jam.

Realising there are votes to be gained from angry holidaymakers stuck in traffic for hours, Labour took measures to try to harvest them this week by releasing a groundbreaking holidaymakers’ transport policy.

Labour has long been driven by a drive to reduce inequality. So it announced it would drop the need to register caravans and trailers and cut road user charges for motorhomes and campervans.

The coup de grace of the policy was the ban on trucks from using the right-hand lane on three or four lane motorways – an attempt to peg into the futile rage that swamps drivers whose aims are thwarted by said trucks.

As “Kiwi families” loaded up their surfboards and fishing rods, David Cunliffe’s Caravan of Love was here to help. “Fun can quickly turn to frustration when the family realises the rego for the caravan has expired or there’s a big truck hogging the fast lane.”

Cunliffe declared, “Kiwis are sweating the small stuff too much.”  Read more »

A stupid policy from a stupid, stupid man

Paul Henry comments on Labour’s new transport policy?

Add to that Labour also released their keep cyclists safe policy yesterday…hmmm…quite how moving trucks to the left closer to cyclists is going to aid that policy is beyond me.

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And then there is the issue with the Auckland Harbour Bridge issue, where trucks are forbidden to use the outside lanes due to cracks on the clip ons. Sw now, under Labour’s policy the trucks will all have to travel in the left hand lanes and then transition to the inside lanes somewhere in the vicinity of spaghetti junction so they comply with NZTA requirements for trucks to travel up the centre lanes of the bridge.

Read more »

An email from a truckie

Yesterday we wrote about immigrant drivers and a commenter expressed his view about the responsibility of the industry.

I have received this email from an industry insider:

Dear Mr Whale Oil,

I believe that the government has made an error in removing truck drivers from the skill shortage list.

In this case I agree with what the Herald journalist has written, and I know that a mistake has been made with this decision.

It was interesting to read your piece, and the comments.

Without doubt there is a shortage of drivers in New Zealand, and in most of the developed world. This is because these people (drivers) have special skills, and we aren’t making them fast enough.

Ken Shirley said it takes years to make a Class 5 driver, and one of your commenters said that it takes a much shorter time. Please understand that this is not about getting a licence. Any half-arsed dickhead can get a licence. I am talking about being a driver of a unit weighing 40 tonnes, driving head on towards you, and worth $500,000. Not anyone can drive one of those. Not anyone can get ability to drive a heavy vehicle in a short time. The guys we train take about 3 years to get to that level.  Read more »

Another sign of a healthy economy

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New vehicle purchases are their highest since 1994.

Commercial vehicle purchases are up 20%, which is more tangible evidence of improved business confidence and expansion.

New Zealand continues to perform at levels not seen in decades: March 2014 is the best since 1994 at 11,238 registrations, up 18% year-on-year and bringing the First Quarter total to 30,824 units, up 15% on 2013. Commercial vehicles are up 20% in March and 19% year-to-date. In the brands ranking, Toyota (16%), Ford (10.7%) and Holden (8.5%) reign supreme as usual, but Mitsubishi is catching up, up 3 spots on February to #4 and 7.8% share, passing Hyundai, Mazda and Nissan.

In terms of proper blokes vehicles…utes…Ford has knocked Toyota off their perch.  Read more »

Making gay electric cars even gayer

Just when you thought you couldn’t find a car any gayer than Fossy’s gay ute, the EU has decided to make gay electric cars even gayer…by forcing them to make brrrrm sounds.

Silent but potentially deadly electric cars will have to be fitted with artificial ‘sound generators’ so blind and partially sighted pedestrians can hear them coming, the European Parliament voted today.

It is part of new EU legislation which will also require conventional cars and lorries with petrol and diesel engines to make 25 per cent less noise.

The MEPs voted to introduce mandatory ‘acoustic vehicle alerting systems’ (AVAS) – sounding like a conventional engine – to all new electric and hybrid cars to protect vulnerable road users.

It follows lobbying from British MEPs and campaign groups including Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Electric cars and plug-in hybrid cars such as the all-electric BMWi3 or the Toyota Prius currently emit very little sound when running on electric power only.

Campaigners say this particularly dangerous for partially-sighted and blind pedestrians.

Earlier proposals from the European Commission called for the installation of an artificial sound system to be done on a voluntary basis only.   Read more »

Darien Fenton questions the honesty of the road transport industry

Darien Fenton has probably done more to upset the transport industry in her miniscule time as transport spokehead than any other opposition union spokesman.

Her interest is based solely around Union experiences in Australia, where conditions are very different.

Labour’s transport spokesperson has called for a review of truck driver work arrangements – suggesting accidents are linked to contracting arrangements.

Darien Fenton says that after a number of fatal accidents involving trucks in the last month, the Government should not be ignoring the Opposition’s calls for a review of the trade.

“We know that truck drivers are allowed to work up to 13 hours a day, but many work much longer than that because the pay isn’t up to scratch and they need to make a living,” says Fenton.

“We also know that pressures are often put on drivers to breach time and speeding rules, yet the number of chain of responsibility prosecutions – where those who make the demands on drivers to break those rules are held accountable – are falling.

“While there are many good trucking firms in New Zealand which take care of their drivers and train and pay them properly, there are some who don’t and they are the killers on our roads,” she added.  Read more »

Apparently it is because of Climate Change that the search for MH370 took so long

No I’m not kidding, the same folks who contributed to the Ship of Fools debacle are now spinning that the slow recovery operations in the southern Indian Ocean is because of climate change and searches in coming years for planes that set down in the ocean down there (so far only the one) will be harder to find because of climate change.

James Delingpole explains at Breitbart London.

The answer to that one is a big “no” by the way, but that certainly hasn’t stopped the usual green suspects trying to shoehorn the Malaysian tragedy into their grand universal theory of everything.

Here’s how an enterprising environmental reporter has managed it at Mother Jones:

Scientists say man-made climate change has fundamentally altered the currents of the vast, deep oceans where investigators are currently scouring for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight, setting a complex stage for the ongoing search for MH370. If the Boeing 777 did plunge into the ocean somewhere in the vicinity of where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean, the location where its debris finally ends up, if found at all, may be vastly different from where investigators could have anticipated 30 years ago.

Possibly there’s a bait and switch operation going on here. None of the three scientists quoted in the article makes mention of plane debris: they just talk about the changing nature of recent patterns in the Southern Oceans which, almost inevitably, they ascribe to man-made climate change and which they insist is a cause for great concern.  Read more »

The perils of public transport

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Public transport unplugged in Wellington

Wellington city is removing the electric trolley buses because the system has inherent problems. Aside from future costs of upgrading lines the system is flawed because it is hindered by breakdowns, set routes and backlogs.

Sounds like the same sorts of things that could said of trains isn’t it?

Perhaps Wellingtonians will embrace the flexibility and practicalities of the car.

The plug has been pulled on Wellington’s trolley buses, after 90 years of plying the capital’s streets.

The wires that have criss-crossed the central city since 1924 will come down in 2017, and the trolley buses will be replaced, under a plan being put forward by Greater Wellington Regional Council.  Read more »

Lance Wiggs has it almost right

Yesterday the Green party announced that they think it would be a good idea to spend $50 million over four years to encourage kids to walk or ride bikes to school.

What was amazing was that they called for submission and then closed them and delivered a policy in 3 days. that is surely just the thinnest veneer of public consultation on policy. On the plus at least they aren’t stealing images from Peter Jackson anymore.

It is something I have been banging on about for years, but as is usual the Greens think money has to be spent.

Lance Wiggs agrees with it…sort of, but what is more interesting is his observations about how much of  a bunch of sooks and blouses we have become.

When I went to school over 30 years ago the norm was to walk, cycle or take public transport. Similarly a colleague I spoke to yesterday said that when he went to school in Tauranga 20 years that there were hundreds of bike racks at his school and it was hard to find a place to park his bike. And I talked last night to someone from Hawkes Bay, and when she went to primary school a little over 10 years ago cycling was the norm as well.

But there has been a dramatic shift to little children being dropped off by their mummies (that’s how we would have cruelly described it at school) over the last 20 years. And the result of the critical mass shifting is that it’s now deemed too dangerous for kids to cycle or walk to school. But a lot of that perceived or real danger is the very traffic caused by those car driving mummies.

It’s a vicious circle, exemplified by another conversation yesterday with someone who firstly talked about how she used to cycle in Auckland, then about how cycling in Auckland became too dangerous because of the cars and poor infrastructure, and then about how cyclists in Auckland are painful and dangerous when she drives her car. I struggled to get her to understand the causes and effects.

We need to break this circle of despair, and get people back onto the streets, walking and cycling. We are seeing this start in some cities, Wellington especially, and successes in Auckland with multi-use areas like Fort Lane and Elliot Street. The end game is that New Zealand has vibrant walkable, liveable cities, with incredible people-filled street life and places to live that attract and retain the best talent.

So it’s great to see the Greens today launched a cycling to school policy. It’s a clever start.  Read more »

Wednesday Weapons – Robot Trucks

You’ve all heard of Google’s autonomous vehicles, well now the US Army is trialling  autonomous trucks.

U.S. Army convoys will soon be able to roll into even the roughest of unfriendly foreign urban areas and combat zones without the worry of loss of life, thanks to new technology that will make large vehicles fully autonomous.

In demonstrations earlier this month at Fort Hood, Texas, the U.S. Army Tank-Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) and Lockheed Martin demonstrated the ability of the Autonomous Mobility Appliqué System (AMAS), which gives full autonomy to convoys to operate in urban environments. In tests, driverless tactical vehicles were able to navigate hazards and obstacles including pedestrians, oncoming traffic, road intersections, traffic circles and stalled and passing vehicles.  Read more »