“Road freight car­ries 93% of the to­tal tonnes of freight moved in NZ”

New Zealand Truck & Driver - - Feature -

“While trucks ac­count for only 4% of ve­hi­cles on our na­tion’s roads, we pay nearly half of all High­way Trust Fund user fees.

And we’re will­ing to pay more to get this job done.”

And in this push, he says, truck­ers are truly not alone: “Amer­ica’s farm­ers, man­u­fac­tur­ers, build­ing trades, steel work­ers, busi­ness and labour lead­ers all stand in uni­son be­hind this na­tional goal.

“To­gether we can re­build Amer­ica – faster, bet­ter and stronger than ever be­fore. So the ques­tion for Congress be­comes: Are you with us?”

And he con­cludes: “Bei­jing is build­ing roads and bridges. Amer­ica should take no­tice.”

There is a Kiwi equiv­a­lent to this ap­proach: Like Spear, RTF boss Nick Leggett has also been cham­pi­oning badly-needed spend­ing on NZ’s high­way in­fra­struc­ture as a pri­or­ity for the Gov­ern­ment’s eco­nomic re­cov­ery plans.

Prior to last month’s Re­build­ing Bud­get (AKA, ac­cord­ing to some, The Bud­get of Doom), Leggett ex­pressed his con­cerns about the Gov­ern­ment’s ap­par­ent de­ter­mi­na­tion to spend money col­lected for roads – via taxes and RUCs – for cy­cling, walk­ing and rail.

He in­ter­preted the Gov­ern­ment Pol­icy State­ment on

Land Trans­port 2021/’22 – 2030/’31 as an ap­par­ent push by Gov­ern­ment “to de­monise trucks,” as the doc­u­ment “heav­ily pro­motes rail freight over road. That means less money for roads that badly need the spend.”

The RTF pre-empted the Bud­get with a push­back against this trend. Trucks, said Leggett, “are not un­safe. Where there are safety con­cerns, it’s due to lack of in­fra­struc­ture spend mak­ing NZ roads un­safe for the traf­fic de­mands placed on them – noth­ing to do with the per­for­mance of the ve­hi­cles them­selves, which are in fact, made safe via a num­ber of NZ laws, rules and reg­u­la­tions.

“The re-engi­neer­ing of the trans­port sys­tem to sat­isfy ide­ol­ogy is not only costly, but flies in the face of eco­nomic re­al­ity. In a COVID-19 world, many peo­ple will be wak­ing up to the fact that NZ needs ex­port and im­port trade to sur­vive.

“For that crit­i­cal sup­ply chain to work in a way that al­lows

NZ to com­pete, you need a good road­ing net­work. We haven’t walked our prod­ucts to mar­ket for some time.

“While we sup­port pas­sen­ger rail, road freight is sim­ply more flex­i­ble and im­me­di­ate than rail freight will ever be. There are some 93,000 kilo­me­tres of road in NZ, and only 4000kms of rail track.

“That split isn’t go­ing to change sig­nif­i­cantly and the freight cus­tomers (the mar­ket) will con­tinue to make busi­ness-based choices, no mat­ter how much money the Gov­ern­ment throws at rail.

“Road freight car­ries 93% of the to­tal tonnes of freight moved in NZ. We do not sup­port any heavy-handed State in­ter­ven­tion to counter mar­ket choices. It ap­pears the mass re­turn to rail freight is a fan­tasy, rather than pol­icy grounded in ev­i­dence.

“The COVID-19 ex­pe­ri­ence has con­firmed the adapt­abil­ity of

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