Tolling and the new Transport Agency
Further to the Labourite appointments to the Transport Agency as announced last week we have had National claim:
As at Thursday evening there had been 43 government appointments this week. Yes, 43 appointments in four days. That’s part of a tally of 140 in the past five weeks.
I didn't realise the crew of SS Labour had so many lifeboats available.
David Farrar tempers his criticism with the reality that National engages in the same activities:
in some cases it can be useful to have a board member with some political saavy [...] it is understandable that a Minister will want perhaps one or two people on the more critical boards who understand politics to the degree that they can help the Board avoid actions which will put them on a collision course with the Government.
Then again if the government changes you've got a whole slate of political enemies in office until their terms expire and then they can start the stacking with the new government's cronies. Independent appointments, via select committees so we could have some sort of transparency, will never come about while the two big parties control the system.
But back to the new NZ Transport Agency. It seems to be a Transit take-over of the other transport licensing, safety and funding departments. I note that there appears to be no-one with an engineering background on the new board - which is quite an embarassing hole. In the last few days I have become concerned that this round of transport restructuring may leave Transit in the lead position to implement tolling. The most effective way of tolling would be through chips or number plates - and as of Friday Transit controls that too.
With Treasury's Public-Private Partnership concept official policy for some years now, we have had the spectre of the SH20 Waterview extension, Orewa-Puhoi tunnel and Transmission Gully projects (to start with) being privatised - effectively for up to 30 years. I am not convinced this will be anything other than foolish. The government in these situations usually ends up subsidising it (from my understanding). But what of "public" tolling?
With an integrated transport agency it would be easier to implement tolling across the board on the entire national highway system. This is not great news. I do wonder if this may have been a consideration with the merger.