At midnight on Monday, a nine-week closure of the country’s main national highway arterial begins. This length of closure of a main arterial between two major centres would be unthinkable in any other modern economy, but here we are.
As I do the rounds with officials in Wellington, one refreshing new trend that is taking off is talking about productivity and efficiency. I’ve heard these two words more there in the first 6 weeks of the year than over the last 6 years.
Yesterday Prime Minister Christopher Luxon and Minister of Transport Simeon Brown announced the end of the regional fuel tax in Auckland.
NRC welcomed this announcement
Welcome to the first Justin’s Transport Minute for 2024. While my holidays felt like they passed in one hot minute, spending time with my wife and three boys in the beautiful Bay of Islands did wonders for recharging the batteries. I hope you managed to get some precious down time with loved ones too.
This week at NRC we’ve made further ground preparing for the upcoming closure of State Highway 1 in the Brynderwyns. Paula Rogers our Northland Commercial Transport Specialist,
This week I’ve had the pleasure of visiting our NRC members in Northland, staring with our Taipa event last night. While I always enjoy meeting with our members,
The big news this week has been the recommended two-month closure of State Highway 1 in the Byrnderwyn hills, the main arterial road between Auckland and Whangarei.
November has arrived, and that means the NRC team is heading to beautiful Northland for our annual member meetings.
This year we will be at Taipa on
Today the country has been waiting for the announcement on the make up of our future government. Some seats may swing, the power-balance may shift a little between coalition partners, but the outcome is already clear – New Zealand has voted for change.
One topic that frequently comes up when I’m visiting members is how hard it is to get HPMV permits in anything like a reasonable timeframe.
One of the great things I love about NRC is the passion our members have for the industry, and the people that work in it. A great example happened this week. Paula Rogers, one of our Commercial Transport Specialists received a call from a concerned member who could see an unsafe steel girder load being transported on the motorway.
Justins Transport Minute
“Driving down the expressway, the number of trucks on the road have halved – she’s getting light out there”.
Another busy week for NRC with plenty of exciting initiatives underway for our members. The team have been busy signing up lots of new members. It’s really pleasing
Yesterday I had the privilege of presenting at the Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders (CBAFF) conference in Wellington, along with NRC board member Pamela Bonney.
Roading is once again in the headlines this week, for once with a positive news story which makes a welcome change.
Yesterday the Northern Infrastructure Forum (NIF), which NRC is a proud member of, released the NZIER report
This week some of the NRC board and I took a road trip (admittedly by air for some of us) to the mighty Taranaki to meet with members at the Plymouth Hotel. Chairman John Baillie, and board members Glen MacKay and Pamela Bonney joined me on a panel discussion where we discussed all things NRC.
Here at NRC we are always busy everyday representing your interests, and I wanted to share with you some of the ways we are working so that both your views are heard, and also so that you stay informed. It is a two way road, after all.
Firstly, next in line for our successful webinar series is Heavy Vehicle Permitting Changes. Riccardo Areosa, Programme Manager-Permits at Waka Kotahi will be joining NRC to talk through and answer any questions on suggested changes to the vehicle permitting system.
Another flurry of political activity this week on the transport front…anyone would think there’s an election coming.
Yesterday, the government announced a transport “Government Policy Statement” (GPS) out for consultation. With less than 60 days to the election, the danger is many will consider the GPS a dead rubber, as they say in sport. In its simplest form, the government’s transport policy amounted to $20b of spend on roading, public transport, and yes, cycleways. The sting in the tail is that it will be paid for by fuel excise duty going up 12c a litre. And as we know, where FED goes, RUC goes.
Another busy week with the gun having been fired on election season, even before parliament has finished and the MPs left the building. This week I enjoyed a fascinating conversation with the ACT Party’s transport spokesman Simon Court, on their transport and infrastructure policies. Talking with Simon it was clear he has a deep understanding of the road transport sector and how it has been failed over the last decade in roading and policies.
Roading as an election issue? Why it’s not necessarily great news…
In many ways having road transport front and centre of the election is exactly where we don’t want to be. The reason roading is an election issue is because the network is failing, and everyone has had enough. NRC members have been pointing this out over the last 30 years until they were blue in the face. Finally, now that the deterioration is impossible to hide, everyone else has caught up.
This week Ian, Paula, James Smith and I headed to Hamilton to attend the EROAD Fleet Day at the Claudelands Event Centre.
It was a really worthwhile trip, over 800 attendees and an interesting programme of presentations split out in relevance between heavy and light fleets. Naturally, there was a lot of attention on the next generation of electric, electric-fuel cell and hydrogen trucks – which I took the opportunity to familiarise myself with.
It’s hard to know how to appropriately address the terrible incident that occurred in Auckland’s CBD yesterday, but I think I speak for the entire team when I say our thoughts are with all of those affected.
The beginning of the week was stark contrast to the end with NRC throwing our support behind the National Party’s pledge to repair potholes within 24 hours and rehabilitate at least two per cent of road surfaces each year.
This week I was called by a producer on Seven Sharp asking if I wanted to come on to talk about the harbour bridge closures. There had been media earlier in the week that Waka Kotahi were being too risk averse
I really enjoyed the opportunity on Friday to have a chat with our members and partners over a beer at the AGM, thanks to all of those who attended what was a very successful event.
Some members couldn’t get there in person so, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share the top themes of the evening.
Our strategy is simple invest in our organization.....
Another week of NZ politics that was so surreal I’m not sure what the right adjective is to describe it.
In amongst the endless media fascination of who said what to whom, our former Minister of Immigration, Minister Wood made a quiet but important announcement for the transport industry. You can be forgiven for missing it.
This week there have been a number of roading achievements worth celebrating. All state highways in Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti are now open following completion of the Hikuwai Bailey bridge restoring access for residents in Tokomaru Bay, Waipiro Bay, Te Puia Springs and communities all along SH35 to Gisborne. This work is on the back of the re-opening of the Waikare Gorge Bailey bridge on State Highway 2 last month, reconnecting Wairoa and Napier.
This week Treasury has warned that both FED and RUC will need to be increased in order to manage pressures on the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF), and the need to service the $2 billion Waka Kotahi loan.
On Wednesday, I spoke to Mike Hosking on Newstalk ZB about what this means. In a nutshell, I said New Zealand needs to recognise the contribution a functioning road network makes to our economy, and the road funding model needs to reflect this.
While this year’s Budget addresses the urgent need to respond to the devastation caused by the recent weather events it does not address the long-term funding deficit caused by decades of under-investment in New Zealand’s roading network.
As a country we don’t have the luxury of focusing on the nice to haves. If the recent cyclone and flooding has shown us one thing it’s how we urgently need to get the basics right. In terms of roading we need to focus on the three R’s – Resilience, Rebuild and Restorative maintenance.
Yet again it’s been another week where mother nature has flexed her power with torrential rain causing havoc across Northland, Auckland, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty. A tornado hit Taranaki and the rain continued to march South ensuring Nelson, Tasman, Marlborough and the West Coast were all left sodden. I continue to be amazed at how well transport operates weather these relentless challenges – but it takes its toll.
This week kicked off with our submission on the much needed second Waitematā Harbour Crossing, which promises to be the largest single infrastructure project in the country. This is much more than just another expensive Auckland project, fixing the current State Highway 1 arterial constraint will deliver transport benefits from Northland to the lower-North Island and beyond.
It’s been a busy week on the political front with some positive announcements for the transport sector.
First up, Wednesday’s announcement from the Minister of Immigration and Transport Hon Michael Wood that the transport sector will be eligible for work to residence visas from 29 September 2023 is being universally welcomed across the industry. This change is a direct result of ongoing conversations by NRC, Bus & Coach, Waste Associations and NZ Shipping Federation with the Minister to highlight the urgent immigration changes needed to enable the sector to attract and keep much needed workers.
This week we’re seeing some significant signs that the economic slowdown is definitely hitting home. Two major construction companies, Scarbro Construction and AH Construction have sadly gone into receivership, joining 183 other construction companies hitting the wall since August.
Yet another week where potholes and road cones were the talk of the town.
Tuesday morning I jumped on Newstalk ZB to talk with Tim Dower about Waka Kotahi’s announcement that they fixed 54,000 potholes over the last year. Less a badge of honour and more a testimony to the state of our roads, it was further evidence of what NRC members have been saying all along – our roads are falling apart.
As most of the country heads into Easter looking forward to a break, I know many members will continue doing the hard yards to make sure Kiwi homes are well stocked with hot cross buns and chocolate bunnies. Many of you may not get much of a break but I do hope you at least get a bit of downtime to relax and regroup before tackling into the busy winter months ahead.
There’s been a bit going on behind the scenes at NRC. Following on from our investment in the business and communications strategy we are now ramping up our marketing capability. Over the last couple of weeks, we have welcomed two new members to the team to sharpen up our marketing capabilities.
It’s been a big week in terms of road re-opening announcements following Cyclone Gabrielle. SH5 Napier to Taupō is now open 24/7 after a mammoth effort by road crews to make the road safe for night-time travel. Hot on the heels of this announcement is the welcome news that SH1 Brynderwyn Hills re-opened in both directions at 9am today, for the first time since Cyclone Gabrielle struck last month. A major relief for transport operators who have been forced to take lengthy diversions via Dargaville. Knowing this critical piece of roading infrastructure has re-opened gives Northland operators a much-needed morale boost.
This week saw us have a great working session with WorkSafe who told us that in their view the commercial transport industry has not been doing a great job of telling a cohesive story about how important we are to the fabric of the country – and how the major challenges faced by the industry are placing the economy’s supply chain capacity at risk.
They say a week is a long time in politics. This week’s “bonfire of the priorities”, as the latest jettisoning of unachievable policy goals has been called, shows the truth of this age-old adage.
Common sense has prevailed, even if its hand was forced by mother nature.
Late last month the NRC Transport & Logistics Advisory Group had its first meeting of 2023 and top of the agenda was industry response to the devastation caused by Cyclone Gabrielle. Having Simon Bridges chairing the Advisory Group gave us a head start, with his insights as the former Minister of Transport bringing a unique perspective on how to get government to set the rebuilding and resilience of our critical highways as the number one priority.
This week got off to a flying start with our announcement that NRC has formalised our working relationship with NZ Trucking Association (NTA). We’ve been working together since 1988 and have delivered some great collaborations for members including the Trucking Industry Summit, Trucking Industry Show and HARMfree Transport.
Nearly two weeks on following cyclone Gabrielle, the adrenaline of the event is wearing off and reality is starting to set in.
For those in the trucking industry, that reality is ranging from “I’ve just lost my entire yard, 30 vehicles and life’s work” through to dealing with major detours on delivery runs.
Around the country we are all catching up with the enormity of what we are seeing unfold in Hawke’s Bay and East Cape, on top of the already extensively damaged Northland, Auckland and Coromandel regions. Watching the news last night was a heart-breaking affair, seeing how the lives of our fellow kiwis have been upended.
With all too frequent regularity a large part of New Zealand’s trucking community finds itself preparing for yet another spell of road closures and disruption.
RUC should be left for building roads, not political capital
Confusion reigned this week for RUC purchasers, when a few short hours after the discount was removed at midnight on January 31, the new Prime Minister announced it would be re-introduced until June 30.
Happy New Year, and for those members in the Auckland region – happy anniversary weekend!
After a well earned break the team at the NRC offices have been off to a busy start signing up new members, taking lots of support calls for existing members, and even shifting furniture round the office just to mix it up.
Sitting down to write Justin’s Transport Minute today it’s hard to believe it is the last one for the year already. And if you think you missed last week’s, you didn’t. Unfortunately I brought back an unwelcome present with me from my last trip to Wellington for the year - Covid
We’ve all managed to take a bit of a breath after a hugely successful TMC Trucking Industry Show which saw nearly 40,000 people check out what was on offer on Saturday – pretty much double what we had anticipated. And a really fantastic result for the industry - well done to NZ Trucking Assn for running such a great event.
This week’s TMC Trucking Industry Show promised to be a ‘complete trucking festival’ and boy did it deliver. I’m writing this on day one of the Show, and I have to say it looks like tomorrow is shaping up to be even bigger day which is awesome.
This week NRC have been preparing our response to Waka Kotahi’s Interim State Highway Speed Management Plan consultation. We’re working closely with the NZTA managers and are highlighting that one of the biggest underlying contributors to road safety is well-maintained roads. Every day we see evidence that road maintenance has been underinvested in, and bad weather is accelerating damage while maintenance is already well behind. Diverting of roading funding away from roads to support climate change initiatives is just adding to the problem.
With COP27 filling the headlines this week, my thoughts naturally turn to what this means for New Zealand’s road transport sector.
This week’s member road trip saw me head to the sunny North! I started my trip by continuing my tour of our ports, followed by member briefings and one-to-ones with operators.
Over the last week I’ve managed to visit both the Ports of Tauranga and Auckland. In Tauranga I spent time with Manager Terminal Operations, Grant Wilson and the team, who gave me insight into how critical expansion of the wharves will be to allowing the Port of Tauranga to grow and meet the future needs of the community over the next 30 years. It was impressive to see up close the efficiency of the trucking operation at the container terminal, and how well transport operators and the Port work together.
This week we launched our new partnership initiative ‘Snap Send Solve’. Speaking to members over the last couple of months the number one concern I’ve heard is the state of our roads, and that the number of potholes and other serious hazards have sharply increased, putting road users at risk.
We felt it was important to act urgently on this issue as road safety is critical. NRC met with the team at Snap Send Solve who have a really easy to use mobile phone app where you can post problems on the roads direct to your local council. Snap Send Solve provides one central location for issues to be recorded and councils to be alerted so they can take immediate action. They can send reports to every single council and roading authority in New Zealand.
This week, New Zealand almost unanimously voted for change in the country’s local body elections with new mayors elected in many of our major cities and a sharp tilt to the political right being felt across the board. With many councils welcoming a number of new councillors, many who may be unfamiliar with the transport industry, our priority now is to make sure we are connecting with the relevant transport infrastructure sub-committee’s or transport leads in each council. While they work through this period of change, our focus is on offering assistance on the key transport issues and ensuring they know who to reach out to at NRC.
Another week of some extreme weather across the country, which means more high-profile road damage and potholes to be fixed. NRC members in Northland are all too familiar with this. State Highway 1 has nearly 40km closed in the Mangamukas, and there are serious questions whether some parts will ever be rebuilt. Down the road the Brynderwyns are down to one lane, causing over one hour waits.
This week, appropriately enough given its Mental Health Awareness Week, I’ve had my first taste of the realities truck drivers face on the road all too often. One of our members called me for a chat, and dropped into the conversation that they’d recently been first to arrive on the scene at a major road accident, sadly with fatalities. Confronting doesn’t begin to describe what he saw. When I asked if he was alright, there was a pause, and then a simple “no, I’m not”. This honest and completely human response impressed me, and made room for a chat to make sure he was taking steps to get looked after. Thankfully he’d already reached out for support.
This week I have a couple of thoughts to share.
Accident on the Auckland Harbour Bridge illustrates need for greater resilience in our road network. Sunday’s accident on the Harbour Bridge acts as a reminder that we are often only one incident away from entire communities being cut off. Strengthening the resilience of our roading infrastructure needs to be given far more focus that it is currently.
Another busy week for the team here at NRC.
Reshaping streets MOT initiative - we’ve sent through our submission on the MOT’s Reshaping Streets consultation, you may have seen James’ e-mail earlier this week.
This week had a couple of clear stand outs…
Firstly, I was lucky enough to spend some time on the road with National Road Carrier’s Chair John Baillie, who introduced me to a range of operators around Auckland.
This week I’m getting seriously close to being able to count my time at NRC in months versus weeks – the last four weeks have flown by with a crash course on roading issues, a whirlwind of member meet and greets, industry leading announcements (HARMfree Transport) and this week we ticked off our first Transport and Logistics Advisory Group meeting chaired by Simon Bridges.