• Maurice Williamson

The Roading Advisory Group's Final Report to Government entitled The Way Forward , was released today by the Minister of Transport, Hon Maurice Williamson.

Mr Williamson said the Government supports the adoption of a commercial model for New Zealand's roading network. But this does not mean that privatisation of our roads is on the agenda.

The Roading Advisory Group chaired by the Hon J McLay has recommended in its report the establishment of 4-6 companies jointly owned by the Crown and territorial local authorities to take over the pricing and management of New Zealand's public roading network.

Mr Williamson said one of the key recommendations contained in the report, is that rates should as soon as possible be replaced as a means of paying for road use. However legislation would be required for the implementation of any new charging systems and for the establishment and operation of the proposed roading companies.

"The Government has become increasingly concerned with the problems confronting the current road funding and management system, and in particular the severe congestion being experienced in Auckland and in parts of Wellington," the Minister said.

"There is concern also at the difficulty that some rural authorities are having in meeting their share of necessary road maintenance and investment in light of increased pressures related to the growth in tourism and forestry.

"Analysis indicates these problems are being caused by:

  • road users not being charged the actual cost of their road use
  • property owners subsidising road users
  • the short term focus of current investment decision and the inability to relate investments to actual user demands
  • the inability of commercial road users to negotiate with roading providers for their needs.

Mr Williamson said the 4- 6 companies the Roading Advisory group had recommended be established would have full responsibility for pricing and managing the public network within appropriate safety, commercial and environmental constraints.

"The companies would be required to consult local authorities over their plans, be more responsible for the environmental consequences of their decisions, and to adopt a formal safety system covering all users, including cyclists and pedestrians, of their road networks.

"The Roading Advisory Group is consequently convinced these changes will result in:

  • fairer and more transparent charges
  • a more responsive roading system
  • better utilisation of the network
  • more efficient roading management and investment and
  • increased competition across all transport modes

"The government will make its final decisions on the report's recommendations early next year and now invites comment on the detail of what is proposed.

"The Government would also like to thank the Hon Jim McLay and the other members of the Roading Advisory Group for the work they have undertaken in producing such a comprehensive report," Mr Williamson said.

Submissions on the Roading Advisory Group report should be received by the Ministry of Transport by 20 February 1998.