Bus and Coach Association

  • Maurice Williamson
Transport

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Thank you (Gary Dallas - the president of Bus and Coach Association)

It is great to be back with you at your annual meeting. And a real
pleasure to talk to you all again.

I am always amazed at how fast a year goes by.

But a lot has happened in that year.

I know that you have all been working hard and putting a great deal of
effort into your businesses.

I know too that safety and efficiency have been receiving a lot of your
attention.

Your Q based programme is a real achievement - focusing on school buses
makes real sense to me because children's lives are at stake.

I am impressed with your commitment to making sure buses are safe,
putting in place high standards to follow; using good maintenance techniques
and making sure you have qualified people in your workshops.

And checking that all your vehicles are running smoothly every day of
the week - not just on the specified inspection date.

You are taking control of your own safety obligations and efficiency
standards and I see this as a positive approach and a sure way to ensure your
businesses are successful.

I congratulate you too on your involvement, through the Commercial Road
Transport Industry Training Organisation, in developing a training package for
bus drivers.

I understand the first courses will be aimed at drivers of
"accessible buses" but I know that eventually you intend to have
training for all bus drivers to take advantage of.

These projects will certainly help in reducing the road toll down and I
am determined that we should do just that.

Every single death on the road is a tragedy.

All have largely unpublicised, tragic aftermaths of grief, loss and the
emotional tearing apart of families and friends.

We all need to work together to make the statistics, and the reality,
better.

The good news is that we had the lowest number of deaths on the road in
the first eight months of this year than in any year since 1965.

That was the year when records began to be kept.

That means we've had 39 fewer deaths than at this time last year.

The work that has been done over the last few years is really paying
off.

In 1995 the Government put $50 million into a road safety package that
would span five years.

We went for the kind of shock horror tactics which have worked so well
in Victoria.

And they are certainly working for us.

The more graphic the pictures of accidents in people's minds the better.

And especially before they reach the 110 km mark - or take that drink
before driving home.

I have to tell you, however, that the bad news is that the Truck Crash
Inquiry found that the number of accidents involving heavy motor vehicles had
not reduced.

That salutary figure includes buses.

So I am particularly pleased to see you all working so hard at getting
the numbers down.

Please keep at it.

I believe the National Road Safety Committee is making a real contribution
to reducing the overall road.

We set up this committee 18 months ago.

There have been Government committees of people addressing road safety
before.

The difference with the National Road Safety Committee is it is made up
of chief executives and the buck stops firmly with them;

  • the Secretary for Transport;
  • the Commissioner of Police;
  • the Director of the LTSA;
  • the General Manager of
    Transit New Zealand; and
  • the Chief Executive of the
    ACC.

They are, together, making absolutely certain that road safety is a top
priority and I meet with them regularly to make sure it is.

I am convinced that having the people at the head of these organisations
committed to getting the road toll down makes a huge difference.

It means safety becomes more focused in each organisation.

It means more people are involved.

Everyone knows this nation-wide tragedy must improve.

This top level group can pull the whole campaign together.

Each organisation comes at road safety from a different angle and having
different perspectives brought together is effective.

The group co-ordinates road safety policy and delivery for the next five
years.

They also work together on national publicity.

They're a checking system too.

It is their job to make sure that targets agreed by them or individual
agencies are indeed achieved.

This committee is making a real difference to New Zealanders' lives.

One of the things I have put top of my agenda is getting more money for
road safety and for the actual roads.

We have talked about the importance of have good road safety campaigns,
about encouraging people to drive safely.

But it is also important to make sure that the roads themselves are in
good condition and therefore safe.

Good efficient roads are obviously important for our safety but equally
important, they are vital for the New Zealand economy.

We use roads to go to work.

We use them to do work; to transport goods from one part of New Zealand
to another; to link up with international trading vessels.

In general, they keep the economy moving.

Whether it is salespeople on the road or tourists taking a trip through
our beautiful countryside on one of your buses, they must have roads that are
properly formed and maintained.

We've got to aim for the highest standards.

Roads are crucial for the efficient functioning of New Zealand - I'm
determined to keep them in good shape and it's good to have your partnership.

In this year's budget the Government made decisions leading to an extra
$450 million being spent on New Zealand roads over the next three years.

Compared with 1995/96 that's real progress.

Part of this will be an extra $138.3 million spent on the new works
construction programme over the next three years.

Now that's good news.

It means that within two years Transfund New Zealand can fund projects
with B/Cs of 4 to 1, rather than the previous 5 to 1.

As our economy grows, more vehicles will be on the road.

We need to plan for this.

One of the changes that will make a big difference is the new funding
arrangements that came into effect on July 1st this year.

Any extra roading revenues from an increase in traffic will go straight
back into improving roads.

The Government thinks this makes sense.

As I'm sure you're all aware Transfund New Zealand has been up and
running since July 1st this year.

We have an impressive board to guide it and I have every confidence in
their leadership.

The same legislation which established Transfund and the new funding arrangements
for roads also allows Transfund to fund efficient alternatives to roads.

Or 3-D as this section is now known.

This makes a lot of sense. Many of the large transport companies in New
Zealand are multi-modal.

Transfund's main business is roads but 3-D allows Transfund the
flexibility to fund non-roading outputs - when these are more efficient than
improving roads.

Obviously to find out the most efficient solution you have to be able to
compare the options ad Transfund is working on this now.

It has put out a discussion document on draft procedures for evaluating
alternatives to roads.

It has also established an industry working group to review submissions
on these procedures.

And to advise Transfund on the issues involved. John Collyns has already
met with the working group and made submissions on your associations behalf.

This and all the other submissions will be considered by the Transfund
board before it makes any decision on alternatives to roads evaluation
procedures.

There are a lot of issues involved in these procedures and I await the
outcome with interest.

While this process is going on we want to make sure there is a level of
stability.

The Government has arranged with Transfund that funding for public
transport will stay the same this year as in 95/96.

That brings me to road user charges.

I know many of you are as concerned about this as I am that we could be
losing more than $80 million a year through evasion of charges by heavy motor
vehicles and other diesel powered vehicles.

That's a staggering - and horrifying - amount.

I'm happy to say that buses are not the main culprits.

You should feel proud of that - I certainly appreciate it.

Just think what we could do with that extra revenue each year and I am
not talking about trips to Fiji or Paris.

I am talking about spreading the good old tar seal.

That lost revenue could go into safer roads or, more importantly, to
you, if compliance improved, because there'd be no increase in fees to cover
this loss.

I feel strongly and I am sure the public does that the owners of those
heavy vehicles which are putting a lot of stress on the roads, while making
money for their own businesses, should be putting something back.

I am determined that those heavy motor vehicles that are not paying will
pay.

Light motor vehicles are also avoiding road user charges by either not
registering as diesel powered or under-buying road user charge licences.

We have upped the time, energy and resources for getting that elusive
money back into the fund for the upkeep of our roads.

There are 21 more police out there checking on vehicles.

The compliance unit of the LTSA is keeping an eye on the number of
licences being requested and looking out for irregularities.

So how does this affect you?

Well most of you, and rightly so, will be feeling pretty virtuous at
this point.

But what you may notice in the near future is more enforcement on the
roads.

Police will be more likely to stop you to check that you have paid your
road user charges.

I know that will be inconvenient but it is necessary for the safety and
maintenance of our roads.

Another area I have been looking at in terms of looking after our roads
is Network Funding.

It is important that we look at New Zealand as a whole.

You all know the importance of having good roads throughout your
journeys.

It would be awkward explaining to tourists why some roads are rough and
ready, others non-existent and some superb.

We want to be free to travel everywhere in New Zealand.

We need to be able get everywhere and we need people who live in
far-flung corners to get to us.

Our economy demands it.

At the same time it is important to make sure that areas that have high
traffic flows have adequate funds for their roading system; Auckland;
Wellington; Christchurch. There is little doubt that they need more money than
other less heavily-travelled parts of the country.

We need to look at the total number of kilometres driven over each road
whether that is predominantly by heavy vehicles or cars.

Those areas with heavy traffic flows need more money from the pot.

They have much more up-keep to cope with and, of course, they are
putting more money back into the economy.

Dealing with that sort of situation is part of running a viable
transport network.

We need to find the right balance; to give more money to areas which
have more kilometres driven on them as well as making sure that all New
Zealand's roads are maintained to an acceptable standard.

That's just good business practice.

You all know that Auckland is asking for more money to ease the stress
put on its infrastructure by a rapidly growing population.

Transport is clearly one of the areas that needs to be looked at
thoroughly.

The Auckland region has very real problems and they must be tackled
which is why the Ministry of Transport has joined the Auckland Task Force.

We must find long term solutions.

We need to look at transport along with land use, urban and residential
development, economic development and environmental impacts.

It has to be a total approach.

And we are moving ahead, fast.

A great deal of work has been done on land and road transport through
the Land Transport Pricing Study and Roading Management and now we are well
underway in developing a National Land Transport Strategy.

All of these will help when we focus on Auckland and its particular
problems.

We need to work together to sort out sensible and affordable solutions.

The Auckland Task Force is being convened by the Auckland Regional
Council and the Government has representatives from Treasury, Commerce,
Environment, Internal Affairs, Transport and Transfund on the team.

They are there to help.

That is an illustration of the Government's commitment to assist local
bodies with developing problems.

In the next couple of weeks accessible buses will be on Wellington
streets.

It's an exciting new venture that will open up transport to many people
who have only limited access at the present time.

A six month trial period will be used to gather data on the costs and
benefits of running low floor wheelchair accessible buses in New Zealand.

This trial will help with the decisions about long term use of
accessible buses.

The Wellington City Council, assisted by the Wellington Regional
Council, is upgrading its bus stops to help with the operation.

The Wellington Regional Council is also developing a tracking system for
the buses involved which will be travelling on the route from Khandallah to
Strathmore.

It's a team effort that has got this off the ground and its another
feather in your organisation's cap.

It's a real feat and you've shown great community spirit.

The Bus and Coach Association has been involved in the development of
this trial, being a member of the working party which assisted the Human Rights
Commission and Stagecoach Wellington to reach agreement on the trial process.

We must make sure that people know about the trial so they can try the
buses out.

We want to get as much feed back as possible.

It is an opportunity to see what we can do in the way of opening up
transport to all people and it's a way of making sure that everyone can get
safely and quickly to their destination by public transport.

A substantive hearing by the Complaints Review Tribunal has been set for
December next year to consider the results of the trial and by then we'll have
the information we need to make a sound decision.

On that positive note I'd like to congratulate you all on what you have
done over the past year.

I look forward to seeing where you head over the next year.

I know your direction will be clear, and your progress swift.