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New kind of speed cameras more effective – Waka Kotahi

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Waka Kotahi says new road safety cameras that track a car’s speed over a length of road are way more effective at reducing crashes than fixed spot speed cameras.

The so-called point-to-point cameras average a vehicle’s speed over the journey between two cameras. They are being installed along stretches of six roads that are considered high-risk crash areas in the Auckland region.

The cameras will be tested for a while and data gathered before they are used for enforcement and tickets start being issued.

Waka Kotahi head of regulatory strategic programs Tara Macmillan told Checkpoint on Wednesday she expected a 50 percent reduction in the number of people who were seriously injured or killed on the roads they were installed on.

“What you see out on New Zealand roads at the moment is the majority of our cameras are fixed speed cameras – so when you pass that camera, it clocks your speed, and if you’re travelling over the posted speed limit, then you’re at risk of getting an infringement.

“We’re bringing in these new generation cameras that are already getting used internationally, and what these cameras do is they calculate average speed across the length of road between two cameras.”

The twin camera systems will be installed on roads in Warkworth, Dairy Flat, Redvale, Shamrock Park, Karaka and Glenbrook.

This system has proven itself internationally, she said, with research showing they slow drivers down for the entire length of road between the two cameras, rather than just the point where a traditional single speed camera sits.

“Drivers are only ticketed if the average speed over the entire distance between the two cameras is over the limit – so you can’t be pinged by a single camera,” Macmillan explained.

“Typically over the length of an average speed corridor, drivers will ensure that they’re travelling at that speed limit – so we get a reduction in speed typically over that over that full full length. We typically put in at high risk locations on our roads – so where we’ve got kind of windy roads, there are high crashes occurring in multiple locations on a stretch of road and we’re typically seeing people travelling over the posted and speed limit.

“So they’re really effective of reducing crashes over a length of road, and the more crashes that we reduce, the more deaths and serious injuries we avoid.”

They are expected to be operating by December, but for the first four weeks will not issue infringements. Motorists will get a chance to understand where they are and plenty of notice before they start ticketing speeding drivers, Macmillan said.

“This isn’t about catching drivers out. This is about lowering speeds and reducing crashes at these high high risk locations. The cameras will be clearly signposted, and that’s to enable people to get a reminder to check their speed and slow down if necessary.”

 

rnz

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Nicola Willis challenged over climate change, cancer drugs

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Finance Minister Nicola Willis has revealed new details about the timeline for cancer drug funding, and faced a barrage of questions over climate under questioning from MPs.

Willis appeared before the Finance and Expenditure Committee on Wednesday as part of Parliament’s first Scrutiny Week, a new initiative which allows for extended questioning of ministers over the government’s spending.

She quickly came under fire from Labour’s Finance and Climate spokespeople Barbara Edmonds and Megan Woods, and the Greens’ co-leader and Finance spokesperson Chlöe Swarbrick.

Cancer drugs

The election policy of funding 13 specific cancer drugs had been a glaring broken promise from this year’s Budget.

Willis told the committee MPs that as the Budget for this year was formulated, the cancer drugs policy “did require more work”, and she outlined how the government intended to pay for the drugs using money from next year’s Budget while still working to supply the promised drugs.

“It was not resolved in time for Budget 2024, so we agreed it would be a priority for funding set aside in Budget 2025,” she said. “So we are now working diligently on the policy delivery ahead of Budget 2025, with a view to making a decision on it shortly.”

However, she soon clarified that “we will be funding those drugs this year”, and the reason the policy was not funded in this year’s Budget was “we still had significant policy choices to make as we worked through the problem. And so it wasn’t appropriate to set aside a contingency until those fundamental policy decisions had been made”.

She later explained under questioning from Woods that people would be able to access at least some of the drugs before 2025.

“We will be making an announcement that will ensure that some of those medicines are funded this year,” she said.

Woods questioned if that would mean funding for the drugs this year, and Willis agreed.

Under questioning from Edmonds she said expressed confidence that the government would find the money, noting the government had already approved health funding from the 2025 and 2026 Budgets.

“As the member says, budgets are about priorities – and we are confident that, because this policy is a priority, we can and will fund it.”

She later told reporters at Parliament the word “some” was “just a use of a word, we will be funding the 13 medicines, we’ve made that commitment, we’ll be making announcements on it shortly”.

When pressed, however, she would not confirm whether that meant all 13 specific drugs listed in National’s policy would be funded and available before 2025.

“We’ll make a full announcement with the details of how drugs will be accessed and what dates in due course. I’m not making that announcement today.”

She also refused to shed light on how exactly the drugs would be funded.

Climate change

Swarbrick focused in on the Budget and its effect on climate change, asking how Williis could account for the $700m her Budget assumed would be coming from Emissions Trading Scheme revenue when today’s unit auction appeared likely to fail.

Swarbrick highlighted that at an expected $58 price point they would fall short of the $60 lower limit at which the units would be permitted to sell, and asked what would happen if the units failed to sell, but Willis said she was “not going to go into a hypothetical”.

“We have a requirement for approximately $2.9b in terms of your numbers stacking up here for revenue from the emissions trading scheme,” Swarbrick said, “but you’ve also have presented a Budget which cuts approximately $15m from market governance and integrity of the emissions trading scheme, so I’m wondering if you could help us reconcile those things”.

“It is very important … that I not in any way influence auction behaviour,” she said. “We want it to be a functional, effective, reliable market.”

When Swarbrick pushed her on why the funding had been cut from the efficacy and market governance, Willis said the government did not consider that funding necessary to improving the market’s operations, and rejected Swarbrick’s characterisation there was “next to no meaningful regulation of the ETS market, for example insider trading is technically legal”.

“We do not have concerns about the current way in which the ETS is regulated,” Willis said. She noted the government was yet to release the second Emissions Reduction Plan, due in December. That plan would set out how the government intends to achieve the emisssions reductions set out in the Emissions Budget, in line with international obligations.

“The government is doing its own work on the emissions reduction plan and we envisage the ETS will play a critical role,” Willis said. She also pointed to some initiatives the government had not scrapped in this year’s Budget including the rollout of electric vehicle chargers and the purchase of electric buses for local councils to buy.

Swarbrick earlier asked whether the decisions in this year’s Budget would increase or decrease emissions. Willis acknowledged climate impact policy assessments had showed they “won’t make a significant material difference to emission period 1. Over the second two emission periods, they will have an impact of potentially increasing emissions”.

However, she questioned whether those reports were “as good as they could be”, and pointed to the emissions impact report having included policies like more police on the roads, and upgrades to Defence Force equipment and infrastructure, as examples of where the reports were questionable.

“My point is it is not always appropriate to narrowly look at a policy based simply on its emission impact, because I don’t think there is a New Zealander who would say ‘I don’t want you hiring more police because it might add to emissions’.”

She later told reporters the assessment only looked at a subset of 40 initiatives.

Swarbrick also asked about the $3 billion to $24b the government is estimated to need to fork out in “offshore liability” – buying foreign climate credits to make up for the lack of domestic emissions reductions, and whether Willis had budgeted for those expected costs this year.

“No, I have not,” Willis said. “That has not been a priority in this Budget.”

VIA RNZ

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Auckland trains resume after being suspended on all lines

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Auckland Transport says train services in the city have now resumed, however, there will be disruptions for the rest of the day.

Train services across all lines were suspended on Wednesday morning.

But AT has warned commuters to expect further delays and cancellations this afternoon and this evening due to ongoing industrial action.

In a statement, Auckland Transport rail franchise manager Craig Inger said a track infrastructure issue at Middlemore railway station on Wednesday morning, as well as industrial action, resulted in the temporary suspension of all train services.

The track issue was fixed by 10am but as part of their industrial action unionised Auckland One Rail staff would not work any shifts that varied from their master roster which meant Auckland One Rail was unable to provide any train services from about 10.30am, he said.

AT appreciated the disruptions were extremely frustrating and it wanted a resolution to industrial action as quickly as possible, he said.

In a statement, Rail and Maritime Transport Union general secretary Todd Valster said about 500 One Rail staff they represented had been striking since Saturday, 8 June.

It was in the best interest of workers, the public, and AT to resolve the issues workers had raised, he said.

“We have been bargaining for nine months. We want to get things back to normal as quick as they can be.”

Earlier, AT was operating two rail buses on the Eastern Line and another two on the Southern Line to provide alternative transport while KiwiRail worked to resolve the problem.

A passenger on the Eastern line earlier told RNZ their train was stuck at Middlemore Station for about 50 minutes.

An AT spokesperson said a points fault, which occurred at Middlemore about 7.30am, during peak hours, meant that crew couldn’t get to where they needed to be.

He said the Eastern line was the first to be suspended, and followed by the rest of the lines.

Customers were advised to use the Journey Planner to find out what scheduled bus services would get them where they needed to go.

VIA RNZ

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Tolls the only way to go for second Wellington tunnel, experts say

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Transport experts are backing an idea to toll the government’s second Mount Victoria Tunnel.

Prior to the election, the National Party campaigned on starting construction on the Wellington tunnel by the end of its first term.

After getting into power the coalition government disestablished the $7.4 billion dollar Let’s Get Wellington Moving transport programme.

It also committed to upgrading roads around the Basin Reserve and building the second Mount Victoria Tunnel.

Transport Minister Simeon Brown has said NZTA Waka Kotahi should consider tolling to construct and maintain all new Roads of National Significance (RoNS).

Given the tunnel is part of the RoNS programme Brown said should NZTA recommend it, the government will support the use of tolls to help pay for its construction.

Greater Auckland director Matt Lowrie told RNZ it was unaffordable to build large infrastructure projects under current funding structures.

“If the government are to deliver a lot more infrastructure and I would question whether that’s delivering the right infrastructure but if the government are to do that, they are going to need to look for more sources of funding to help pay for that.”

Lowrie said toll roads were a way to control congestion, particularly at peak times.

“One of the problems if we don’t put some sort of tolling in place is that they [roads] can become so overwhelmed, people use them so much that it just encourages congestion again.”

Traffic build up in Wellington.

Traffic buildup in central Wellington. Photo: RNZ / Rob Dixon

University of Auckland senior lecturer Tim Welch said tolling for the tunnel made sense.

“Even though it’s a major route, if we are going to pay for that extreme infrastructure a toll is often the way to go to cover that expense.”

Welch said tolling arterial routes could be controversial because there was often no better alternatives.

“Drivers can feel bad and they [tolled roads] can seem expensive but when we develop this type of infrastructure that’s often the only way to pay for it despite the controversy.”

Transport professional Bridget Doran said in the Budget announcements the government made it clear New Zealand does not have the money for “shiny new things”.

“Anything that comes along that looks very expensive and fancy is going to have to be paid for by all of us one way or another and tolls are just one way to make that very transparent.”

Doran said she did not support the road but if it went ahead it should be tolled.

“The problem in this case is congestion in Wellington city and you’re not going to fix that with a new road unless it has a really high toll and then you’re not going to be providing access for everyone.”

VIA RNZ

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