Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Toll Road takes its Toll on Ratepayers


There is a little saying I have learnt in my years of experience in the advertising business - it is: "If you don't advertise, something terrible happens! - NOTHING!"
Why have I brought that up?

Well, every day on my way to work I travel on a toll Road called Route K.
I call it "K Road" after the famous Auckland Red Light district because in a submission I made to the local council when they were trying to prevent prostitutes from working from home by designating certain areas they would be allowed to work from, I pointed out that as they were intent on creating Tauranga's first RED LIGHT district, they should make it down on K Road (the toll road) because NOBODY GOES THERE!

Sometimes I am the only car on this big new highway. It is like being on the movie set of an old mining town in the wild west - you expect to see the tumbleweeds blowing down the road - get the picture.

This road was built at great expense to the Tauranga ratepayers by the Tauranga Council. Why was it built? I am not too sure! It doesn't appear to solve any major traffic congestion problem. It may have been to divert trucks from going through a residential area, but no trucking companies use it because the toll is too expensive, and it did not save either fuel costs or time or distance as opposed to the original route, so the trucking companies avoid it like the plague.

This did not impress the planners and consultants at the council as it blew their projected takings for the toll road out the window. Consequently it is costing the ratepayers a fortune in loan interest payments every month as it runs at a huge loss.

This brings me to the point of the story!

If this road was privately owned (and of course it wouldn't be, because no developer would have been stupid enough to risk their money building a road nobody needed to use!) But lets for arguments sake say they DID, then by this time, they would be desperately looking for ways to increase the patronage or use of this road!

They would be advertising all its benefits - ie it's quicker to get to certain places, its a faster, straighter, more open road than the alternative, there is less traffic, no traffic hold-ups, no traffic lights or crossings or pedestrians. It is less stressful or any other number if things.
They would be giving away free passes to trucking companies or potential frequent users.
They might have a weekly or monthly draw - open to all pre-paid card holders, with a prize of lets say 10 free trips on the road!
Maybe every Friday the tenth car goes through FREE!
Maybe there could be a frequent user BONUS - for every 100 trips you get a FREE PASS for 10 trips
What about White cars are FREE on Monday!
Or lets say the 500th car through for that day or week gets a FREE PASS for 10 trips.
Cars with more than one person in are half price.

They would be selling advertising space, or holding car washes in the layby.

They could rent it out on off-peak times (probably about 20 hours a day at present!) for car club events, races, shows, drags, time trials etc

There are hundreds of things that could be done to attract more patronage on this road, but even though the council are losing money hand over fist on this tarmac white elephant guess what they are doing? - that's right - NOTHING - not a bloody sausage!

Will they do anything about it, or try to make it more cost effective or work better?

NO!

Why?

Because there is no accountability, no personal responsibility. There was nothing at stake for the twits that planned it (they were spending other peoples money). There was nothing at stake (as there would be if it was privately owned) to get the projected figures corrrect other than - oooops, that didn't work did it! Never mind! Oh well - the ratepayers will cover it - a 16% rates increase should do the trick. They might squeal a little bit, but they will just roll over in the end, and if we don't mention it for a while, they will forget all about it in no time. - I know, lets start work on an art gallery and a museum to take their minds off it!



1 Comments:

Blogger libertyscott said...

Funnily enough Graham, one reason it was fully toll funded was because the Transfund evaluation process came up with a very low benefit/cost ratio - so it wouldn't get central government funding from fuel tax/road user charges because it wasn't a good project.

That in itself speaks volumes - if the economic return on the project isn't good enough for central government, how likely is it that users are willing to pay for those benefits themselves? Typically VERY unlikely. Nevertheless, it should still be privatised now - now if only the proposed Tauranga eastern motorway was privately built, it could be a package deal.

3:33 am  

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