Timing stings for commercial sector as NZTA revises fees

Waka Kotahi says private motorists have been subsidizing the commercial sector for too long and plans to level the playing field by raising operator fees late next year.

Waka Kotahi plans to raise an additional $79 million each year as part of the changes.
Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

The Transportation Agency says its regulator is underfunded and currently backed by government loans because trucking, bus and taxi companies have not paid their fair share.

It plans to raise an additional $79 million each year as part of the changes, which would take effect at the end of 2023 and while commercial operators agree the fees need to change, the timing stings.

Bus and Coach Association chief executive Ben McFadgen agreed with the proposals but said the idea of ​​more charges on a sector that had been pummeled over the past two years hurt.

“Operators just don’t have any money in their coffers…so this is going to hit them pretty hard.

“They have already suffered cost increases over their certificates of fitness by certifiers who have raised prices and now the NZTA.”

Transport service license fees for small operators like taxis and larger ones like trucks and buses would increase by 55% to $85 each time the vehicle registration was renewed – typically once a year.

However, those deemed more likely to take Waka Kotahi time, such as operators transporting dangerous goods or rental car operators, would see an 87% increase, from $55 to $102.

Under the changes, the costs of vehicle certifiers and electronic logbook providers would also increase, which the trucking companies that RNZ spoke to last night said would certainly be passed on to companies and therefore to consumers.

The NZTA estimated that the average household would spend no more than $43.80 per year on additional industry-passed costs, and estimated that the overall industry increase would be approximately 0.2% of its annual costs.

The head of Transporting New Zealand, which represents the road freight industry, Nick Leggett, agreed the funding structure needed to be reviewed, but was unsure whether the trucking industry had taken a bigger slice of the pie that she was not entitled to it.

“I’m interested to see some of the analysis on how the judgment was made on the private interest versus the public interest in cost recovery, because often with these things it’s a decision which is not really evidence-based.”

“What we don’t want to see is the commercial sector funding additional regulatory costs that don’t improve safety and ensure that the sector performs better in terms of regulatory compliance.”

Under the proposals, a one-year passenger-carrying endorsement would drop from $73 to $205, making it the same price as getting a five-year endorsement.

However, Taxi Federation executive director Warren Quirke was concerned about the unintended consequences.

“When they get these endorsements checked, the police go through them and they look at all the traffic violations and so without this happening now for five years, because most people will go to the five years, you might have drivers with growing driver concerns.”

Proposals will be open for consultation for eight weeks and will require ministerial approval.

They are also conditional on just over $30 million each year being diverted from its ground transportation fund to regulation. Without this additional funding, all proposed fee increases would be even higher to make up the difference.

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