By JONATHAN BHANA-THOMSON, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, NZ HEAVY HAULAGE ASSOCIATION
WHAT WOULD NZTA’S ‘People-Centred Services’ look like for our ‘oversize transport industry’?
The NZTA Strategy document for 2017–2021 states that there are three major strategic responses to the current and future transport situation.
According to NZTA these responses are designed to deliver value to NZ, its citizens and customers in relation to the rapidly changing transport environment. The three strategies are:
• A Connected Transport Environment – delivering transport networks and services in an increasingly digital environment.
• People-Centred Services – aiming to simplify NZTA customers’ lives with innovative transport services and experiences that make it easy for them to do what they need to.
• Partnerships For Prosperity – unlocking social and economic opportunities for customers, businesses and communities through targeted partnerships.
It is this second strategy that I would like to focus and answer the question of what NZTA can do to make the job of an oversize transport operator easier.
Looking at the NZTA document, you can see the following phrases, such as:
– “the transport system exists to serve people – our customers …”
– “understanding customer needs and mining rich customer information and interactions …”
– “we will collaborate with our partners, working to understand what they need …”
– “collaboratively designing innovative services with customers and reducing the burden of interacting with government.”
For the oversize transport sector, moving those freight loads that are overweight and overdimension, there are some specific ways that NZTA can be more focused towards the needs of the sector, and more responsive to future demands.
In general we are seeing more and more loads transported that are oversize, be it bigger machinery that can achieve the job more efficiently, more construction of large items off site and then trucked to the final destination, and more recycling of buildings, housing and classrooms.
- An efficient permitting system
The movement of large loads requires a raft of extra permissions, permits and notifications to the Agency as well as its maintenance network and contractors. NZTA should be facilitating this using technology to make this process efficient and effective. The Association has always heard from the Agency that this is a good idea, but no matter how many proposals are put to NZTA, they do not make any significant moves in this direction.
- A suitable roading network
Oversize loads are demanding on the roading network, and the association is constantly advocating to ensure that suitable dimension and capacity is provided to ensure that increasing numbers of large loads are able to be transported safely. The unfortunate thing is that, without the work of the association, the NZTA only occasionally thinks to incorporate design that does not hinder the transport of large loads on the few restricted routes we can use. The Agency does have to juggle the many, and often competing, needs of road users, but it needs to consider all road users – including the oversize sector.
- Proper consultation and closing the loop
Often there are various consultations that do go on with roading projects that are in various stages of development. The Association submits to as many of these as possible. However our experience is that unless this consultation is followed up by us with a request for a meeting, that the concerns put forward are either neglected, or put in the “too hard” basket. The “people-centred” approach that is often missing is the closing of the loop – reporting back to those people that have submitted to the consultation what the outcome of the submissions were. This is important so that if there are still continuing issues that haven’t been taken on board, the ultimate user of the road has a chance to raise these matters again.
- Providing access to the best roads
While the routes that are available to oversize loads are limited, in some situations the best roads for the transport of big loads are not permitted for use by the Agency. We have raised this previously but toll roads and motorways, that have divided carriageways with wider lanes, greater capacity, and no vulnerable users (such as cyclists or pedestrians) are often not available for use, or only for limited use with special permission.
It would make sense that rather than forcing large loads to use local roads in built up areas with greater flows of oncoming traffic and more infrastructure restrictions, that the Agency listen to the oversize users of these roads and permit access to these routes.
The above four manifesto items are not that difficult to achieve and are some of the ways that NZTA is able to achieve its stated aims of being “people-centred”. Let’s hope that they achieve this in practical terms such as those above, rather than in high-level vague nebulous ways that strategy documents often identify and can easily achieve.