Q. In addition to the ACC fee in relicensing, which you recently addressed, road users like myself also pay 4c/km road user charges. I'm dying to know how this is justified.
Llewellyn White, Auckland.
It's to do with excise tax. Typically, at the pump, 40 per cent of the price of petrol is the actual cost of refined petrol and up to half is tax i.e. 61.13 cents per litre in fixed excise, plus the Emissions Trading Scheme levy (approximately 1c/l) and GST. (The percentages were calculated on the petrol price at January 18.
Since there is no excise tax on diesel, diesel users pay road user charges instead. The imported cost of diesel currently represents more than 60 per cent of the pump price, with the remainder being freight, GST and importer margin. (Source: www.aa.co.nz)
Q. We know to never let our eftpos or credit card slip out of our sight when handing it over to be swiped for a transaction for fear of it being surreptitiously put through a skimming device. Is it technically possible for the HOP or AT card readers to read, or ruin, the details held on the magnetic strips or data chips on credit cards? Regular users are often seen to "swipe" their unopened wallet at the HOP/AT card reader and it works, but I wonder if that card reader is also capable of skimming the data from the other cards in the wallet.
John Bayliss, Papatoetoe.
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A spokesman for Auckland Transport says that they do not believe that there is any risk of a skimming device reading or copying other cards in a customer's wallet. AT Hop smartcards are proximity cards, ie contactless. The Thales readers will only attempt to read proximity cards that are presented.
If there is a proximity card that is not an AT HOP card in someone's wallet, the reader will not have the correct key to read that card.
Q. At the St Lukes Rd motorway overbridge area, there is a pedestrian crossing to nowhere. There is a light-controlled crossing to the road island but no painted crossing to access the left turn to the cycle track. Is there a special reason for it not to be complete?
John Moore, Auckland.
Auckland Transport believes that the crossing is still safe, although pedestrians do need to take care.
The visibility between motorists and pedestrians is not enough for a motorist to see someone waiting at the kerb, so at the moment pedestrians cross to and from the traffic island without a marked crossing. Pedestrians only have to check traffic approaching from one direction and there's a relatively short piece of road to cross.
Recent tree trimming has improved the visibility between pedestrians and motorists. However, Auckland Transport is currently working with NZTA on proposals that include a road layout change for the St Lukes interchange and pedestrians will be a major part of any change.