NZTA Cuts Shock Waikato


Waikato Regional Council is the latest local body to speak up about how surprise changes in government transport subsidies will mean bus services have to be cut or rates go up.

This as a result of plans to either reduce or remove government transport subsidies.

Details of the proposed changes to come into effect in July 2012 were outlined during the council’s policy and strategy committee, with chairperson Paula Southgate saying the funding shortfall could have far-reaching consequences in the Waikato.

It’s the same surprise news that caused outrage last week as Auckland Council Transport Committee members swallowed the news that NZTA is taking another $14m transport funding away from Auckland.  Its Chair Mike Lee declared: “Auckland needs to speak out about this.”

The NZTA released this only mid last month and have demanded responses by July 21.

The Waikato council wants the NZTA to find alternatives to their proposed changes to the funding assistance rates. These rates help to fund the national benefits associated with public transport facilities and infrastructure, road user safety and transport planning.

In real terms, if they went ahead, the changes would result in:

  • A $400,000 funding reduction for road safety community programmes.
  • A cut of $100,000 to $200,000 per annum for transport studies and strategies, which help to improve the effectiveness, efficiency and safety of the transport network in Waikato and neighbouring regions.
  • A cut in funding to local councils for public transport infrastructure, including bus stops, shelters and signs.
  • The removal of the $500,000 grant for regional land transport planning, of vital importance to ensure a planned and integrated transport network is provided for our region.

Hamilton buses services may be cut back

Waikato Chair Paula Southgate acknowledged the tight financial circumstances everyone is in but says these proposed changes will result in an increased and unfair burden on local and regional councils.

To offset the funding cut and maintain robust transport planning, road safety promotion programmes and public transport infrastructure, a local rates increase could be needed.

“The only other alternative would be a drop in our current level of service and programme delivery across these work programmes,” Cr Southgate said.

“Of particular concern for our region is the significant reduction in investment in road safety promotion, which plays an important role in driving down the road toll. Funding will be effectively halved in the Waikato, which has a higher proportion of road deaths than any other region in the country.

“I am also concerned at the impacts of these potential funding cuts on public transport facilities and infrastructure, particularly in an area which is already facing pressures to increase services with already constrained finances.”

It was acknowledged during the committee meeting that the overall tightening of national expenditure reflected the current economic climate.

The committee also heard details of proposed legislation changes affecting the regional council’s transport planning activities. These changes could result in some cost savings, but are not likely to come into effect until late 2012.

Meanwhile, the multi-agency Waikato Regional Transport Committee is making a detailed submission raising concerns about the impact of the proposed changes. The committee includes regional council and local territorial authority representatives.

The regional council will also write to the NZTA strongly supporting the Waikato Regional Transport Committee’s submission.

Auckland Council’s transport committee at its meeting passed a number of motions.

  • These argue that a special case be made for rail related improvements in the Auckland region and be phased in over a longer time period
  • They oppose the proposed reductions in the public transport funding especially considering the development taking place for Aukland commuter rail




  1. Steve Withers says:

    With petrol prices set to continue to rise indefinitely due to peak oil having been reached in the 2006, this government is being very short-sighted in undermining the public transport alternatives that will have to be there to pick up the slack as more and more people try to reduce their car use. National is not planning for the future at a time when several mega-trends are bearing down on us all. They are the wrong government for the time.

  2. Kurt says:

    I have to wonder if the actual reason behind this myopic vision of the National’s is that the government can make more money out of taxes if more people use petrol or diesel.

    Hence to them PT is all bad news as is motorcycles hence the unjustified ACC levy rises.

    Of course fuel is imported and this doesn’t help our balance of payments either so I can only conclude that on this subject amongst others they dont have a clue what they are doing.

  3. Matt says:

    Kurt, but road tax revenue is ring-fenced. It doesn’t go into the Consolidated Fund. Therefore, whatever’s made has to go on transport-related spending, and given that for as long as there’s been ring-fencing there’s been less income than expenditure the government’s continued position of building more roads just means the shortfall keeps increasing.

  4. Kurt says:

    Matt, GST is not ring fenced, so the more we spend on gas the more the government gets.

  5. Frank says:

    National is such a joke. I guess you have to cut money for public transport if you want to fund your multi-billion dollar motorways that aren’t needed.

  6. George D says:

    I feel a little Nelson Muntz here. This will hurt the government’s support. But too late, and after it’s caused pain, unfortunately.

    Pretty mindless, unless you think that a road is an unqualified good.

  7. Chris R says:

    It’s election year.

    The councils should cut as much as they can with the reason:

    “The Government has cut our funding - blame them”

    And be very vocal about it!

  8. KarlHansen says:

    Submitted on this latest radicalism. With a clear “If you don’t want to be seen as political patsies bowing and scraping to the wishes of your clueless minister, don’t do this”. More politely, of course, but that was the gist.

    It’s like in Joyce’s MOT office they have a weekly competition:

    “What could we do THIS week to screw PT?”


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