GPS Tilted To Highway Funding


The Government Policy Statement on Land Transport Funding  was released today by Transport Minister Steven Joyce  and predictably is weighted towards highway development by increasing the funding available for new and improved State highways by $125 million for the first 3 years.

The GPS outlines the government’s priorities for expenditure from the National Land Transport Fund and determines how funding is allocated between activities such as road policing, road safety promotion, state highways, local roads and public transport.

It plans to invest around $36 billion through the National Land Transport Fund over the next ten years,for what it calls “a focus on projects supporting economic growth, value for money and road safety.”

While Councils have been complaining about cutbacks to public transport funding, the Government is insisting the GPS 2012 increases funding for public transport services” to reflect the government’s commitment to upgrade, modernise and expand the metro rail systems in Auckland and Wellington.”

But it’s stuff we already know. It’s just the usual PR spin to hide the fact nothing new is there and behind the scenes more keeps being taken away.

The transport minisry’s explanation why the document is so weighted towards state highways says:

“The priority given to improving the State highway network reflects the role it plays in providing critical economic links for businesses, communities and tourism. The network is only 12 percent of New Zealand’s total roading network but it accounts for half of vehicle kilometres driven each year, and around two-thirds of the vehicle kilometres driven by heavy vehicles.  The high-volume highways in and around our major centres, comprise 6.5 percent of the State highway network (or about 0.8 percent of the total roading network) but carry 36 percent of the total vehicle kilometres travelled on State highways (or about 17 percent of total vehicle kilometres travelled). The RoNS programme is designed to properly address issues of congestion, journey times and safety on these high volume highways. While a significant investment will be made in roading, the funding available for the public transport services activity class will increase by $140 million above that available under the current GPS over the first 3 years of GPS 2012.

“It is also important to note that the majority of central government funding for public transport infrastructure is provided outside of the National Land Transport Fund and so not included in the GPS. Most of this funding is for metro rail. To date more than $2 billion in Crown appropriations has been agreed, of which $1.6 billion is for Auckland and $485 million for Wellington.”

Between $750 million to $1,100 million is available for public transport over the period 2012/13–2014/15. Between $36 million to $90 million is available for dedicated walking and cycling projects over the same period.

The Ministry, commenting on whether enough money is made available for public transport, insists:

“The government continues to place emphasis on ongoing investment in public transport - this is reflected in the government’s commitment to urban rail passenger transport in Auckland and Wellington in particular. The bulk of that funding is provided outside of the National Land Transport Fund and to date more than $2 billion in Crown appropriations has been agreed, of which $1.6 billion is for Auckland and $485 million for Wellington.In addition, the funding ranges for public transport services have been increased in GPS 2012, particularly to provide funding for additional operating costs following the upgrading, modernising and expanding of the metro rail systems in Auckland and Wellington.

“The government also recognises that walking and cycling investment contributes to economic growth. For this reason, the funding ranges are being maintained at the levels set by GPS 2009. These ranges see the upper funding range increase from $27 million in 2011/12 to $30 million in 2012/13. It is important to note that significant additional investment in walking and cycling infrastructure occurs as part of other roading projects, including the development of both new highways and local roads.  New Zealand’s main centres will need to continue to increase the use of public transport and walking and cycling in the longer term, but it is important that the investment approach to transport reflects the modal options realistically used by New Zealanders.  Currently 84 percent of journeys to work in urban areas are in private vehicles and 70 percent of freight tonne-kilometres are by road therefore the government is continuing to focus the national land transport programme to better reflect the realities of how New Zealanders get around and how we transport our goods. “

It confirms that the proposed new public transport operating model, for the delivery of urban bus and ferry services, is still currently being developed by the Ministry of Transport, NZ Transport Agency, Auckland Transport, Greater Wellington Regional Council and the Bus and Coach Association.

“The operating model aims to provide public transport services with less reliance on government subsidy.

The key objectives of the proposed model are stated as:

  • grow the commerciality of public transport services and create incentives for services to become fully commercial
  • grow confidence that services are priced efficiently and there is access to public transport markets for competitors.

The model takes a wider view than legislation alone and is a planning, procurement and business development framework. A key feature of the proposed model is designing efficient public transport networks, incentivising joint public private investment and rebuilding relationships between regional councils and operators to provide the basis for a genuine partnership.

GPS 2012 makes three significant changes by:

  • increasing the funding available for new and improved State highways by $125 million for the first 3 years. This is to give further support to the State highway improvement programme including progressing the seven Roads of National Significance (RoNS)
  • increasing the funding available for public transport services by $140 million for the first 3 years. This reflects the government’s commitment to upgrade and expand the metro rail systems in Auckland and Wellington
  • enabling increases for new State highways and public transport services partly by reducing the funding available for some activities classes, such as, transport planning and management of the funding allocation system. These reductions are important to encouraging greater value-for-money

Much of the government’s capital investment in public transport infrastructure is being made outside of the National Land Transport Fund.

In addition to the fund, the government makes much of the fact it is investing  $1.6 billion in the development of Auckland’s metro rail system, - nothing new here as it comprises:

  •  $600 million for Project DART
  • $500 million for the infrastructure required to support electrification
  • $500 million loan funding for the purchase of electric trains
  •  $400 million on Wellington’s metro rail upgrade, which has included double-tracking to Waikanae and the purchase of 48 new two-car Matangi trains.
  •  A further $88.4 million for upgrades to the Wellington metro rail network as part of a funding and ownership package with the Greater Wellington Regional Council.

But of course if it was really committed we would get the CBD Rail Line of National Significance - and Councils would not be wrestling with finding more money for track access fees and the new Auckland electric trains. Yet Mr Joyce says this is by far the most significant investment in public transport infrastructure since the Ganz Mavag trains were introduced in Wellington in the late 1970s.  “Taken together, the National Land Transport Fund investments and the parallel rail investments we are making are a huge investment in transport for a country of New Zealand’s size.

Funding areas such as local roads and walking and cycling, will allow steady improvements in those parts of the network.

“Further benefits will accrue in the walking and cycling area as most of the major roading projects have special provision for walking and cycling, and this isn’t counted in the walking and cycling budget.

“GPS 2012 builds on the government’s progress in supporting economic growth through investment in much needed infrastructure,” says Mr Joyce.

“Continued funding for State highways and the Roads of National Significance will help encourage business, tourism and jobs, and will improve road-user safety.”

“Providing the support necessary to repair the land transport network in Christchurch is also a top priority.”
In summary it’s all about motorways in an era of spectacular public transport growth and rising oil prices.
Bizarre and something that will hard to reverse in years to come when it’s too late and public transport is congested and has reached capacity.


GPS document here




  1. Matt L says:

    There is a lot of PT wash going on from the government. They continue to claim completed projects in their totals for newly confirmed spending e.g. Project DART while ignoring previous spending on motorways.

  2. Matt T says:

    The claiming to spend on already finished projects. What is with that? They finished the Waikanae extension months ago too.

    Next they’ll be claiming they’re building the Nippon Clip-ons.

  3. BD says:

    I fail to see how this will help generate the economy is things like this that make me not want to vote National in the election.

    “Continued funding for State highways and the Roads of National Significance will help encourage business, tourism and jobs, and will improve road-user safety.”

    The number one reason why they want to continue to build highways is because they support the trucking lobby. Building more highways will have the opposite effect it will not create more jobs it will not improve road safety, it will just drives us more and more into debt for the rest of our lives. It’s no wonder Australia is way ahead of us, they spend heaps of money on public transport. But our government seems to think our public transport is good enough already.

    It’s absoultely disgusting how many more sacred cows can the government get. This seems to never get protested about or questioned directly. Even though most of the money that the government has is being poured into roads more than anything else this is not on. The public transport money they are saying they are putting towards is bugger all and these improves are already happening.

    The public transport situation around NZ ranks lowest in the developed world and it will only get worse if we continue to buy National’s cheap dirty lies.

  4. Cam says:

    Continued funding for State highways and the Roads of National Significance will help encourage business, tourism and jobs, and will improve road-user safety.” No, no it wont and we all know that.

  5. George D says:

    How exciting! Now we can finally build all those motorway projects we’ve been unable to do, like Waterview, the Northwestern MegaMotorway, the Second Manukau Crossing, and bridges and tunnels through Spaghetti Junction!

  6. Giel says:

    Yeah and the Stuff link reporting below definitely gives the impression this is NEW money….
    How useless some reporting is in this country. Unbelievable.

  7. Andu says:

    ”Continued funding for State highways and the Roads of National Significance will help encourage business, tourism and jobs…”
    Yup. I can hear what the tourists are saying right now.
    ”Have you heard about those new highways and wider roads in New Zealand?! I can’t WAIT to see them and drive on them! isn’t it exciting?!! That way we can avoid paying attention to the scenary because we’ll be too busy driving and enjoying the traffic! Yahoo!”

    Jesus, what morons we have planning our infrastructure.


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