Poll Shows Most Want More Spent on Public Transport

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The WWF have released a Colmar Brunton public opinion poll which shows seven out of ten New Zealanders want to see more Government money going to fund public transport improvements. The release goes on to say:

Only 1 percent of total land transport spending is allocated to new and improved public transport.

In Auckland the rate is even higher with 78 percent of people in agreement that the government should spend a greater percentage of its Land Transport Budget on improved public transport infrastructure in major urban areas or cities over the next decade.

“The Roads of National Significance and other roading projects are currently gobbling the lion’s share of government transport money, when what New Zealanders want is more investment to make public transport in cities better,” says WWF-New Zealand Climate and Energy Advocate Lee Barry.

“The futility of building more roads is not lost on Kiwis – they know fuel prices will rise and new roads will not help them.”

In the survey they point out that new or improved road infrastructure accounts for 59% of total government spending over the next decade, while new or improved public transport infrastructure accounts for 1.1%.  The chart for the current year looks like this:

NLTF spending for 2011/12

Click for larger image

Public Transport Price Shock

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The Sunday Star-Times has run a story on the possibility of public transport cost increases for local councils, backing up Gareth Hughes’ concerns.  In it the CBT is quoted:

“We hope the government isn’t going to be too severe on the public transport spend. But we know they are cutting back on the infrastructure spend. At the moment, the national road transport fund, which is a petrol tax and road-user charges, is $2.8 billion a year.

“Of that, 1.8% is spent on public transport infrastructure. But the government is seeking to cut that back to 0.7%. What the government says is, with public transport, the ratepayers are going to have to pay it [almost] entirely themselves.”

If you are interested, our full submission on the forthcoming new Government Policy Statement is here, but the following two charts show how Government funding is being shifted away from a number of areas including public transport infrastructure, and into new state highways. ?You can see here clearly that PT infrastructure spending is being reduced, but perhaps surprisingly there is slightly more provision being made for operational subsidies. Quite why this is the Government hasn’t really explained, however this small increase is unlikely to be sufficient to maintain the dramatic growth in PT usage in the last few years.

Submission on the Government Policy Statement 2012

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The Ministry of Transport is asking for feedback on proposed changes to the Government Policy Statement 2012, which sets out funding allocations for various activity classes.

Of primary concern is that public transport infrastructure funding is to be cut from an already measly 1.8% of the current land transport budget, to just 0.7% by 2021.

Our submission is broken into the following sub-sections:

  • Background – current transport situation and trends
  • Future transport challenges
  • Comment on the Roads of National Significance
  • Comment on local roads funding
  • Comment on public transport funding
  • Comment on the funding bands generally
  • Future expenditure targets
  • Suggestions about structure and additional information
  • Conclusion and recommendations

Generally, the CBT considers that the GPS needs to be significantly amended in order to achieve its stated goals of boosting economic growth and productivity. At the very least, the GPS needs to articulate more clearly how its investment will achieve the stated goals, while consideration of future risks facing the transport sector (particularly from rising fuel prices) should be outlined.

Our full submission is here. Feedback closes on Friday 27 May 2011, 5pm. Send yours to

“Action Stations” Over Auckland Public Transport Projects

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The Campaign for Better Transport today launched a campaign to highlight uncertainty surrounding the future of public transport projects in Auckland.

Join the campaign here.

Launched today at the Mt Albert railway station, the aim of the “Action Stations” campaign is to gain assurance from central Government that funding for a range of public transport initiatives such as integrated ticketing, new stations, ferry terminals, Onehunga rail and electric trains will proceed as originally intended before the withdrawal of the regional fuel tax.

The Auckland Regional Transport Agency (ARTA), which oversees public transport improvements in Auckland, has now been forced by central Government to apply for funding from the New Zealand Transport Agency for the funding of railway stations for Onehunga and other projects.

Campaign organiser Dr. Francis Reid encouraged the public to participate in the Action Stations campaign by sending key transport decision makers a postcard, which can be downloaded from the bettertransport.org.nz website.

“These projects need to be completed. The Government appointed Auckland council transition agency is threatening to delay all of these projects even further,” says Dr Reid.

Ancient tracks on the Onehunga branch line have now been replaced, but the location of passenger rail stations and how they are to be funded has yet to be determined.

“The withdrawal of $200m worth of funding through the regional fuel tax has left a gaping hole in Auckland public transport funding”, said Campaign for Better Transport Convenor Cameron Pitches.

“The ridiculous thing is the Government said they did so out of concern about rising petrol prices hurting people the pocket, but in the meantime petrol companies have increased the price by 5c a litre anyhow.”

Mr Pitches also spoke of the “deeply depressing” news that the Government had confirmed that it will slash up to $250m from public transport infrastructure spending over the next three years in order to boost expenditure on new state highways.

Total expenditure on new state highways is now set to be 22 times that of public transport infrastructure over the next three years, a multiple that Mr Pitches describes as “astonishing underinvestment, given the record 20% growth in Auckland’s public transport we have consistently seen year on year.”

“The Government is putting all of its eggs into one basket. Putting $3bn dollars into new highways which have not been assessed yet for their costs and benefits is extremely risky. If the price of oil increases again, it will look like an incredibly foolish strategy.”

“Central Government just doesn’t get it”, concludes Mr Pitches. “Aucklanders want more investment in public transport in Auckland, not more and more roads that only encourage more and more single occupant cars.”

Government Funding Comparison

Government Confirms $1bn Motorway Spend

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The Government has jumped the gun and confirmed the reallocation of $1bn in spending to motorways.  The widely opposed change to transport funding over the next three years means that money will be taken from every other category and put on new and improved state highways.  We’ll have a statement on this soon.

The Government has confirmed plans to increase spending on motorways by $1 billion over three years.

Transport Minister Steven Joyce said the confirmation came with the release of the Government Policy Statement on Land Transport Funding.

Mr Joyce had previously said the money would come from a mix of new money, increases in fuel taxes and reallocating spending within the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF).

Critics of the move targeted the $420 million reallocation as it took money from public transport and other initiatives…more

Light Being Shone on Transport Funding Changes

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Both Brian Rudman and, perhaps surprisingly, Jeremy Sole of the New Zealand Contractors Federation are waking up to the radical changes proposed for changes to national land transport funding.

Rudman:

As Auckland Regional Transport Authority chairman Mark Ford noted, “to put it simply, where there has been investment, there has been growth on rail and bus”. These were 3.7 million trips that were not taken in a private car on our congested roads. Yet our masters still have difficulty grasping the obvious message. Provide decent, reliable public transport and people will use it. At both local and central government level, the penny doesn’t seem to have dropped.

Jeremy Sole:

There are also other concerns. While the Government is firmly committed to investment in transport infrastructure to achieve economic growth, it appears this will be subject to funding availability.

The recent $25 million a year drop in the lower threshold of the predicted spend range in the Government Policy Statement for 2010 and 2011 indicates Government’s expectation that councils will not be committing their own funds to roading projects – so not drawing down the Transport Agency funding share.

The federation’s concern has been what will happen to those funds earmarked for local projects, if they are not taken up?

The Government has recently agreed to allow unused funds to be diverted to other transport projects but the mechanism for this is not yet clear.

It is vital that local projects such as arterial roads keep rolling forward. One way to do this would be low-interest Government loans to local councils – restricted to essential infrastructure projects.

Yes. Every category of transport funding is about to be slashed apart from new state highways. We’ll post the details shortly.

Councils Tackle Govt on Big Roading Projects

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The Herald reports that Local Government NZ is concerned about Transport Minister Steven Joyce’s proposed changes to transport funding.

Not only is public transport infrastructure spending to be slashed by 60%, but funding for the renewal and maintenance of local roads will also be cut by up to $225m over the next three years.

This means significant projects throughout the country in these categories will now have to be funded by local body rates or they will not proceed at all.

If the Minister of Transport is truly interested in investing in transport infrastructure for economic growth, he needs to be aware that none of the proposed roads of “national significance” have economic benefits comparable to investments in public transport and the maintenance and efficient operation of our existing local roading network.

Mr Joyce should have regard to the views of Local Government NZ, as he is required to do under the Land Transport Management Act. It is regrettable that the advice he has taken to date will not achieve the economic outcomes he seeks.

Government To Reduce Local Road Funding By Up To $225m

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The Government Policy Statement (GPS) on transport guides central and local transport planning throughout the country, so it’s an important document.

The Government has announced changes to the GPS. The new GPS has not been released yet, but the Minister of Transport has signalled his intentions with this document, which discusses the amendments that are about to be made in general terms, and also reallocates funding across different categories.

I’ve crunched the numbers, and the results are somewhat surprising.

Read the rest of this entry »


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