Government Misleads on Public Transport Spending in Auckland

Over at the Auckand Transport Blog I’ve covered the story about how the Government is using misleading figures to imply that it is spending a lot on public transport in Auckland.

A Herald article last month highlighted strong support for more Government spending on public transport improvements in Auckland. It included the following quote:

But a spokesman for Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee said that with $890 million budgeted for public transport in Auckland over three years “it would be grossly unfair to suggest the Government hasn’t given this mode of transport the priority it deserves”.

The story was analysed in a bit more detail in this post, but the question of where the $890m figure came from remained unresolved.

It is a figure that is repeated on the NZTA fact sheet, and in a press release from Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee’s office in relation to the opening of the Newmarket viaduct replacement:

A total of $3.4 billion is being invested in the Auckland region’s transport system between 2012/15 through the National Land Transport Programme alone, including $1.6 billion for state highways, $968 million for local roads and $890 million for public transport.

In the above context it looks like NZTA is investing $890m in public transport in Auckland, funded through fuel excise and road user charges. I sought clarification from Gerry Brownlee’s office on how the $890m figure was arrived at.  My request was referred to the NZTA, who responded earlier this week:

For clarification, the $890 million is the combined committed expenditure from the National Land Transport Fund (administered by the NZTA) and funding from Auckland Council for Auckland public transport services and infrastructure, between 1 July 2012 and 30 June 2015.

The NZTA’s share of the $890 million is $488 million. This is made up of $449 million for public transport services and $39 million for public transport infrastructure.

So almost half of the $890m figure actually comes from Auckland Council ratepayers, and the remainder also includes public transport service operating costs as well. (From memory I think the transport services figure includes repayment of the EMU loan). Very few people would know that the National Land Transport Programme includes local council contributions.

This leaves an actual public transport infrastructure spend of $39m from fuel taxes and road user charges over the next three years in Auckland.  This really is a pitiful amount compared to the hundreds of millions being spent on new roading projects. It would seem more than fair to suggest that central Government hasn’t given public transport the priority it deserves.

Leave a comment