This result area supports the Government’s priority for economic growth and value for money

A key feature of the transport system is that much of the land transport (road and rail) infrastructure is owned by the Government and utilised by other service providers and users.

This is a priority for the Ministry, as maintenance costs have been rising at roughly twice the rate of inflation. At the same time, public expectations of transport service levels have been increasing. Both of these trends have been occurring at a time when there has been a flattening in demand for personal travel – measured by vehicle kilometres travelled per capita – which has in turn impacted on revenue collected from motorists. There has also been a change in the patterns of transport demand; increased demand and consequent congestion is occurring in Auckland and other urban centres, while there are relative decreases in many rural areas. This means we will need to change the ‘shape’ of the asset base even if overall demand does not increase.

The Government has raised the level of taxation on transport users by 33 per cent over the last five years to respond to these pressures. However, continued transport tax increases at the rate observed are unsustainable. There is a need to better manage the existing transport asset base to support effective use by service providers and users, and to ensure that freight is moved efficiently through the transport networks.

Better management of the asset base will allow us to improve traffic flows, and safety and environmental outcomes, while partially mitigating the need for new infrastructure. This will in turn reduce the need to increase the level of fuel excise duty and road user charges to meet the increasing demands on the system.

The Ministry’s role in improving the management of the transport asset base

The Ministry has two key roles through which it can drive improved management of the transport asset base.They are:

  • policy advice to the Government — on transport funding and policy settings
  • Crown entity governance and accountability — monitoring the transport Crown entities and supporting the Minister to set expectations and hold the Crown entities accountable for their performance.

What we intend to achieve

The following projects and activities over the next four years will enable our work to be a catalyst for improved management of the transport asset base.

Development of an investment strategy for the transport portfolio

The development of an investment strategy for the transport portfolio provides a real opportunity to maximise the return for the Government from its existing $60 billion transport infrastructure asset base and the $40 billion that the Government will invest in the transport system over the next decade.

The Government Policy Statement on land transport (GPS) sets out the investment strategy for land transport and the results that the Government expects over the short-, medium- and long-term horizons, but is constrained from shaping broader cross-modal investment.

The investment strategy will focus on ensuring that the balance of investments is right across all of the transport modes, so that the Government is clear about what it wants to achieve and why, and how different investment parameters can support that. It will address Government decision-making on Budget initiatives, the GPS, fees, charges and levies, and show trade-offs. The Government Policy Statement 2018 will be a key implementation mechanism for the new investment strategy.

Implementation of the new Government Policy Statement 2015 monitoring regime

The Ministry provides performance and investment oversight of the GPS on an ongoing basis. We have reassessed the manner in which the implementation of GPS 2015 will be measured, reflecting the substantial change in approach to the GPS that followed the enactment of the Land Transport Management Amendment Act 2013.

The effectiveness of the GPS investment strategy’s delivery will be monitored within the context of long-term goals. As long run investments, there can be substantial lag between investment and benefit realisation within the land transport sector. We will ensure an appropriate mix of indicators is monitored — indicators that not only inform how effectively the current investment strategy is driving long-term results, but also inform future investment strategy, in particular the next GPS.

Promotion of active transport modes and public transport

The Ministry will work to deepen its understanding of how changes in personal travel might impact on the transport system over the coming decade and how we can best respond to this.

Public transport 2045

We are seeing new service models emerge to support people’s transport needs. Changing travel preferences, the explosion of on-demand and shared services such as Uber and ZipCar, the use of smart phones and journey planning apps, and the introduction of autonomous cars in the future are among the developments that are changing the mobility paradigm that has lasted for many generations. The current models of how we regulate, plan and operate public transport may not be appropriate in a world where the distinction between public and private transport is becoming blurred.

The Ministry will open up a discussion about where these new technologies and initiatives are likely to take us as a society, and the implications for public transport. This will also raise questions about some of our fundamental assumptions about the role of the Government in planning, providing and funding public transport. We will also consider whether and how the Government should respond to (or perhaps shape) these developments.

Cycling Safety Panel

Cycling participation in New Zealand has been increasing over the past few years and, with additional investment being made into cycling infrastructure, it is important that all appropriate measures are taken to ensure cycling is as safe as possible.

In 2014, the NZ Transport Agency established an independent expert Cycling Safety Panel to make recommendations to central and local government for improving cycling safety in New Zealand. Over the next one to two years, the Ministry will be working with the NZ Transport Agency and local government to investigate and implement these recommendations. This may include legislative change, as well as amendments to investment criteria and other processes.

Urban Cycleways Programme

The Government has increased its investment in cycling infrastructure in order to make cycling a safer and more realistic travel choice. This includes a Government investment programme totalling up to $100 million between 2014/15 and 2017/18.

The Ministry will provide advice on the programme, and will participate in the Urban Cycleways Investment Panel. This will include providing assurance to the Government that projects meet the criteria set out in the Government’s investment strategy.

Assessment of key pinch points within the transport system

New Zealand has a mature transport network — it reaches almost everywhere New Zealanders regularly need or want to go. This means that less investment is likely to be needed to extend the network.

As times change, however, the amount of demand to go to certain places or along certain routes changes: when it grows, it creates pinch points. Investment is more likely to be needed to address these pinch points — whether it is in new infrastructure to expand capacity or in ways to better use and share demand across existing infrastructure to make the best use of what we already have.

The Ministry is working across the transport sector and with other infrastructure, energy and industry-related agencies to consolidate and improve our ability to forecast the scale, nature and locations of transport demand.

Publicising this information will support the sector in identifying likely pinch points and planning appropriately for them.

Implementation of the Intelligent Transport Systems Technology Action Plan

Intelligent transport systems (ITS) are systems where information, data processing, communication and sensor technologies are applied to vehicles, infrastructure, and operating and management systems to provide benefits for transport users. ITS are revolutionising global transport and have great potential to contribute to the achievement of the Government’s and the Ministry’s desired transport outcomes. They play a major role in making travel safer and more efficient, and reducing greenhouse gases and air pollution.

The Intelligent Transport Systems Technology Action Plan 2014–2018 sets out the Government’s proposed actions to encourage the further development and deployment of ITS in New Zealand.

The Ministry will lead the implementation of the action plan to ensure the benefits of ITS are realised for New Zealanders as quickly as possible, where they support transport outcomes and it is cost effective to do so. Actions include a review of transport regulation to identify unnecessary barriers to the continued deployment of ITS technologies in New Zealand, exploring uses of transport data — including making it publicly available while still ensuring privacy and promoting harmonisation — open standards, and interoperability of technologies at an international level.

Resilience of the transport network

Resilience is a key issue for the transport network. Disruption in one part of the network can impact whole regions (for example, as in Northland following the July 2014 storms) or even nationally.

The Ministry of Transport and the NZ Transport Agency have a number of initiatives underway to develop a resilience evidence base.

A key output for the Ministry will be the development of a network-wide view of the most efficient and effective means of providing appropriate levels of resilience, locally, regionally and nationally. This is particularly important in situations where the preferred option may be the construction of duplicate infrastructure. Sometimes redundant infrastructure will be the right response, despite the cost; other times there will be more effective alternatives. The need is for a consistent approach that helps make the best choices.

How performance will be assessed

Results — the Ministry will know that it has achieved its stated result if, by 2025, there is:

  • reduced risk of disruption at the most critical points in the roading network and disruptions are being dealt with efficiently
  • increased productivity where there areconstraints on main routes within our major metropolitan areas
  • increased freight vehicle productivity acrossthe network. 

Success — the Ministry will know that it has been successful over the next two to four years if:

  • there is greater transparency for the implementation of GPS 2015 and its impact on the performance of the land transport asset base
  • the application of ITS technology across the transport modes is delivering more efficient use of the existing transport infrastructure
  • the Ministry understands the relative priority and timing for Government investment options across all of the transport modes (regardless of funding sources) to maximise efficient network performance and meet future needs
  • the Ministry has enhanced its transport modelling capability and is providing more sophisticated advice on the impacts of different intervention options
  • there is a clearer voice from road users (on what they want to pay for and what they would accept as charges or a charging system) and additional demand management tools are being considered for the medium term.


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