The government is setting a clear direction for transport through the updated New Zealand Transport Strategy (NZTS), due out July this year. The Ministry must ensure that it achieves this vision through innovation and strong collaboration across the sector.

This Statement of Intent outlines how we will begin our journey toward this vision by focusing efforts not only on meeting our medium-term intentions but also on our broader transport targets.

The updated NZTS will operate within and recognise the government's key goals of economic transformation, national identity and families - young and old, under the wider sustainability agenda. It will inform both new strategies and the implementation and revision of existing transport strategies, such as those covering railways, state highways, walking and cycling and road safety. It will also influence regional strategic planning documents such as regional land transport strategies and regional growth strategies.

Critical to our economic well-being is the need to be able to move freight efficiently and economically. Freight in this country is predicted to double by 2020. It is essential therefore that we explore options now about how to reduce the adverse impacts of this growth. The government acknowledges that there are gaps in understanding of the freight sector in New Zealand and so the Ministry is undertaking a major nationwide freight study to help fill data gaps on the current and future movement of freight flows. The study is being undertaken jointly by us, the Ministry of Economic Development and Land Transport New Zealand. The collaboration on this study reflects the importance of freight to the government's transport and broader economic growth objectives.

The updated NZTS will set several freight targets in order to significantly lift coastal shipping and rail's share of longer distance domestic freight. Sea Change - the recently released domestic sea freight strategy - further develops the shipping target and proposes actions to remove the current barriers to industry growth.

Transport's contribution to greenhouse gas emissions is currently growing unsustainably. As part of its response to climate change, the government has introduced targets that will require far-reaching changes in transport choices. Key targets to combat this trend include that by 2040, we want:

  • to halve per capita domestic greenhouse gas transport emissions from 2007 levels
  • New Zealand to be one of the first countries in the world to widely deploy electric vehicles.

Strengthening the existing vehicle emission standards is one of a package of measures the government is introducing to improve the environment. The Land Transport Vehicle Exhaust Emissions Rule 2007 came into effect on 3 January 2008. The rule aims to improve air quality and therefore public health.

The Next Steps Review of the Land Transport Sector will mean major change in the sector, subject to the passage of legislation (the Land Transport Management Amendment Bill). We are drawing near to the inauguration of the new transport Crown entity, the New Zealand Transport Agency. This proposed agency would be fully operational in July and would work toward implementing the government land transport goals consistent with the updated NZTS and the first Government Policy Statement.

The passage of the Next Steps legislation would also include provisions to enable regional fuel tax. This tax would be used to provide new public transport infrastructure and new roading projects in regions. In the case of Auckland, where there has been considerable work on priorities, a regional fuel tax will most likely fund the electrification of the Auckland rail network, as well as fund a number of other projects that benefit the entire Auckland region.

In December 2007, the government released a package of new road safety measures. The changes introduced will target recidivist offenders and include more demerit points, but lower fines. The package also introduced measures to reduce the high number of young and novice drivers dying on our roads. This includes extending the minimum period that under 25-year-olds spend on a learner licence from six months to 12 months to allow for more supervised practise. We will be working through 2008/09 to implement this package, which will complement legislation already introduced to tackle the issues of drugged driving.

Development has begun on the new Road Safety Strategy to 2020. Our aim is to have the strategy in place by 2010. Preliminary work will begin around identifying the current nature of the road safety problem in New Zealand. An initial analysis shows that continual improvements to the three areas of vehicle safety, driver behaviour and road infrastructure are crucial to our success.

In accordance with section 39 of the Public Finance Act 1989, I confirm that the information in this Statement of Intent is consistent with the policies and performance expectations of the government.

Alan Thompson
Chief Executive
Ministry of Transport

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