What is Let’s Get Wellington Moving and how has it come about?
- Let’s Get Wellington Moving began as a response to the termination of Basin Reserve Flyover plans. There was a protracted stalemate over the project that ended up in the High Court and was finally dropped in 2015. This was on top of a long-running argument between proponents of public transport and motorways that saw no progress for two decades.
- Because of this, a need for significant transport investment to deliver a step change in the network was recognised. Four future transport scenarios that composed of various transport improvements and infrastructure were put out for public consultation in late-2017. Public input was used to develop a recommended programme of investment. Since then, the package components have been evaluated and an indicative package and funding arrangement has been endorsed by Cabinet.
What are the next steps for Let’s Get Wellington Moving?
- The Let’s Get Wellington Moving partners will further develop the proposals in the indicative package that will make benefits, costs and other details of the package more certain. This includes developing business cases which will be put forward, along with funding requests, for approval by the Councils and the New Zealand Transport Agency.
- The proposed funding share of the indicative package for Wellington City Council and Greater Wellington Regional Council is 40% or $2.6 billion, which includes capital expenditure of $1.5 billion. Wellington City Council and Greater Wellington Regional Council need to confirm their commitment to funding their share of Let’s Get Wellington Moving. This may require public consultation as part of the relevant Long Term Plan development and potentially legislative change depending on the funding sources proposed.
When will Let’s Get Wellington Moving projects be delivered?
- The Let’s Get Wellington Moving programme is proposed to be delivered over 20 years, with early improvements aiming to begin planning this year. Some of the smaller components of the package will be delivered first including a number of the walking, cycling, public transport, and safety improvements. Larger scale projects, which will involve more detailed business cases, and planning approvals will be delivered later on.
Who pays for Let’s Get Wellington Moving?
- Let’s Get Wellington Moving is a joint initiative between central and local government. Central government will fund 60% while Wellington City Council (WCC) and Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) have agreed to pay the remaining 40%. The rapid transit component will be financed over 50 years and financing costs will be taken on by central government.
- The Government proposes to fund 60% of the capital and operational expenditure of the Let’s Get Wellington Moving indicative package. The Government also proposes that its share of rapid transit be debt financed. This brings the total proposed Government contribution, over 30 years, to $3.8 billion.
- The Government proposes to meet the $3.8 billion out of the National Land Transport Fund, the dedicated transport fund into which all fuel excise duty, road user charges and motor vehicle relicensing fees are paid.
What is the impact on ratepayers?
- Greater Wellington Regional Council and Wellington City Council will need to decide how they can best fund their share of Let’s Get Wellington Moving. They may choose to use a combination of funding mechanisms – for example general rates, targeted rates, and user charges.
- The Let’s Get Wellington Moving package has been developed taking into account the likely ability of all parties to raise the necessary revenue. This is why some aspects of the initial proposals are not included.
What about wider transport project in the Wellington region? Will they still be progressed?
- The proposed cost to Central Government for delivering Let’s Get Wellington Moving is inclusive of allowances for regional transport projects. The indicative package emphasises that there needs to be enough government funding for Let’s Get Wellington Moving plus some, ensuring that regional projects are not neglected.
Will a Wellington regional fuel tax be introduced to help fund Let’s Get Wellington Moving?
- The Prime Minister has been clear that while she remains Prime Minister, no further regional fuel taxes will be introduced.
Will the project include light rail?
- The proposal is to implement rapid transit. Decisions on the actual solution have not been are made. Details on the route alignment and style (e.g. light rail, bus rapid transit etc.) will be made on the basis of a detailed business case.
What will the rapid transit route be?
- Let’s Get Wellington Moving drafted a preferred route for the Recommended Programme of Investment. However, until a detailed business case is complete and the vehicle for rapid transit is confirmed, the route is also subject to significant changes.
There are references to local revenue raising tools, what does this mean for the taxpayer?
- In these briefings and aide memoire’s, officials have made reference to a range of revenue raising tools, as identified by LGWM, that local government could use for its 40% share of the package costs. These could include rates, targeted rates, a cordon charge, parking levies, a regional fuel tax, and/or a range of user charges.
- As stated by Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, there will be no additional regional fuel taxes while she is Prime Minister.
- In regard to rates increases, the councils will need to develop detailed proposals to be publicly consulted on through their relevant Long Term Plans (LTP’s).
- Other revenue raising tools will need to be fully analysed before new charges come into place and some could require legislative changes. The councils are yet to confirm any new charges and the public can expect to be notified through the usual council processes of any increases to rates or other changes to fund LGWM.
Discussion of the NLTF population share to fund LGWM was mentioned in quite a few briefings, what does this mean?
- Funding from the NLTF is typically determined based on the benefits and costs of individual projects. Projects are ranked against other national priorities and the NZTA commits funding to projects that have strong benefits and align well with the Government Policy Statement on Land Transport (GPS) priorities.
- To ensure that LGWM does not cause significant trade-offs for other national transport priorities, the Wellington region’s population share (estimated to be 10.5 percent) was assumed as the upper limit of potential funding from the NLTF.
Why will there be increases in PED and RUC every year?
- Financial modelling for Let’s Get Wellington Moving was based on NLTF revenue increasing broadly in line with inflation over the period of the programme. NLTF revenue doesn’t automatically increase with inflation. The Government of the day needs to make the decision to increase it.
- Future increases in PED and RUC will be considered at the time they are necessary. Monitoring and reporting on levels of NLTF revenue will be closely observed to ensure the Government responds appropriately to fund all priority projects.
Why does it appear to take so long for a decision on the final indicative package and funding arrangement to occur?
- As reflected in the briefings, a number of iterations of the indicative package and funding arrangement were made. The Government had to balance the ambition for Wellington with various pressures for other transport needs and investment.
- LGWM is a large project with three key partners (WCC, GWRC and NZTA) which means it did take some time to agree on the package and funding share.
Why was there a counter-proposal?
- The Indicative Package endorsed by the Government does not include all of the components of the Recommended Programme of Investment that was presented to Ministers by the LGWM partners. Ministers worked hard to balance the ambitions of the Recommended Programme of Investment with what was affordable within the broader context of committed and predicted transport funding. But due to funding constraints for both central and local government, trade-offs needed to be made to achieve a fundable package. The preferred option that Minister Twyford put to the WCC mayor and GWRC chair included some trade-offs, to which WCC and GWRC responded with a counter-proposal.
- WCC and GWRC have been key partners throughout the whole process of LGWM.
The Ministry has expressed concern to the Minister that local council cannot fund its share, what does this mean?
- The councils are yet to confirm the source of revenue to fund their share. Wellington needs to work through the details of the programme and engage with the public as they do so.
- As reflected in the briefings, the Ministry of Transport has had a role in providing the Minister with advice on funding for this project. This has mostly been ensuring that the Government commitment to the project fits within the National Land Transport Fund and balances the aspirations for Wellington with the competing transport pressures across the country.
- Partners have committed to the project and as suggested, we will continue to work with them on the funding of the project, ensuring that investment comes from the most effective sources of revenue.