Transport is an enabler of economic activity, allowing New Zealand to make the most of its opportunities. To maximise the return from our land transport network, we need to continue unlocking key congestion points, so people and freight can be moved swiftly and safely to their destinations.
The Government Policy Statement on land transport (the GPS) sets out the Government’s strategic and policy goals for land transport, as well as the funding direction necessary to achieve them. It guides not only an investment of $3.4 to $4.4 billion per annum from central government, but around $1.0 billion a year from local government.
This GPS - GPS 2015 - continues the overall strategic direction of GPS 2012, prioritising economic growth and productivity, road safety, and value for money.
GPS 2015 directs funding towards priority transport initiatives, particularly the continued delivery of the Roads of National Significance. This represents the largest transport improvement programme in our history, with a focus on lead investments that will reduce the costs of doing business and improve safety.
Recognising the important role that local roads have in connecting communities, businesses and markets, GPS 2015 also continues investment in local roads, and provides for important regional projects through the new Regional Improvements activity class. To further improve regional connections and the efficient long-haul transport of freight, we have committed $212 million from the Future Investment Fund to an Accelerated Regional Roading Package, and have continued to invest in the $4.7 billion KiwiRail Turnaround Plan.
Alternative modes of transport can make a positive contribution to health, social and environmental goals and support the overall transport task. The Government has allowed for continued growth in funding for public transport and active modes. In addition, we are committing $100 million from outside of the National Land Transport Fund for urban cycleways, to be invested in accordance with advice from an investment panel.
In Auckland, the first electric train services are running on the metro rail network and good progress is being made on the Waterview connection that will complete the western ring route by 2017. Budget 2014 provided funding to accelerate priority motorway projects which will enable maximum value to be realised from the Government’s $1.0 billion annual investment in Auckland transport.
While these projects represent a significant upgrade to New Zealand’s transport infrastructure, I am eager to see what more we can achieve over the next 3 years.
Transport investment from central and local government can be a catalyst for national economic development and productivity. By improving links between centres of production and ports or airports, we can improve our international competitiveness. This GPS ensures that the efficiency of these links can be strengthened, by providing for increases in the funding of State highways and local roads.
While the number of deaths and serious injuries on our roads has been decreasing, the social cost of crashes remains unacceptably high. Road safety is one of the Government’s top transport priorities. This GPS continues support for the Safer Journeys programme and its ‘Safe System’ approach, which targets safer roads and roadsides, speeds, vehicles and road users.
With an annual Crown expenditure of over $3.0 billion, land transport represents a large part of the Government’s balance sheet. We continue to expect this significant investment to be managed effectively and efficiently. GPS 2015 therefore maintains the focus of its predecessor on prioritising value for money, with a particular focus on road maintenance, and public transport activities. Building on the work of the Road Maintenance Taskforce, the New Zealand Transport Agency and local government will be expected to continue working together to implement the One Network Road Classification system and deliver optimal levels of service across New Zealand’s diverse environment. The revised Public Transport Operating Model put in place in 2013 is expected to deliver significant efficiency gains in the delivery of subsidised public transport services.
Overall, this GPS supports the continued development of high-quality connections between New Zealand’s key areas of production, processing, and export, and allows our urban areas to be well connected and accessible.
By maintaining this focus, GPS 2015 will make a strong contribution to the development of a safe, modern, and efficient transport system that is accessible to all New Zealanders.
Hon Simon Bridges