Launching Transport Strategy, Policy, and Agency

  • Annette King

Speech notes for launch of of NZ Transport Strategy 2008, Government Policy Statement, and the NZ Transport Agency. Banquet Hall, Parliament


Without a doubt this is the most significant launch in the transport sector this year – and probably, in fact, for a number of years.

It is a date I have been waiting for impatiently, and I am sure many of you have been as well.

Now the Land Transport Management Amendment Act 2008 has been passed, we can get on with implementing all the important changes in the transport sector covered by the Act.

The principles underlying our vision --- to have an affordable, integrated, safe, responsive and sustainable transport system --- haven’t changed, but from today we are articulating how we will achieve that vision in what I strongly believe are more meaningful and tangible ways. We have already made considerable progress toward achieving our vision in the past six years, and I am certain we will now make even more notable improvements in the future.

Two key components to doing just that are the New Zealand Transport Strategy 2008 (an update of the first Strategy in 2002) and the first Government Policy Statement on Land Transport Funding. These two documents, which I am launching today, will provide greater guidance to achieving the vision we all share.

Many people here today provided feedback on both documents, and I want to thank you sincerely for your input into helping bring about an improved transport system for all New Zealanders. I also want to thank Ministry of Transport officials and agency staff who worked tirelessly on producing both documents and consulting with groups all over the country.

One of the biggest challenges we face is to improve the way we travel and move freight without compromising our health or our environment. At the same time, we need a transport system that remains affordable, is more accessible and one that will help us achieve our economic potential.

I believe that through the updated Strategy we have provided strong direction for the next 30 years to achieve a vision that aligns with the government’s sustainable development, energy and climate change agendas, while still meeting our ambitions for the economy.

The Strategy covers all aspects of transport –- moving people and freight by air, sea and on land. As well as outlining the government’s intentions for transport, it provides a framework for the activities of transport Crown entities and guidance for local authorities. It also provides a long-term plan which will help the private sector make investment decisions with greater confidence.

The Strategy will usher in a new era for transport by setting out, for the first time, defined targets for the whole sector, and actions needed to achieve the targets. To give you a sense of the task ahead, I want to talk briefly about some of these targets, and how we plan to achieve them.

The first aims to halve per capita domestic greenhouse gas emissions from transport by 2040 and will be achieved by:

  • Being one of the first countries in the world to widely use electric vehicles.
  • Greater use of renewable fuels.
  • Increasing the movement of freight by coastal shipping and rail to 30 percent and 25 percent respectively (by 2040), and
  • Reducing the kilometres travelled by single occupancy vehicles, in major urban areas on weekdays, by 10 percent per capita by 2015 (compared to 2007 figures).

The strategy sets a road safety target that will reduce road deaths to no more than 200 per annum, and serious injuries to no more than 1500 per annum, both by 2040. The road toll last year was over 400, and in 2006 was just under 400, so we certainly cannot be complacent about meeting the new target. We will achieve our targets by:

  • Creating safer roads and roadsides.
  • Safer speeds.
  • Safer vehicles.
  • Enforcement, and
  • Education to create safer road users.

I believe that accessibility and mobility for New Zealanders will improve with targets to increase, by 2040, use of public transport to seven percent of all trips and to increase walking, cycling and other active forms of transport to 30 percent of total trips in urban areas. The target of seven percent may not sound a great deal, but translated into actual journeys, it will mean an increase from 111 million journeys in 2006/07 to 525 million in 2040. We will achieve our targets by:

  • Increased frequency of bus, rail and ferry services.
  • Higher quality services and extended provision of park and ride facilities.
  • Greater use of bus lanes and high occupancy vehicle lanes.
  • Integrated ticketing and real-time information.
  • Improving safety for cyclists and pedestrians, and
  • Encouraging children to walk, cycle and use public transport, as experience as a child influences how people later choose to travel as an adult.

A target to protect and promote public health aims to see fewer people exposed to health-endangering noise levels and air pollution, and will be greatly assisted by encouraging more New Zealanders to walk, cycle and use public transport. We will also make progress toward our target by:

  • Facilitating a community and agency partnership approach toward managing noise and vibration issues associated with new transport infrastructure.
  • Reducing the level of harmful emissions from motor vehicles entering our fleet.

And targets to improve journey times and journey time reliability, with a focus on investing in critical multi-modal infrastructure, are essential to ensure New Zealand’s economic growth is not put at risk. We will achieve these targets by:

  • Investing in critically important major routes for moving freight, including arterials linking major ports, airports and urban areas, and routes connecting forestry, horticultural and agricultural areas.
  • Continuing to invest in Auckland as a priority.
  • Developing rail and port infrastructure.
  • Developing the transport sector workforce.

This Government has invested heavily in critical land transport routes since the years of neglect in the 1990s.

Examples of such routes completed, started or scheduled to start, since this Government entered office, include:

  • Auckland’s Central Motorway Junction Stage ($140 million)
  • Mercer to Longswamp, Waikato ($83m)
  • Greenhithe Deviation ($115m)
  • Alpurt B2 ($390m)
  • Northern Busway ($290m)
  • Harbour Link, Tauranga ($200m)
  • Dowse to Petone ($80m)
  • Manukau Extension ($190m)
  • Manukau Harbour Crossing ($265 m)
  • Hobsonville Deviation ($200m)

The New Zealand Transport Agency will also decide on construction starts in the near future for the Newmarket Viaduct ($190m), Christchurch Southern Motorway ($140m), and Victoria Park Tunnel ($320m).

Those are just some of the projects. After a decade when virtually nothing happened, this Government has demonstrated a huge commitment to land transport infrastructure, and don’t forget --- a decision will also be made shortly on how we should procure funding of the Waterview Connection in Auckland, and we await the Wellington region’s decision on Transmission Gully.

I am releasing the Strategy today, but I want to emphasise that I am doing so with the strong proviso that it needs to be a living strategy. That is why it commits to developing a comprehensive action plan by March next year, with the intent of producing another updated version in two years time.

In response to the discussion document that was a precursor to this Strategy, many of you asked for further involvement. As we refine and add to our targets and planned actions, I hope that you will contribute and work with us.

While the Strategy has a long-term outlook, the Government Policy Statement sets out shorter-term targets and focuses on providing direction for the allocation of land transport funding over the next six years.

It describes what we want to achieve through funding to the land transport sector, how much funding will be provided to the sector, what areas of transport will be funded, and how funding will be raised. The goal is to influence the type of projects that are carried out by providing this guidance to the newly created New Zealand Transport Agency and local government. The Agency itself will be responsible for allocating funds.

Like the NZTS targets, the GPS targets are also aimed at a reduction in kilometres travelled by single occupancy vehicles, an increase in the transporting of freight by sea and rail, and less fatalities and hospital stays from road crashes.

Other targets specify an increase in the use of public transport by 3 percent per year and an increase in the number of walking and cycling trips by one percent a year, both by 2015.

Most of these targets will have the added benefit of reducing carbon dioxide emissions from transport, so will therefore help to address climate change.

The land transport sector faces serious challenges including increasing carbon dioxide emissions, congestion, the road toll and rising fuel prices. The GPS has been prepared with these challenges in mind.

The GPS outlines the funding that central government will make available through the National Land Transport programme. The overall funding of land transport is a shared responsibility between central government and local government.

In the development of the GPS, we have aimed to achieve a balance between the need to invest in the land transport sector with the burden that increasing fuel prices are having on New Zealanders. We need to invest in transport for the future, but it must remain affordable for everyone at the same time.

As we did with the updated Transport Strategy, we also considered feedback from key stakeholders in the development of this GPS. Stakeholders will continue to be consulted for the next GPS which will be published before July 2012.

The GPS does not come into effect until July next year, so key organisations will have significant time to build it into their own plans and thinking.

Under this Government the sector has become used to huge investment in land transport --- $3.1 billion this year alone – and the investment is set to continue under the GPS. While, quite naturally, the possible range of investment in various activity classes is wider six years out than it is in 2009/10, for example, the commitment to investment remains as strong as ever.

I will give you just a few examples:

  • The allocation to public transport services over the six years will be between $1.35 billion and $1.69 billion.
  • The allocation to public transport infrastructure will be between $440 million and just over $1 billion.
  • The allocation for new and improved infrastructure for state highways will range from $2.9 billion to $4.4 billion.
  • The allocation for new and improved infrastructure for local roads will range from $1.05 billion to $1.65 billion.

There are also large allocations across other classes, including renewal of state highways and local roads, maintenance and operation of highways and roads, and road policing.

And, remember, funding in the NLTF is in addition to government investment in passenger and freight rail networks through ONTRACK; a major investment programme in passenger and freight rolling stock through KiwiRail; potential funding of up to $244 million for the Canterbury Transport Regional Implementation Plan over 10 years; $10 million annually for 2009/10 and 2010/11 for remaining priority projects in the Northland and Tairawhiti regional development funding programmes; and $18 million funding annually for the SuperGold card to provide free off-peak travel on bus, rail and ferry services.

As you will be aware, under full hypothecation, all fuel excise duty, road user charges and motor vehicle registrations collected will go into the National Land Transport Fund. And, as you will also be aware, I have recently asked, following debate about road user charges, for an independent review of the model for allocating the costs of maintaining roads and building new ones, and for reviewing how these charges are collected.

We will track progress against the targets in both the Strategy and GPS using the Transport Monitoring Indicators Framework.

The Framework, developed with input from across the sector, brings together data from across all transport modes for the first time. It uses a consistent set of core indicators to ensure we are moving in the right direction. Both national and regional data included in the framework are available on the Ministry of Transport’s website.

The other significant change to come out of the Land Transport Management Amendment Act 2008 is the recently established New Zealand Transport Agency. This new Crown entity, which came into being last week, combines the expertise and functions of Land Transport New Zealand and Transit New Zealand.

The Agency will help deliver key transport outcomes in collaboration with organisations across the sector. Its key outcomes are to:

  • get people and freight using a wider range of transport modes
  • make journeys safer
  • achieve value for money
  • make the funding process easier and more predictable, and
  • build stronger partnerships.

One of the first big tasks for the Agency, along with the Ministry of Transport, will be talking to different regions around the country. This will be an opportunity for key stakeholders in various regions to find out exactly what changes the Act will bring about and what those changes will mean for them, as well as specific information about the updated Strategy and the Government Policy Statement.

I would like to thank once again the board members and staff of both Land Transport New Zealand and Transit New Zealand for their passion and commitment over the years.

I also want to welcome the new board and chair Brian Roche. The agency faces some great challenges, but I am sure that the board, chief executive Geoff Dangerfield and staff will be successful in meeting them.

Under the amended legislation, the new regional transport committees will have enhanced functions including the preparation of new three-yearly regional land transport programmes. In recognition of this greater regional role, the government has confirmed additional funding assistance for regional land transport planning activities.

This is part of a $26 million per annum package of increased funding assistance. Other local government activities to receive increased funding are studies and strategy development, asset management planning, bus and ferry facilities and infrastructure, and emergency reinstatement works (such as those necessitated by storms).

There is also a new initiative that provides additional financial assistance to local councils to address unmet transport needs for communities with a high level of social and economic deprivation.

Just yesterday I provided regional councils with guidelines on making appointments to Regional Transport Committees of people to represent the five New Zealand Transport Strategy objectives and cultural interests.

The Guidelines cover the legal requirements, and set out the new functions of the Regional Transport Committees and important matters to be considered by regional councils. This leads to a model "job description" which identifies what I believe are the most useful knowledge and skills for these people.

Thank you again very much for attending today’s launch. I am sure that you agree that meeting the transport needs of a huge range of people and industries is a challenging task, but it will be the willingness of all of us to choose more sustainable ways of travelling that will make the difference in the end.

It will take leadership and courage to achieve our continuing vision, but I know we can bring about improved transport systems for ourselves and future generations. Thank you for the support you have shown by being here today.


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