The NZTA is out busily spinning stories about how much money it is going to be spending on PT in the next three years but as usual the the reality isn’t quite as good as they make it out to be. An article on Stuff (most likely written for the Dom Post) states:
Frustrated Wellington rail commuters will benefit from a massive Government investment in public transport designed to reduce congestion and delays.
The announcement of nearly $900million for national public transport projects will buoy proponents of Wellington’s costly proposed light-rail system.
The New Zealand Transport Agency announced yesterday it would pump $9billion into upgrading existing local transport systems over the next three years.
The money includes nearly $900m – a 33 per cent hike – devoted to public transport, “with a particular focus on improving the reliability and punctuality of commuter rail services in Auckland and Wellington”.
NZTA chief executive Geoff Dangerfield said it was the biggest investment in public transport under the National Land Transport Programme.
The investment followed discussions with councils about their transport priorities over the next three years and would give them certainty as they prepared long-term infrastructure programmes.
Details of exactly what would be funded would not be released for several months. But the increased spending on public transport was targeted at “improving peak-time services which help to reduce severe congestion”, Mr Dangerfield said.
$900 million is obviously a lot of money but it seems that it might be a case of someone not knowing how to round properly as the Radio NZ story on this says:
The agency’s board has outlined investment levels for five key areas in its $9 billion National Land Transport Programme for 2012 – 2015.
Public transport will receive $830 million in the next three years, an increase of 33%.
Its a bit odd to round $830m up to $900m but I guess it helps them to make it sound better and they know that journalists don’t bother checking the facts of these things. You will also notice that this PT funding is out of a total pool of $9 billion so only really represents about 10% of all transport spending. But where does this money come from, the funding comes from the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF) and spending of the money is dictated by the Government Policy Statement (GPS) which sets a funding range for various transport activities. This old post by Josh explains the GPS but here are some of the key tables:
The NZTA has to fit funding into the various activities into the groups above but one of the key things is that the exact figure for each category isn’t set in stone but rather a range is set. To try and make a bit of sense of that Josh took the midpoint of each activity and grouped them together which gives us the table below
We see that based on the GPS the midpoint of PT spending over the next 3 years was $925 million, the NZTA has now decided that it will spend $830m which is almost $100m less than what the midpoint number is and as a percentage is actually about the same as what we spent in the 2011/12 year. My reading of this $830m of funding is that it is also to cover all PT infrastructure and services
I also notice that in the Radio NZ report they mention that funding for maintenance and renewal of State Highways and local roads will increase by about 2% to $2.7b however that also is less than its midpoint of $2.9m. Most likely these activity classes are being squeezed to help prop up the money for the “New and Improved State Highways” group which doesn’t even get a mention yet is the biggest single category. I wonder if that is because if the general public saw just how much more we were spending on a handful of motorways vs everything else then perceptions will continue to change.