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NZTA Fudging the Figures on the NLTP?

The NZTA has announced their three yearly National Land Transport Programme 2012 – 15:

Spending on roads and public transport by central and local government over the next three years will increase by almost 13 per cent with much of the additional cash coming from fuel tax and road user charge hikes, Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee says.

Mr Brownlee and NZ Transport Agency chief executive Geoff Dangerfield this afternoon announced $12.3 billion in funding under the 2012-2015 National Land Transport Programme, a 12.8 per cent increase on the 2009-2012 programme.

Mr Dangerfield said the programme had a particular focus on growing Canterbury and supporting the recovery of Christchurch after the earthquakes.

The programme also prioritises continued work on the Government’s “roads of national significance” and work in Auckland “where there are significant opportunities for improved transport to support the city’s contribution to New Zealand’s economic growth”.

However Mr Brownlee said the Canterbury earthquakes, reduced growth forecasts and the tighter fiscal environment had put pressure on the National Land Transport Fund which contributes most of the funding – $9.38 billion in the new programme.

The “at a glance” document contains a chart showing expenditure for the next three years:

So what about public transport?  The NZTA release states:

There will be significant increases in the level of investment for many activities, including:

  •  $4.1 billion investment in local roads (14% increase from 2009-12 actual spend)
  • $5.1 billion investment in state highways (7% increase from 2009-12 actual spend)
  • $1.7 billion investment in public transport (21% increase from 2009-12 actual spend)

Wow! 21% increase in PT spend sounds impressive.  But dive into the detail, and we see:

Also included in this NLTP is provision for the loan repayments on the introduction of 57 electric trains, public transport related rail improvements, such as station upgrades, and introduction of integrated ticketing across all the city’s public transport modes in Auckland.

Eh? The $1.7bn figure includes rolling stock loan repayments from Auckland. Surely that can’t be right?  Well, yes it is apparently, because page 12 says:

A total of $1.74 billion will be invested in New Zealand’s public transport system during this NLTP period – a 21% increase on 2009–12 actual spend. This figure includes a local share of $780 million from local authorities.

So NZTA are actually investing  $960m in PT, not $1.7bn as the press release implies. And there is no breakdown of infrastructure spend vs spending on operational services.  For comparison, the last NLTP allocated $630m to PT services and $269m to PT infrastructure.  So on the face of it, there is a possible 6.8% increase in NLTF expenditure on what was budgeted previously.

On top of that, it turns out the 2009-12 actual spend on PT was down on forecast:

Public transport services and infrastructure spend was down about $94 million due to the Canterbury earthquake, which meant that a construction of the new Christchurch transport exchange could not commence and that Canterbury bus services were disrupted, as well as projects impacted by the moratorium on new funding approvals to help manage cash-flows in the latter part of the NLTP.

In short, NZTA have made it really hard to tell exactly how much central Government is allocating to PT infrastructure and services, and the other activity classes as well.  It was shown quite clearly in the old NLTP.

And of course, absolutely no mention of the City Rail Link.

The other things which is perhaps most interesting is to see that the Warkworth to Wellsford section of the “holiday highway” seems to have been cut back to a “possible RoNS”, compared to the “actual RoNS” of the Puhoi-Warkworth section. While this is a sensible economic approach, it highlights that the sales pitch for Puhoi-Wellsford – that it’ll transform Northland’s economy – is just a lie. It’s more to do with getting people to the beaches east of Warkworth during holiday periods a bit quicker. Here’s the relevant map:

I’m sure Brownlee promised parliament the other day that no further RoNS would be cut back like Otaki-Levin was. It’ll be interesting to see how he wriggles out of this.

40 comments to NZTA Fudging the Figures on the NLTP?

  • Bevan Woodward

    How true is the statement “Mr Brownlee said New Zealanders were driving more kilometres than ever” that is accompanying this story in the media?

    Whenever I check the figures, the numbers of vehicles on our many of our highways, eg AHB, are in decline.

  • Sacha

    This page shows projected PT infrastructure spend at only $115m (down 31% on the previous RLTP), conveniently combined with increased PT service funding to produce the 21% increase that Brownlee was touting: http://www.nzta.govt.nz/planning/nltp-2012-2015/levels.html

    • Peter M

      Well spotted Sacha. Goodness knows why there’s such an effort to reduce PT infrastructure spend. Most of this stuff is on things like bus lanes, improved ferry terminals, busway stations etc. All things to attract more people to PT, make PT more efficient and reduce the need for subsidies. In effect we’re probably paying more on PT services simply because of the reduction on PT infrastructure.

      • Just answered you’re own question Peter. They hate that PT use is rising, it scrambles their assumptions.

        • Sacha

          They’re probably thinking of overall PT as a fixed sum and adjusting infrastructure down as service usage increases (because of the previous infrastructure investment). Combining that category suggests other figures may have been massaged politically too.

      • Because their policy is all based on the intellectually stunted idea of user pays they absolutely hate spending on PT infrastructure. They will have observed that investing in PT leads to more uptake, which in turn leads to more opex and even more demand for new capex. And because they care way less about whether this makes for a better or even more productive society than the fact that a trucker’s RUC is being spent on something other than a road they are violently opposed to this continuing let alone increasing.

    • Yes, BUT
      Funding of major rail infrastructure shifted to public transport services activity class (which is up 35% overall)
      Funding of public transport roading infrastructure shifted to new and improved infrastructure for local roads and state highways activity classes (up 17% overall)
      So if you take out those two changes in the way “public transport infrastructure” funding has been reclassified, can you still categorically state there definitely has been a cut in expenditure.

  • Hamish O

    Why is the Upper Harbour Motorway Hobsonville section still there, and an even better question, why is it there as a RoNS? The only RoNS part of the western ring route are the northwestern widening and waterview tunnel.

    It’s a bit poor really.

    • Mr Anderson

      NZTA are throwing every project imaginable into the “it’s part of a RoNS” bucket as that’s the only way they can get things funded. Hopefully something like the Northern Busway extension to Albany can also be considered part of the Western Ring Route under this logic.

  • Rob Mayo

    The next two years is going to be a very, very long time with this kind of thing going on…

    • David O

      Don’t count your chickens. It could easily be a very long five years – although it’s unlikely that even this government would stick with Gerry Brownlee at Transport for all of that time.

  • TimR

    Love it.

    Rail and sea freight $3m (Local government funding $2m)
    Walking and cycling facilities $51m (Local government funding $38m)

    Management of the funding allocation system $103m

  • Ah ha, great minds think alike. http://www.voxy.co.nz/politics/one-eyed-transport-plan-taking-nz-down-wrong-road-generation-zero/5/133180

    Here’s the detail of the analysis which Voxy didn’t reprint. There seems to be $15 million missing somewhere in the PT expenditure figures btw…

    ANALYSIS OF PUBLIC TRANSPORT FUNDING IN THE NLTP 2012-15

    The NLTP signals a $1.74 billion total investment in public transport [1]. The NZTA/central government contribution to this is $945 million [2], and the contribution from local authorities is $780 million [1]. Compared to the allocations in NLTP for 2009-12, the central government contribution has a 5% increase (from $899 million), while the local council contribution is a 17% increase (from $669 million) [3].

    The NZTA highlights that the $1.74 billion total is an increase of 21% on the actual spend over the last 3 years. This more favourable representation is mainly because of planned expenditure in Christchurch being foregone due to the earthquakes [1]. Data is not available to determine the increase in central government funding relative to the actual spend over the last 3 years, but regardless of which comparison is used, the fact remains that the bulk of the increase is coming from local authorities rather than central government.

    On top of all this, urban passenger rail providers will have to pay more than $50 million in additional track access fees [4,5] – enough to nullify even the nominal increase in central government funding.

    The NZTA states that “further bus priority works are also likely but will then be funded from a separate activity class (local roads)” [1]. There is no data available to assess likely levels of investment.

    TRAVEL VOLUMES

    The NZTA states that “the use of public transport continued to grow with boardings increasing from 124.1 million in 2009 to 132.4 million in 2012 (up 7%)” [6]. This is in spite of a 40% reduction in the number of trips per year in Christchurch for the 2011 year [1].

    State highway traffic volumes have remained approximately flat since around 2005 with small fluctuations year to year, with 2011 volume approximately 1% below the 2005 level [7].

    SOURCES

    [1] http://www.nzta.govt.nz/planning/nltp-2012-2015/public-transport.html
    [2] http://www.nzta.govt.nz/planning/nltp-2012-2015/levels.html
    [3] http://www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/national-land-transport-programme/2009-2012/docs/nltp-2009.pdf
    [4] http://www.aucklandtransport.govt.nz/about-us/board-members/Documents/AT-Agenda-Item-10iii-GPS-Review.pdf
    [5] http://www.treasury.govt.nz/downloads/pdfs/b11-2011436.pdf
    [6] http://www.nzta.govt.nz/planning/nltp-2012-2015/back.html
    [7] http://www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/state-highway-traffic-growth/docs/shtg-201207.pdf

  • this also washed across my Twiitter feed this morning, very well put:

    • The Trickster

      Owned Ken Shirley, but that’s not surprising really.

      Although I was a little surprised that she didn’t point out that a large chunk of money spend on transport in this country comes from ratepayers rather than road users.

  • I am shocked at how many more kms Aucklanders drive than other New Zealanders. About 2.5 times more kms than Wellingtonians. I always thought Chch was quite a car oriented city but that puts it into perspective.

    • Just means there is an enormous opportunity for change in AK, it won’t take any big behavioural change to get large uptake in alternative modes- so long as we can provide them!

      Current mode share in Ak simply reflects what we have built. And built unthinkingly.

    • Christchurch has long been a single local authority area, with a single local authority-owned transport operator. Things there work together reasonably well. Auckland has competing bus operators, none of whom are owned by any local authority, and none of it really ties together well.
      Toss in that we’re nearly 100km lengthways of urbanisation and going to visit someone on “the other side of town” can turn into a return trip that’s over 100km and would cost a family of four enough money to fill an empty petrol tank on top of taking two or three hours each way.
      We have something like a third of Christchurch’s pre-February 2011 population coming into our CBD each day for work or study, and many of those people drive, too, just to add in that bit of perspective.

      As for comparisons with Wellington, that city has a CBD that contains much of the regional employment and is the terminus for public transport. When transport from your dormitory suburbs is oriented towards your only significant concentration of employment it’s quite feasible to commute to work other than by private car. Auckland doesn’t have that single centre of massive economic gravity.

      • Matt that is all true, but as the inadequacies of AK’s PT prevision are addressed [and that is about to seriously ramp up over the next 2/3 years] we are seeing a consistent change in Ak towards PT. The trend is remarkably sustained and consistent; PT is growing strongly and driving has flatlined. It really is a case of build it and they will come.

        So the point is that the differences in the proportion of PT use cannot be explained away by appeals to either geography [too spread out], or culture [we just love our cars], but more by your first point; the disorganised and shitty PT provision that AK has had since the 1950s. By government choice.

        And the great news is we can change this, but the depressing news is that this government and its beneficiaries [Ken Shirley in the RNZ interview above] are fighting really really hard to keep all the money for themselves and starve AK of the investment in growth that it needs. And fraudulent documents like the one above are the core of their gloves off approach.

      • Yes and no Matt. While Wellington’s does have much higher share of regional employment (about 40% vs. 24% in Auckland), in absolute terms Auckland’s central city is much larger, almost twice the number of jobs in one place. If Welligton’s CBD has massive economic gravity, then Auckland’s has doubly massive economic gravity.

        Another thing to consider is that in Auckland you have about as much employment in the metropolitan centres as the central city. Between five centres at Takapuna-Smales, Albany, Henderson, Ellerslie-Penrose and Manukau you have as much as the Auckland central city again. It is just as easy to service those metropolitan centres with public transport as it is to service the CBDs of Wellington or Auckland.

        • That’s actually a theme of a post I have for when I get back, pretty much all cities in Europe don’t hav a suer density of jobs in one place but have them spread out across the urban area fairly evenly yet PT works well because it has been designed to.

        • Nick, what’s possible isn’t what happens now. What I spoke of is absolutely true right now, and that’s all that matters when we talk about relative numbers of kilometres driven. That Auckland has a dispersed collection of economic centres doesn’t change the relative significance of our CBD. Wellington’s CBD is, relatively, nearly double the job weight of Auckland’s. These are per-capita comparisons, not absolutes. Of course Auckland will win any absolute comparison with Wellington (except, until recently, number of public transport trips), which is why the only way to tell whether they’re doing better at something than we are is per-capita.

          You really do miss the point when you start talking about the ways that Auckland can change. We’re discussing the way things are right now, and a hypothetical future is irrelevant to that conversation.

    • Glen K

      @goosoid: Do you mean the veh-km figures on the MoT’s TMIF website? Surely they just reflect the greater populations; they’re not per capita. Hence, Waikato, Wgtn and Chch are all about the same and Akld is 2.5 times bigger.

  • Capt Stubing

    Is it possible to enable the hyperlinks posted on this website to open in new browsing tabs rather than navigating away from transportblog?

  • Yeah sorry, I realised that after I submitted. I found it quite hard to raed but then realised it was a total number.

    So as that absolute number has decreased in that final period, how can Brownlee say it has increased?

  • Far worse than they way they are fudging the transport figures is the way they are fudging the earthquake response figures. There is a total of $280m allocated for emergency works for the next three years for the whole country. The repair bill for Canterbury is $920m so where is the other other $640m+ coming from, CERA? or are they seriously expecting to string this out over 15years? Worse still the Government will tell you that they are paying 83% of the earthquake damaged but look at the contribution for the knackered Ferrymead Bridge and the central city rebuild – just 54%.

    Such callous deceitful b*%&&$*9s.

  • Sacha

    Interesting. Can you put some numbers against those shifts for us, compared with the previous period?

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