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.