The National Land Transport Program 2021-24

Yesterday, Transport Minister Michael Wood and Waka Kotahi released the latest ingredient in transportation acronym soup, the National Land Transportation Program (NLTP) for 2021-24. The NLTP sets out how much will be invested in the transportation system over the next three years and is to give effect to the Government Transportation Policy Statement (GPS) which was confirmed around the same time last year. .

Since the formation of Waka Kotahi in 2008, a phrase that appears in every NLTP has been the claim of a record level of investment. In the 2009-12 NLTP, it was $ 8.7 billion. This amount was increased to $ 12.3 billion for 2012-2015, then to $ 13.9 billion for 2015-2018. Most recently, the 2018-21 version jumped to $ 16.9 billion. With this latest NLTP, we see the biggest jump to date, growing 43% to $ 24.3 billion, in part thanks to investments like the New Zealand Upgrade Program and the government granting a $ 2 billion loan to Waka Kotahi.

Michael Wood said the NLTP will boost economic recovery by supporting thousands of jobs across the country.

“Together with local government, we will invest a record $ 24.3 billion in transportation services and infrastructure over the next three years, a 44% increase over the past three years and 75% more than the previous government.

“Our government has listened to the concerns of local government and communities and we have stepped in to provide $ 2 billion in funding to boost road maintenance and public transportation. We could not accept that our roads were deteriorating.

One of the reasons Waka Kotahi needed this loan is that there are many large projects with future funding commitments, such as the Transmission Gully and Puhoi PPP payment in Warkworth, which will absorb hundreds. millions every year for decades. And with that in mind, it’s not clear how Waka Kotahi will repay this $ 2 billion loan, and what implication that will have on future NLTPs.

At a very high level, that’s where the funding for the NLTP comes from and where it’s going. One thing to note is that the amount of money spent on roads ($ 16.8 billion) is greater than the amount of revenue from road charges, fuel taxes and registrations ($ 13.4 billion) . This is important given the frequent claims that drivers subsidize other modes – even though this investment in other modes is meant to make it easier for drivers.

As mentioned above, the NLTP gives effect to the GPS, in which the government sets overall transport policy and sets funding ranges for each class of activity. The NLTP defines where the actual funding levels fall within these ranges. The graph below shows the funding ranges for GPS and where the funding is from the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF), which consists of road user charges, fuel taxes and registration fees.

A few elements of this graph stand out.

  1. This is the first time state highway upgrades haven’t been the most important category and this time state highway maintenance and Road to Zero trump.
  2. Perhaps the biggest disappointment is that public transport services are near the low end of the funding range. During the announcement I asked about this and was indeed told that apart from some service improvements related to the provision of infrastructure, for example more train services once the City Rail Link open, we will not see a general increase in funding for services. This is disappointing because improving services is going to be essential to make public transport more useful and make it play a much more important role in improving mobility and reducing emissions.
  3. The budget for walking and cycling is over the funding range, which is nice to see. However, that funding includes things like $ 190 million to complete Auckland’s Urban Cycle Path projects, which were due to be completed by the end of 2018. It shows that much of our (lack of) problem of cycle paths is not due to a lack of funding but a lack of capacity to deliver. Even so, the increase in funding is welcome even if it still represents less than 4% of our transport budget as the United Nations environment team suggests that active modes should represent 20% of transport budgets.
  4. Perhaps as an example of how Waka Kotahi funds rail and coasting improvements because they have to, both have funding ranges just on the minimum allowed by GPS.

Next, I looked at the funding amount by region based on the regional summaries provided. It should be noted that this is only committed funding and the NLTP contains space for new projects that may change this.

In terms of funded projects, there is nothing particularly new, as everything is in other documents such as ATAP and the Regional Land Transport Program. However, there are breakdowns of some of the key elements by region. Here’s the Auckland one, although the government is still not quite funding Auckland at the level agreed in the ATAP, with a difference of around $ 300 million.

There are many more details on the Waka Kotahi website.

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