Government’s $24.3b transport plan: More money for Auckland’s roads, boost to public transport

The Government has unveiled its next three-year transport plan, totalling $24.3 billion of investment shared between central government and councils.

The centrepiece is a $2 billion Crown loan, which will help councils plug holes in their transport plans.

The 2021-24 National Land Transport Plan outlines where the roughly $4 billion a year collected from fuel taxes and road user charges will be spent.

Local councils have dodged a bullet, with the Government announcing $2b of financing to boost spending in road maintenance and public transport, funded through a Crown loan.

Councils around the country had expressed concerns earlier this year when Waka Kotahi-NZ Transport Agency suggested they might get tens of millions of dollars less investment than they had been led to believe.

Councils and Waka Kotahi jointly fund things like local roads and public transport.

Transport Minister Michael Wood said the Government had “listened to the concerns of local government and communities and we have stepped in to provide $2 billion of financing to boost road maintenance and public transport”.

“We couldn’t accept our roads deteriorating.”

Auckland will receive $7.3b over the next three years, which will fund improvements to the Northern Corridor, which will provide new public transport and walking and cycling options, and the Puhoi to Warkworth Motorway extension to strengthen inter-regional freight links.

Wellington gets $3.1b of investment, while Canterbury gets $1.2b.

Overall, the plan continues a shift seen under this government to use the transport system to achieve climate change goals.

“We know we have to keep driving down emissions and congestion by giving Kiwis more transport choices. This NLTP [National Land Transport Plan] marks a step-change with nearly $6 billion being invested in public transport and walking and cycling – a nearly 40 per cent increase compared to the previous three years,” Wood said

Transport is responsible for about a fifth of New Zealand’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

This has caused some controversy as it has meant money raised from motorists through fuel taxes and road user charges is spent on things like public transport and rail – although public transport has, for a long time, been subsidised by fuel taxes.

Last term, the Government began subsidising the rail network using fuel taxes and road user charges – this trend is set to continue under this plan with $1.3b marked for rail and $30m for coastal shipping.

Supporters of this cross-subsidisation note that it takes freight off roads, easing congestion.

More to come…

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