Monday, April 22, 2024

$2 billion to fuel public transport projects

Transport Minister, Simeon Brown, has confirmed targeted investment of more than $2 billion over the next three years for public transport projects and services, as part of the draft Government Policy Statement (GPS) on Land Transport.

The Minister said the delivery of reliable, effective, and efficient public transport was a priority for the Coalition Government.

“The draft GPS commits up to $2.3 billion for public transport services and $2.1 billion for public transport infrastructure over the next three years, giving Kiwis more travel choice, reducing travel times, congestion, and emissions in our major cities,” Mr Brown says.

In Auckland, the key focus will be completing the City Rail Link and the Eastern Busway, to support unlocking housing and economic growth, he said.

“Alongside this work, planning will also be undertaken in the next three years for the delivery of the Northwest Rapid Transit Corridor and the Airport to Botany Busway.”

“In Wellington, we will continue to deliver the Lower North Island Rail Integrated Mobility (LNIRIM) project, to upgrade rail network substations, and replace rolling stock for the Wairarapa and Manawatu lines. We will also support acceleration of the North-South, East-West, and Harbour Quays’ bus corridors.”

Mr Brown said the Government will be prioritising practical, achievable, transport projects that deliver reliability to commuters, benefit businesses, and support economic growth. Projects must also demonstrate value for money.

“While there has been a 71% increase in funding for public transport over the past five years, patronage has decreased by 23%. This has partly been caused by COVID-19 restrictions, but numbers have not increased back to pre-COVID levels.

“The private share of funding for public transport over the same period has also fallen from approximately 32% to 11% which is putting significant funding pressure on local councils and the NLTF.

“I expect the NZ Transport Agency to consider different ways of funding and delivering major transport projects. This includes ‘Build, Own, Operate, Transfer’ equity finance schemes, and value capture. Ensuring local government pays their fair share, funding should also be supplemented by increased public transport fare-box recovery and third-party revenue.

“I invite local government, the transport sector, community groups, and the wider public to have their say on the draft GPS. Projects and funding commitments will be confirmed through the National Land Transport Programme (NLTP) later this year.”

The draft Government Policy Statement on Land Transport (GPS) document is available at www.transport.govt.nz. Consultation closes on 2 April 2024.

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