The NZ Transport Agency has announced a $591 million transport package designed to grow industry and jobs, improve safety, and support economic development and population growth in the Bay of Plenty.
An estimated $255m will target continued economic productivity and growth, advancing key projects such as the Baypark to Bayfair upgrade.
The public transport system will receive $45m, with $8.5m set aside to provide school buses for children in Tauranga, while projects designed to get more people walking and cycling, such as the Rotorua Cy-Way and the Omokoroa to Tauranga cycleway will receive funding totalling $9m.
The $591m investment is the region’s share of the $13.9 billion National Land Transport Programme (NLTP), a partnership between local authorities - who invest funding on behalf of ratepayers - and the NZ Transport Agency, which develops the programme and invests funding from petrol taxes, road user charges and vehicle registration and licensing fees.
The Transport Agency’s acting Waikato Bay of Plenty regional director, Robert Brodnax, says a large part of the investment in the Bay of Plenty recognises and supports the vital part the region plays in New Zealand’s social and economic success.
“The Bay of Plenty is one of four regions including Northland, Auckland and the Waikato that make up the upper north island, an area that is vital to the growth of our country,” he says.
“The upper north island is home to over half of New Zealand’s population, and generates more than 50% of the national GDP. More than half of all freight moves through this area and roads freight figures are forecast to increase by 59 per cent by 2042.
“The Bay of Plenty is also growing, and it is important that our investments support that regional growth.
“Off the back of our investments in the soon-to-be-opened Tauranga Eastern Link, our focus for the next three years in the Bay of Plenty will be on building a safe and efficient transport network that supports the movement of goods and increasing population.
“This will ensure the region can continue its significant contribution to the nation’s economy and growth.”
The chair of the Bay of Plenty Regional Transport Committee, councillor Jane Nees, says the programmes funded in the NLTP will support expected growth in urban areas in the western Bay of Plenty, while ensuring efficient access to the Port of Tauranga from Auckland, Waikato and the rest of the region.
Mrs Nees says the investment programme is closely aligned with the Bay of Plenty Regional Land Transport Plan, which makes the case that investment in the Bay of Plenty transport system is critical to enhancing the performance of our regional and national economy.
“The mix of programmes funded will achieve this while also addressing safety, resilience, public transport and active modes of transport,” she says.
“I also welcome the move towards more integrated planning for road and rail, as the lack of this has been of concern to the Bay of Plenty Regional Transport Committee in the past.”
Mr Brodnax says improving safety on roads in the Bay of Plenty will continue to be a major focus for the Transport Agency, with investment planned on routes such as State Highway 2 between Tauranga and Waihi, and SH2 Wainui Road to Opotiki.
“High-risk intersections will be a major focus over the next three years,“Mr Brodnax says.
“We will also continue working to improve safety and provide more reliable travel times between Pokeno and Tauranga via Waihi, and SH29 on the Kaimai Range.
“Safety improvements are also planned for the Piarere junction - the SH1/SH29 turn off to Tauranga - which is great news for Bay of Plenty people that regularly travel that route.
“With our Safe System partners, the NZ Police and local authorities such as the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, we will also continue to target factors that contribute to fatal and serious crashes in the Bay of Plenty including speed, drink and drug driving, high-risk driving and not wearing restraints.”
Mr Brodnax says public transport, and cycling and walking projects will also receive significant investment over the next three years, as councils and the Transport Agency work together to offer people a variety of travel choices, and reduce congestion on roads.
“The Transport Agency and Bay of Plenty Regional Council will spend an additional $8.5m to provide Tauranga school students with public transport choices.
“This funding will benefit all road users, not just those using the bus. We expect the changes to contribute to a 25 per cent increase in passengers on buses, which will reduce congestion on roads and save up to five minutes travel time on some routes.”
Other NLTP highlights in the Bay of Plenty include:
The $13.9 billion forecast expenditure for 2015-18 marks a 15 per cent increase compared to the previous 2012-15 NLTP.
National and regional NLTP documents, Q&As and other information is available on the Transport Agency website at www.nzta.govt.nz(external link)
The NZ Transport Agency develops the National Land Transport Programme (NLTP) every three years to give effect to the Government Policy Statement on land transport (GPS). The NLTP sets out the activities that address the government’s transport priorities to give effect to the GPS.
Activities and projects which form part of the NLTP are the product of close collaboration, particularly between the Transport Agency and local government.
Investments are funded in a range of activity classes – a total of 10 in 2015-18, which are:
This 2015-18 NLTP investments are aimed squarely at increasing economic growth and productivity, improving safety and driving value for money, reflecting the strategic direction set by the 2015 GPS.
The programme has a strong focus on economic growth and productivity with 55% of investment focused towards this outcome. A total of 23% is focused on road safety and 22% on travel choices and the environment.
The investments made through the NLTP aimed to be regionally responsive and nationally consistent. Giving effect to the GPS, investment through this NLTP reflects the Transport Agency’s commitment to delivering value for money from existing and planned activities and driving improved performance from the land transport system.
The programme is a partnership between the Transport Agency and local authorities (who invest revenue primarily from rates). Funds for much of the Transport Agency investments come from the National Land Transport Fund, made up primarily of revenue received from things such as road user charges, fuel excise duty and vehicle registration.
The preparation of the 2015-18 NLTP has been informed by 16 regional transport committees and Auckland Transport. The committees developed regional land transport plans outlining activities to be submitted for NLTP funding.
Public submissions were considered by the regional transport committees on the final projects and activities that were submitted to the Transport Agency for potential inclusion in the NLTP. They were then assessed and prioritised according to a range of investment criteria to establish whether they were eligible for funding and of good value for money.
This process means the Transport Agency can build an overview of land transport requirements. The aim has been to develop an NLTP which is regionally responsive and nationally consistent.
Regional land transport plans (RLTPs) are an essential building block for the NLTP. However, these plans generally include more activities than there is funding available both regionally and nationally. This means that some activities in RLTPs may not proceed if sufficient funding is not available.
Total investment in this NLTP is $13.9 billion. This represents a 15% increase in total funding compared with the 2012-15 NLTP. A total of $10.5b will come from the National Land Transport Fund.
Key highlights of NLTP investment over the next three years: