Having the right conversations was essential to successfully overhauling the Transport Agency’s Funding Assistance Rate system for the first time in 30 years.
In the culmination of a two year journey of extensive engagement, the Transport Agency Board made the final decision on the Financial Assistance Rate (FAR) review at the end of October this year.
Funding assistance rates are a key part of the co-investment system and define how the costs of delivering land transport activities are shared between central government (National Land Transport Fund) and local government (local share).
Given that it has been 30 years since the FAR system was established, it was widely agreed that a review was needed to realign the common understanding of what the funding assistance rates can and should achieve. It was equally widely understood that the process would involve some potentially difficult conversations.
The two year period of the review involved the production of two substantial discussion documents, 208 submissions, and extensive debates at workshops and Regional Transport Committees.
By working closely with our partners and the sector, the Transport Agency has arrived at a more equitable FAR framework based on agreed key principles. We have clarified the role of funding assistance rates and developed a robust methodology for setting those rates.
For Lyndon Hammond, Central’s Regional Manager Planning and Investment, the value of open engagement is best summed up in a comment made by Brendan Duffy, the Mayor of Horowhenua District:
“We appreciate the enormous task of reviewing the Funding Assistance Rate, which we agree was well overdue. We are extremely pleased about the scope of the consultation that took place which was widespread and robust. We would like to take this opportunity to thank you and your staff, and look forward to continuing to work with NZTA in the future.”
Mr Hammond agrees: “We’d like to thank everybody who participated for their input. Insights and issues arising from those conversations significantly reshaped the final outcome of the review. The Transport Agency will be working hard to build on this successful approach in our future conversations with you, our stakeholders, customers and partners.”
The outcomes of the review have been communicated by letter from the Transport Agency’s Chief Executive to Mayors, and at various forums over the past month.