The Government has an ambitious programme of transformational change it is seeking for New Zealand’s land transport system that will support the transition to reduced emissions, keep people safe and ensure our communities are better places to live. Investment from the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF) has an important role to play in supporting this vision for the future.

Funding through the 2021–24 National Land Transport Programme (NLTP) has been targeted at delivering a land transport system that is safe and accessible; that supports Aotearoa’s economic recovery and continues our transition to a more sustainable transport system. Through this investment we’re connecting people, products and places and investing in the planning that will help ensure Aotearoa thrives.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency has worked closely with our co-investment partners in local government and others to develop the NLTP. The NLTP gives effect to the strategic direction and funding allocations in the Government Policy Statement on land transport 2021–31 (GPS 2021). It is a robust investment programme to deliver on the Government’s four strategic priorities (safety, better travel options, improving freight connections, and climate change) and meets investment expectations for the four government commitments – Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP), Let’s Get Wellington Moving (LGWM), the New Zealand Rail Plan (the Rail Plan) and the Road to Zero Strategy.

We’ve faced significant funding pressures in developing this NLTP, with $12.9 billion of our forecast $13.6 billion revenue through the NLTF being needed to meet the lower limit across the 11 activity classes within the GPS. More than 90% of this forecast revenue was already committed for approved projects under contract or construction, to meet public-private partnerships (PPP) repayments and for continuous programmes to maintain levels of service on our roads and public transport networks. To ensure we could deliver better outcomes for Aotearoa, in particular through ATAP and LGWM, the Crown has given us comfort they will provide significant additional financing of $2 billion. This has enabled us to present a programme that enables us to give better effect to the strategic priorities and government commitments within the GPS. However, it is recognised that for future NLTPs, further increases in the level of funding or financing will be required for Aotearoa to transition to a low carbon future and meet emerging transport emissions reduction targets.

Aotearoa faces increasing costs to maintain existing assets. The transport system has grown and become more complex, costs for labour and materials continue to increase, the network is being accessed by more and larger vehicles, and there are increasing impacts from climate change, with more frequent and severe weather events.

In this NLTP, we have focused our investment on:

  • meeting existing commitments, such as debt repayments and funding for projects already under contract or construction
  • maintaining the roading network at current levels of service for safety, access and resilience
  • restoring the condition of the existing rail network to make it more reliable and resilient to support existing services and provide a platform for growth
  • maintaining public transport services at current levels to support forecast growth
  • completing the walking and cycling programme of commitments and projects underway, as well as investing in a high number of new projects spread across the country
  • investing in new key public transport infrastructure that will support growth, sustainability and provide travel choice, and
  • funding continuous programmes for road policing and road safety promotion at a base level of service.

During this three-year period, total investment in the land transport system will be significant. It is expected to be about $24.3 billion across the NLTF, Crown funding and co-investment from local councils. Funding for the NLTF is forecast to rise 5% from $12.9 billion in 2018–21 to a net $13.6 billion in 2021–24.

Throughout this three-year period, there is additional investment in the land transport system, outside of the NLTF, by the Crown through the NZ Upgrade Programme, the Crown Infrastructure Package and regional projects. Increasingly, significant improvements to the land transport system are likely to require Crown funding or financing as fuel-related revenue decreases with improvements to vehicle efficiency and a greater number of electric vehicles.

To make our cities better places to live and reduce carbon emissions, we need to give people better options than travelling by car. The GPS prioritised funding to support people using shared transport options such as buses, trains and ferries, and walking and cycling.

In our rural areas, where people are dependent on travel by private car to access essential services, such as healthcare, education and employment opportunities, we have prioritised funding activities that support an efficient and safe transport system. This ensures we keep communities connected and can get freight to market, helping regional economies to thrive.

This GPS broadens the activities to be supported by the NLTF to include coastal shipping and a significant contribution to rail.

The 2021–24 NLTP is a snapshot in time; the demand for funding from the NLTF means that not all activities can be funded at the start of the NLTP, and some activities currently identified for funding may not proceed. We expect there will be changes in the activities that are able to be approved for funding under the NLTP through the three-year period as revenue and spend changes.

We’ll continue to work with our local government co-investment partners and others in the coming three years to make our land transport system safe, ensure it connects people and businesses in our cities, towns, regions and rural areas; meets the needs of our growing communities; and contributes to the transition to a low-carbon economy.

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Sir Brian Roche Chair, Waka Kotahi Board

Nicole Rosie CEO, Waka Kotahi

The period of COVID-19 related lockdowns, which began on 17 August 2021, is likely to have a material impact on key aspects of the NLTP, including: NLTF revenue forecasts; availability of local share; activity cost estimates and delivery timelines. It has not been possible to factor those impacts into the NLTP given the timeframes and uncertainty over both the extent of any impact and potential financial support from the Crown.