The land transport system will undergo one of its most significant transformations over the next 30 years. While predicting the future is impossible, we will use known trends and influences to understand how the future may be different from today. 

The Strategic context of Arataki has full guidance on how we’ll move in the future, as well as information on key drivers for future change, and the challenges and opportunities for transport outcomes. 

Arataki September 2023 v1.1 updates the March 2023 release of the Strategic context to reflect the severe weather events of 2023 and make minor corrections.

Arataki strategic context [PDF, 5.4 MB]

What it will look like  

To support wellbeing and great places to live in Aotearoa New Zealand, the transport sector will need to focus less on the physical movement of people and goods (mobility), and more on safe, sustainable access and connectivity for all. This shift will require integration with digital, urban development, energy, and other related systems. 

A fit-for-purpose land transport system in 30 years will need to: 

  • provide affordable, convenient, safe, and sustainable access for everyone to social, cultural, health, and economic opportunities 
  • ensure efficient, resilient, and reliable connections to support economic activity and move goods to market 
  • deliver safe, healthy, and low-emissions travel that avoids harm to people and the environment 
  • be multimodal (providing many ways to move about) 
  • promote shared modes (like buses, trains, and ferries) and active modes (like walking and cycling) as the first choice for most daily transport needs  
  • be well-planned, designed, built, maintained, and operated to minimise waste and use resources efficiently 
  • respond and adapt to disruption and the impacts of climate change 
  • contribute to the creation of great places, respect and uphold the mana, taonga, and tikanga of tangata whenua 
  • minimise environmental impact, protect and enhance biodiversity, and ensure water quality 
  • growing impacts of climate change. 

How we will move 

The way we move will change dramatically in the next 30 years. 

People will be able to tailor transport services to their needs, abilities, and lifestyle. 
In towns and cities, people will travel by a range of active and shared ways that include micromobility, e-mobility, public transport, and shared-mobility options. Rural Aotearoa will also open up to more active and shared modes. 

Our light vehicle fleet will be smaller and safer, with lower emissions. Heavy vehicles, including public transport vehicles, will also be lower in emissions. 

More affordable and accessible transport options will be available to people of all ages and abilities. There will be an emphasis on ensuring rural communities and lower-income households have access to transport options that suit their needs. 

Many parts of the transport system will remain important for moving and connecting people, communities, and freight. These parts include roads, rail, cycleways, footpaths, ports, hubs, and airports. However, the way these transport parts are used and managed will be more efficient. 

Coastal and rail shipping will continue to play a vital role in the movement of goods, with volumes increasing as demand grows (depending on commodity). Freight ports and hubs will allow swift transfer and integration between transport modes. 

Short-haul air travel, including drones, may be used to transport high-value, time-critical goods. These movements may be overseen by freight hubs using digital connectivity, embedded sensors, and artificial intelligence. 

How towns and cities will evolve 

The trend towards people moving to cities, known as urbanisation, is projected to continue. 

Our towns and cities will be more compact and mixed used. This means people can learn, work, and play closer to where they choose to live.  

The future transport system will be integrated with land use and urban form. This will support social, economic, and environmental wellbeing and resilience. 

How the system will be maintained, operated, and developed 

The land transport system will include sophisticated vehicle technology, integrated with digital and physical infrastructure. 

Travel demand management, like pricing for transport use, will play a role in incentivising people and business to make informed choices about travel. 

Real-time data and modelling will assess network conditions for greater system efficiency, sequencing, and improvements. 

Investment decisions will focus options that deliver the lowest whole-of-life costs. This means we will plan and invest to make networks more resilient and durable, to cope with future traffic loads and weather events. 

The interaction between the land transport system and environment will be managed to protect and enhance biodiversity and water quality. Nature-based solutions will be used to adapt to climate change. 

How we will work 

There will be consideration and collaboration across the transport sector, including spatial planning. This will allow integrated solutions while supporting broader government and community priorities. 

Te Ao Māori, and strong enduring relationships with Māori, will be embedded in work practices and be part of all land transport activities. Māori will have a role in guiding strategic decision making for the transport system. 

The transport sector will actively manage uncertainty in a rapidly changing world. We will monitor trends, plan, and prioritise responses that deliver value in many ways. 

The way solutions are developed and assessed will avoid unnecessary work, yet still provide assurance and confidence that public money is being spent wisely. 

Funding models will be different. A variety of revenue streams and pricing models across a range of funds (user paid, public, and private investment) will pay for the maintenance, operation, and improvement of the transport system in an integrated way. 

Business information and practices will be digital and integrated with our partners, supply chains, and service providers. Transport information is clear and informs system governance and public accountability.