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The Government’s work on regional economic potential has highlighted a number of key contributions that transport can make to New Zealand’s economic and social wellbeing.

A safer system

Despite significant progress over the last 30 years, New Zealand still lags behind many other countries in road safety. The risk of death or serious injury is twice that of similar OECD countries. The level of death and injury suffered by young people on our roads is especially high. Many lives are lost and ruined in what are mostly preventable crashes.

Road crashes have an economic impact – the annual social cost of crashes is estimated to be $3.8 billion. But the figures do not show the human impact of these crashes on families, the wider community and the health system.

The Government’s road safety strategy (2010-2020), Safer Journeys, has a vision of ‘a safe road system increasingly free of death and serious injury’, with a range of interventions founded on the Safe System approach. This approach focuses on safe roads and roadsides, safe speeds, safe vehicles and safe road use. Despite this approach, the levels of deaths and serious injuries have plateaued over the last year or two.

We need to keep our eyes on the Safe System approach and do some things better, faster or differently if we want to see meaningful change.

Police Officer
An officer who regularly attends serious accidents

Major pain points

  • Witnessing poor driving by people who are impatient, inconsiderate or distracted
  • Attending crash scenes and witnessing the devastation caused
  • Having to tell families that a loved one has been killed in an accident

What they value or wish for

  • Drivers who make good decisions and drive to the conditions always
  • Safer vehicles
  • More forgiving road and roadsides, particularly at accident blackspots

An effective urban system

As New Zealand’s urban population grows, particularly in Auckland and the upper North Island, levels of service for our customers will slowly deteriorate. This will result in customer journeys that are no longer predictable, disrupting those travelling on the road network and via road-based public transport. In our urban areas, customers and businesses are facing challenges getting where they need to go, on time and reliably.

While provision of new infrastructure is beginning to address past under investment, urban areas cannot continue to build their way out of transport challenges. Increasingly, infrastructure provision must be balanced and integrated with optimisation and demand management approaches that help transport providers make better use of the system, and that help customers manage their transport needs more effectively.

As transport demand and customer expectations increase, transport choice and mobility services will become more important for users.

Suburban-urban commuter
Employed solo parent of two – one primary school child and a pre-schooler

Major pain points

  • How close she cuts it with her schedule, out of necessity
  • Constant worry that she will be late
  • Life stress – she is constantly stretched and in a hurry
  • Delays and congestion that are unpredictable and that she doesn’t know anything about – how long, why, etc
  • Coordinating multiple trips to meet different schooling needs of children

What they value or wish for

  • Reliable journeys at peak times
  • Affordable costs of running a vehicle

Better connectivity

People and society are more connected than ever. Transport connectivity is now about much more than being able to get from A to B.

Good physical transport connections remain critically important. Our economy relies on good transport links. Our primary production centres need efficient connections to our international markets and major centres, while the service sector relies on the transport connections between themselves and the customers they serve. Tourists are seeking safe and reliable routes between their arrival points and New Zealand’s tourist attractions.

The transport system also enables social connectivity by providing people with ready access to places of education, employment and recreation. Holding a driver licence is for many people a passport to being able to participate fully in education and employment.

Transport connectivity is also about reliable, real-time and customised information that helps customers to manage their transport needs on the go, when they want it, seamlessly. The information and data available from increasingly smart and connected infrastructure and vehicles, combined with information from those using the system in real time, can be used to improve how the system works.

Increasing the transport connectivity across all these fronts, for citizens, communities and businesses – locally, regionally, nationally and internationally – is a critical role New Zealanders need the transport system to play.

Struggling shift worker and family
Bad health and unreliable work keeps them in poverty

Major pain points

  • Has no money to afford a car
  • Public transport services are not convenient and are expensive. It takes her a long time to walk to the bus stop and then wait for the bus to arrive. It takes all day to get into the city to pick up a food parcel
  • Has to travel to social services to meet appointments
  • Lack of reliable and accessible transport makes her feel isolated
  • Lack of reliable transport reduces opportunities for employment

What they value or wish for

  • Less isolation from services
  • Reliable and accessible transportation

A resilient system

As our transport system ages, and with growing impacts of climate change, we anticipate an increase in resilience-related issues. If current trends continue, we expect to see many areas of the country experience increases in the frequency and severity of storm events – placing increased pressure on areas more prone to flooding, areas in low-lying coastal geography and areas with unstable geology.

New Zealand is also located at the convergence of two tectonic plates. As such, the nation is susceptible to earthquake and volcanic events.

Changing climate patterns and tectonic events pose a range of economic and social consequences and potentially reduce the transport system’s ability to keep New Zealand connected and moving.

Elements of the transport system need to be made increasingly resilient to endure shocks. Customers also expect us to quickly restore access to the transport system in the face of unplanned events, so that they can complete their journeys safely and reliably.

Tourist-dependent business customer
Manager of a hotel and conference centre in the country

Her business depends on large volumes of tourists or visitors being able to travel to her region easily and safely. She worries about losing business to other conference destinations that are attractive,  interesting and more accessible.

Road use

  • Depends on tourist and conference buses that bring customers to her

Major pain points

  • Trades on the unique qualities of a region that is remote enough to be considered a retreat, but struggles with the quality of the roads that can’t easily and safely handle large buses
  • She has lost repeat business because customers complained about the quality of the journey – scary and nausea-inducing
  • If things keep going the way they are she may have to call it a day with her job – it’s getting too stressful to get the numbers
  • More ‘linking’ transport options between end of the train line and destinations within the region

What they value or wish for

  • An alternative commercial route to bring large volumes of visitors to her conference centre
  • Protection of the unique aspects of the region that make it attractive to visitors


Key inter-regional journeys

There are a number of critical journeys between our regions that sustain our economy and link key areas of production to our international ports and other gateways. We need to provide a strong, inter-modal system to support economic growth and to provide confidence for investment.

These routes are critical to the movement of goods and people between key urban areas, centres of production, freight hubs (ports, airports, inland ports, distribution centres) and key tourism destinations.

We have identified five key journeys within this Long Term Strategic View.

Freight operator
Transport professional whose livelihood depends on the use of the network to transport goods on  High Productivity Motor Vehicles (HPMVs)
Business that depends on timely completion of journeys, with no margin for error.

Road use

  • Schedule and time critical
  • Inter-regional journeys
  • Constant road use

Major pain points

  • Keeping his people safe on the road and giving them as much comfort as possible – it’s a demanding job
  • Making critical delivery times and not being penalised for late deliveries
  • Business viability
  • Roads are highly variable – some are too narrow or windy for the size of trucks
  • Alternative routes are limited and have an adverse effect on delivery times and therefore on business
  • Public perception that truckers are unsafe and unconcerned about the safety of others

What they value or wish for

  • Understanding – acknowledgment that this is a challenging business and he needs all the help he can get
  • Be on my side – I am doing the right thing by making an honest living and providing this for others
  • Partnership – working with him to enable his business and valuing his experience of using the road
  • Infrastructure that supports commercial activity – alternative routes that cater for freight trucks safely and consistently with consistent width and visibility, and convenient places to stop for drivers to have a rest
  • Confidence that the advice he receives is enabling his business
  • Information about road conditions that gives him as much planning time as possible and enables considered decision-making

Regional economic development (RED) areas

New Zealand’s economy is made up of diverse regions, each specialising in different activities depending on their natural resources, infrastructure and demographic profile. While they differ, each region has the potential to attract further investment, raise incomes and increase employment opportunities. The Government is looking to ensure this potential is more effectively leveraged.

The first tranche of RED regions (Northland, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay, Manawatu/Whanganui and West Coast) have been incorporated into the LTSV. 

For the second tranche of RED regions (currently Waikato, Canterbury and Southland) the Transport Agency will continue to work with government and sector partners to identify the role that transport can play in supporting economic development. These regions will be incorporated into the LTSV as their Action Plans are confirmed.

Regional economic development is part of the Government’s wider ambition for New Zealanders to live well economically, socially and sustainably. The Government is clear, in this context, that while the land transport system has a significant role to play in supporting economic growth and productivity, it can also play a significant role in supporting wider outcomes for customers, communities and New Zealand. Our engagement in regional economic development planning helps us to identify where transport can play its best role in supporting our regions.

Rural dweller
Farmer – mid-size sheep farm close to a small town, wife and 4 children
Lives and works in rural location – business relies on a number of vehicles to operate and enjoy his lifestyle, travels on roads to carry out farm work, move stock, move tractor, takes wife and children into town for work and school and collects them every afternoon

Road use

  • Personal, business, leisure
  • Local or regional primarily
  • Shares road with HPMVs – forestry and log trucks
  • hares road with non-farmers who have moved out to lifestyle blocks

Major pain points

  • Gravel roads reduce productivity and are unsafe when conditions are not optimal
  • Multiple uses for the road that require different speeds – often moves stock by road, as do neighbouring farmers
  • Multiple vehicle types sharing narrow roads with limited passing lanes – HPMVs, tractors that drive ‘on and off’ the road, commuter cars, utes, stock, etc.

What they value or wish for

  • Understand my business and be on my side
  • Well-maintained roads that are reliable in all conditions
  • Wide roads that enable multiple traffic and vehicle types to co-exist without issues
  • Good access to ensure my farm goods can get to market, and to improve productivity of my farming activity
  • A joined up transport system to make transport of my stock and goods more efficient, and therefore increase profitability of my farm