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New Zealand’s One Network Road Classification (ONRC) was initiated through the recommendations of a 2012 Government taskforce to improve road maintenance investment through level of service differentiation

The introduction of the ONRC has been a giant leap forward in terms of benchmarking investment in asset management in this country, and it has subsequently become embedded in a number of other transport national policies and systems.

Eight years later, the time has come to evolve the classification system as part of a national response across the public sector to reduce harm, take a stronger multi-modal approach, and improve community wellbeing.

The evolution of the ONRC also responds to the recognition that shared, integrated planning approaches between transport and land planners will result in better outcomes. ‘Systems thinking’ allows us to link strategies and policies together and support more holistic decision-making that in turn improves the liveability of places. Developing a common language will allow us to have richer conversations across disciplines about competing demands, and develop a shared understanding of goals, aspirations, performance and service levels.

The new ONF allows us to consider future aspirations for corridors and networks within wider spatial and growth planning strategies. It helps us to establish the intended function of a corridor or road and plan for levels of investment and service. It does not dictate the final form or built design.

One Network Framework huge leap forward

Waka Kotahi Lead Advisor Urban Mobility Claire Pascoe braves windy Wellington’s Courtenay Place to talk about the benefits of the new framework.

Adding detail to better differentiate corridors

The evolution of the ONRC seeks to bring more granularity to the way our rural networks are classified, by better differentiating our freight routes from our general traffic routes and reflecting the specific context of our rural roads. It will allow us to better define and articulate the differences between metro, urban and rural transport needs and provide a consistent, level playing field for future investment conversations, based on locally-recognised needs rather than broad categories.

By evolving ONRC to account for these extended needs, the framework can be strengthened into something that can be used across transport and land use disciplines, increasing its relevance.

This recognises that:

  • 5–10% of the network is located within heavily urbanised metro areas, and has limited corridor space, complex interactions and tensions between modes at different times of the day that will need in-depth analysis, testing of options and widespread engagement to help make fit for purpose decisions.
  • Another 10–15% are in wider urban areas, mostly residential, with different scales of complexity.
  • The majority of New Zealand’s network – nearly 80% – is rural and runs through diverse geography where the locations of important places like marae, town centres, tourist attractions or schools are often the key factors driving the needs of local RCAs. Evolving the ONRC and adding more granular classifications aims to allow a more detailed description of the specific contexts of rural roads, and better differentiate freight routes from general traffic or tourism routes.

Updating the ONRC will also allow for revised Customer Levels of Service and updated performance measures reflecting all land transport modes, in both urban and rural contexts, as well as surrounding land use. It will also more closely align the ONF to the Network Operating Framework (NOF), to help standardise the application of roading classifications around the country.

Addressing our country’s challenges

The ONF aims to:

  • Create a framework that caters for active or public transport modes and ‘off road’ routes which make it useful as a land transport planning tool in urban and rural environments.
  • Shift the emphasis to the overall movement of people and goods, by any mode, rather than only considering the volume of vehicles a route can support (the Movement function).
  • Consider the role transport corridors play in providing social spaces for people to interact and enjoy and the interplay with travel across and along a transport corridor (the Place function).
  • Consider the aspirational use of the corridor in the medium to long term so that planning can be put in place to achieve that aspiration.

Rolling out a more granular, multi-modal ‘Movement and Place’ classification and performance measures system is a core action under the draft GPS 2021–2031, Road to Zero strategy and the Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency Arataki and Keeping Cities Moving strategies, and aims to help achieve greater safety, wellbeing and environmental outcomes.

Working together for greater liveability outcomes

The ONF’s ‘Movement and Place’ classifications will support greater collaboration across planning sectors, and help improve urban form and urban mobility outcomes. This video by Waka Kotahi describes how ‘systems thinking’ will provide a step change that will help improve liveability.