The Prime Minister appeared at today's Post-Cabinet press Conference to discuss the Draft Government Policy Statement (GPS) 2018 on land transport.
The Prime Minister was accompanied by Hon Phil Twyford - Minister of Transport, Hon Shane Jones - Associate Minister of Transport and Hon Julie Anne Genter - Associate Minister of Transport to discuss this policy statement.
The GPS on Transport was announced as an important step towards making New Zealand's roads safer in order to reduce New Zealand’s appalling number of road deaths and to guide investment in transport by providing a longer-term strategic view of what is to be prioritised and why.
The draft GPS 2018 prioritises safety, access to a wider range of transport options, the environment and value for money. The Government is now seeking feedback from local government, the transport sector and community groups on this proposal.
This GPS proposes to increase the fuel excise rate by 10c per litre and to increase Road User Charges in order to fund increased spending in strategic areas of transport.
The GPS will include increased net transport spending overall and will include increased spending on public transport and Mass Transit solutions for Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
The plan seeks to double regional road improvement spending as regional roads cater for half of all trips, yet have until now received only 5% of funding.
Minister Twyford pointed out that over the 9 years of the previous National Government, 40% of Transport spending was on Roads of national Significance, most of which were around urban areas, so regional road safety has suffered from underinvestment.
“The previous government did not spend enough on road safety, and instead wasted funds on a few low-value motorway projects. This has created an imbalance in what is funded, with a few roads benefitting at the expense of other areas.
Associate Transport Minister Shane Jones says rebalancing transport investment will help our regions thrive.
“Over the past nine years, National Land Transport Fund spending was reduced in Taranaki, Southland, West Coast, Otago, Northland, Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne and the Bay of Plenty by up to 30%. In contrast, Our Government will increase spending in the regional roading improvements funding class by 98%,” Shane Jones says.
The Regional Growth Fund will potentially be another source of funding for regional transport projects that meet the 'adding to regional economic development' criteria of that fund.
Increased Rail funding
Rail will now be brought into the Land Transport regime, so rail improvement projects will be eligible for funding consideration alongside other land transport solutions under this policy framework.
Minister Twyford pointed out that this will allow for 'mode neutrality' meaning that the most efficient and appropriate mix of modes of transport can be selected for each unique situation. This will free up agencies and local government to invest in rail for freight movement and for efficiently moving people around cities.
“This new approach requires a shift in transport investment. We are proposing increases to most activity classes, with specific focus on regional roading improvements, state highway maintenance and public transport, along with new investment in rapid transit and rail. This will help us create a resilient, efficient, safe and responsible transport system,” Phil Twyford says.
The Government is focusing on safety in this statement, and this came after the worst Easter road toll in eight years.
“With road deaths increasing every year since 2013, this Government is prioritising safety improvements. We’re going to invest in what makes the most difference - regional and local roads, and targeted improvements to the State Highway network,” says Phil Twyford.
Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter stated that by investing in safety improvements such as median safety barriers, intersection upgrades and rumble strips, we can make our roads safer and save lives.
She stated that 20 years ago New Zealand and Sweden had similar road tolls, but now after significant investment, Sweden is one of the safest countries in the world for transport.
“To create healthy, liveable cities we need to make it safe and easy for people to walk and cycle those short trips to school, work and around town. That’s why we’re proposing a significant boost in safe, walking and cycling infrastructure.
“Better public transport and safe cycling infrastructure will also help to reduce traffic and make life easier for people driving,” Julie Anne Genter says.
The GPS is now out for consultation with feedback welcomed by the Government
Other Matters Discussed
The Christchurch Stadium project, Clare Curran and Unions were also discussed in questions to the Prime Minister
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