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Pete Hodgson speech to the Bus & Coach Association

Hon Pete Hodgson

Thursday, 8 July 2004 Speech Notes

Keynote speech to the Bus & Coach Association, Marine Transport Association and Rental Vehicle Association Conference 2004

Wednesday 8 July 2004 3-3.30pm, Convention Centre, Kilmore Street, Christchurch

Good afternoon. Thank you for inviting me to speak to you today.

Transport in New Zealand is changing. Last week I announced the biggest ever spending package for integrated transport in New Zealand's history. The forecast for transport spending over the next ten years is a record $18.7 billion.

There is more money than ever before for public transport and more is being spent to provide better integrated transport solutions.

In particular, $118 million for passenger transport for the next year including around $65.2 million for buses, $30 million for rail and around $12 million for ferries. An additional $53 million has been set aside for traffic demand management and to increase the use of rail and barging for freight.

In addition to this, Transfund has already set aside $180 million for the North Shore Busway which is currently forecast to be completed some time in 2007. By 2011 it is currently forecast to operate nearly 100 buses per hour carrying 3150 passengers.

These announcements follow legislation we've introduced over the past three years and a restructuring of the government transport sector.

I'd like to take this opportunity to take you through some of these developments.

When we came into government in 1999 the system was broken. Not enough money, no coherent policy, inadequate law, no strategy at all. So we started at the beginning developing a strategy and a vision to give New Zealand the affordable, integrated, safe, responsive and sustainable transport system it deserves by 2010.

In 2003 we re-wrote the law through the Land Transport Management Act, broadening the focus of the transport management and funding system. Late last year we announced the Investing for Growth Package. This saw yet another boost to funding, putting hard cash up to match our ambition for the transport sector. We are determined to correct years of underfunding.

Auckland is a prime example of the challenge we face. Years of underinvestment have delivered a system that can barely cope. Routes are overwhelmed, and in many cases, incomplete. We're acting to put that right. We are investing in new roads to remove bottlenecks such as those at either end of State Highway 20 announced just two weeks ago. (Some of you will have seen that both these projects include provision for future rail or busway development.)

But we can't just road our way out of trouble. We must do other things as to curtail traffic growth and prevent the new roads become as jammed as the old.

This means doing more to manage demand and to provide viable, attractive and affordable alternatives to car use. We want to see more people using public transport. More people on buses. More people using ferries. More people using rail and taxis.

Do this and car use tends to ease, freeing up our roads, reducing congestion, journey times, costs and environmental damage.

The key to this is investment and integration. We're certainly putting the money in but public transport providers play a key role in providing integration. The system has to be convenient, affordable and easy to use if we are to persuade people to leave their cars at home. People need to know that they can get a bus to a ferry terminal or a train station, then quickly catch that ferry or train and then perhaps get another bus, taxi or even walk at the other end. They should be able to do this through integrated ticketing and timetabling and at a time and cost that is favourable compared to using a car.

Three weeks ago I announced changes to the state sector. Briefly, we are moving most of the policy functions of the LTSA and Transfund to sit with those of the Ministry of Transport. This will require some changes to the law and I'll be introducing legislation to do that next month.

For the first time in years transport policy will be developed across all modes - road, buses, rail, barging, walking and cycling, in one place, the Ministry. The Ministry will also coordinate the development and delivery of policy at a national, regional and local level, working directly with regional and local government and local communities to achieve this.

While we're on the subject of local government, legislation was passed last week to create the Auckland Regional Transport Authority or ARTA as it is known. This effectively consolidates nine transport planning bodies into one for the Auckland region.

ARTA is now responsible for coordinating Auckland's transport strategy and deciding how its delivery will be funded and prioritised. It is also the body that will contract for public transport services.

You may also of heard of the changes we're making to the LTSA and Transfund. While we are forming a new government transport agency, yet to be named, to handle the operation functions of the LTSA and Transfund, you should not notice much difference in your day to day dealings - registering vehicles, paying road user charges, taxi licensing issues etc.

Similarly, Transfund's patronage payment system, introduced in September 2000, is not only being kept, but expanded.

Through the initiative, regional councils determine the best service mix to encourage patronage growth on public transport. Transfund supports this with funding based on the incremental environmental benefits of people switching from cars to public transport as well as providing core funding for such services. In the future, some additional money will be made available to enhance the environmental benefits of public transport.

I'd just like to come back to last week's National Land Transport Programme launch to emphasise that it's not just Auckland that is a winner. All regions are seeing an increase in funding - even the Chatham Islands. Further regional funding kicks in on the introduction of the 5c fuel levy and increased RUC from April next year. All the extra money being raised through increases to fuel duty and RUC is being spent on transport.

There is one more piece of work that I'd like to mention - the Land Transport Amendment Bill. The objective of this Bill is to enhance the efficient and effective enforcement, operation and administration of transport related legislation.

I'd like to thank you for the contribution many of you have already made to the drafting of this legislation. The Bill has now had its first reading and is on its way to the Select Committee stage. Here are just a few points from this busy bill that may be of interest:

- Cracking down on fare dodgers - re-introducing penalties for those that refuse to pay or 'do a runner'. This will introduce a standard $150 penalty while the Courts can impose a maximum penalty of $500.

- Recovery of fine costs from those that rent vehicles - specifically allowing rental companies to charge hirers for fines accrued, such as speeding and parking tickets, during the hire.

- Reducing concerns about offenders driving buses and taxis - some passengers might be put off from taking a bus or a taxi if they thought the driver had convictions for serious sexual or violence offences. The new law will prevent those with such convictions gaining a passenger endorsement.

We're also simplifying the working hours system for commercial drivers and cracking down on those that pose the greatest threat to the road safety of all of us - the worst speeders and drink drivers.

I'd also like to thank those of you that worked hard with the Ministry of Education and the LTSA to provide the best service in the circumstance around safety recall of Mitsubishi Fuso buses and trucks. The Bus and Coach Association acted promptly and responsibly to identify affected buses and ensuring that these would not be used on school bus routes until they had been checked. Looking forward, I'm pleased to say that the LTSA has established a recall section on its website and is looking at the possibility of having a link with the equivalent site in Japan.

Here's a challenge to close my address. The government has been banging on for two years now that the future of transport in this country will be different. That we need to think laterally. That yesterday's solutions won't do. That we can't motorway our way out of the problem. That multi-modal thinking matters. That integration matters.

The challenge to you is whether you currently provide enough of that lateral thinking. To what extent do you visualise the future and to what extent do you focus on this week's new regulation? Do you workshop where bus, or rental vehicle or ferry transport might be in ten years? Do you influence regional land transport strategies?

I ask this because the future has your industry writ large. You are part of the solution. But we, nationally and locally, need the ideas and the lateral thinking to bring the future closer.

So that's the challenge. Please rise to it.

ENDS


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