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Transport spend set to top $24 billion

Transport spend set to top $24 billion

Transport spending over the next ten years is set to top $24 billion – up from $21 billion last year - following Land Transport New Zealand's publication of the latest National Land Transport Programme (NLTP).

Transport Minister Annette King says the increased spending means that projects previously facing deferral have now been given the green light.

"It's been clear for some time that projected revenue for the NLTP wasn't as high as anticipated, and that costs across the transport sector were higher than predicted. Because of this shortfall, several state highway and other projects would have been reprioritised, and possibly delayed.

"But it wasn't acceptable to this Government to defer NLTP projects. The $1.3 billion funding package announced as part of Budget 2006 eliminated the shortfall and ensured the necessary revenue to deliver the Programme. The Government is committed to New Zealand's economic transformation and progress, and there is no better illustration of that than the latest NLTP."

Ms King says the Budget also provided further certainty for delivery of state highway construction with a five-year funding guarantee. "It's the first time we've had this funding certainty, which is provided by a five-year appropriation which also protects the programme against cost increases.

"The significant injection of government funds will restore the State Highway construction component of the 2006-07 NLTP, and the next four years through to 2010-11, to the funding level predicted in August 2005. In fact, a further $425 million will speed up work on major state highway projects to ease traffic congestion in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. It continues the momentum of much-needed improvements around New Zealand."

The Western Ring Route remains a top priority within the Auckland region because of its importance as a strategic alternative to State Highway One.

Ms King says the Government's funding injection also guarantees revenue for other land transport activity in the NLTP, including local road construction activity, public transport services and maintenance of the roading network to enable local government and Land Transport New Zealand to plan such activities with greater certainty.

"The Northern Busway is one project having a significant impact upon Auckland transport, for example. Working in partnership with central and local government, in conjunction with Land Transport New Zealand, the Northern Busway on Auckland's North Shore is successfully getting Aucklanders out of their cars and on to public transport."

Ms King congratulated North Shore City Council for opening Stage One of the project in November last year, with two Park and Ride bus stations at Constellation Drive and Albany.

"The number of people using the new services has grown rapidly with peak hour trips now strongly patronised. This is a success story that can only get better when the dedicated Northern Busway lanes and final three stations open in early 2008. Giving bus passengers priority, and a fast and comfortable ride, makes a huge difference and encourages people to see public transport as an attractive alternative to using their cars."

This year's NLTP is starting to show the funding that is flowing from the Joint Officials' Group processes that the Government has been driving with local government in Auckland, Wellington, Bay of Plenty and the Waikato.

Ms King says additional Crown funding of $215 million has been allocated to fund high priority land transport projects in Waikato. The funding injection is a result of recommendations by the Waikato Joint Officials Group (JOG) to improve land transport outcomes in the Waikato region. This funding will address key issues outlined through the JOG through investment in strategic roading, rail, public transport, travel demand management, walking and cycling.

In Wellington, a total of $885 million over ten years of additional Crown funding has been allocated to support the implementation of the regional land transport strategy, roading and public transport through the Wellington JOG process. A total of $405 million of this is for state highway construction to address access and reliability on SH1 between Wellington and Kapiti. And in Christchurch, additional NLTP/SHF funding will be used to improve the northern and southern access to the city, including increasing funding for SH73 and the Southern Motorway which will be central to managing growth and congestion in the Christchurch region. "These investments mean that over the next five years, the Government will spend $300 million more on land transport than it takes by way of petrol excise duties, road user charges, and motor vehicle registration fees.

"Because we're spending so much on land transport, we also need to ensure we get value for money. The Ministerial Advisory group on Roading Costs, and the Review of Value for Money in the Land Transport Sector have been formed to ensure we do just that.

"A sustainable and effective transport sector is one of the foundations for improving living standards for all New Zealanders. It underpins the very basis of this Government's approach to economic prosperity."

ENDS

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