The Government is proposing a nationwide fuel tax increase of between nine and 12 cents a litre to fund a raft of new land transport plans that focus on investing in road safety and rapid rail.
The Government has issued its 2018 Draft Policy Statement on land transport (GPS), which sets out how funding is allocated between activities such as road safety policing, state highways, local roads, public transport and other modes of transport.
The four strategic priorities are: safety, access, environment and value for money. Safety and access are the key strategic priorities for the Government and reflect the transport system that they are striving for. These key priorities are supported by the priorities of environment and value for money.
This contrasts with National’s policy statement which had economic growth and productivity as the top priority, followed by safety and value for money.
The overall plan
The report states that there will be a funding increase of 46 per cent on public transport to expand the routes available and subsidies for public transport.
$4 billion will be allocated over the next ten years to establish rapid transit investment, such as light rail, initially focusing on Auckland, but would ramp up over time.
The GPS supports investment in safety improvements on state highways and local roads. It supports targeting investment at roads and roadsides that will have the greatest impact on reducing deaths and serious injuries.
The money for regional roads will double from around $90 million a year to $180 million a year in 2019/2020 and up to $210 million for four years after that.
Transport Minister Phil Twyford said it is an important step to making roads safer to reduce the road toll.
“We’re going to invest in what makes the most difference – regional and local roads and targeted improvements to the State Highway network.”
“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 benefiting at the expense of other areas.”
Fuel tax increases
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Labour was seeking feedback on proposed fuel tax increases of between 9 and 12 cents a litre to fund its transport proposals.
The tax would be a double whammy for Aucklanders, who can also expect Auckland Council to introduce about 10 cents a litre in regional fuel taxes to pay for major transport projects.
Ardern said National leader Bridges had been told that to meet National’s ambitions, they would need a fuel levy increase of 10-20 cents a litre.
Ardern said the Government was prioritising safety and investing in roads neglected by the former government.
“What you won’t see is investment in a small number of dual carriage highways while local roads and other transport options suffer.”
Incorporating technology and innovation
Technology is changing many aspects of our lives – and transport is no exception. Transport technologies have the potential to respond to a number of transport challenges by significantly improving, and in some cases transforming, the way people travel, and how freight and services are moved on our network.
Existing, new and emerging technologies can support the creation of a safer, more efficient and effective transport system. This can be done by having safer and more efficient vehicles, improved access to transport information, and a more connected transport system that provides new ways of managing and optimising how we use what we already have.
Transport technologies and new business models have significant potential to make a positive impact on our environment – making it more liveable, sustainable and resilient.
This will likely involve increasing our ability to use technology to provide the public with better transport services, and provide the infrastructure and services to support electric, connected and autonomous vehicles.
Better access to markets and business areas
This result primarily has an economic focus on goods reaching their destination efficiently. The focus is on national routes where access constraints at specific points are limiting business productivity.
Generally, New Zealand’s existing road network is reasonably well developed and provides a high level of access for light and heavy vehicles at a national and local level.
However, moving goods by road may not be the best option. We need to consider providing a higher level of access to markets via rail or coastal shipping. This increased access may reduce other costs such as greenhouse gas emissions, deaths and serious injuries.
Reduce transport’s negative effects on the global climate
Reducing the accumulative effects of transport on the environment, such as those caused by greenhouse gas emissions.
The Government is committed to taking decisive action on climate change and setting a more ambitious emissions reduction target for 2050.
An improvement in the vehicles and fuels that are used, such as promoting greater uptake of low-emission and electric vehicles.