29 Aug 2012

$12b transport funding announced

10:09 pm on 29 August 2012

The New Zealand Transport Agency has announced it is to spend more than $12 billion in the next three years on roads, public transport and road safety.

Most of the $12.28 billion being spent from 2012 to 2015 will go on roads; $4.1 billion for local roads and $5.1 billion allocated to state highways.

Public transport attracts $1.7 billion in funding, including for providing new rail passenger carriages in Wellington and Auckland.

Moves to improve road safety will attract $2.8 billion in funding, including $1 billion for road policing and safety promotion.

NZTA chief executive Geoff Dangerfield says the spending would also continue to make progress on the Government's roads of national significance.

Mr Dangerfield told Radio New Zealand's Checkpoint programme on Wednesday it is possible the agency can bridge the $220 million funding gap for its land transport programme by achieving better prices on certain projects.

He says even if the shortfall can't be met, the agency could choose to move start and finish dates for projects to stay within budget.

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee says the plan tries to strike the right balance between roads and public transport.

"About 80% of New Zealanders go to work each day in a motor vehicle of some kind but increasing numbers will be using public transport and there is significant funding in the ... three-year plan for public transport and an increase in the amount that was going in over the previous period."

But the Labour Party believes local roading will suffer. Transport spokesperson Phil Twyford says state highways and local roads are being squeezed in favour of separate spending on new motorways that are uneconomic.

Mr Twyford says the rising cost of bitumen and inflation means councils are feeling the pinch when it comes to spending on local roads.

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman says the Government's plan includes strengthening bridges so they can take heavier trucks and believes that will make roads more dangerous.

"I'd much rather that the New Zealand Transport Agency put their emphasis into getting trucks off our roads and putting freight onto rail and shipping, but they've cut the line out of their budget for shipping and for trains."