19 Mar 2020

Govt plans $54b transport spend over decade, no petrol tax increase next year

9:36 am on 19 March 2020

Transport Minister Phil Twyford has pledged to put "the pedal to the metal" on transport spending, signalling an intent to invest a record $54 billion over the next decade.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford announcing the NZTA review recommendations 9 October 2019

Transport Minister Phil Twyford said the "record investment in transport" would give the construction sector more certainty. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

The draft Government Policy Statement (GPS) released today sets out the government's priorities for land transport, allocating $4.5b a year from the National Land Transport Fund.

Twyford also promised there would be no increase to petrol excise or road user charges for the next three years.

"This GPS shows our government is putting the pedal to the metal on our balanced transport policy while committing to a massive infrastructure spend over 10 years," Twyford said in a statement.

With New Zealand facing a global recession, Twyford said the "record investment in transport" would give the construction sector more certainty.

He told RNZ's Morning Report it was possible the Covid-19 coronavirus and measures to counter it would reduce driving, which would mean reduced revenue from petrol excise, but said the transport projects were constantly being reassessed.

"I don't want to make any assumptions at this stage, we've got a plan that provides great certainty for the community and particularly for the civil construction industry to plan and build their workforce to deliver what is one of the biggest infrastructure investments New Zealand's ever seen."

He said projects already being worked on included:

  • Third main rail line through southern suburbs in Auckland
  • Rail electrification to Pukekohe
  • Mill Road
  • Penlink
  • SH58 improvements outside of Wellington
  • SH2 four-laning north of Tauranga

It follows a $12.1 billion stimulus package announced on Monday designed to cushion the blow of Covid-19 on the economy.

Of the $54b total spend on transport, $6.8b had already been signalled in January when the government unveiled its $12b infrastructure splurge.

Twyford said the government's number one priority remained road safety.

"We're planning to invest $10b in our strategy to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries on the road by 40 percent.

"In the first three years alone, Road to Zero will invest nearly $3 billion in safety infrastructure like median barriers, safety campaigns and road policing."

Spending on public transport had increased 163 percent compared to the previous government, Twyford said, while spending on walking and cycling improvements was up 227 percent.

"Given how both rail and coastal shipping help take pressure off our roads and produce less emissions, we are looking to fund both in GPS 2021."

"Building alternative transport options for people and freight is a vital part of achieving the Government's goal of net zero emissions by 2050," Twyford said.

Consultation on the policy statement will close on 27 April.

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