Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Just Transport New Zealand

NZ in Tranzit estimates that the Government (including previous Labour led Government) is spending almost $2 billion dollars on  rail and busway infrastructure is misleading readers...the Government itself has now made it clear the total bill will come to over $2.3 billion, just on commuter rail linked costs.

The government publication, National Infrastructure 2011  is quite unequivocal on the matter it says boldly

"A $2.3 billion development of the metro rail network in Auckland and Wellington is currently underway, funding new rolling stock, traction systems and signal systems"

The same publication also (bizarrely) shows a graph indicating that traffic levels on main highways have been flat-lining for about five years and therefore it can be hypothesized from optimistic growth patterns (ignoring oil impacts on transport use and on general living costs and prosperity) billions need to be poured into building new motorways, the so-called Roads of National Significance.

Not mentioned in the same report is the reductions made in Government funding of infrastructure and operations of projects and systems supporting public transport, cycling, pedestrian movement and public transport and road safety in every other corner of New Zealand - some examples, quoted straight from news reports of the last months...

Otago Region
"Proposed changes to the financial assistance rates for public transport and transport planning have been described by the Otago Regional Council as "offensive" and having gone "a bit too far"....
.... Under the proposed changes the council would lose its funding for the support it gives the regional land transport committee and 10% of its funding over 10 years for passenger transport facilities management and maintenance, public transport information supply and operations.  "The proposal has major implications for council's ability to continue to undertake regional land transport planning," Dr Turnbull said. ....
- Otago Daily Times July 24 2011
Manwatu-Rangitikei (Horizons Regional Council)
The Government is sloughing off responsibility for roading projects and leaving local government to pick up the pieces, according to Horizons Regional Council members.  The upset was provoked by proposed changes to the NZ Transport Agency's funding system that would result in Horizons losing at least $160,000 for road-related projects from 2012.  If the changes went ahead, they would affect road safety programmes, the Regional Land Transport programme, and public transport facilities. ....
 - Manwatu Standard July 28th 2011

Nelson City
Nelson city fears losing its grip further on $22 million available in Government funding for local transport projects, after news late last week of plans to whittle away transport committees around the country...The Nelson regional transport committee makes recommendations to the city council on putting in place aspects of the regional land transport strategy. Nelson favours development of public transport options, which is at odds with the Government's transport priorities.  In May the committee asked the council to request that the Minister of Transport allow it to use locally gathered fuel tax (R funding) to help implement the strategy. The council agreed on Thursday to carry out the committee's request, despite it being unlikely that the Government would support it. ...

[Minister of Transport] Mr Joyce said rather than make it tougher for councils to make decisions on transport funding, they will instead have more flexibility around transport planning and fewer processes and procedures to manage.  "The legislation will greatly simplify the number of tests and criteria used to assess transport projects. These changes will reduce regulation and compliance while delivering similar outcomes.
This will allow councils to save money, and release more funding to be spent on actual transport solutions."

[NZ in Tranzit note ...this appears to be Goebbeleese  for NZ Transport Agency will get more power to monitor and dictate how local budgets are spent including reducing the power of councils to implement public transport, cycling and pedestrian projects]

Councillor Eric Davy said it was "incredibly frustrating" that the R funding was lying around but Nelson was "unable to get traction on anything. Cr Mike Ward said 0.7 to 1 per cent of R funding in Nelson was spent on public transport, as opposed to 25 per cent in Wellington......
Nelson Mail July 5 2011

[Christchurch got an early taste of how New Zealand was going be developed under National Party governance]
Bus lanes planned for Christchurch have been delayed due to a Government funding shortfall of at least $4 million. The bus-lanes scheme will be reviewed by Christchurch city councillors next year after a Government review of trans-port spending placed more emphasis on road funding. The review this year granted more funding for state highways, but less for walking, cycling and public transport projects...

....The Government funding changes also mean the council will have to borrow an extra $1.5m to ensure a project to widen and strengthen the Ferrymead road bridge can go ahead. The bridge project will go out for tender in December with 18 months of construction expected to begin in April next year.  The cuts also meant that subsidies for the council's road safety programmes were reduced from $1.2m to $700,000.
The Press November 18 2009

[resulting the following year in]

The Christchurch City Council has adopted its Annual Plan 2010/11 and had the following points to make in regard to transport:

- a decrease in subsidy from the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) for the delivery of community programmes and travel demand management
- a reduction in subsidy from NZTA towards the new transport interchange
- no overall reduction in funding for cycling and walking programmes, set out in the LTCCP, despite reduced NZTA funding
- a review of the priority and funding of the suburban bus interchanges to be carried out in time for the next Annual Plan
- Christchurch Transport Blog June 21 2010

[ following the earthquakes the Government has made $300 million available of an expected $400 million needed to restore transport in Christchurch -- this appears to be exclusively roading and bridging costs and nothing for public transport, cycling, pedestrian ways even though these represent well over 10% of journey modes. Judging by the appalling cut backs and clumsy alternatives offered bus patrons and now, cycle cut backs as well, the Council is masking no attempt by itself or with CERA* assistance to address this appaling inbalance of public funding - indeed they have become party to it....the latest Spokes (Cycling advocacy) Newsletter

Spokes submitted that cycling and walking funding is overdue and under funded. Council cut the already miniscule cycling budget. 

Total road spending is shown as $134,003,000 Total cycleways spending is shown as $107,796

Cycling funding as a percentage of total road spending is .0008 or 8 one hundredths of a percent. This equates to 8 cents out of every $100 spent on roading.

Various improvements identifiable as for pedestrians $392,761 Pedestrian funding as a percentage of road spending is .003 or 3 tenths of a percent. This equates to 30 cents out of every $100 spent on roading.

Bear in mind that the Have Your Say process has shown widespread support for cycling and walking, CCC has received sufficient funds from central government and insurance to fund all current road rebuild projects without using rates while retaining a surplus and over 6% of commuters cycle and over 8% walk. Add to that they are going ahead with the rebuild unresponsive to the stated preferences of the public.


It is clear that both Government and City Council see alternative transport users  - and their needs as easy game for cutbacks.

A more forceful collective presence, a cross party, multi-organisation, cross transport mode advocacy, is obviously needed to fight to win back ground being lost daily firstly to alternative transport modes in general; and secondly,  within New Zealand,  in gross and absurd inequities occurring between Government funding Auckland and Wellington rapid transit infrastructure projects on one hand, and the rest of NZ on the other hand!

This is highway robbery of the rich robbing the poor; the most wasteful and expensive modes of transport ripping off those built upon good governance of resources and environmental care; this is stealing the protection this country will need to handle massive oil price rises as the current peak oil production capacity plateau crumbles.



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