The hefty price tag is often what sways people against proposals to invest in new transport infrastructure. While new road and transport projects can be expensive, when they carry a lot of traffic and succeed in saving time and even lives, the ongoing economic and other benefits have been shown to far outweigh the upfront investment cost.
There's a growing awareness that past governments have not invested enough in New Zealand's road and transport system. As a result, many of our roads are no longer efficient or safe enough to cater to the increased traffic volumes. Our other transport systems, for example public transport, are similarly underdeveloped.
Did you know?
- 59 cents out of every litre of petrol that motorists purchase is excise tax (excluding GST)
- Road users collectively pay over $2 billion in taxes each year through fuel excise, road user charges and GST
- It is now government policy for all of the petrol excise tax that motorists pay to be invested back into the National Land Transport Programme (including road building and maintenance, road safety education and enforcement, and subsidies for public transport)
The government has pledged far more investment over the coming years. Also, all the petrol excise tax that motorists pay is now invested back into the road and transport system. Previously, a significant portion of the tax motorists paid on petrol was diverted by the government to its general account and not used for transport or road safety.
Good transport links are vital for meeting our future needs
Good transport infrastructure is vital if New Zealand is to reach its economic potential. An inefficient transport system and links is not only frustrating for all users; they reduce productivity and put the brakes on economic growth.
The ability for people to move quickly between business areas is important for maximising economic potential. This is a significant issue for Auckland, New Zealand's largest city and biggest economic hub. To develop as a modern and prosperous society, New Zealand needs a comprehensive network of well planned transport links including roads, rail, coastal ports and airports, public transport, and also cycling and walking.
The best way to achieve this is by making a long-term commitment to transport planning. Transport planning can end up being compromised by a short-term - and at worst ad hoc - approach when priorities and funding commitments change from year to year. A short-term or a politically driven approach to transport planning leads to a lack of coordination and efficiency, and is a major reason why construction projects can end up costing much more than originally planned. Consequently, much needed transport projects are assigned to the 'too hard' basket, and costs rise making them increasingly unaffordable.
A long-term strategic approach makes it easier to determine how much funding will be required, and plan ahead for the most efficient use of resources.
AA speaking up for motorists
To have a transport system that protects and enhances the social, economic and environmental future of New Zealand, a long-term strategic approach to the country's transport infrastructure is needed.
A national strategic approach to transport infrastructure
The AA supports the development of a 20-year rolling plan that provides a national strategic approach to transport infrastructure planning, based on prioritisation, transparency and contestability. Within this period, a six-year plan will provide certainty for funders and construction.
National transport plans need to recognise that the needs of each region are different. There is no 'one size fits all' approach to New Zealand's transport needs. Local residents need to be involved in deciding regional transport solutions, but this must not overshadow the need for a national best-interest perspective.
A balanced transport system that preserves freedom of mobility
We support a balanced transport system that preserves freedom of mobility. One that is responsive, safe, reasonably priced and environmentally sustainable. While we support a balanced transport system that prioritises New Zealand's highway and road network, we'd like to see the integration and planning of road systems, rail, and coastal shipping networks in combination with improved public transport services.
We support increased funding for public transport provided it is cost effective and delivers services that people will use. Improvements to the transport system must come from efficient use of money and resources, and provide best value for those paying for the work.
A fair balance can be achieved by:
- Central and local government, business and the community working together to encourage an environmentally and socially responsible travel system
- Closer relationships between government transport agencies, land use and transport planning bodies
- Increased understanding and recognition of the needs of the Members of road user representative groups
- More effective regional planning to include the wider issues of pricing, social justice and incentives to encourage responsible travel behaviour
- Future transport investments that satisfy agreed economic, social and environmental objectives
- A better understanding of the links between transport, the economy, mobility and quality of life
Benefits of greater investment in roads
There is ample evidence (e.g. Allen Report - Benefits of Investment in New Zealand's Road Infrastructure, August 2004) to demonstrate that investment in road infrastructure has clear benefits for New Zealand, with returns that far outweigh the outlay.