The new Government Policy Statement on land transport will be released in mid-2018, setting out the government’s priorities for expenditure from the National Land Transport Fund during the next 10 years. Fergus Gammie, chief executive, New Zealand Transport Agency.
Last July the NZ Transport Agency unveiled its new strategy. At its core is our intention to work better in partnership with local government and new partners to develop a great transport system that helps people get the most out of life.
An early demonstration of this in action was the unveiling, first in Queenstown and then in Auckland, of a unique Mobility as a Service (MaaS) app, Choice. MaaS uses digital technology to allow people to more easily plan travel by finding transport options at one source – their smart phone or tablet.
MaaS is just one illustration of the transport industry’s digital future. Just as importantly, it is an example of a refreshed Transport Agency collaborating with others to trial new initiatives.
Partnerships with councils
In the south, we partnered with Otago Regional Council, Queenstown Lakes District Council and community stakeholders to help develop MaaS. Further north, we’ve worked with Auckland Transport on the local government side and with Auckland International Airport as a business partner.
We are looking to the future. But we have not lost sight of today and the importance of working together to deliver a programme of maintenance and improvements to our state highway and local roads network that helps revitalise communities and safely connects people with jobs, schools, services and recreation.
The Transport Agency and LGNZ have worked in partnership around specific projects. These include improving value for money from road maintenance expenditure, and building capability around managing the road network to a consistent standard using the One Network Road Classification (ONRC), delivered through the Road Efficiency Group (REG).
Our future strategy focus is on partnerships for the co-design and delivery of even wider social, economic and environmental community outcomes; systems rather than networks; and people rather than vehicles.
As our core planning and investment partner, local government is well placed to see transport through the eyes of communities. It is also well positioned to see how solutions can be delivered to improve a transport system that will support businesses and help people get the most out of their lives. Quite simply, we know local government understands its communities better than we do.
Inside the Transport Agency, group and regional plans have been replaced by one agency-wide business plan. There are three drivers for the transformed Transport Agency: one connected transport system; people-centred services; and partnerships for prosperity.
I believe our objective – “delivering great journeys that are easy, safe and connected to keep New Zealand moving” – fits with LGNZ’s policy statement to “power strong economies and build strong communities”.
Our refreshed strategy and the development of MaaS aside, the Transport Agency celebrated significant events to improve the land transport system throughout 2017.
- Support from local government and others was an important factor in restoring road and rail links between Picton and Christchurch as part of the Kaikoura earthquake rebuild. That support will remain critical during 2018.
- Opening Auckland’s Waterview tunnel produced improved travel times, added resilience to the city’s motorway network, and extended its walking and cycling network. Work started on extending Auckland’s motorway north from Puhoi to the Warkworth community.
- The Rangiriri section of the Waikato Expressway opened in December. This was an important section because of our partnership with Waikato-Tainui, and the opening included a site recognising the Rangiriri battle fought during the New Zealand Land Wars.
- New Zealand’s longest suspended cycle bridge was also opened in the Waikato. The Te Awa Bridge, south of Ngaruawahia, is part of the Te Awa Great River Ride stretching 70 kilometres along the Waikato River.
- Together with our Greater Wellington Regional Council and Wellington City Council partners we are currently reviewing customer feedback on the “Let’s Get Wellington Moving” options. This initiative is part of the Wellington Northern Corridor programme of works. Further north, the Mackays to Peka Peka section of the corridor was opened, and construction started on the Peka Peka to Otaki stage.
- The last two stages of the Western Corridor in Christchurch were opened, completing the first of the Christchurch Motorways projects.
- Otago Regional Council – supported by the Transport Agency and Queenstown Lakes District Council – launched a subsidised bus service for greater Queenstown with a flat $2 fare across all zones. Two road improvements opened in Queenstown before Christmas to help with peak traffic during the holidays.
Road safety remains an important part of the Transport Agency’s agenda. Much still needs to be done in terms of working with local road controlling authorities on how to fund and deliver this work, and expand the use of technologies to prevent fatal and serious injury crashes.
Government Policy Statement 2018
The new Government Policy Statement (GPS) on land transport will be released in mid-2018, an important document for both the Transport Agency and local government.
The GPS sets out the government’s priorities for expenditure from the National Land Transport Fund during the next 10 years. It provides the framework for the Transport Agency to allocate funds between various activities such as local roads, public transport, state highways, road safety and policing.
With all our programmes, we want to work alongside councils to achieve outcomes for your communities and economies.
Co-creation with local government
Going forward, there are three categories in the co-creation space where the Transport Agency and local government will keep working together closely:
- Managing asset performance – Transport Agency / councils share costs through the National Land Transport Fund investment.
- Working with major urban councils to give customers easy, safer and connected journeys through integrated operations – we share the same customers who either don’t, or need to, care about who owns or operates the transport system they use.
- Working closely with councils facing significant growth pressures – they are likely to require us to play our role in helping with strategic system delivery solutions that improve customer experiences.
Greater collaboration and cooperation is essential. We are on the cusp of a transport revolution driven in part by changes to the way vehicles are powered and vehicle ownership itself, and also by accelerating changes to digital technology. Our traditional ways of thinking and acting have to change too if we are to succeed.
MaaS will be developed further for the benefit of our customers, and the Transport Agency continues to refine a new digital-based data harmonisation tool known as BIM ().
This is in line with one of our key objectives of one connected transport system, allowing local government, contractors and the Transport Agency to share at the same time exactly the same information about a section of road, no matter where people are.
Bigger and broader technological change is coming. The Transport Agency cannot deliver this alone. Together, the Transport Agency and local government need to focus on whole-of-system performance and solutions where we can adopt collective approaches to solving risks and opportunities. We aim to give customers a seamless journey experience and access to the opportunities they need and expect.
Meeting changing expectations is an exciting challenge and provides opportunities for councils and the Transport Agency – challenges we can resolve together through 2018 and beyond. The rewards are great.
This article was first published in the January 2018 issue of NZ Local Government Magazine.