We consider that the proposed GPS 2012 does not address the transport needs of New Zealand, and ignores historic and ongoing transport trends in its strong and indeed further increased focus on state highway construction funding.
After two fuel price peak periods in only 5 years (showing the increasingly volatile nature of the the petrol markets) and after 5 years of no state highway traffic growth (2010 traffic volumes being equal to those of 2005, despite population growth), we consider that the direction of the GPS is unreasonable, and indeed, illogical.
The GPS proposes to essentially approve and ‘reward’ the past budget-overruns in the state highway activity class ($50-150 million each year during the last three years) by providing further money for this activity class, and proposes to proceed with new Roads of National Significance (RONS) – while proposing strong cuts to new and improved local road and public transport infrastructure.
It also seeks further savings in smaller activity classes. These are strangely enough argued as “driving efficiencies”, while the largest activity class is exempt from any cutbacks, despite having numerous low-BCR projects, and a much greater potential for cutbacks in a time of budgetary constraints.
This proposed funding allocation is also a classical case of “putting all eggs in one basket”, and furthermore, increases New Zealand’s dependency on imported fuel, which has a damaging effect for our economy, and our trade balance.
The proposed GPS discusses a small increase of the proposed funding band for the walking and cycling activity class. While this is obviously not opposed, we note that raising the upper limit of the funding band is unlikely to do anything to actual walking and cycling investment when even during better economic times, the ACTUAL spending in the walking and cycling activity class consistently hovered around the low end of the funding band, at around $15 million.
We therefore call for the funding available for the walking and cycling class to be at least doubled, with a funding band of $24-60 million, instead of $12-30 million as proposed. Failing that, we ask that the lower edge of the funding band be raised, i.e. the funding band be changed to $20-30 million. Only by taking these measures will it be possible to realise a reasonable number of the numerous walking and cycling projects that local Councils and NZTA regional offices all over New Zealand would like to finally proceed with.
Finally, we approve of the consideration of the New Zealand Cycle Trail during local and state highway road improvements, as proposed in draft in the GPS.
As set out above, Cycle Action Auckland considers that the GPS 2012, while seeing some small improvements for cycling, is unbalanced, and does not sufficiently address New Zealand’s need for more active transport and public transport funding.
We consider that the GPS should instead reduce the funding available for state highways, especially low-BCR projects, and apportion that money to walking & cycling and public transport infrastructure activity classes.