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Keeping the wheels moving on Canterbury transport investment

Environment Canterbury is asking for better recognition of the importance of Canterbury, and the wider South Island, in the Government’s 10-year land transport strategy.

They have provided feedback on the draft Government Policy Statement on land transport (GPS) 2024. The GPS outlines the Government’s priorities for land transport investment over the next decade.

Their submission notes that while there are elements of the draft it supports, we’re concerned the region is at risk of receiving an unequitable share of national funding, which has been the case in previous land transport programmes. In the 2021-24 National Land Transport Programme (NLTP), Canterbury only received between 5-8 per cent of the NLTP expenditure that was forecast – despite contributing 12 per cent of the national GDP.

Getting onboard with public transport

Chair Peter Scott said Canterbury’s transport network plays a crucial role in unlocking the region’s, and New Zealand’s, economic potential.

“Our region is New Zealand’s largest by land area, and second largest by population. It has 16 percent of the national roading network, but its significance appears to have been overlooked in the draft GPS.”

The Council is deeply concerned there is no specific mention of Canterbury public transport projects in the draft.

“This is a significant omission that fails to support our projected growth,” said Scott.

The submission requests that the Greater Christchurch Public Transport Futures (PT Futures) programme be included as a major public transport project alongside those identified in Auckland and Wellington. PT Futures sets out a range of proposed investments in infrastructure and public transport services, and has been agreed on by the Greater Christchurch partner councils and included for funding in respective draft Long-Term Plans.

The submission notes that this investment, which includes the delivery of Mass Rapid Transit (MRT), is critical to supporting the growing population and economic contribution of Greater Christchurch and Canterbury. It would enable people to move quickly and safely, while supporting housing and business growth, intensification, and reduced transport congestion.

“The draft doesn’t contain enough detail for our local authorities to do anything solid in terms of our planning. We’re proposing to invest a fair chunk of money in public transport through the Long-Term Plan we’re consulting on, but we need to know that the Government will come to the party. The lack of detail around this is frustrating.” said Scott.

Support for road maintenance and highways

The Council supports the stronger focus on road maintenance in the draft GPS and agrees with the directive that the New Zealand Transport Agency Waka Kotahi (NZTA) should explore a variety of funding and financing options for all major transport projects.

Environment Canterbury’s feedback is aligned with the joint submission of the Canterbury Regional Transport Committee, which Peter Scott also chairs, and the Canterbury Mayoral Forum. Their submission supports the focus on state highways and local roads in the draft GPS, including the identification of the Belfast to Pegasus Motorway and Woodend Bypass and the second Ashburton Bridge, but also raises concerns about the lack of reference to public transport in Canterbury, and the potentially inequitable level of investment in the region and South Island.

“Councils across the region are on the same page here. We urge the Government to look beyond Auckland and Wellington, and to recognise the potential that lies further south.” said Scott.

Read Environment Canterbury’s submission on the GPS (PDF File, 203KB) and read the Canterbury Mayoral Forum submission (PDF File, 307KB).

Read the draft Government Policy Statement on land transport (GPS) 2024.

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