IT HAS BEEN a busy few weeks for the Transport Agency, says Fergus Gammie, chief executive, NZ Transport Agency, as we have worked with local government and the contracting industry to understand the implications of the draft Government Policy Statement (GPS) on land transport, with the shift in strategic direction for both road and rail.
The contracting industry and its contribution to the land transport system is significant. I recognise the industry’s need to have a steady stream of work to retain skilled staff and help achieve the Government’s new transport objectives.
I also acknowledge the industry’s concern about the significant shift signalled in the draft GPS by the Government to reduce investment in the construction programme for the state highway network.
To help the contracting industry understand the new transport priorities, Transport Agency regional roadshows with industry leaders and our procurement teams in the main centres, have been discussing future options for the industry.
Feedback has shown a high level of interest in the shape and scale of the programme and recognition that the draft GPS presents new opportunities for the industry, particularly with the development of Auckland’s rapid transit network.
“Overall, the Transport Agency’s focus will be on projects with strong safety, access and resilience outcomes that will deliver on the Government’s new transport priorities.”
For its part, the Transport Agency is investigating opportunities to accelerate important projects, like Auckland’s SH20B to improve connections with the city’s airport, and construction of the new Manawatu Gorge route. We are also looking to package up some aspects of the safety programme to deliver this efficiently.
Just as importantly for contractors, the Transport Agency is working with local government to provide support and resource where required, to explore all the opportunities available within the new activity classes and increased funding in others to deliver the Government’s priorities.
This may mean bringing forward programmes of work, but more importantly, this is about thinking more broadly and exploring new ways to connect communities and provide them with affordable travel choices, particularly in the areas of safety, resilience, public transport, walking and cycling.
This new and increased funding in the 2018-21 National Land Transport Programme (NLTP) will help councils deliver their projects and programmes of work.
The draft GPS sets out what the Government wants to achieve for the land transport system, both road and rail, during the next 10 years. Rapid transit and rail have been clearly identified in the draft GPS as a priority. Other key shifts include:
• a stronger focus on reducing deaths and serious injuries;
• a proactive shift from roads to walking and cycling, and to public transport, with a particular focus on rapid transit;
• increased regional investment – local road and safety improvements, and resilience;
• harnessing technology;
• targeting new infrastructure and services to support planned growth, particularly in Auckland;
• reduced investment in the state highway network (from 38 percent of investment in GPS 2015 to 25 percent in draft GPS 2018).
The Transport Agency will complete construction on contracted projects. About 80 percent of the funding available nationally for state highway improvements during the 2018-21 NLTP period is already committed or contracted, although this percentage does include availability payments on our two PPP projects.
Apart from our work with industry and councils, a lot of GPS-related work is underway inside the Transport Agency to enable us to finalise the NLTP.
Our work includes the development of a new direction for investment in land transport, in response to the Government’s priorities.
We have revised our Investment Assessment Framework (IAF).
This is the tool the Transport Agency and our investment partners use to assess and prioritise projects and programmes to be included in the NLTP.
The draft IAF includes an assessment of results alignment, to determine how well an investment aligns with the new GPS priorities, and an assessment of the costs and benefits to assess the efficiency of proposed investments.
At the same time, we have incorporated our investment in the state highway network into a new integrated investment proposal known as the Transport Agency Investment Proposal (TAIP) – a much broader and more transparent document that sets out our investment approach and proposed programme of works across all types of land transport.
The draft TAIP has been released to our local government partners and will help inform their Regional Land Transport Plans, and ultimately the National Land Transport Programme.
The draft TAIP therefore influences which projects and programmes of work the Transport Agency progresses, and when.
Overall, the Transport Agency’s focus will be on projects with strong safety, access and resilience outcomes that will deliver on the Government’s new transport priorities.
The industry needs to be ready for a different looking investment programme from the Transport Agency. Around $4 billion will continue to be invested annually in land transport through the NLTP, but it will be invested differently.
The Transport Agency remains committed to not only keeping the industry informed, but also to keep listening and considering any ideas the industry may have to address key challenges and to maximise opportunities.