Land transport funding

Earlier this week Russel noted that the government spends 6 or 7 dollars on roads for every 1 dollar on public transport.  Subsequently there was some debate about where Dr Cullen’s buy back of the Rail network fits in this calculation, so I thought it would be useful to go to the Green’s parliamentary advisory unit and ask for some of background to Russel’s statement.  Russel based his figures on the forecast expenditure in the 2007/2008 National Land Transport Program.  That program intends to spend $1.7 billion on roads. This figure includes maintenance, renewal, and improvements of local roads and state highways. Forecast expenditure for the same period on public transport is set at $280 million. This is a spending ratio of close to 6:1 in favour of roads.

Those figures don’t include capital investment in rail infrastructure because it falls outside of the National Land Transport Program expenditure that Russel was highlighting. Most, but not all, of that funding comes from a different budget – Michael Cullen’s Vote Finance rather than Annette King’s Vote Transport. Some of that rail investment will benefit freight transport, and another portion will benefit public transport. The Greens haven’t attempted yet to apportion that rail investment between various freight and public transport uses but they are working on it.

Another figure worth pulling out of that Land Transport Programme is the increase in walking and cycling expenditure from $14 million this year to $28 million in 2016/17. (Or an increase from 0.6 percent of total land transport expenditure to an overwhelming 0.8 percent).

Of course, I am being slightly facetious.  After all it’s not like cyclists and pedestrians won’t have more space on the roads for themselves once petrol reaches $5 a litre.

3 Comments Posted

  1. Frog, Sorry, I got so carried away with the train of though you set in motion that I forgot to thank you for picking up on this and taking it further.

    Your last sentence is very prophetic. A discussion on the Antiplanner blog led me to the conclusion that urban form is evolving completely away from the sort of structures where either railways or freeways can meet the needs of the modern trip matrix. In much the same way that ARPANet morphed into today’s highly distributed internet and landline telephony is giving way to celular services. The decentralisation from central city CBD’s to satelite CBDs has already been taken a step further with telephone and internet banking and bill payments. Perhaps supermarkets and shopping malls will devolve back into corner shop franchises with home delivery ala Granville on the shop bike.

    Although one word of caution – when Parliament debated the cycle traffic bill back in 1898 there were frequent references to the danger of cyclists have to share roads with other traffic. Willis Street was mentioned several times as being worst example of a street too narrow to cope with lots of pedestrians, cyclists and carts. We will end up with a lot less traffic, but maybe not where we most need the reduction, and possibly with the downside that the remaining traffic won’t be crawling along like it does today.

  2. Frog, That small percentage for walking and cycling is something worth delving into.

    Firstly, what percent of trips to work or for household errands are made by walking or cycling? If you have seen any studies that differentiate between social travel and recreational travel I would be interested in the percent for social travel as this accounts for significant amount of urban travel.

    Secondly, does LTNZ have any stats for average and range of costs for adding footpaths/cycle lanes to existing bridges, per metre? How do the costs of building dedicated off-carriageway cycle lanes compare with the costs of dedicating part of an existing carriageway to cyclists, per km?

    Is this funding just for physical infrastructure or does it include promotion of walking and cycling as well? Is there funding for walking schoolbus inititaives or is that a different output class or funding agency?

    I suspect part of the reason cycling and walking facilities require less funding is because:
    a) in the case of cycle lanes, they are cheap when they are added by simply painting lines on existing infrastructure. If we knew how many kilometres of this type of cycle lane is going to be purchased from this money we could estimate the avoided cost in terms of square metres of pavement and shift that from the local roads funding to the cycling funding simply to see what the “real” investment in cycling is. It may or maynot make a significant difference, ie the perception may be different from the reality.
    b) in the case of footpaths we already have thousands of kilometres of these, all funded from the local roads maintenance budget. Are local authorities required to itemise their annual accounts sufficiently to know how much “road” spending is spent carriageways, footpaths, streetlights, landscaping, etc?

    How does the extimated carbon reduction per invested dollar compare with puvlic transport?

  3. Worth noting that most dollars it spends on roads and public transport comes from road users, none of it comes from public transport users. Roads are a network, a ubiquitous network that reaches everywhere. Public transport is a service which, in most cases, uses that network. Comparing apples and oranges – when public transport users pay the full costs of providing those services and then pay to subsidise road building you’ll have an argument.

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