Govt reveals regions to get slice of $350m transport upgrades

December 4, 2022

Transport Minister Michael Wood says $350 million of new transport funding will go towards "small, simple improvements" to public transport, cycling, and road safety infrastructure.

He announced the "ambitious" package at a media stand-up in Auckland's Māngere this afternoon.

"These aren't big hundred million dollar projects. These are small, simple improvements we can make around local schools, local parks, and local streets," Wood said.

The funding would go towards 46 councils "from large metro centres to small provincial towns" nationwide that had applied to Waka Kotahi.

From left: MPs Lemauga Lydia Sosene, Helen White, Transport Minister Michael Wood, Arena Williams and Vanushi Walters at the announcement.

"The package will fund additional bus stops, bus prioritisation lanes, new cycleways, improvements to transport infrastructure around schools and improved walking access for neighbourhoods," he said in a statement.

The package includes:

  • 397 new or upgraded bus stops to improve people's access to public transport
  • 11 new bus priority lanes
  • 119 schools' improvements to keep children safe
  • 242km of cycleways to encourage more cycling

In Auckland, improvements would be made to feeder bus services on the under-construction Northwestern Busway - alongside other new bus lanes and cycleways.

A file photo of a double-decker bus passing by a Northern Busway station in Auckland.

"Our Transport Choices package will help make our towns and cities more people-friendly places to live, work and visit," Wood said.

The Transport Minister suggested the new infrastructure would make it possible for people to make more trips without needing to use a car - adding it would "enable more kids to get around under their own steam."

“Delivering on projects such as these helps address our current infrastructure deficit while also meeting future needs caused by population growth and climate change," he said.

"It’s just one initiative within our decarbonisation plan that will enable people across the country to directly help fight climate change. Emissions are not just an urban issue; we’re all going to have to work together to create a better future."

Details of region-specific projects can be found on the Waka Kotahi website.

The Government says Waka Kotahi will now work with successful councils in a two-stage process. The first stage is to further refine and scope their project proposals, with construction beginning on some projects by June 2023.

Regional reaction

Auckland mayor Wayne Brown welcomed new funding, saying "every bit helps," but that these "projects were not necessarily at the top of Auckland Transport's priority list."

"I’m particularly pleased about the planned improvements to Northwestern Busway feeder routes, to increase public-transport use by making our bus system better rather than by trying to make our roads worse for private vehicles."

Wayne Brown (file image).

Other improvements in the supercity included safety improvements to schools around Māngere, Manurewa and Homai train stations, and the Blind and Low Vision Education Network NZ’s Homai campus in Manurewa.

In the country's second-largest centre, Christchurch mayor Phil Mauger said there would be a focus on the Linwood area with additional funding.

"Staff focused on Linwood because of its proximity to the central city, its potential walking and public connections to community hubs and the number of schools in the area," the mayor said.

“We’re really committed to reducing our transport emissions, but also want to make it safer and easier to travel around the city’s east. This funding will go a long way in helping to achieve this.”

Meanwhile, Far North mayor Moko Tepania said the cycling infrastructure upgrades would "hugely benefit" Kerikeri residents.

"Kerikeri will hugely benefit from cycle lanes along Hone Heke Street, which will enable safer travel options for the residents of our largest town," he said.

"I'm also pleased to see the bus improvements package to allow users of our Far North and Mid North Link a safer experience.

"Provincial communities often feel left out when it comes to the funding of projects like this, so this is an excellent success, and I look forward to seeing more."