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Some information within the 2018–21 NLTP Investment Assessment Framework (IAF) pages may currently be out of date. We are in the process of updating the Planning and Investment Knowledge Base to reflect the new draft IAF that has been developed for the 2018–21 National Land Transport Programme (NLTP). This work will be completed by mid-May 2018. The draft IAF is currently available for feedback until 18 May, and will be finalised by 30 June 2018.

Find out more about the draft IAF


This section provides guidance for assessing continuous programmes of services within the public transport activity class.

Prior requirements for Assessment

The assessment under the Investment Assessment Framework considers business cases developed using Business Case Approach principles.

Prior to any assessment using the Investment Assessment Framework, the business case must first be assessed by the Transport Agency to provide assurance that a robust case has been developed under Business Case Approach principles. 

Work Categories

The work categories within the public transport activity class which form part of the continuous programme can incorporate ongoing funding support related to the following work categories:

For further information on Public Transport programmes, including what qualifies, what is excluded and a definition, refer to the Public Transport programmes  section.

Links to planning documents

The Transport Agency requires public transport continuous  programmes to have applied  the principles of the business case approach and to be well linked to long-term planning documents, particularly  Regional Land Transport Plans (RLTPs), Regional Public Transport Plans  (RPTPs) and supporting assets and activities captured in documents such as local authority’s’ Activity Management Plans (AMP),  Information contained within these documents should describe the assumptions and forecasts underpinning the programme.

The forward programme submitted into TIO, including the ongoing operational costs of the continuous programme and any major improvement investments proposed should align to the intent of the funding plan captured in the RPTP.  Approved Organisations must demonstrate how the proposed activities optimise their public transport network(s).

Information provided to support the submission of a public transport continuous programme should make reference to the relevant parts of these planning documents. 

Results Alignment

Use of Results Alignment rating

For the 2018-21 NLTP, the Results Alignment rating will be used by the Transport Agency to assess the significance of a problem, issue or opportunity relative to desired results set out in the Government Policy Statement.

The rating assessment is not an indication of how well a programme is being optimised and delivered by an organisation. A Medium rather than a High Results Alignment rating should not be viewed as having “negative” management connotations regarding network performance.  A Medium Results Alignment rating would provide an indication a network is being managed to largely meet appropriate customer levels of service.

Default Results Alignment rating

The default Results Alignment rating for public transport programmes is Low.  A Low Results Alignment is provided assuming the continuous programme demonstrates it provides some transport options for access to social or economic opportunities.

Requirements for Medium rating

A Medium Results Alignment will only be given if the proposed programme demonstrates it will or it already does provide an adequate customer level of service for access to social and economic opportunities.

Requirements for High rating

A High Results Alignment rating for a public transport programme must only be given if, in addition to meeting the criteria for a Medium rating, the programme demonstrates the merits of addressing significant opportunities such as severe congestion in major urban areas (evidenced in travel time and journey reliability measures on main corridors and arterials across the network).

 Further information

Further information on Results Alignment assessment is provided in the guidance on Developing an Assessment Profile

Cost-benefit appraisal for public transport programmes


The Transport Agency requires that Approved Organisations and the Transport Agency use the Transport Agency Economic Evaluation Manual procedures and templates to undertake the Cost-Benefit Appraisal of public transport activities.

Mix of methodologies applied

The benefit and cost appraisal methodologies for existing public transport services programmes are cost-effectiveness, benchmarking and performance comparisons of:

  • benefit efficiency ratio
  • farebox recovery ratio
  • cost per service km, and
  • service utilisation. 

The assessment is undertaken across the programme proposed for the next NLTP and is compared to the cost effectiveness and performance of the existing programme relative to service levels provided. Benchmarking also forms part of this assessment of public transport programmes as does evaluation of the marginal contribution of programme expansions and incremental new services through benchmark and key performance measures. 

Public transport programme appraisal template

The public transport programme appraisal template [XLS, 4.8 MB] can be used to support the evaluation.

Note that this Excel spreadsheet contains macros which must be enabled in order to use the template.

Service variations and new services are improvements

Any service variations and new services that result in a higher annualised cost across the programme which can be separated from the public transport continuous programme must be assessed as improvements.  In such circumstances they can be treated as small scale service trials  (if under $1,000,000 across the life of the trial), and be applied for as part of the low cost, low risk improvement programme, or if the cost of the service provision exceeds this then the application should be treated as a stand-alone improvement  - refer to Assessment of Public Transport Improvements. The impact of such improvements on the programme as a whole should be assessed using the appraisal template to ensure the total programme is optimised. 

Where service variations resulting in a higher annualised cost across the programme cannot be separated out (such as reconfigured services or a total network), then application can be made as part of the continuous programme submission, however in support of this, a stand-alone business case including robust identification of the problem, option development, and a benefit cost ratio assessment is expected to support the application.  Again the impact of such improvements on the programme as a whole should be assessed using the appraisal template to ensure the total programme is optimised against a do minimum “base case” approach.  

Programme ratings

Public transport programmes are given a rating using Low, Medium, or High based on their relative cost effectiveness and benchmarking performance comparisons.

  • Low - when cost effectiveness and benchmarking shows below-average band efficiency
  • Medium - when cost effectiveness and benchmarking shows average band efficiency
  • High - when cost effectiveness shows above-average band efficiency

Peer review

The Transport Agency reserves the right to require a peer review of benefit and cost appraisal determinations and measures, including any non-monetised/additional benefits and adverse impacts, regardless of the scope, prior to an investment decision.

 Further information

Further information on cost-benefit appraisal is provided in the section on Developing an Assessment Profile.