Providing people with a range of effective travel choices and information is both essential and complex. The Transport Agency aims to ensure that people have access to public transport options and supports peoples choices by providing a range of information on topics such as weather, road conditions, and travel times.

Alongside investment in building and shaping the network, the Transport Agency monitors and manages how the network operates, coordinating a wide range of services aimed at providing more predictable travel times and ensuring people have the information they need to make appropriate travel choices for their needs.

There is sometimes a misconception that transport investment is all about cars and roads. In fact, effective transport choices such as cycling, walking and public transport are integral to any modern transport network – especially in urban settings.

A total of about $2bn (a 21% increase from 2012–15) will be used to invest in New Zealand’s public transport system during the 2015–18 NLTP period. This includes $1.8bn for operating public transport services and $200 million for improvements such as new infrastructure and services. A total investment of $251m, which includes Urban Cycleways funding of $96m in 2015-18, has also been confirmed for improvements to cycling and walking.

Combined with wider investments in cycle facilities as part of improvement to state highways and local roads, total investment will be around $350m over three years.

The role of public transport and cycling

As a country, our travel habits place increasing pressure on our existing road network, especially in our cities. Simply adding more lanes and more kilometres of road is not a sustainable solution to those challenges. The Transport Agency needs to look at a much broader set of options and invest in and encourage smarter transport choices. This is where cycling, walking and public transport come in.

Walking is also a growing transport mode. In Wellington city, for example, more than 18,000 people walk to work, which accounts for 21% of morning peak trips in the CBD.

Public transport plays a critical role in supporting the economy and our daily lives – giving people greater choice of access to a range of social and economic activities, and continuing to move people through urban areas where roads are congested. For every bus or train carriage carrying 40 passengers on their way to work, there are up to 40 fewer vehicles on our roads fighting for space in peak traffic.

Cycling is a key part of New Zealand’s land transport system and plays an important role in the overall land transport network. It is now a fast-growing mode of transport in several cities and towns across New Zealand.

Supporting economic growth and productivity through public transport

In our major urban areas an effective public transport system is critical to relieve congestion and connect large numbers of students to their education institutions and commuters to their places of employment. The effectiveness of public transport networks has a direct impact on our economic growth and productivity. In fact, faster access to key employment and education hubs using public transport has been shown to increase productivity for individuals and business by between 3–23%.

This is especially true for our major metropolitan regions: Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch. Some 90% of National Land Transport Fund investment into public transport services goes into these cities. This NLTP builds on our previous investment, particularly in rail networks where we are seeing increasing numbers of commuters and further improvements.

People using public transport on high-quality public transport services with a dedicated right of way, like the Auckland Northern Busway or metropolitan rail networks, can now enjoy fast, efficient journeys on comfortable modern buses and electric trains, while freeing up road space for other people and freight.

The 2015–18 NLTP also considers the needs of those with less or no access to their own independent transport. This includes improved route design and timetables, the Total Mobility transport services for those with disabilities and modern public transport vehicles with improved access and ease of use.

Transforming our public transport networks

The past few years have seen the beginning of a transformation of public transport in New Zealand, with a stronger focus on well-designed networks and other improvements aimed at delivering better services in a cost-effective way.

The role of technology as an enabler to unlocking the potential of public transport is also growing. Building on the successful implementation of the HOP integrated ticketing and fares system in Auckland, the Transport Agency is working with other regions to implement similar integrated systems.

Technology also improves customers’ public transport experience because it helps in journey planning. Providing real time information on bus or train location and arrival times helps people plan their trips more easily and effectively.

Local government, public transport operators and bus builders are working with the Transport Agency to introduce double-decker buses on key city routes.

High-value public transport services that enable more people to travel between more destinations with simple, seamless transfers between different transport types is becoming more commonplace. Through these smarter transport choices, New Zealanders can be connected to work, recreation and educational opportunities, and make better use of the capacity of routes – all the time taking pressure off our road networks at peak times.

Increased investment in cycling

Cycling is a strategic priority for the Transport Agency, with the aim of making cycling a safer and more attractive transport choice. By 2019 the total annual cycling trips in urban areas are expected to increase by 10 million.

Recognising the contribution cycling makes to the overall network, the Transport Agency has increased the funding available for cycling and walking activities. The recently announced Urban Cycleways Fund provides a further $100m in new funding for cycling, which will speed up the completion of connected urban cycle networks over the next three years.

It is anticipated that the total cycling investment over the next three years, including indirect investment from other infrastructure activities, will be about $350m, delivering over 250km of new urban cycleways and greater connection between routes, making cycling a safer and more attractive transport choice.

We are also working to improve safety, and perceptions of safety, for cyclists. This includes investing in safer networks in all main urban centres, helping cyclists to be more aware and safe. It also includes building mutual respect between cyclists and other road users.

Case studies

World-class ticketing around the corner

A high-tech approach to public transport ticketing will make it easier for people to pay for trips on public transport anywhere in the country. This flexible, modern, new ticketing system will aim to encourage more people to use public transport more often. It’ll ultimately contribute to reducing Aotearoa | New Zealand’s carbon emissions and improving safety on our roads, as public transport is one of the safest ways to travel.

Tauranga bus services

Organisations including the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, schools, Ministry of Education, and the Transport Agency have teamed up with support from Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty councils to extend the public transport network in Tauranga and transition urban school bus services into an integrated network over the next three years.

Smart motorway

Construction is underway to create New Zealand’s first smart motorway on Wellington’s urban motorway between Johnsonville and the Terrace Tunnel.

Working together to rebuild the network

When a city is devastated by a natural disaster, rebuilding the transport network is critical for recovery but it is a job that cannot be done alone – it needs all transport providers to work together to make smart investment decisions.

Karangahape Road even more people-friendly

Improvements to Auckland’s iconic Karangahape Road have created a safer, more attractive place for the local community and offer better walking and cycling options.

Station upgrade makes getting to Auckland airport simpler

The improved Puhinui Station in Papatoetoe provides a vital new link between Auckland’s airport and the rest of the city, encouraging more people to leave their car at home and travel in ways that are better for the environment.

Auckland Transport Alignment Project

Today more than 1.7 million people call Auckland home. This number is expected to grow by another million over the next 30 years. To prepare and adapt as Auckland grows, government and Auckland Council launched the Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP) in 2015.

Te Huia passenger train takes flight

Te Huia train service launched in April 2021 offering two return services between Hamilton and Auckland on weekdays and selected Saturdays.

Western Bay of Plenty growing up and out

The Western Bay of Plenty is projected to grow by 200,000 people, or 95,000 new homes, over the next 70 years. This will create two million extra trips in the region each day – by car, bus, ferry, train, bike or on foot.