This page relates to the 2021-24 National Land Transport Programme.


Investment prioritisation is the basis for including an activity or combination of activities in the National Land Transport Programme (NLTP). Depending on the amount of funding available for an activity class, activities with a priority order above an investment threshold in that activity class are included in the NLTP.

We (Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency as investor) reconsider the priority order for activities when a request for funding approval is made. The review confirms information about costs and benefits as well as the other factors that have an impact on investment prioritisation.

Determining the investment threshold for an activity class

The Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency Board sets the investment threshold based on the funding range for the activity class as set out in the Government Policy Statement for land transport (GPS) 2021, the funds available for each activity class, and the value and priority order of all proposed activities.

Government Policy Statement for land transport 2021(external link)

The investment threshold is the lowest priority order (determined by the Investment Prioritisation Method) at which funding becomes fully allocated in an activity class. The investment threshold may allow for a level of over-programming to enable a larger number of activities or larger programme to be considered for funding by the NLTF. Investment proposals that sit below the threshold will only be funded by exception. Waka Kotahi may review the investment threshold after adoption of the NLTP.

Improvement activities

Activity classes prioritised as improvements include:

  • Road to Zero
  • public transport services
  • public transport infrastructure (including rapid transit infrastructure)
  • rail network
  • coastal shipping
  • walking and cycling improvements
  • local road improvements
  • state highway improvements.

2021-24 NLTP activity classes and work categories

Note that several activity classes also include ‘continuous programmes’ which are prioritised separately as outlined below.

Improvement activities are assigned a priority order using each of the three prioritisation factors, according to the following matrix.

Investment prioritisation three-factor matrix for improvement activities

Proposed 2021-24 NLTP priority order
GPS alignment Scheduling Efficiency

Very low (VL)*


Low (L)

(BCR 1.0-2.9)

Medium (M)

(BCR 3.0-5.9)


High (H)

(BCR 6.0-9.9)

(Present value of costs for end-of-life replacement)


Very high (VH)


VH H 7 2 1 1 1
VH M 8 3 2 2 1
VH L 9 4 3 3 2
H H 9 5 4 4 3
H M 10 6 5 5 3
M H 10 7 6 6 4
M M 10 9 8 6 5
H L 11 8 8 6 5
M L 11 10 10 9 8
L H/M/L 12 12 12 12 12

* Activities that have a very low (BCR<1) efficiency rating may be included in the 2021–24 NLTP if they are above the investment threshold for an activity class. However, funding for these activities will only be approved by exception at the appropriate level of delegation, usually the Waka Kotahi Board.

Prioritisation for improvement programmes and packages

An activity that is part of a programme or package previously endorsed by us may be assigned the GPS alignment and efficiency rating of that programme or package. This may require GPS alignment of the programme or package to be reassessed using the Investment Prioritisation Method for the 2021–24 NLTP.

Where a programme or package being put forward for inclusion is new to the 2021–24 NLTP, then all phases of the programme/package and activities for the 2021–24 NLTP may be assigned the GPS alignment of the programme or package.

Allowing for assessment and investment decisions to be made at a programme rather than individual project level can include:

  • packages of inter-related and inter-dependent activities submitted for funding, including activities with a BCR<1, provided the overall package demonstrates a BCR>1 and all the components of the package are completed
  • programmes of work, which may take the same approach as packages when the components of the programme are seeking to deliver a common outcome, but they are not necessarily inter-related or inter-dependent.

The Investment Prioritisation Method   thus allows inclusion of activities that are highly effective in achieving GPS priorities but have a BCR<1 into a programme, provided the overall programme demonstrates delivery of BCR>1.

The scheduling factor must be assessed separately for each activity phase of a programme or package being considered for inclusion. Business cases will require all three factors to be assessed.

Two-stage process for prioritising improvement activities

Improvement activities that have yet to be approved, other than low-cost, low-risk improvements, are profiled and prioritised in two stages:

1. Inclusion in the NLTP:

Primarily applied as part of NLTP development. We review the approved organisation’s and Waka Kotahi (for its own activities) assessment and then determine the investment profile. Activities proposed for inclusion in the NLTP are prioritised based on the Waka Kotahi investment profiles and those at or above the investment threshold are included in the NLTP. In many cases, full information for the activity will not be available at this early stage of its development, which means its investment profile is still tentative.

2. Funding approval:

Primarily applied during the course of the NLTP. At the time when either an improvement activity and its business case is presented for endorsement or when seeking funding approval for a particular phase, the project owner along with our assessor review and reconfirm the investment profiles or revise them. At this stage, the project owner must be prepared to provide full information to inform the investment decision. We will then compare the resulting priority order with the investment threshold for the activity class and decide whether to provide Waka Kotahi funding support for the activity.

Investment thresholds and funding priority for improvement activities

More detailed information about investment thresholds and funding priority category types for improvement activities for 2021–24 NLTP can be found on our investment thresholds page.

Investment thresholds

Improvement activities for any activity phase that is already ʽfunding approved’ in a prior or existing NLTP, will be treated as ʽcommitted’. This means that such activities will not be required to be reviewed under the Investment Prioritisation Method for the NLTP under development, and will be automatically included in the release of the next NLTP.

Prioritisation for continuous programmes

Based on the GPS 2021, activities prioritised as continuous programmes are:

  • public transport continuous programme including:
    • existing public transport services (these include Total Mobility and form part of the public transport services activity class)
    • maintenance (including renewals) of public transport facilities and infrastructure (forms part of the public transport infrastructure activity class)
  • local road maintenance programme (includes operations, maintenance and renewal activities)
  • state highways maintenance programme (includes operations, maintenance and renewal activities)
  • Road Safety Partnership Programme (road policing)
  • road safety promotion
  • investment management.

2021-24 NLTP activity classes and work categories

Note that low-cost, low-risk activities are treated as improvement programmes within their respective activity class in the 2021–24 NLTP. We discuss these separately below.

Continuous programmes are effectively funded first, as funding decisions for continuous programmes are made for the three years of the NLTP at the time the NLTP is adopted. This provides the sector and approved organisations, NZ Police, KiwiRail and Waka Kotahi (for its own activities) with certainty of funding continuity for the NLTP period.

We expect to provide some level of funding to all continuous programmes. On this basis, we assign continuous programmes ratings of HHM, priority order 4, as the ʽstarting point’ for investment prioritisation, reflecting the importance of such programmes to maintaining ongoing levels of service. We then assess the investment proposals to determine:

  • how well the proposed programme identifies and prioritises gaps that align with and contribute to GPS strategic priorities, as well as our other statutory obligations. Programmes found to not align well with GPS strategic priorities could see a reduction in the GPS alignment rating. The converse is also true: programmes found to align very well with GPS strategic priorities could see an increase in the GPS alignment rating.
  • the quality of the decision-making framework within the activity management plan (AMP) or regional public transport plan (RPTP) on how they optimise their plan, programmes and activities. Poor/excellent optimisation could see a reduction/increase in the scheduling rating.
  • the performance of the approved organisation (or Waka Kotahi for its own activities) over the previous NLTP.
  • efficiency based on benchmarking across organisations in terms of the cost to deliver the outcome. That is, if the proposed programme is more expensive per unit of outcome, then a lower efficiency rating may be assigned; if more cost effective, then a higher efficiency rating may be assigned recognising every dollar spent should deliver more outcome.

The assessment of investment proposals and the resulting priority order will assist us in determining the merits of investing to different levels in the various continuous programmes submitted.

All continuous programmes are developed through the application of continuous improvement practices, and ideally involve regular engagement with and feedback from us on the merits of the supporting AMP or RPTP. We expect these programmes to achieve at least a medium GPS alignment rating. Programmes that do not achieve a medium rating will be the subject of additional scrutiny as part of the NLTP decision making and we may have to apply additional conditions of funding to the approved programme investment. Any other risks or issues may also be addressed through conditions attached to the funding decision.

Road safety promotion

Road safety promotion is part of the Road to Zero activity class.

Road to Zero

Many road safety promotion activities are low-cost, low-risk activities, ie below $2m in total cost; therefore we assess these as continuous programmes in the same way as for low-cost, low-risk programmes for road improvements.

We assess and prioritise separately road safety promotion activities above $2m in total cost, in the same way as for an improvement activity in other activity classes.

Road Safety Partnership Programme

The Road Safety Partnership Programme is part of the Road to Zero activity class.

Road to Zero

This programme consists of a base programme which maintains current levels of enforcement, and an improvements programme. The base road policing component is assessed as a continuous programme. We assess and prioritise improvement activities in the road safety partnership programme in the same way as for an improvement activity in other activity classes.

Investment management

For investment prioritisation, we consider the investment management activity class under its component parts (transport planning, sector research and management of the funding allocation system – MoFAS), assessing and prioritising these parts separately. Where there is discretion over funding, ie not funding core Waka Kotahi or sector activities (eg transport modelling, activity management planning improvements and programme business case development), we assess proposals using the investment prioritisation factor ʽGPS alignment’.

Investment management

Prioritisation for low-cost, low-risk programmes

For the 2021–24 NLTP, individual low-cost, low-risk activities have a threshold of up to $2 million.

Low-cost, low-risk improvement programmes apply to all activity classes that allow for small scale improvements to be funded, including:

  • Road to Zero
  • public transport services
  • public transport infrastructure
  • walking and cycling improvements
  • local road improvements
  • state highway improvements.

The approach to assessment and funding is similar to that for continuous programmes:

  • The assessment is made at the programme level. The generic rating for a low-cost, low-risk programme is HHM, priority order 4 (as applied for improvement activities – refer to the table provided in the Proposed 2021–24 NLTP priority order section above). The rating may be adjusted following the assessment and moderation process.
  • GPS alignment (including the rating) for each activity in the programme is captured in the low-cost, low-risk template  in Transport Investment Online (TIO). It is critical to complete this and keep it current.
  • As for continuous programmes, insight into the quality and value proposition of these programmes and activities is provided by a strong linkage to good quality activity management planning documents (eg AMP or RPTP).

Further detail, including key principles for low-cost, low-risk programmes, is captured within the low-cost, low-risk improvement work categories:

One-stage process for prioritising low-cost, low-risk programmes

Low-cost, low-risk programmes are profiled and prioritised in a single stage.

Approved organisations and Waka Kotahi (for its own activities) profile their own programmed activities.

As with continuous programmes, at a programme level, sufficient information usually exists at the time of including these programmes in the NLTP to make the investment  decision and approve their funding, usually for all three years of the relevant NLTP. 

Prioritisation expectations for government commitments

We prioritise any activity/combination of activities submitted for inclusion in the 2021–24 NLTP using the Investment Prioritisation Method, before considering government commitments’ expenditure.

Once an agreement has been reached on the three-year investment targets for the four government commitments, we will ensure the expenditure level is able to be met across the appropriate activity class or classes.

Crown funding may support the implementation of the New Zealand Rail Plan through the first Rail Network Investment Programme (RNIP) either wholly or partially. This may have an impact on the timing of activities, particularly in the public transport infrastructure activity class.