While the government is planning a multi -billion dollar transport shock, gasoline tax hikes by chan


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Ministers are for the first time finalizing a new transport strategy that will make climate change a top priority when it comes to deciding how to invest transport finance. The plan, which be out for consultation this year, will determine where tens of billions of dollars in transportation finance be spent over the next three years and promises a decisive turn towards public transport and away from emissions-intensive investments such as new highways. . Transport Secretary Michael Wood has proposed changes to way $2 billion in maintenance money is spent each year; That could mean replacing parking lots for new bus lanes and bike lanes – paid for with money used to fix potholes, the Herald said under Official Information Act. One overarching goal of the plan would be to reduce the amount of driving, and therefore emissions – projects that would increase emissions won’t necessarily be canceled, but will face a “high threshold” for receiving funding, officials say. Changes can come at a cost. Wood told The Herald that after three years of being frozen, increases in fuel taxes and road user fees are once again on the table, but no decision has yet been made on whether to increase them. This could mean drivers deal with a pretty significant increase in costs in the coming year. Not only will the temporary 25 cents per liter deduction be rolled back at some stage, but more taxes will be added to it. The current Government last raised fuel taxes in 2018, raising the tax by 3.5 cents per liter each year for three years. GPS Wood’s plan is the Statement of Government Policy on Land Transport or GPS. Every three years a transport minister will produce a GPS that determines where Waka Kotahi – NZTA wants to spend the billions of dollars it earns in fuel taxes and road user fees over the next 10 years. Waka Kotahi is using GPS as a guide for the National Land Transport Plan, which outlines in detail where to spend that money over the next three years. Councils also use the document to determine which projects they can fund in partnership with Waka Kotahi. The amounts of money are huge. The last GPS was touted as a $54 billion investment over 10 years. The resulting NLTP is estimated to reach $24.3 billion . Every GPS has a set of priorities, such as road safety or maintenance, but this time, Transport Secretary Michael Wood has decided to set a single “overarching focus”: emissions reduction. Five more focus areas will follow: safety, integrated transport, sustainable urban development, maintenance and resilience. “The implication from events of past month is that we need to push focus on climate change even more strongly, and that’s two sides: First, need to build a resilient system that is better grounded in climate change. Manage more extreme weather events of the type we’ve experienced recently. “Second, is the need step up our efforts to reduce our emissions so we don’t contribute and make it worse,” Wood told the Herald. In fact, extreme weather events in 2023 delayed the GPS draft to go to consultation. The government did not want to overload the councils currently bearing the brunt of disaster response by asking them to consult on GPS. “As shape priorities for GPS, we need to make sure take full account of the magnitude of what we’re going through,” Wood said. “Some work is currently being done to ensure this is appropriately reflected in the draft document,” he said. These documents can be highly controversial. Labor’s first GPS, introduced in 2018, shifted funding from state highways to local roads and resulted in the shelving of some highway projects. The political objection was so great that the Labor Party nevertheless borrowed money to build the roads. This GPS looks no different. A briefing on priorities for GPS given Herald in October under the Official Information Act shows that Government is planning an even bigger shift towards reducing emissions by using road maintenance funding to take road space from private cars and give it buses and bike lanes. More parking lots would be converted into bus lanes. Currently, 9 percent of the entire road network is renewed or maintained each year. This is expected to cost $2 billion per year by 2024. The proposal in Wood’s document suggests that instead of renewing the “like for the like”, “some street space reserved for private vehicles should be reallocated to provide more bus lanes, reserved bike/scooter lanes, and walking improvements.” . Wood said Waka Kotahi and councils should “start planning these changes now” to invest in “decarbonising the transport system.” Wood gave an example of how this could work: “Imagine a road that will be maintained over the next few years in a rapidly growing region. “But at same place, we also know there will be really significant urban growth in the next three


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