More was spent on transport in Auckland during the last financial year (to end of June 2016) than any time in the past, at least in nominal values. Based on the NZTA’s funding data, $1.435 billion was spent in the region in the year to June-2016, up slightly from $1.414 billion spent in the 2015 financial year. Although it’s quite likely that these figures only include spending associated with the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF) and not council direct spending, such as has been happening with the City Rail link where the council funded 100% of the early works (which the government will share the costs of in the future).

The graph below shows how much the council and the NZTA say they spent and it’s risen substantially from a comparatively paltry $400 million in 2002. Also on the graph you can see Auckland’s share compared to the entire country which has been hovering around the 35% mark. This is slightly more than Auckland’s share of the national population (over 34%) but below Auckland’s share of GDP (36.6%). Of the over $1.4 billion spent, 51% of it went on various state highway projects and maintenance.


Below is the same data but at a national level, although I only have it back to 2005. It shows that at $3.94 billion, we spent slightly less than the previous year. At a national level, an even greater share went on state highways with 55% of all spending going on them.


So how did other regions fare? Here’s how the 2016 figures broke down by region.


Because regions vary so much, I’ve also broken this down per capita to get a better picture of where the spending occurred. Like last year, the West Coast seems to dominate but this will be mainly due to the maintenance needed on a large road network covering a very low population base. Also like last year, the Waikato comes in second on the per capita stakes but this is more due to the large amount of construction going on with projects like the Waikato Expressway.


I’ve also looked at the results based on spending per vehicle kilometres travelled (VKT), as a proxy for spend per travel. This method is probably a little unfair primarily to Auckland and Wellington which have larger uses of public transport than other parts of NZ.


Next, I’ve taken a look at what the money is being spent on however I’ve excluded the small ones such as transport planning as it’s difficult to see them on the same scale as road spending. You can see that spending on new and improved roads increased in the last year while the opposite was true for road maintenance. Combined both road spending was slightly less than last year which is in line with the overall results above. But PT spending was also down too and down substantially. I’m not sure of their reason for this but as you’ll see shortly, it wasn’t the result of changes in Auckland. You can also see spending on walking and cycling becoming more visible.


Here is just the cycling info showing how dramatic a change it has seen in the last few years.


Finally, here is the same break-down by activity for Auckland. The thing you notice compared to the whole of NZ one is the difference in the levels of new road spending vs maintenance. Of course, public transport is also more of a factor in Auckland, as you would expect.


Overall some interesting data on what we spend our transport money on.

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  1. Is there a way of measuring how much spending in Canterbury -and soon Kaikoura -is essentially government self-insurance money spending to rebuild back disaster wrecked roading infrastructure? If this is large part of Canterbury’s spending -then this will skew the regional comparisons as it indicates Canterbury is getting a lot more new infrastructure than it really is. Further I heard on the radio, but have not seen it confirmed elsewhere that KiwiRail is insured but SH1 is not. Can anyone in Transportblog confirm that?

    1. I can’t confirm but heard the same thing. Apparently its like Kiwirail is a business (albeit government owned) while the highways are not.

      On the rebuild thing, how much is rebuilding and how much is new building. Christchurch for example seems to have quite a few new urban highways built or planned that weren’t there before.

    1. Then there’s Pu-Worth and the East-West absurdity, and ongoing super sizing along every stretch of urban State Highway they can manage.

      Waterview coming online is going to be a shock for anyone who bought NZTA and the government’s nonsense that this project will either reduce congestion on SH16, especially at the peaks, or reduce traffic on local roads. Quite the reverse will happen, and in fact is already happening with the SH16 super sizing WITHOUT SEPARATED RAPID TRANSIT, already the rat runs are clogging up as drivers leave SH16 at Pt Chev to avoid the inner 16.

      New and bigger roads, especially when built without high quality Rapid Transit alternatives, simply generate more vehicle movements, and condemn people to participating in ever more traffic congestion: They create traffic congestion. The provision of viable options to not driving is the only way to meaningfully influence traffic volumes. And they should be built first not last, if we really want the benefit.

      The entire SH20/16 project is simply one big exercise in traffic congestion creation. Parts of NZTA understand this; how could they not with the example of the Northern Busway that they built staring them in the face? The only reason traffic moves at all at the peaks on SH1 north is the Busway. This is why they are now scrambling to add Bus Rapid Transit to SH16 after they’ve done all that work…. That the essential Rapid Transit component wasn’t built with, or better, before the expansion of the traffic lanes, simply shows that ideology dominates evidenced based thinking in our transport decision making processes.

      1. They’re currently widening the southern south of Manukau which will keep in going but the other big one to start will be the northern corridor (the SH18-SH1 junction but at least that includes the busway extension now)

      2. Has anyone by chance, bailed up a member of the East-West project team at one of their Tuesday or Thursday Information Hubs? at Level 1, 10 Gloucester Park Road, Onehunga as to why they don’t fix public transport to the airport first, before embarking on this hugely financially extravagant project?

  2. @ Patrick… and yet at other times you have contradicted this by saying how Waterview will take so much traffic off SH1 that improvements won’t be needed to it as a result. So which is it? Does it only induce demand as per your post above or does it relieve congestion elsewhere as you have said previously?

    That’s the problem with making comments and taking a partisan view on them as you have done. I understand you are passionate about these things, but please try to avoid taking things to extremes/hyperbole.

    Now for me personally I think the Waterview/Western route is much needed as any incident on SH1 royally f**ks the entire city. I do agree that it will likely induce *some* demand, however your crusade that all roads are evil does take things a bit far – even Copenhagen has roads! If you think about it the amount of road sqm per capita in Auckland has been decreasing for many years (since not that many roads have been built while the population has doubled in the past couple of decades and is expected to add another 700k in the next couple).

    Now I am all for PT and think we should be building a lot more of it (especially things like rail to the Shore, Airport and Eastern Suburbs) but you do still need a road network of sufficient capacity for trucks, couriers, tradies, buses etc etc. Yes a busway should have been built into the Western Motorway upgrade from the get-go. Also agree that the E-W connection is a monumental waste of money. Something does need to be done but for about half that amount.

    1. I am fine with Waterview, but the SH20-SH16 City Bound & SH16 Westbound – SH20 Ramps will cause major issues since they will induce traffic from the Southern Isthmus onto a clogged SH16, combine this with a tunnel spec based on moving traffic not slow traffic will for HSEQ reasons require NZTA to give priority to SH20 users over SH16 if said induced congestion occur.

      If they really believed in just trucks, couriers, tradies, buses why don’t they create transit lanes for them on the motorway network instead of widening a new general lane, also as ATAP shows demand management through Smarter Pricing is better at assisting those people through congestion reduction than marginally expensive capacity increases anyway.

      Option B is about half the amount for EWL though the interchange on the Onehunga side is still land use heavy in my opinion.

    2. I have never said don’t build Waterview. What I have consistently said is that because they are not building real Rapid Transit too as part of the project, or ideally first, it simply will not function as they claim. It is just this: They are doing a poor job, all in on one mode, and the spatially ineffient one, means it simply won’t work well. And they know it, really. But they have oversold it their boosterism, and continue to oversell the benefits of a badly done imbalanced programme.

      Waterview and the super sized SH16 will much more efficiently deliver heavy loads of traffic into the inner SH16 and the CMJ. Sadly this will continue to cost us all a fortune as NZTA and the gov will use the increased dysfunction to spend many billions more on yet more wider roads all around this new work. And make AT do the same to all local roads, as we can already see with Lincoln road. These are just facts.

      1. Yep, an epic fail not to include rapid transit in the SH16 widening. It should be a general rule at NZTA that an urban motorway, in addition to having general vehicle lanes, has a dedicated PT route and a cycle route. I still think (and hope) that the end game for PT on SH16 is light rail – there’s some big catchments that could be picked up with bus connectors to Westgate, Lincoln Road and Te Atatu stations for example.

  3. You can see this happening already. Despite all the new west bound lanes, traffic just gets to Te Atatu and Lincoln Rd quicker and then there a massive queues on the off ramps. At Te Atatu the cars are even queuing in the bus lane.

  4. Overall a spend of just over $800 per person doesn’t seem too bad to me. Transport is one of those areas you can sink a lot of money. The real issue is what it is spent on. Tunnels to shift queues seem particularly stupid. The Govt went off just using BCR’s because they didn’t like the projects they were funding but now we have a system that allows for the tastes and preferences of a few people. East-West, RoNS etc. A better way would have been to fix the benefit cost analysis system.

    1. You make it sounds like a technical problem. The current government decided – for purely political reasons – to invest most of NZ’s transport funding into upsized or duplicate highways and motorways around crucial Nat-voting provinces and to benefit their donors in the trucking, construction, and finance sectors.

      1. Allocation of funds was a technical problem. Money went to projects with the best economics. Problem was the big PT schemes were difficult to assess and often got low Benefit Cost ratios as a result of the methods used. So the Government (Labour) changed the rules and started playing favourites instead, allocating money to their pet projects. National came in and did the same except their pet projects are mostly roads. So now rather than governments funding the projects with the best return they fund projects that their supporters want.

        1. This is a pretty accurate history. The flaws with solely focusing on BCRs are important though, as we are still pretty bad at measuring many of the impacts of transport investments.

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