Transport featured prominently in this election, particularly in the opening weeks of the campaign. At the same time, the differences between the parties when it comes to transport policies has been stark. It’s also worth remembering the outcome of the 1News poll recently.

With the election on Saturday, I thought I’d do a quick round up of the key transport polices of the key parties likely to achieve over 5% in the polls.


If National’s policy was characterised in one word it would be roads. At times, it seemed whatever the question or challenge, the answer was to promise another road upgrade.


Their flagship transport policy is what they call the “Next Generation Roads of National Significance“. As part of that they are committing $10.5 billion to eight new RoNS around the country.

Since then, they’ve also announced:

  • The $135 million Nelson Southern Link.
  • A four lane road between Rotorua and its airport for $75-100 million
  • Upgrading the Melling interchange in Wellington for $72 million
  • In Auckland, other than the East-West Link mentioned above they’re promising to
    • Take over the $955 million Mill Rd project, making it a state highway
    • Widen the Southern motorway between Papakura and Drury
    • Widen SH20B from Puhinui to the Airport
    • Accelerate construction of Penlink

There’ll certainly be no shortage of work for the NZTA.

National also talk about potentially funding many of these roads through the use of PPPs and the East-West Link and Penlink are both listed as “Initial projects to be considered” for one.

Public Transport

While much of the focus is going on roads, National aren’t terrible when it comes to public transport and there are a few good policies they’re proposing.

  • Key amongst these is an apparent acceleration of a $130 million extension of rail electrification to Pukekohe. This is likely tied in to the Southern motorway widening as one of the motorway bridges at Drury needs to be lifted for this to occur.
  • Also benefiting PT in Auckland is a $100 million commitment to build the much needed third main between Westfield and Wiri, which will allow for both more commuter and freight services.
  • The Northwestern Busway will be accelerated and they say they’ll work with the council to accelerate the Eastern Busway (AMETI), although that still is tied to the Reeves Rd flyover
  • For one of the hottest topic transport issues recently, National say they’ll work with the council “on a mass transit solution between the CBD and Auckland Airport and complete route protection“.
  • As part of the SH20B work mentioned above, they’ll also be adding bus priority between the Airport and Manukau.
  • In Wellington, National are promising to double track the Hutt Valley line from Trentham to Upper Hutt as well as a number of other, smaller projects like a third platform at Porirua Station.

Walking and Cycling

National have been surprisingly quiet when it comes to active modes, only saying that they will “Continue with the $333 million Urban Cycleways Programme“. This language suggests the urban cycleways programme won’t get any additional money beyond the current 2018 cut-off.


Other transport policies include wanting to reach 64,000 electric vehicles by 2021 (we currently have about 4,500)


Labour really kicked off the election season and they started with a transport announcement.

Public Transport

I think we can probably be accused of a little bias when it comes to the PT policy of Labour (and the Greens) given they’ve adopted both our Congestion Free Network 2.0 and our Regional Rapid Rail schemes. Their projects for Auckland includes:

  • Light rail from the city to the airport over the next decade and then later extending to the Northwest and to the North Shore.
  • A busway from Howick to the Airport, starting with a connection from Manukau and Puhinui to the airport.
  • Like National, they also plan to electrify to Pukekohe and build the third main from Westfield to Wiri.
  • Starting a trial service for Regional Rapid Rail.

Outside of Auckland, Labour say they’ll:

  • commit $100 million towards PT in Christchurch, includes a passenger service from Christchurch to Rolleston
  • develop a Congestion Free Network for the Wellington.
  • the same rail network upgrades (plus a few extra) than National promise.


Labours road policies are much smaller than Nationals.

  • Their most overt roading policy is to build a replacement for the Manawatu Gorge.
  • In Auckland they’re promising to scale back projects like the East-West Link. Other large roading projects may also be reviewed
  • In Wellington Labour do list a number of roading projects they’ll work on a range of projects, such as:
    • a new arterial between the Terrace Tunnel and Mt Victoria, including duplication of the Mt Victoria tunnel – although they say this will happen in tandem with rapid transit plans
    • improving connections between SH2 Transmission Gully (via SH58) and SH2 and Wainui Rd

Walking and Cycling

  • The investment in walking and cycling from the Urban Cycleway Fund (UCF) has really helped jump start cycling investment and seen a lot of people using them. Labour are promising to extend the UCF with a second tranche of $100 million being invested. They also plan to create a $15 million ‘Active Neighbourhoods’  fund for “smaller community level projects that will encourage walking or cycling at the local level“.
  • It’s unclear if it’s separate from the funding from what’s announced above but Labour also say they’ll put $30 million into Skypath.
  • Tied in with this they say they’ll “Update New Zealand’s transport design standards to ensure they meet world’s best practice for street design


Labour have announced a number of policies that could change how funding is collected and distributed. This includes making funding decisions mode neutral, something long overdue. They also plan to double the size of funding range for regional transport projects from up $70-140 to $140-280 million.

Introduce regional fuel taxes for regions to use should they want to to raise funding.


Public Transport

Like Labour, the Greens have adopted our Congestion Free Network and Regional Rapid Rail with the major difference being a promise to finish it faster. Also like the other parties, they list electrification to Pukekohoe and the Third Main as priorities.

In Christchurch they plan to spend $280 million on PT infrastructure including $180m to build three rapid transit lines by 2022

  • The Northern Line – passenger rail from Rangiora to the city
  • The Southern Line – passenger rail from Rolleston to the city
  • The Airport Line – bus rapid transit from the city to the Airport

In Wellington the key plan is to introduce light rail:

  • by 2025 light rail from the train station to Newtown
  • by 2027 light rail extended to Kilbirnie and the airport
  • commission a scoping study to extend light rail routes to Miramar, Island Bay, and rail into Lower Hutt.

There is also investment retain and improve the trolley buses and to they say they’ll support councils to have all buses electric by 2030. Like the other parties, the Greens support double tracking the Upper Hutt Line and want to provide more funding for the Capital Connection and Wairarapa services.

Outside of the main cities, they want to establish a passenger service between Palmerston North and Napier.

A big part of their transport policy is to provide a Youth Green Card to give free public transport for everyone 18 or younger. Tertiary students and apprentices can also get in on some of that with a Student Green Card, which like the existing SuperGold Card, would give free off-peak travel on buses and trains (no mention of ferries). They say this is estimated to cost $70-80 million.


The Greens have an ambitious plan for cycling by investing $1 billion over the next decade “to create safe cycling networks nationwide, especially around schools“. I assume this would be a continuation of the Urban Cycleways Programme. There’s no particular mention of Auckland but their policies indicate of this $1 billion, $135 million would go each to Christchurch and Wellington.


  • The Greens have a few other interesting policies.
    • They want to incentivise electric vehicles by removing the Fringe Benefit Tax from them, primarily to target business fleets.
    • They also want to remove FBT from employer provided public transport passes which would help level the playing field a little with employer provided parking.

New Zealand First

New Zealand First doesn’t have a huge amount of detail about their transport policy on their website, only really a series of bullet points. Many of the policies could have a significant negative impact on cities like Auckland due to a focus on giving more funding to regions.


  • Expansion of median barriers.
  • Restore the Manawatu Gorge road connection to reinstate SH3.
  • Restore road Funding Assistance Rate levels (FARs) and regionally distributed funding.
  • Rebalance metropolitan spending so that the regions get equality.
  • Build a national network of fast EV charging points in service areas.

Public Transport

  • The only real PT infrastructure project listed is to “Build a rail spur to Auckland International Airport connecting it to the main trunk line“.
  • Establish accessible public transport for people in all major population centres with accessible ‘flexible transport services’ operating in smaller centres.
  • Public transport, walking and cycling to be factors in urban spatial development plans.
  • Offer travel enhancements to SuperGold Card holders.


Separate to PT, there are a number of big rail projects which would mainly be for freight.

  • Develop Railways of National Importance (RoNI) backed by full electrification.
  • Complete the rebuild of Northland’s rail network and build a spur to Northport.
  • Reinstate the Gisborne to Wairoa rail line and upgrade other lines.


Some of the other policies which could have a significant impact include

  • Shifting the Ports of Auckland to Northport by 2027
  • Driver license training for every secondary school student.
  • Phase-in mandatory third-party insurance as part of vehicle registration

I think that’s enough to chew through. Any major policies I missed?

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  1. Thanks for the summary. I’m certainly in the 64%.
    Have any parties raised the idea of a cycle to work scheme like the UK has? (A Tax free bicycle paid by installment via your paycheck.)

  2. TOP have promised to ensure that NZTA is ‘mode neutral’ which will ensure that decisions on transport are dictated by what is cost efficient (rather than what is great for the truck industry and their lobbyists).

  3. Hat tip to the team at Greater Auckland. Is there another single lobby group in New Zealand that has their recommendations accepted “as policy” by TWO major parties? I doubt even Federated Farmers achieve that. Well done for all your hard work in our interests.

  4. The amount of money National are throwing at roads is obscene. There are far greater problems in our urban areas that they are neglecting but happy to sweeten their rural and semi-urban voters with uneconomical and unnecessary roads. They care more about moving peoples cars than they do about people themselves.

    The five most useless projects in terms of urgency and benefits are:
    1. East-West Link
    2. Double laning Christchurch to Ashburton
    3. Nelson Southern Link
    4. Rotorua Airport double laning
    5. Double laning Levin to Sanson

    Their proposed spend on walking and cycling is not much different to what the Green’s and Labour are proposing

    Their proposed spend on rail and public transport is well below what is needed.

    Please use your vote wisely if you want our country to prosper

  5. You haven’t mentioned Labour’s policy to abolish the Rural Urban Boundary. No doubt that will have an impact on transport needs due to land use changes.

  6. Flip some of NZ First’s policy so extreme. Still haven’t decided who to vote for! Like different aspects of the main parties transport policies except nationals.

  7. Lets hope for the sake of all those road construction executives who need to replace their Bentley that the Nationals win. For those who care more about the country and taxpayers, I hope Labor and the Greens win.

  8. It’s a shame she had to throw a 10c/ltr regional tax in the mix. She was looking good otherwise but there’s no way I’m paying even more to fix your traffic.

    Which leaves me having to vote National which is a bit hard to stomach. But being the Helensville electorate they’re pretty much a shoo-in anyways.

    1. Tony, do you really use so much petrol (and contribute so much to climate change) that you will be so heavily affected by an extra 10c per litre? Does this really make the difference for you between two parties that have quite different policies?

      My many friends in Helensville (mainly from a course I took in Parakai a few years ago) are wanting rapid transit to Auckland. They feel this would change the opportunities for young people in Helensville and improve the lifestyles of commuters.

      Under National, you’ll not get this. You’ll just get more roads, that will fill with more traffic and will fill your local roads with more traffic, too, reducing the safety and amenity for your children.

      Incidentally, the Parakai course I mentioned doesn’t run any more because National slashed the budget. There are no more organic horticulture courses in this country.

      1. Oh Heidi, there will be no rapid transit to Helensville under either government. And that’s the problem. There are no plans from either the the council or government for this area.
        And I won’t vote for another 10c to continue to be ignored.

        You’re very quick to jump to conclusions about my carbon footprint too. For all you know it could be smaller than yours.

        1. I hope it is, Tony, in which case the 10c will bother you not one jot. Note I asked you about whether you really use enough petrol for it to be an issue; I made no conclusion whatsoever.

        2. Given that fuel in a personal vehicle is the largest part of most people’s footprint and you use enough to be concerned about a 5% price rise, I’d say yours is pretty big.

        3. A few dozen. I’m not sure that those trees count against your footprint though, surely only trees that we each fell minus those that we actually plant would count? Mind you, even if you count not razing a forest for the sake of it, my not eating meat more than cancels it out 😉

        4. Most of them are under covenant so can’t be felled and I have many hundreds if not thousands to plant to restore some areas.

          I’m pretty confident in this, although I can’t bring myself to give up steak. :p

        5. Good on you, Tony, and the maintaining of the forest is indeed key here. Plenty of people plant trees but it is ensuring they are part of a healthy ecosystem that actually results in carbon sequestration. A seedling doesn’t put on much carbon each year. A poorly maintained bush can – by removing pests – put on more carbon each year than a timber plantation. I’ve planted thousands of trees, including from seed I sourced myself, but because I no longer own that land, I have no confidence the trees are heading towards becoming a healthy forest. I also don’t count any further trees I plant or care for – they just help mitigate the CO2 I was responsible for before I woke up. 🙂

          If you want to still eat meat, look at the work in pasture management to mimic the great herds… more carbon can be sequestered on well-managed pasture than in any other ecosystem. Since you have land, this may be a possibility for you.

      2. So why didn’t your friends support the train service that was running to there several years back?
        It was so successful it had to be cancelled.

    2. So that basically means you don’t want public transport solutions from the city to Kumeu, Huapai and beyond. Luckily a lot of don’t buy that.

      Goes to show the lack of thinking by most National voters. They’re all for ideas, but refuse to allow their tax dollars to help make them a reality. No one road congestion is getting so much worse.

      1. I don’t know how you reach that conclusion.
        According to a RNZ article the first service from Helensville back in 2008 only had an estimated 12 commuters on it.
        Would it be significantly higher now? Enough to support a continuing service?

        1. +1, comparisons to the 2008 Helensville service from both sides are disingenuous, there are 250,000 more people in Auckland, and thousands more in the northwest, with sections opening almost every day. The service was one poorly timed return service using terrible rolling stock. It’s not even vaguely comparable to any service to the NW that we would implement today.

        2. There’s a reasonable argument for a service to Kumeu/Huapai but not to helensville given the state of the track between. It would cost many millions for bugger all patronage and would never resemble ‘rapid’. They reckon the towns population will grow by up to 20% once the new subdivisions are complete. But 20% of fuck all is still fuck all.

        3. Like the 20 million for Onehunga was a bad idea?

          Commute time from the far NW is much longer. Number of productive hours save by being driven rather than driving would be massive

    3. Remember party vote % is the real key to final share of MP’s in parliament, not your local MP. I suspect a 10c fuel tax would be partly absorbed by the fuel companies anyway (reduce their profit) and prices already can vary that much from pump to pump.

  9. By the way things are looking, it doesn’t look like Greater Auckland’s congestion free network is going anywhere near govt if Labour and the Greens don’t get up tomorrow. Such a shame. National will always be beholden to the rural areas. Hence why they are ideologically wedded to the idea of roads.

    On the bright side, at least the CFN 2.0 has a very strong supporter in parliament. It won’t see the light of day for at least 3 years but at least it is up there in parliament.

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