Since my last CE’s Update at the end of March, we have continued our focus on developing a more efficient, effective, safer transport system, which gets the best value out of Government’s investment.
In my last CE’s update I mentioned the Vehicle Licensing Reform project. This is continuing, with changes to annual warrants of fitness being phased in on 1 January and 1 July 2014. As I said in March, these changes will save motorists $1.8 billion over 30 years. Additional savings will come from changes to the certificate of fitness programme, which also take effect on 1 July 2014, and we are working with the Government on amending the annual vehicle licensing and transport services licensing systems.
The Ministry has also continued implementing the second Safer Journeys Action Plan, with new child restraint rules signed by Associate Minister Woodhouse, and progress made on the introduction of a new generation of red light cameras.
Planning and funding
With the passing of the Land Transport Management Amendment Act 2013 in June, the Government has simplified and streamlined the land transport planning and funding framework, improved provisions for public-private partnership and tolling arrangements, and introduced the Public Transport Operating Model.
As an $80 billion national asset, we need to ensure that the transport system’s maintenance and development can be adequately funded – through current tools such as fuel excise duty and road user charges, and alternatives such as public-private partnerships, where these are necessary.
The scale of investment required for large transport projects was evident in late July, when the Prime Minister announced a series of major transport projects in Auckland. We are working with the Government on the detailed timing and funding arrangements for this $10 billion investment in the next generation of Auckland transport infrastructure.
Beyond Auckland, we are continuing to examine the feasibility of moving the South Island ferry terminal from Picton to Clifford Bay, and have commenced work on the next Government Policy Statement on land transport, which guides expenditure on State highways, local roads, public transport, road safety and other areas over a 3-10 year period.
The big picture
As the Government’s principal advisor on the transport system, it is our role to see the ‘big picture’ of both New Zealand’s transport system, and its international connections.
We are reshaping our research programme to address the big questions, updating the National Freight Demand Study and undertaking a Future Freight Scenarios Study. These will investigate what kinds of products are transported around New Zealand, and help us ensure that the right infrastructure is located at the right place and accessible at the right time. Meanwhile, the Freight Information Gathering System tells us what is being exported from New Zealand’s ports and airports, helping shape both public and private sector investment as international trade shifts to larger ships and ‘just in time’ delivery.
As with other sectors, new technology can be a game-changer for transport. Technologies which reduce travel time, increase reliability and enhance safety are likely to unlock some of the greatest value in coming years. Through our Intelligent Transport Systems work, the Ministry is seeking to ensure laws and regulations do not discourage the uptake of new technologies. We will soon be consulting on the Government’s Draft Intelligent Transport Systems Action Plan, which investigates opportunities and any barriers to their implementation.
Improving MoT’s performance
Within the Ministry, we’ve been implementing the changes identified by our Performance Improvement Framework review. These reviews are designed to be a ‘call to action’, measuring us against our own goals.
While the reviewers found our Ministry has experienced “a sharp uplift of performance, culture and capability” over the last few years, they set us challenges of lifting our strategic focus, engaging more effectively with stakeholders, and improving the quality and consistency of our policy advice.
We have picked up these challenges with an ambitious programme which will transform the way we work over the next two years.
I look forward to showing some of the results of this programme in my next CE’s Update.
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