Waka Kotahi pauses sustainable transport projects

In News2 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineNovember 10, 2023

Waka Kotahi is putting on hold hundreds of millions of dollars of funding for projects designed to reduce New Zealand’s emissions by encouraging walking, cycling and the use of public transport.

Transport agency said before it could follow through with commitments made to councils and other organisations, it needed a clear direction from the incoming government on its transport investment priorities.

Waka Kotahi said the funding pause would affect the $305 million Transport Choices Programme where the transport agency was working with councils to deliver cycleways, walkable neighbourhoods and “make public transport more reliable and easier to use”.

So far 46 councils around the country have applied for Transport Choices funding.

The decision would also affect VKT (vehicle kilometres travelled) reduction planning, which aimed to lower the number of kilometres travelled by New Zealand’s light vehicle fleet through the promotion of walking, cycling and public transport use.

Both initiatives were funded via the Climate Emergency Response Fund (CERF) set up by the government to support the transition to a low-emissions and climate-resilient economy. Earlier this year it had a balance of $3.6 billion.

Cycling Action Network spokesperson Patrick Morgan said it was “unacceptable and outrageous” the agency was pre-empting the new government by blocking urgently needed cycling, walking and transport projects.

Dozens of councils had been left in limbo by Waka Kotahi, after putting months of work into proposals, he said.

Living Streets Aotearoa president Tim Jones said Waka Kotahi’s actions were “very disappointing”.

“I question what message that sends to the incoming government. Waka Kotahi is an agency with a degree of statutory independence – I don’t think it’s showing much of that independence here.”

Waka Kotahi said it had informed affected council partners and would provide further updates as it received direction from the incoming Government.