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Transport investment planning

Longley, Brett
McChesney, Ian
Saunders, Lindsay
Jollands, NA
Fields of Research
Transport planning and transport investment in New Zealand are in transition. The historic emphasis on a supply oriented expansion of the transport infrastructure is no longer appropriate when faced with budgetary and escalating environmental impacts. This report has emphasised the need to focus more broadly on the supply of least-cost transport services, rather than the historic focus on aspects of the transport infrastructure. This means developing a planning and investment process that is mode-neutral and enables demand management options to be considered on an equivalent basis to options that involve increasing supply. Recent regulations and policy initiatives affecting transport planning and investment are not inconsistent with this viewpoint. Statutes such as the Resource Management Act 1991 and the Land Transport Amendment Act 1992 will require transport options to be fully evaluated under an effects orientated framework, and be consistent with the sustainable management resources. The new awareness of environmental and economic factors is out step with management processes and methodologies used to determine transport investment priorities. No single investment criterion is yet capable of adequately including all aspects of environmental costs and benefits in the decision-making process. This deficiency can be partly accommodated by extending the existing criteria to cover a wider range of impacts. Policy objectives together with a monitoring and evaluation procedure will provide the basis for incorporating environmental issues into the investment process. Investment decisions that are currently made on the basis of a narrowly focused evaluation procedure use selection criteria that have major limitations in terms of ranking ability, timing, risk adjustment and flexibility. One of the key issues that needs to be addresses in changing the investment process is the need to develop a more flexible approach, yet at the same time maintaining consistency within the evaluative process. The balance between private versus public provision of transport services shows sings signs of shifting toward the former but there are substantial political, economic and technical barriers to overcome while it is likely that private provision will increase in scale and across modes, public provision will continue where market failure occurs. Several areas of improvement in public investment decision making have been identified.
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