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Source: Environment Canterbury Regional Council

Canterbury is aiming for transport investment of $5.5 billion from 2021 to 2031 in the region’s draft Regional Land Transport Plan  a 10% increase in expenditure from the previous 10-year plan, due to funding injections for ‘shovel ready’ projects.

The draft Plan, released by the Canterbury Regional Land Transport Committee today (9 February), outlines how the land transport network should develop over the next decade.

The public can make submissions on the draft Plan until midday Friday, 5 March at

Challenges and silver lining

The need for investment in Canterbury was being driven by the cost of maintaining the region’s large roading network while responding to increasing demands and environmental pressures, including natural hazards and climate change, said Committee Chair and Environment Canterbury Councillor Peter Scott.

“The past decade has shown that earthquakes, floods and a pandemic are not going to put a dent in the region’s long-term trends for growth in population, freight and tourism. Over the next 10 years, we need investment to keep pace.”

The projected 10% increase in investment over the coming decade was bolstered by the COVID Recovery and other stimulus funding from central government; with around only 3% of the increase funded by councils.

That’s a silver lining, Cr Scott said.

“Canterbury needs to keep the pressure on for the South Island to receive its fair portion of the National Land Transport Fund – to support the well-being of our people, both urban and rural, and to safeguard the economic contribution they make nationally.”

Investment priorities

The draft Regional Land Transport Plan’s vision is to provide sustainable options for moving people and freight safely and efficiently, in a way that enables Canterbury to respond to future challenges.

In particular, it prioritises investment that will:

  • reduce road deaths and serious injuries
  • manage demand from growth in population, freight and tourism
  • shift transport modes to reduce emissions from the transport network
  • increase resilience to extreme events.

In the first three years, it envisages that $1.4 billion (or about $1 in every five) would be spent on ‘business as usual’ activities and $444 million on regionally-significant improvements. These ‘business as usual activities’ account for the lion’s share of investment into existing infrastructure and services, including the maintenance of local roads and low-cost, low-risk improvements in every district.

New road safety, transport emissions and rail freight targets

The draft Regional Land Transport Plan introduces headline targets for reducing deaths and serious injuries, reducing transport emissions and increasing freight tonnage moved by rail.

“The first two targets align with national targets for road safety and climate change. The third is based on research showing modal shift is an economically and environmentally astute way to manage a forecast growth in freight,” Cr Scott said.

Making a submission

Cr Scott said the draft Plan had been in development for a year and the Regional Transport Committee now wanted public input. “We’ve done the research and analysis, and now want to ensure the proposal is in line with the aspirations of the community and users of the network.”

Cr Scott welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with central government, councils outside the region, private sector partners, the community and all those affected, to improve transport outcomes in Canterbury and across the South Island.

The draft Plan was prepared by Canterbury’s councils and Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency. The Committee would consider submissions before finalising the Plan, which must be formally adopted by Environment Canterbury by 30 June.

Make a submission on the draft Plan: