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The information provided in this section includes public transport continuous programmes delivered in the public transport activity class. 

Approved organisations that receive funding assistance from the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF) for delivering public transport services need to develop public transport continuous  programmes covering existing services for the three years of the next National Land Transport Programme (NLTP).

Public transport continuous programmes include the maintenance and operations of public transport infrastructure and services to maintain existing levels of service.

Definition of a programme of existing services

A public transport continuous programme consists of existing, on-going services and operations. Existing services are the services and operations in place and already approved in the financial year immediately prior to the first year of the NLTP under development.

A number of changes to an existing programme may be included.


  • Changes that may be included

    Continuous programmes may include the following changes:

    • variations and service reconfigurations that result in a minor increase in the nominal annualised cost for the specific activity via an increase in the level of service provision
    • variations consistent with the public transport units in the currently adopted regional public transport plan (RPTP)
    • one-off renewal or overhead related costs such as contract variations/ implementation, determined necessary for ongoing provision of services, operations or amenities so long as the total cost does not exceed $5 million per activity
    • reconfigured routes and networks, including new services, where the  annualised nominal cost of the total service provision (as funded under bus services for example), is consistent with the level of services in place the year prior to the first year of the NLTP under development, and any minor changes to those services.
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Developing the detail for a three-year programme

Public transport continuous programmes are continuous programmes of existing services required to maintain appropriate levels of service on the public transport network.  Continuous programmes have no start or end date, however, the detail required to establish the appropriate investment levels is developed on a three-year cycle that aligns with the NLTP cycle. Funding approval  from the NLTF normally covers the three-year period of each NLTP and is made when the NLTP is adopted by the Transport Agency Board.

The Transport Agency requires approved organisations and the Transport Agency (state highways) to follow the Transport Agency’s planning and investment principles  in developing and delivering their public transport continuous programmes.

Public transport continuous programmes are developed through the 'Public transport continuous programme' module in Transport Investment Online(external link) (TIO).


Assessment of public transport continuous programmes

The Transport Agency assesses public transport continuous programmes under the Transport Agency's Investment Assessment Framework (IAF).


  • IAF requirements

    The IAF has the following requirements for public transport continuous programmes:

    • The Transport Agency first assesses the programme to ensure that a robust business case has been developed using the business case approach principles.
    • The Transport Agency expects that public transport continuous programmes are firmly linked to long-term planning documents, particularly regional land transport plans (RLTPs) and regional public transport plans (RPTPs).
    • For the 2018–21 NLTP, the Transport Agency will use the results alignment rating to assess the significance of a problem, issue or opportunity relative to desired results set out in the Government Policy Statement on Land Transport (GPS).
    • The cost–benefit appraisal for public transport continuous programmes is based on cost-effectiveness, benchmarking, and performance comparisons.

    For more detail refer to Assessment of public transport continuous programmes.

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Achieving value for money

The programme submission for funding in an NLTP will demonstrate that the  investment in public transport services provides value for money and that the activities in the programme contribute to GPS results.

The cost of providing the programme will be directly or indirectly influenced by such factors as:

  • the number of public transport units identified  to deliver services across the public transport network, and variations around these
  • the competitive pricing of units
  • significant retendering within the three-year period
  • changes in input costs, such as cost escalation due to fuel movements, and labour cost increases
  • fare setting and farebox recovery
  • operational costs or cost variables associated with the service costs as included in the submitted programme.

These factors will affect costs to different degrees in different parts of the country.

The Transport Agency expects that approved organisations will apply robust procurement and management principles in managing their costs to stay within their allocated funding levels.

Forecast performance information

Each approved organisation must submit forecast information to support its public transport continuous programme for the next three three-year NLTP cycles as part of its funding application.

Estimated targets for passenger boardings, passenger kilometres, in-service vehicle kilometres and farebox revenue need to be provided for each mode in the public transport continuous programme for the three years of the NLTP, and an estimate for the next six years beyond this.

The Transport Agency expects these statistics to align with the RPTP or any other key planning documents where this information is provided.


  • Methods for determining passenger kilometres

    One of two methods may be used to determine passenger kilometres:

    • actual passenger kilometre data from tag-on tag-off electronic ticketing systems, adjusted appropriately to take into account cash fare sales and any estimations required to capture these additional passenger kilometres travelled, or
    • estimation of passenger kilometres travelled, calculated by multiplying the total number of boardings on a route by the average trip length for passengers on that route.  Average trip length can be estimated from an on-board survey, or directly through a tag-on, tag-off integrated ticketing system.

    Approved organisations must use one of these methods unless the Transport Agency’s prior approval has been obtained for an alternative method.

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  • Use of public transport statistics

    The Transport Agency will use the public transport statistics, together with expenditure detail submitted to:

    • analyse the submitted public transport continuous programme and identify the likely forward funding requirements for public transport in the region
    • help identify contributions of programmes to GPS results
    • benchmark comparative network performance by generation of key indicators to assist in determining the investment assessment profile of the network
    • set national estimates for end-of-year comparison with actual achieved.
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Managing the programme

The Transport Agency delegates programme management decisions on the activities contained in a public transport continuous programme to the approved organisation within an approved allocation that, as a rule, covers each of the three years of the NLTP.

Approved organisations may carry over unspent funds from one year to the next where justified. Transport Agency staff will verify that the carryover is justified and may reduce the level of carryover if not fully justified. At the end of the NLTP there will be no carryover of unspent funds left in the allocation to the following NLTP.

Approved organisations are expected to manage their programmes to maintain expenditure within approved funding allocations for the three-year NLTP.