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The information provided on this page includes public transport improvements within the public transport activity class.

Public transport improvements comprise:

  • new public transport services, including trial services, and operations that fall outside the definition of a public transport continuous programme
  • all public transport infrastructure projects.

Although the same work categories may apply, public transport improvement activities are separate and in addition to the public transport continuous programme. Such activities must be treated as improvement projects and identified separately from the public transport continuous programme in the approved organisation’s proposal for inclusion in the National Land Transport Programme (NLTP) or for funding approval.


Service improvements - definition, work categories and exclusions


  • Definition of public transport service improvements

    Service and operational public transport improvements:

    • are activities identified in the qualifying services and operations work categories listed below. A variation to the level of service of one or more of these work categories is expected to result in an increase in the annualised cost of the approved public transport continuous programme existing in the financial year immediately prior to the first year of the NLTP under development.

    More specifically these improvements include:

    • new services or reconfigurations within a network resulting in additional funding required per annum to provide the total level of service
    • trial services with a clearly defined period, expected to be up to three years. These will be reviewed before the end of the trial period to test whether they become part of the continuous programmes
    • variations in public transport units, which will affect the total cost provision, and increase both the total annualised cost of the programme and the level of services being provided by a specific activity, ie where no cost savings are instigated in other parts of the network to keep expenditure within the existing approved allocation.

    Types of service improvement applications include the following:

    • New services, service trials or service variations with a whole-of-life cost of over $1,000,000 need to be set up as separate improvement activities. They will require the application of a cost–benefit appraisal procedures from the Economic evaluation manual, and must include a fit-for-purpose business case and risk assessment related to the improvement(s) being initiated.
    • New services or service trials or service variations with a whole-of-life cost of less than $1,000,000 should be treated as low cost, low risk  improvements under work category 532: Public transport low cost, low risk improvements.
    • Public transport initiatives in addition to the services, eg marketing, minor on-street infrastructure, terminal upgrades, park and ride facilities, improved access via walking or cycling should all form part of the packaged application (ie where there is interdependency across activities seeking additional funding).

    Any proposed public transport improvement as set out above must demonstrate how it will add value to the existing network. This can be done via scenario testing of the public transport service programme using the cost-benefit appraisal template which can be downloaded from Transport Investment Online(external link) (TIO). 

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  • Inter-regional services

    Inter-regional services must be included in both councils’ regional public transport plans (RPTPs) and regional land transport plans (RLTP), and be consistent with the Land Transport Management Act 2003 (LTMA).

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Infrastructure improvements - definition, work categories and exclusions


Developing public transport service and infrastructure improvement activities

Public transport improvements with a whole-of-life implementation cost over $1,000,000 are developed using the improvement activity module in TIO.(external link)

General requirements for developing public transport improvement activities are described below. 


  • Sources of funding

    Approved organisations, the Transport Agency (state highways) and regional transport committees (RTCs) may propose the sources of funding for activities they include in their transport programmes and RLTPs, based on the criteria that apply to the sources.

    The Transport Agency will make the final decision as to which source of funding will be applied to assist the activity when it comes forward for funding approval.


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  • Cost estimation and parallel cost estimate

    Approved organisations and the Transport Agency (state highways) are expected to provide robust cost estimates for their activities prepared by competent people. The cost estimation process should follow the principles set out in the Transport Agency’s Cost estimation manual, SM014.

    Where risk analysis is required to provide 5th and 95th percentile cost estimates, the results are expected to reflect the project phase and type of cost estimate, eg a feasibility estimate would be expected to have a much wider range around the expected estimate than a construction estimate.

    The cost estimate is uploaded to the TIO funding application as supporting information.

    For all improvement projects over $20 million estimated construction cost, the Transport Agency requires these to undergo a parallel cost estimation process as set out in the Cost estimation manual(external link), SM014 .

    A summary of the parallel cost estimate and reconciliation is attached to the TIO funding application as supporting information.

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  • Peer review

    Transport Agency requirements and guidance on the peer review of improvement activities are provided in this knowledge base (PIKB).

    The peer review is uploaded to the TIO funding application.


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  • Risk assessment, analysis and management

    Approved organisations and the Transport Agency (state highways) are expected to apply risk assessment and management processes to the development and implementation/construction of their activities. These should be appropriate to the scale and risk involved. This process follows the guidance and applies the procedures set out in the Transport Agency’s Risk management process manual.(external link)

    The risk register and management plan(s) for projects under development are attached to the TIO funding application as supporting information.


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  • Consultation and engagement

    Programme consultation is managed by the RTC when it consults on the RLTP. However, the requirement to take into account the views of affected communities under the LTMA, to give early and full consideration of alternative options, implies a need to consult or engage at the activity level in the course of activity development. This may also be required under other legislation, eg Resource Management Act 1991.(external link)


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  • Transport Agency decision conditions

    The Transport Agency may apply conditions to any support, endorsement or approval it provides for a strategy, package, programme or activity. These will generally fall into one of two categories:

    • Condition precedent means that the condition must be fulfilled before the support, endorsement or approval is put into effect. For a funding approval this will mean that no funding will be released until the condition is met.
    • Condition subsequent means that the condition needs to be fulfilled by a specified time or event, but the decision can be put into effect. For a funding approval this will mean that funding can be released before the condition is met. Often, conditions subsequent will need to be fulfilled before the next funding application for an activity.

    Conditions are recorded and managed through TIO.(external link)

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 Assessment of public transport improvements

Public transport activities proposed for funding from the National Land Transport Fund are assessed under the Transport Agency's Investment Assessment Framework (IAF).