Low active travel investment: ACT Budget 2021-2025

Few items in the budget are directly related to true active travel. The new investment in Active Travel for the period 2021-2025 is just $17.370m.
This is a bottom up, outside in analysis of the TCCS Budget Statements. Considering cycling is a congestion buster, pollution reducer, economic recovery and tourism booster, and a major contributor to increased health and wellbeing for both children and adults, we might have expected cycling investment to feature a little bit more strongly in this budget.

The graph below shows that the active travel investment in the 2021-2022 ACT Budget is significantly less than the last budget pre-COVID budget even though the ACT Transport spend has increased.

The active travel investment in the 2021-2022 ACT Budget is significantly less than in the last budget pre-COVID budget even though the ACT Transport spend has increased. Sources: ACT Budget Paper, ACT Pedal Power, canberra.bike.
Budget2019-20202021-2022units
ACT Transport $271.0 $286.0million
Active Travel (AT) $50.0 $21.5million
AT estimatePedal Powercanberra.bike
Comparing active travel investment in the 2021-2022 ACT Budget with the pre-COVID 2019-2020 Budget. canberra.bike

Notes on funding sources

This is canberra.bike’s summary of the 2021-2022 ACT Budget, using open sources 22. Please note that the numbers are for a 4 YEAR budget period from 2021 to 2025. The investment is often spread out across all 4 years – it depends.

The numbers come from the TCCS 2021-2022 ACT Budget Statements, Summary of 2021-22 Infrastructure Program, Table 18. The capital works program is broken up into “Works in Progress”, “New Works”, and the “Better Infrastructure Fund”.

Works in Progress (WIP)

It is normal for projects to slip. On average an TCCS project is completed 6 months late, but some projects are years late (analysis from TCCS Annual Report 2019-2020). Slipped projects reappear in this financial year and the allocated capital reappears in this budget for 2021-2022. My problem with WIPs is that the money is not new money but old money. Really, in cycling advocacy, we would like the ACT Government to get the projects finished on time. (And, yes, then sadly covid happened…) Further, we are interested in new projects and new money for cycling. Adding WIP into the 2021-2022 total feels like double counting, as the money was already allocated last year.

New Works (NW)

New Works is new capital and new projects that did not appear in previous budgets. This is the exciting stuff and a good indicator of future progress. This is the continuous improvement stuff.

Better Infrastructure Fund (BIF)

The Better Infrastructure Fund is another pot of cash. The Better Infrastructure Fund gives ACT Government agencies an annual funding pool for works that extend the useful life or improve the service delivery capacity of existing infrastructure assets. This investment is distinct from routine repairs and maintenance work, which is funded separately.

Investment in Active Travel

The list is short. Removing the double counting (WIP) for an ‘honest total’, the new investment in Active Travel for the period 2021-2025 is $17.370 million.

ProjectPotFour Yrs $,000Completion datePage
Keeping our city moving – Better infrastructure for active travelWIP$4,159June 202236
Connnected and sustainable Canberra – Active travel investmentsNW$10,870June 202538
Active travel – Age Friendly Suburbs and Cycle Path MaintenanceBIF$6,300June 202539
Route Planning Study Gungahlin Town CentreBIF$200June 202239
Total 2021-2025$21,529
Data: Table 18: 2021-22 TCCS Infrastructure Program, Capital Works, 2021-2022 ACT Budget Statements, TCCS, accessed 8 October 2021

Comparison

The budget total spend is close to $5 billion, a record sum. Compare the new capital works money pot of $10.8m for Active Travel (not just cycling) with the recent $12m spent on 1 light rail stop, or the $9m to be spent on football fields in Gungahlin, and you will conclude that the focus is not on getting people out of their SUVs to improve their health and wellbeing.

Data: 2021-22 Budget Statements TCCS

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