Auckland roads have two problems – traffic congestion, and lack of enough money to maintain and upgrade roads. Authorities are considering an option that will kill two birds with one stone.
A congestion charge is one of the options being considered by a panel to solve Auckland’s road congestion, while raising money for Auckland roads.
A six-month process involving 17 of Aucklandâ€™s transport stakeholders have released a public discussion document to consider solutions to solve Auckland’s roading problems.
An additional $400 million are needed each year for the next 30 years to fund Auckland’s transport plan, the Consensus Building Group (â€˜the CBGâ€™), as the group is called, has revealed.
The current funding is sufficient till 2021, and Auckland will have to look at one of two possible future options for raising money.
First option is a traditional model of large increases to rates and fuel taxes, tolls to fund major new roads, further government contributions and small fare increases for public transport users.
The second option includes a congestion charge – a new source of funding called road pricing. Road pricing can most likely be a motorway network charge or one or more single cordons. Of course, this option will still have to be complemented by small increases to rates, fuel taxes and public transport fares.
The CBG has not expressed a preference for options. However, it concluded that unless Aucklanders are prepared to accept higher rates increases and heavier congestion, it will be necessary to introduce some form of road pricing by 2021.
The CBG has identified population growth as Aucklandâ€™s greatest transport challenge.
â€œTo cope with population growth at twice the rate of the rest of New Zealand, Aucklandâ€™s transport system must undergo change across all modes â€“ roads, public transport, walking and cycling,â€ says the report.
â€œIf we do nothing, the result will be transport congestion that is excessive, disruptive and costly.â€
Research conducted by the CBG shows that introducing a road pricing scheme would help to reduce congestion on Auckland roads, and improve travel speeds and journey times for motorists and freight.
However, road pricing must be supported by viable, attractive public transport alternatives.
The CBG is asking Aucklanders to submit their feedback on its initial proposals using an online survey. Printed copies are also available at Auckland Council Service Centreâ€™s and Libraries. Public feedback will help shape the CBGâ€™s recommendations to Auckland Council, scheduled for July 2013.
The CBG has said that this is the beginning of a longer conversation. â€œIf Auckland Council and the government wish to progress our recommendations, they will need to hold separate formal consultation with Aucklanders on the detailed impact and design of any new funding package,â€ says the report.