The NZTA has announced that the toll on the Northern Gateway toll road will rise from 1st March 2012. They say:

The NZ Transport Agency says tolls on the Northern Gateway Toll Road (NGTR) on State Highway 1 north of Auckland will increase on 1 March by 20 cents to $2.20 for cars, motorcycles and light commercial vehicles, and by 40 cents to $4.40 for heavy commercial vehicles.

The increases are the first since the toll road opened three years ago.

The NZTA’s Regional Director for Auckland and Northland, Stephen Town, says the increases are regrettable but necessary to ensure the toll road remains viable and on-track to repay its debt as planned within 35 years.

“Although the legislation covering the toll road allows for the tolls to be annually adjusted in line with increases in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), they haven’t increased since the road opened in January 2009. Inflation and the 2010 GST increase have both impacted on the NZTA’s ability to maintain its debt repayment level, so it has become necessary to adjust the tolls,’ Mr Town says.

Transaction charges introduced in August 2011 to some toll payment methods will not increase. They remain at 40 cents for payment by kiosk and $3.70 when payment is made by phone. Transaction charges apply each time one or more tolls are paid for. For example, from 1 March the total cost of purchasing one toll trip at a kiosk will be $2.60 – a $2.20 toll plus a 40c administration charge – and the total cost of purchasing 10 trips at a kiosk will be $22.40 – $22 for the ten trips plus a 40c administration fee.

There is no administration fee for tolls paid on-line at, or for ‘set and forget’ toll accounts.

‘To minimise cost and time for road users, we encourage customers to pay by toll pre-pay account or via the website as neither of those payment options attract extra cost,’ says Mr Town.

The toll road is a 7km section of SH1 between Orewa and Puhoi which provides road users a shorter, quicker option to its free alternative – SH17 through Waiwera. Borrowing $158M of the total $372.5M construction
cost, meant the NGTR was built ten years earlier than it would have been under traditional funding methods.

As at the end of December 2011, the NZTA had repaid $17.5M of the debt.

I personally don’t have a problem with the cost rising as I think it is important that the toll reflects the benefits that people get from the using the road but I know there will be a number of people out there that will complain about it. I’m sure the question will also be asked of some if this increase is related to the cash flow troubles the NZTA is having at the moment.

They have also put out some FAQ’s on the increase here.

Northern Gateway Toll Road
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  1. I am amazed it took NZTA so long to increase the toll. I thought they would have used the GST increase as an opportunity.

  2. There are a lot of regular users who have accounts and are furious with NZTA over their descision not to chase the serial non-payers. You may have heard about the guy who has made over 1,000 journeys and not paid for one of them. NZTA have admitted that it’s more trouble than it’s worth to take people like this to court and as a concequence they have over $700,000 in uncollected tolls and penalties. I can understand the frustrations. I’m a regular user and have an account, but if you need to pay for occasional journeys, it’s ridiculous to have to leave the car to queue at an inconveniently sited machine that is frequently out of order or pay by credit card to a call centre that isn’t open at weekends or holidays. Paying on-line often isn’t an option within the 5 days as a lot of people are on their way to campsites and baches where they have no internet access. NZTA really do have to to get their payment options sorted or they will have an even larger number of “customers” who won’t pay.

    1. Yes I agree, they need to go after these serial toll dodgers but even if they collected every cent I imagine they would still be increasing the cost anyway.

      As for the toll paying situation, I can’t understand why anyone would line up to pay at one of those booths when you can just do it online before you go (or after if you can connect within 5 days of your travel).

      1. “NZTA have admitted that it’s more trouble than it’s worth to take people like this to court”

        Classical “unintended-consequences-what-is-that?” reasoning. The more people become aware of this behaviour by NZTA (assuming it the lack of enforcement against even serial dodgers is correct as described), the fewer will pay, in a fast-increasing spiral. Then NZTA will suddenly have to change their minds about enforcement, and slowly claw back the lost attitudes.

        1. “NZTA have admitted that it’s more trouble than it’s worth to take people like this to court”

          Interview with Stephen Town on Mike Hoskings Breakfast show recently.

      2. not everyone uses the internet or has access.International tourist for instance? Shouldn’t the signs say the toll is $2.60 at the kiosks? how about a change machine at the north kiosk for all the times the eftpos function doesn’t work. I have seen a few frustrated people wasting more time than they saved by trying to pay the toll. I have used toll roads around the world and this is a pathetic system for collecting tolls. I also object to a tax (gst) on a user pays tax. It is a public road funded by users. whats next… GST on our income tax?

        1. I think you’ll find international travellers are extremely high users of the internet.
          If you can’t pay the fee on the spot pay it later online it’s simple.
          and stop complaining about paying towards the road you clearly are benefiting from, taxpayers in general are still having to foot the bill for large portions of it (most of the taking is used up in administrative costs to manage the tools), so taxing users via GST in addition is more than fair. Also, why should NZTA spend even more money on toll collection mechanisms?, this is the only road AFAIK in NZ which is currently tolled.

        2. It’s the only road tolled by NZTA in New Zealand, AFAIK. It ain’t the only tolled road in New Zealand however. Look at the toll road in Tauranga

  3. If you don’t pay you should be forced to pay up when you get your car registered, warrented or ownership changed. If you don’t want to pay you can’t get those things done. Simple.

  4. Why should motorcycles pay the same as a car? If heavy commercial vehicles pay a higher fee – presumably due to increased wear and tear on the road as these vehicles are heavier – why should my 160kg bike incur the same fee as a 1600kg car?

    1. The NZTA’s answer to that when they introduced the motorbike toll was that it was more about reflecting the time savings benefit that is recieved from the road rather than to cover damage.

  5. James, if it was all about wear and tear, heavy goods vehicles should pay several dozen or even hundreds of times the car price, not twice the car price.

    Wear and tear on a road go up by the power of four to the weight increase, so a truck 5 times as heavy as your car (and many are massively heavier than that) = 5 x 5 x 5 x 5 = 625 times the wear and theoretically, the price. So your bike should pay something like half a cent, if it was just wear and tear.

    Of course if you applied this logic, all car users would use the tunnel, while paying next to nothing, while all truck users would use the old state highway. So the actual fees are a compromise, though one that arguably benefits the trucking industry more than the others.

    1. Given that the toll pays for half of the capital costs of the new road, the analogy to road maintenance cost allocation is incorrect.

      Most of the cost of the construction of this road came from earthworks, tunnel and viaduct construction. The fairest way to allocate the first and second of those is on a per vehicle basis. HGVs don’t require much more from either. For the viaduct and the surface layers of the road, they do have specific needs, which justifies the higher toll. However, as the toll only recovers half of the capital cost of the road (the rest has come from RUC, FED, MVR-L fees), it’s worth noting that all users are paying to use the road anyway through those motoring taxes, and RUC does take into account relative impacts on road surface costs.

      France’s example doesn’t wash, because the private and SOE owned Autoroutes do not get revenue from any sources other than tolls. No RUC in France – although it is coming in the next year or so for the untolled motorways.

      At the moment, the marginal maintenance costs are very low, and FED and RUC are more than adequate to cover that. The toll is about spreading the cost of capital, which it does fairly well, notwithstanding the real scandal about the Toll Systems Project – which itself was fully funded by RUC/FED/MVR-L payers.

      I don’t know of anywhere else in the world where a toll revenue collection system couldn’t be financed from debt recovered from future revenue. The fact that it wasn’t is because the then Transit New Zealand had the hubris of wanting to be in charge of tolling nationwide, and made the dubious case to LTNZ that the TSP would cater for around half a dozen toll projects (when at best it looks like three) and Auckland road pricing (which was simply not going to happen in that timeframe). As the last government was largely uninterested in pursuing long term PPP contracts to outsource revenue collection, it meant that a highway agency collaborated with a state records bureaucracy (Transport Registry Centre) to develop a high cost, low volume transaction service.

      Now the government is lumbered with it, and faces having to make some big decisions about the future of the TRC – which is responsible for collecting RUC, MVR-L and managing driver licences (a trick the LTSA pulled some years ago to cross subsidise its driver licencing debacles with RUC admin revenue).

      I’d argue it should outsource the revenue collection, transaction based customer service functions, because there are plenty of utilities who can do it for a fraction of the cost, and let records management be treated separately, at arms length by another body.

  6. The toll should be $2.20 for cars and $10 for trucks. This is the ration the French Autoroutes basically use for toll roads.

    Car drivers and motorcyclists subsidising the trucking industry (again).

    1. The proposed toll for the “new” motorway Puhoi to Wellsford when built was $5 for cars/motorcycles and $9 for heavy goods, so have to agree with you.

  7. I would like to know if anybody else out there is having problems with Toll Payment Notices received in the post? Sometimes I use the toll road and then wait for the bill to come in the mail then I pay it by cheque. Twice now I have received $40.00 fines for non-payment of tolls. I have NEVER received these notices in the mail!! NZTA are adamant these have been posted out yet I have never received them. How can it happen TWICE!! I have never had a problem with receiving my mail before. I pay all my bills in a timely manner and do not receive overdue notices. I phoned NZ Post who were very helpful and pleasant (unlike the toll road help desk operators) but said they are unable to track ordinary letters but suggested if I am receiving all my other mail then it is obviously a fault at their end (NZTA). So, just wondering if anybody else had any problems??

  8. In the same boat Jo. I used the road for two trip, the second being for a funeral three days after getting home from the first trip (450 km return trips both times. I went on line to pay, from memory the weekend after getting back from the second trip and could not access the payment site. It said on the webpage that they would send a notice so being exhausted (I’m no spring chicken!)I just thought the same as you. I will pay it (plus extra) by cheque when I get the notice. No notice received so just assumed the system was broken and left it at that. Now I have received 3 (not four) notices of $40 each seventy days since the first trip. Incidentally, I would use this maybe once a year, if that. Not on!

  9. I’ve just received my second Toll Payment notice from these clowns running the toll road and I’m just as frustrated as I was the first time around. Both times I was unable to pay due to excessive queuing or “Out of Order” machines … I don’t have a credit or debit card and I don’t have a Windows computer to use the POLi system. For the love of God, I don’t object to paying the tolls but why make it so hard for people to comply? My sister is in the same boat but she has accumulated $100’s in fines for non payment. If there was a simple and reliable method of paying neither of us (and many others out there – obviously) would be owing for our trips.

    I phoned the NZTA 0800 number and moaned to them, the best explanation they could offer was that “there were numerous options available but they were working on making it easier for more people”. Well, it’s been 4 years since this damn toll road was opened – why is it still so difficult now as it was back then? And WHY is an online banking payment restricted to what computer operating system a user has?

    “NZTA have admitted that it’s more trouble than it’s worth to take people like this to court” … I’d propose that it’s too much trouble (or brain power) for NZTA to come up with an equitable paying system that is accessible for users. If they did they might find compliance of users to be vastly improved.

    I think it’s time NZTA passed control of tolls on to someone who better knows what they’re doing. At this point, the bar is set rather low so that shouldn’t be too difficult!

    1. I think they simply can’t be bothered with a payment system that is easily accessible to every single user. The vast majority of people can pay be credit card over the phone or use the online system, or can get an account. For the small minority who can’t they are probably just happy to tell you to line up at the kiosk machines (if any happen to be working) and fine you if you don’t.

      1. I agree, but I don’t think it’s an issue as the road only saves 9 minutes of travelling time anyway and the new ones potentially coming on-line soon (Route K, TEL, P2W, TMG) will save even less, therefore there’s little reason for anyone to use the road if paying is not convenient for them.

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