The Waterview tunnels were opened in July and one of the many pieces of equipment in them are a set of four speed cameras to monitor the 80km/h speed limits. Yesterday police revealed how many tickets they had issued and the amount of voluntary tax that had been collected as a result.
Nearly $1 million worth of speeding fines have been issued at Auckland’s Waterview Tunnels in a little over one month.
Police operate four speed cameras at the twin 2.4km long tunnels, one at each entrance and exit.
Figures given to Checkpoint with John Campbell under the Official Information Act show 9756 fines worth $948,220 total were issued between 21 July, when the cameras were turned on, and 31 August.
Those tickets are come from over 1.52 million vehicles passing the cameras, although it turns out they’re not always turned on. That gives a ticket rate of about 0.6%. That may not seem like much but is a quite staggering amount. It equates to about one ticket every six minutes, $23k collected a day and if these rates continued, $8.4 million in extra revenue for the government annually. That’s a nice little earner for the government but wouldn’t even cover the annual operational costs of the tunnel (approx $16m annually), let alone make a dent in the $1.4 billion cost, like some suggested yesterday. Perhaps rolling out fixed speed camera’s to all parts of the motorway and on major arterials in Auckland might quickly deliver enough money to pay for the transport funding shortfall that exists.
However, I feel that ticket volumes are unlikely to stay at these levels. After all there’s a really simple way to avoid getting a ticket, don’t speed. It’s not as if there isn’t enough warning about the speed limits. Approaching traffic is bombarded with highly visible electronic speed signs and they’re continued at fairly regular intervals throughout the tunnel. For example, heading northbound I’ve counted at least three sets of signs between the Maioro St onramp and the tunnel with a further eight within the tunnel itself. If you didn’t see the signs then you’ve got more things to worry about than a fine.
Given the level of signage that exists, I think this story also highlights an important aspect in the discussion on road safety. Essentially, speed limits and signs are useful but alone they aren’t enough. If a road feels as if it was designed like a race track then people will drive accordingly. To bring speeds down we need to improve safety we also need to make changes to the road environment to encourage slower speeds. A point also made by the AA – it’s also good to see them ruling out the “it’s all just revenue gathering” trope.
“It’s certainly not revenue gathering,” spokesperson for the Automobile Association, Barney Irvine said. “Police aren’t trying to trick anyone here, there’s plenty of signage in every approach to the tunnel.
“What this really highlights for us is for the need for speed camera sites to be reviewed every six to 12 months right around the country,” Mr Irvine said.
He said that should be done by an independent body, which would decide what an appropriate fine rate was, and then decide if “too many” tickets were being issued.
“And if too many tickets are being issued, then obviously the system isn’t working, and we’d need to see more done to bring speeds down,” Mr Irvine said.
In urban environments, changes such as narrower lanes, protected bike lanes, improved pedestrian infrastructure, different surface treatments, street trees and many other tools can all help to change the feel of streets and bring speeds down while also providing increased safety and amenity for those not in cars. What’s more many of these changes can be made fairly cheaply, especially using tactical urbanism practices.