Yesterday the Ministry of Transport released their latest thinking on congestion pricing as part of a piece of work they call “The Congestion Question“. This comes about three years since we last heard from the project and six years since the Len Brown initiated Alternative Transport Funding study recommended it. What makes this latest report different is there is now far more detail around just what a road pricing scheme in Auckland would look like.

If fully implemented and combined with improvements to public transport, officials think this could see congestion reduce by around 8-12%. This is similar to the level of congestion that we experience during school holidays. They say experiences in other cities suggest about half of this shifts to public transport, a small amount will change when they travel and the remainder will be discretionary trips that just disappear.

Speaking of trips, they say that Auckland has high proportion of short trips with 51% of peak trips being less than 6km in length and 75% are less than 12km. To put that in perspective, 6km is relatively easily bikeable with google suggesting that it would take about 20 minutes. Furthermore, many would be able to do it faster than that, especially if on an e-bike.

While the focus of this study is on managing congestion, this scheme would also raise money and they suspect it could be in the order of $200 million annually. This is quite a bit of funding and could potentially replace or supplement the Regional Fuel Tax.

The Scheme

As part of the wider work to tackle congestion, 26 options were initially created and they have shortlisted five of these related to congestion pricing. These were:

  1. A City Centre Cordon
  2. An Isthmus area charge
  3. Strategic Corridors
  4. A combination of a) and c)
  5. A Region wide GPS based option

Both a) and c) were then taken forward for further assessment and would use Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras to track passing cars to charge. This is technology already in use in our existing toll roads and would be much faster, cheaper and easier to implement and enforce than requiring everyone to have trackers in their cars.

The city centre cordon is fairly straightforward, anyone crossing the motorway noose around the central city in either direction would pay a fee for doing so. The small nature of the area makes it comparatively cheap to deliver but it also means the overall impacts are likely to be lower given the already high PT modeshare.

The Strategic Corridors scheme is preferred and would eventually see cameras on all major corridors in Auckland. Given most journeys would cross one of these roads at some point it would have region-wide impact and help avoid the issue of rat-running as there would be little opportunity to avoid it.

They propose a tiered pricing structure, from free up to $3.50 depending on the time of day you travel – with higher costs for heavy vehicles. You would only pay this fee once per two-hour window after you’re first detected meaning it wouldn’t matter how many cameras you crossed you’ll be charged the same. They also propose a daily cap of $7 and potentially discounts or some other structure to support vulnerable groups. One thing they want to avoid is having a bunch of exemptions for certain vehicles, like in London where huge numbers of vehicles have exemptions meaning the system isn’t as effective and just becomes more expensive for everyone else.

An idea of what the pricing structure could look like over a day is shown below however the exact times and costs will be subject to refinement should this go ahead – I imagine we’d want to have that interpeak period end a bit earlier to help manage the after school pick up rush that occurs just after 3pm. Like with parking charges, I suspect that if this was implemented, the times and costs would need to be regularly reviewed.

One of the benefits of a scheme like this is it would also lend itself to being progressively rolled out over time allowing for benefits to start accruing earlier. They envisage this would start with the central city and then roll out to the Isthmus and North Shore before rolling out to the West and South. They also note that could also be linked to the delivery of improved public transport over the next decade with the first phase introduced in line with the opening to the City Rail Link – by which time we’ll also have the Eastern Busway and at least the interim bus improvements to the Northwest.

A part of this work has been to be looking at the wider social impacts, such as for vulnerable households, and officials have been looking into those including interviewing a number of people who fall into this category. Many of them may benefit from the improved travel time reliability but they suggest potential options like discounts or credits to the accounts of eligible people.

The scheme is expected to cost about $185 million to roll out and have an annual operating cost of $84 million and around $55 million every seven years for renewals. This is offset by the revenue generated which as mentioned could be around $200 million annually and has a Benefit Cost Ratio over a 23-year period of 1.8.

Overall I think they’ve come up with a logical and practical scheme and that’s a good start in and of itself. One challenge, and I raised this at the briefing, would be if authorities were required to consult on each time they wanted to expand the scheme. I would also be concerned if it meant that much needed public transport improvements lost support from people who want to avoid charging in their area. On another note though, perhaps it could be a good opportunity to tie in a roll out of red light cameras to every light controlled intersection to improve safety.

Finally, with the release of the report, one thing that has been notable by its absence has been much noise from politicians. It seems no one wants to lead the discussion even though they have mostly expressed support in the past.

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  1. It is a reasonable, practical scheme, but I think it is a serious error to not include a component of distance based charging. Ie. They could have set up with “zones” very similar to PT pricing.

    The effect of the current proposal with a flat charge is to effectively subsidise long distance trips which means externalities associated with sprawl arent captured.

    1. Yes – but the further you drive, the more fuel tax you also pay.
      I would think that would be easy to change if it was a problem once the scheme was rolled out though.

      1. My concern is that by having it black and white as a uniform charge, it will be difficult to bring it in later, as the whole thing is “sold” as a uniform charge.

        If they start with just some basic version that has say an inner and outer zone it would help with refinements later.

    2. That is true to a point however long trips are the ones less likely to have an easily available alternative whereas short trips should be more feasible for shifting to active or PT.

      1. I agree the minimum charge makes sense to incentivise mode shift on short trips. But it just seems like it will have little effect on long trips which still do cause the most congestion.

        As an example, when fully rolled out, someone traveling from Pokeno to Drury would pay the same as some travelling from Pokeno to the city centre. Whereas the latter has much higher externalities and is probably easier to switch (at least in part) to PT.

        I would have thought a two zone system would be a good starting point where it is $3.50 to travel in either zone, and say $5 to travel in both zones (with a big zone overlap).

      2. I leave about 10km from work which I consider a medium distance. It takes me in average 25 minutes by car and 1h10m by PT. I see no PT project that will make this better in my region. I’d love to have options, but do you consider acceptable that PT takes 3 times to commute than by car, and should I accept it or pay toll?

    1. This is the stick approach to get people to use PT: use our terrible PT or don’t feed your kids. I prefer the carrot approach: spend 100% of the transport budget on improving PT, don’t build any more roads. Weirdly we seem to want to use the stick on the poor while inversely applying the carrot to the rich drivers who will get quicker car journeys and still get the majority of the transport budget spent on roads. No brainer alright.

  2. Phil Goff has said that it would replace the Regional Fuel Tax as it is a congestion mitigation measure not a revenue earner so the overall tax take should not increase.

    5 years seems a long time to implement

    1. My guess is he will keep the Regional Tax and also introduce Congestion charges.
      Later there will be more and more tax and more tax as otherwise Auckland Council will threaten to fire their staffs and cancel most previous committed projects.

      This is what you get when you vote for socialist government.

      1. It seems like some people don’t understand what socialism even is. The extreme right likes the throw around the term to terrify the gullible.

        Furthermore, this isn’t even a tax. It’s a use charge! Or do you also get angry when AT ‘taxes’ you to use the bus and the supermarket ‘taxes’ you to eat their vegetables?

        1. I’d argue the vast majority dont. I dont really understand, cant be bothered reading. But anyone can see, talking about “socialism” there a massive amount of ambiguity there. There’s the difference in governance, the difference in economic systems, how the two are linked and influence each other. Where power concentrates over time. The previous examples other states have set, etc etc.

  3. Some say PT in Auckland is poor and give that as the reason they will not catch a bus or train. But what is the definition of good public transport?
    Do people who need to walk 10 minutes to catch a bus say that Auckland transport is good or bad?
    Do people who walk 20 minutes to the nearest bus stop say that AT is good or bad?
    People living 30km out from the CBD and want to travel 60 km in short time will say that PT is poor.
    But for a majority of Aucklanders the bus or train stop is close and Auckland PT is good.

    1. My definition of bad PT is when it is a lot slower than driving. Under that definition probably 80% of the city has bad PT. Does it make sense to force more (poor) people onto the slower option so that the already faster option can be even faster?

        1. Well I guess that depends on where and when the person of interest is travelling. But if you define it as from home to work at peak I would imagine it is significantly slower for the vast majority of Aucklanders, particularly those that do not work in the CBD. Off peak it may be even worse due to low frequencies.

      1. I don’t think PT has to always faster than driving but it has to be competitive and importantly it has to be reliable. Do that and people will flock to it

        1. And frequent. Frequency is freedom. I haven’t owned a car for years and I’ll walk further to a decent frequency option than a short walk to one bus an hour.

      2. Generally the fastest transport options at peak hours are train, then probably nth busway, then ebike, then car and then bus.

      3. Defining “bad PT” as “slower than driving” means that congestion charges will *make PT worse* by reducing congestion for cars.

        That doesn’t really make sense.

      4. I agree. My commute to work take 3 times more by PT than car, even in peak times and with dedicated bus lanes. Would love to have options but that is unacceptable.

    2. Just wishing that doesn’t make it so.

      There are objective measures, like where can you get within 30 or within 45 minutes. Even during rush hour driving will still do better than PT.

      Or within 15 minutes, but for those short trips bicycles rule. So the most relevant metric is how good the bicycle network is, and that answer is just one word — bad.

    3. I guess my example of poor PT is a journey from Te Atatu Peninsula to Westgate. A 7 km journey – google has it at 9mins by car, 33 mins by bicycle or 1hr 7 mins by bus.

        1. Yes but it is still an example of bad PT – making the use of a car the most likely option for the community.

        2. And there isn’t a need to serve every single trip by amazing PT. Some places are just going to be car-oriented, no matter what.

        3. ah but there it is Lewis, we keep creating car oriented places and wonder why we struggle to get people on foot, bike or onto PT. Westgate and North-West in particular should have been developed with PT in mind not as an after thought. I wish I had the confidence that Jezza has, but I think the “significant improvement” will only take very poor PT to ok if you have no alternative.

    4. wow, are you working for AT. Public Transport is not good in Auckland. If you compare it to not having a PT then it’s good. If you compare it to developed countries (maybe with the exception of the US) it is bad. It’s unreliable, not enough connections, not enough frequency, slow and horrendous price for that kind of service. I mean how did you come to the conclucion it’s good? It honestly buffles me.

  4. Looks about as bad as I thought. Where do they propose that poor people get another $35 a week ($70 for a 2 car household that work different places, $300 a month)? For many the only options are quitting their job and going on the dole or taking an extra hour or two a day on PT. Meanwhile better off people like myself can afford to live closer to work and walk/bike, or work from home, or if I want I can afford $35 a week. Instead of calling it “congestion charging” they should call it “shaft the poor so the rich can get around faster” because that is exactly what it is designed to do.
    I am all for the free market and to an extent for user pays, and I understand the consequences of not charging people the full cost of a service, but this is the worst kind of pricing model; the price in no way pays for the cost of service, it is deliberately set at a level to exclude the poor while allowing better off people to use something that we all paid to build and is still highly subsidised. Crony capitalism at its worst.
    If we happened to have good accessible PT for everyone than I would support it, but the reality is that for most people PT takes a significantly longer time and that isn’t going to change any time soon.
    The city centre cordon seems like a much more fair option to me.

    1. These kind of tactics can have serious unintended consequences. The classic example is I believe Rome in the 80s. You were only allowed to drive odd numbered plates Tuesday Thursday sat etc. opposite for other plates. So everyone brought a second super shitty inefficient car. Now obviously this plan is a bit more well though out.

      I will comment that even if it saves someone half an hour then it’s totally worth it for car drivers. Minimum wage is at least $14 after tax. Daily worst case charges $7. Work an extra half an hour? Run a side thing for half an hour a day etc etc. “when we have good accessible pt for everyone” is impossible to define and everyone always winges about their cities PT.

    2. ‘PT takes a significantly longer time and that isn’t going to change any time soon.’

      And neither is charging in the south, west and east. It’s not until sometime in the never-never, you seem to be equating current PT with a distant future charging scenario.

      1. How distant is it? The party that was going to build light rail in 3 years hasn’t even decided what to build in 3 years. That one project alone may take 15 years at the current rate (or even longer with a few intermittent cancellations and changes from National). If they are going to wait until our PT is up to standard before charging they will be waiting a long time.
        I live and work in the isthmus and PT takes 1 hour compared to 15 minutes to drive. I can (and do) also cycle which takes 30 mins but it is a fairly scary option, definitely not for everyone. These days I largely work from home so the charge wouldn’t really affect me. But it does seem like another kick in the guts for those with terrible PT options.

        1. Phase two is to be rolled out in 2028 and phase three sometime after that so it’s reasonably distant. Also I don’t think it is likely that these will be rolled out on exactly the dates planned, pretty much everything else is delayed. I think it’s highly unlikely that these will be rolled without PT improvements.

          I’m picking your journey is crosstown, with that differential between driving and PT? We’re never going to have every crosstown route covered by rapid transit, improvements will be in the form of improved bus priority and congestion charging removing traffic.

          Charging will inevitably have a hit on those who have no choice but to drive during peak times. However, in the long run these costs will start to be built into wages/salaries and also housing costs. We can either bite the bullet and do it or just continue with the status quo, which imposes significant costs on poor people.

        2. I’d still prefer they just focus on the carrot. If we had better PT/walking/cycling then people would use it, there wouldn’t need to be a stick.
          If they do want a stick the best one IMO is to take road space from cars and give it to PT/walking/cycling. That seems fairer to me than road pricing, would have a much better outcome because it also improves those modes, and is much easier. For example I think London city would be better off closing all the roads to cars (except delivery vehicles) than making the roads only usable by the rich ($30 a day).

        3. There’s a missing piece of information here, whether the charge replaces existing taxes or is added onto them.

          If it’s the former, there is already a stick in the form of fuel tax, paid equally no matter what time of day you travel. If fuel tax is reduced a congestion charge is also a carrot for those driving off-peak.

        4. Shifting PT trips to interpeak and offpeak is desireable. Shifting driving trips to other modes is desireable. Shifting driving trips to interpeak and offpeak isn’t. ‘Optimising the network’ through shifting driving trips in time simply maximises the driving done over a day. So it’s not good for emissions or safety or walkability outcomes.

        5. Yes Heidi – the ‘peaks’ are already longer than they used to be, surely we don’t want that becoming all day peak.

        6. The City Centre is already easily served by PT from almost everywhere in the city. They could easily do phase 1 cordon of the city centre once the CRL is complete, with some increased service levels on key bus routes and have sufficient great PT capacity to meet the increased capacity. The reduced traffic congestion experienced by buses would alone be enough to increase bus capacity significantly without increasing opex much because each bus and driver could do more trips within the same amount of time.

    3. One of the key reasons that PT isn’t a great alternative to driving (outside of the CBD) is that the buses get stuck in traffic. Getting rid of some of that traffic will speed up buses and it will enable more road space to be reallocated to bus lanes, which will speed up buses even more. Congestion charging is an important, necessary step towards PT being high quality and accessible for the whole Auckland urban area.

      The status quo already shafts the poor. Everyone just accepts it at the moment because it’s considered normal and most of the costs are hidden. There are all the costs of car dependency, if you can afford a car. And keeping a cheap car on the road is relatively more expensive than keeping an expensive car on the road. If you can’t afford a car then you’re paying $3.55 for a 2 zone bus fare, which is more than the proposed congestion charge.

    4. Did you miss the paragraph specifically about low income people and how they think the scheme should have some mechanism to help them, such as discounts or trip credits.

      1. I did. But will that really work very well? Someone on $20 an hour gets subsidised while someone on $21 doesn’t for example? Is a single person on $20 an hour more needy than a family with 6 kids on $21 an hour? Someone who doesn’t need to drive to work as they have really good PT gets subsidised while someone who earns slightly more but has terrible PT doesn’t. I doubt they will be able to target it very well at all. If they could help out the truly needy I am sure they would be doing it already.
        Would you find it OK if the same approach was used to limit healthcare demand?

        1. “Is a single person on $20 an hour more needy than a family with 6 kids on $21 an hour?”
          This sounds like not a congestion charging issue, but a government deciding how poor you are issue.
          In my professional opinion I would also recommend they stop having kids too.

        2. “Would you find it OK if the same approach was used to limit healthcare demand?”

          They do effectively already with the Community Services card.

      2. Sounds really difficult to administer and to do so fairly. How can you calibrate relative congestion charges so that the rich are disincentivised to travel as equally as the poor? It would require IRD involvement I suspect. And who does this elsewhere in the world and how? Notably the regional fuel tax is similarly regressive but we don’t really hear complaints about that. The answer is probably to give people choice through heavily subsidised public transport solutions.

    5. Jimbo – this scenario sounds non-existent. Are there really poor households who drive 2 separate cars into the cbd at peak hour? I would have thought parking charges already made that prohibitive. If you can find some stats which show that lots of poor households are driving 2 cars into the cbd at peak, please share them.

      1. I have no issue with a CBD cordon, I agree that if you want to drive to the CBD you should pay through the nose (I personally think cars should be completely banned from the entire CBD). Its the Strategic Corridors approach I’m not a fan of.

    6. I support congestion charging, but the lesson from overseas is that to get acceptance you need to have a scheme that is reasonably fair, and it looks like they need to do more work on how the discounts for poorer people will work.

  5. This is great, the sooner it gets implemented the better. Ideally a city center cordon charge would come into force the very day that rail services start running through the CRL.

    Getting an initial cordon system running (the minimum viable product) is the hard part. It can then be extended with incremental improvements, which will increase the benefits.

    One thing they don’t seem to have talked up yet is the savings such a scheme can make by deferring the need for big ticket road projects. For example a 10% drop in traffic over the Harbour Bridge could delay the need* for a second road crossing by perhaps a decade, which is a significant saving.

    * The ‘need’ as defined by traffic engineers stuck in a ‘predict and provide’ mindset. A ten year delay could be long enough for many of these dinosaurs to retire.

    1. “ very day that rail services start running through the CRL” nah, don’t want too much pressure on a brand new system that will have bugs to iron out. Id give it a couple weeks.
      I think the city centre cordon makes the most sense, then extend it a little by little. Ponsonby road, remuera road khyber pass road . But I wouldn’t extend it past that too much very quickly. Maybe the bridge. Blanketing Auckland is a long long way away. And by that point significantly more capital will have been spent on PT

      1. Can you imagine the outcries as the tax is extended into Ponsonby / Mt Eden / Remuera? God they complain whenever someone builds a house, I doubt they are going to like a congestion charge that no one else has to pay.

  6. Wellington desperately needs such a scheme for their CBD prior to Transmission Gully opening. There’s going to be huge suburban sprawl up the coast with people commuting an hour or more into town. Just look at the huge subdivisions underway or planned as far as Levin.

  7. At last! Good work. A couple of thoughts:
    1. Clearer time periods would help, keep to the hour. Align charging brackets with bus lane operation, eg many bus lanes operate 7-10am.
    2. Start with the city centre cordon asap as it is the one place where PT is already a viable option, in order to iron out kinks in the system. Shore once NB busway extension opens, East with EB, West with CRL, etc
    3. Use funds to both extend buslane network and convert next tier of bus routes to Frequent. Add more cross-town Frequents.
    4. Expand Innovating Streets into a focused Low Traffic Neighbourhood fund, increase its size, involve low boards to plan, socialise and implement them to defend local areas against the pox of rat running.
    5. As part of equity balancing give beneficiaries, students, kids, low income people discounted public transport card, like a version of the Gold Card. Fund from central govt. like gold card.

  8. Someone stole my car back in July and so I’ve been experiencing what it is like to completely rely on PT. I’ve got a total of 34km to commute: by car it usually takes 35-45 minutes and costs $4 in petrol. But using PT I need to walk to the bus stop, catch the bus to the train station, use the train to the destination, then walk again to get where I’m going – usually 2 hours total, $7.70 for the train and also use of my card for the bus. As a single person, that makes the car cheaper – if I was to count the whole family, the car becomes a whole magnitude cheaper.

    The congestion charge would need to be several times larger to stop me buying another car.

    1. I dont know the specifics of your commute, do you think you could add a bike trip instead of the first bus trip? or the last walk. It can make sense in a lot of situations. Rather than relying on slow half hourly feeder busses.
      The congestion charge would also be likely to encourage you to drive if traffic was lighter. That’s not necessarily important, its about the average person.

      1. I think you would have to have a death wish to bike on most streets in Auckland. Drivers are reckless, inattentive, and inconsiderate.

  9. I think there is too much focus on PT here. 51% of trips under 6km? Bicycles have always been more convenient than PT for those trips. There was a mode share graph in a post here a while ago. Amsterdam and Copenhagen just happened to have a fairly low PT mode share.

    What was our target again, 5km of bike lanes per year? That is probably not even keeping up with the growth of Auckland. Even with that 600 million dollar plan from a few years ago, the amount of proposed bike lanes was so low that most people will not notice it.

    And anyway, public transport? In my corner of Auckland it just took a year of planning and consulting to create half a kilometre of bus lane. Eventually a compromise was reached to truncate it about 100m before an intersection. I don’t know who pushes for these compromises but they’re highly successful at it.

    So if that congestion charge is not supposed to end up simply being an unavoidable tax, then we’d better step it up.

    1. Yes. We’re not vaguely keeping up with what is being done even in places like the UK and Canada – this is a big fail.

  10. I agree. Even from Onehunga train station, its only 5 minutes longer to bike to Britomart than take the train. And then you can leave whenever on the bike vs every 1/2 hour on the train. That’s from train station to station, even if you’re 10 minutes walk from the station on either end the bike becomes vastly faster. The only issue is the lack of safe infrastructure related to biking.

  11. Isthmus area charge and Strategic Corridors zoning is social injustice.
    It worries me as it create exclusive zones and against freedom of choice.

    There are big implications for people who lives near the border but required to cross the border.

    For example:
    People living at Otahuhu who wish to go Sylvia park Pak and Save to buy milk.
    People living at Avondale who wish to go Mt albert Pak and Save to buy milk.

    It makes a huge implication for people living close to the border who depends on local amenity on the other side.

    It worries me as it create exclusive zones and against freedom of choice.

    It is similar situation like exclusive school zone where the lucky riches can enjoy the best school within that zone. The poor people living at low social economic area are excluded and forced to go into schools that underperforms.

    Same thing will happen with the zone charges: People living in good zone can enjoy best amenity (like go to Ponsonby for dinner, enjoy Art gallery etc free of charge)

    Where poor people outside are discourage from accessing them by charging them money. A few dollars is a lot of money for the poor people and it basically mean blocking them from using it.

    This is injustice and create social divide based on where people live

    1. The zoning system already works fine for PT without being some great social injustice (and the fees for PT are higher than what is being proposed here). There’s even an established solution to the zone boundary problem; overlap areas where travel to the overlap counts as staying within the zone.

      1. LB, you are right that this is not going to bring some sort of calamity to Auckland. It appears that car drivers don’t know that the many PT fares are $3.55 and above. in a logically based argument it’s hard to pitch that the mode that causes the most congestion and emissions should somehow be cheaper.
        What we are seeing at the moment in NZ is one of the huge costs of not limiting emissions. Just in the space of a couple of weeks we have seen the storm in Napier that must have caused $50 to $100 million of damage, and an expensive weather event in Plimmerton. These are just some of the costs of doing nothing.
        Most people resent paying more for anything, but there seem two certainties: either we reduce emissions, or we pay for those we produce. Yes I know this is framed as a congestion charge, but it is obviosly more than that.
        As a way to meet emissions targets this scheme badly misses the mark.
        If asking people to pay $3.50 a trip raises calls of social injustice it is incompressible that EVs, perhaps staring at $10k, might be the answer.

        1. “These are just some of the costs of doing nothing.” Had we done something and decreased co2 emissions then this still would have happened. We should decrease emissions so we can encourage others to do so. But it’s not a direct equivalence. Regardless of what nz does we will end up with whatever we get handed. With some small influence around the wings.

      1. The milk is an example. Not everything is available in the door step.

        Using scooter might not be ideal when there are goods to carry or young children to bring along.

      2. Let’s think about this logically:

        The most logical way to do a short distance like this is bicycling, but our street grid is not exactly accommodating for that.

        Walking is possible, but it is a bit far. If you’re fit, that is 15 to 20 minutes. We’re not in a human scaled city.

        The bus, that depends on the frequency in that particular spot. Frequent means every 15 minutes off peak, so in practice you’ll probably not even make it on a bus at all in the time it would take you to walk. At $4.00 (HOP fare) is is also quite expensive.

        Finally driving will probably get you there in a couple of minutes. The streets will treat you like an actual citizen, and then you can claim your free, um, subsidized car park at the shop. As long as you don’t go during rush hour. (and guess which charge would not apply during that time)

        So yeah all options are technically possible but in practice there is a clear winner.

    2. I think people are being a bit too idealistic about this. Besides, there is a frequent 32 bus from Otahuhu to Sylvia Park that by then is likely to have more and more bus priority put in place. Hopefully some safe cycling Infrastructure through the motorway interchange by then too, that’s the cheapest mode to use as well. I’m sure you’re not being too literal with the bottle of milk either as there is local dairies as Jezza points out.

  12. Phase 1 makes sense. The CBD ring is a small area where everyone has an alternative to driving. Phases 2 and 3 don’t make any sense at all. They have reverted to a version of the old Council areas as communities of interest. Someone driving from Brown Bay to Albany would be free. Someone driving a similar distance from Greenhithe to Albany would pay.

    Driving from Massey to Albany you would pay twice despite really poor public transport alternatives.

    1. +1
      Phase 1 works because the PT is good enough for CBD.

      Phase 2 and 3 does not work because the alternative (PT) is poor and the social implication is huge.

    2. You all write as if the Northern busway extension, CRL, and other bus improvements aren’t already underway, not to mention North shore is getting the biggest bike infra investment in the nation.

      As readers of this site, you know this.

      2028 is way too long to wait, NB is already the best transit service in the country, and the Isthmus already has the best bus coverage.

    3. Download the main report – Table 1 there describes what each option gives in terms of travel time savings etc. The city centre cordon only gives a 4% reduction in total travel time delay, whereas the strategic corridors gives 30% reduction.

      1. TTS for drivers to the City Centre? That isn’t the important metric, especially for a start, the important goals are 1. traffic reduction, 2. social acceptance of concept. 1. cos it improves literally everything else, and 2. so it can be spread out across the wider city for far greater benefit.

        1. Travel time delay reductions across the board – not just into the city centre. It’s a similar story for all the metrics including vehicle trip reduction.

          They’re targeting congestion reduction though. The isthmus wide option gives much more vehicle trip reduction compared to the favoured city centre + strategic corridors option.

        2. This is just modelling, it will be wrong. It always is. It should not be treated with reverence; is just a very rough guide, a serving suggestion, is sure to be out.

        3. I’m not sure if you are disputing a specific point, but sure the modelling is just a guide but its better than nothing and probably gives a reasonable order of magnitude comparison.

      2. “The city centre cordon only gives a 4% reduction” – what if they make the fee the same as London’s at $30 a day. That would almost completely eliminate all those people that drive to the CBD, barely affect the poor, and seriously make the CBD a better place.
        And what is the end goal? Why remove congestion? Won’t that just make it quicker to drive which will then create congestion? Isn’t the congestion itself enough to stop more people driving?

        1. As I understand it the general principle behind congestion charging is that if you remove just a small fraction of the traffic you get a proportionately greater improvement in running time for the remaining traffic. And you won’t create more congestion – the charges dampen down induced demand.

          The main findings report is a short and easy read but I didn’t see an explanation there of how they landed on the charge of $3.50. The explanation might be in the longer technical report which I haven’t looked at. They might just think it compared well with a 2 zone PT trip.

        2. Jimbo, there is certainly a very arguable case for a higher charge for the cbd. Bus users who come from zone 2 and above (albeit slightly for zone 2) pay this and they seem to cope.

    4. It looks like I misunderstood. The phases diagram isn’t separate cordons it is when the would apply charges to arterial use on an area wide basis. It looks like it makes some sense. It should probably be linked to when AT introduce RTN services in an area as an alternative.

  13. Actually, the implications of that map of the affected strategic corridors is starting to sink in. Their proposal might be the most ambitious and comprehensive congestion charging scheme in the world with the possible exception of Singapore – which has been developing it’s scheme for almost 50 years, has much more intensive housing, and has a lot better public transport and much lower car ownership rates.

    I guess they’re judging that having cameras on so many roads like that is necessary is to stop people transferring to other roads to avoid the cameras – so for example you can’t just do the motorways.

    But having such a wide area for charging will create a lot more problems with public acceptance. There may be a lot of pushback if people have to pay to move almost anywhere in the city within the set times – and the result could be a lot more rat running as people avoid cameras.

    They might need to go to a dynamic charging system like Singapore, so that charges only apply if there is enough congestion in each location. I don’t know what that would do to the implementation costs though.

    The basic CBD cordon seems like the way to start though. They may then be able to build on that.

      1. Actually Stockholm is a pretty large scheme as well. The longer Congestion Question technical report has got some stats on the main overseas schemes and the population covered by the Stockholm scheme is similar to the strategic corridors proposal here. Even so, the Auckland strategic corridors scheme could affect more people because the coverage may be more intensive than the Stockholm cordon (people who just travel within the wide cordon there don’t get charged).

    1. The wide area covered plus the one charge per 2-hour period is in part to avoid rat running. Very few trips are able to be made avoiding a major intersection somewhere and so once you’ve been picked up once, there’s not much benefit in trying to avoid it.

      As for different pricing by area, there’s benefit from keeping it simple but also with most trips actually being quite short, much of the congestion is local

  14. While the idea of user pays has its merits, the report makes it clear that the CBD cordon will have minimal impact on congestion so really is just another tax grab. The real gains are in the “strategic corridor” charging which means charging for much more of Auckland. I would be happier with that as long as the corridors are widespread. Otherwise it will be like the on-ramp lights. Great for managing flow on the motorway (i.e. meet WK NZTA objectives) but crap for other routes (Not WK NZTA’s concern). They state it “may encourage some diversion onto the
    suburban road network.” – may is an understatement.
    Will I switch from driving to the CBD each day? Probably not. It normally takes me 15 minutes (worst case 20min) by car, door to office and same to home. But 45min is the fastest bus option. And of course with the charging in theory my drive will be quicker still – reality is it won’t be.

  15. I tend to wonder if a different approach wouldn’t be to turn various parts of the city in to T3 or T2 zones, with some exemptions allowed for special needs.
    If, for example, all motorway off ramps and streets connected to them be T3 during rush hours then you are forcing people to carpool or consider PT.
    People on the whole tend to get more “angry” at new forms of taxation, where they are more likely to grumble and find ways around travel restrictions.

  16. I’ve not seen anyone talking about how this might affect those of us who live in the city – if we only get charged when crossing the boundary do we get charged for leaving the city centre? Or only when we return home? Or do we get a residents permit exemption? If I drive around within the motorway loop does my trip not “count”? (Even though these trips are mostly very easily walkable or bikeable). I’m in favour of phase 1 of the scheme, but considering how many of us live here it’s weird how no article I’ve seen has mentioned this element

  17. The congestion charging model is good and if rolled out for most NZ cities would have a significant impact.
    Simon Wilson article in to days “harold” indicates that it should make a difference to our Carbon footprint and goals.
    Couple these with an emission standaard established for our vehicles with a scaled charge being added to each WOF should not only make a significant impact on our emissions but also enable a greater coverage by public transport and feeder services.
    Could we start thinking in terms of carbon footprint/head of population to make our situation clearer please?

  18. I think a cap is a reasonable idea but I couldn’t help but ask myself a question – why isn’t there a cap for public transport? It’s already ridiculously expensive if you commute to work/school and back. What if you wanted to go somewhere else? The costs can skyrocket very quickly. The monthly pass is very often not an option as it’s very expensive as well. In Sydney they’ve got daily and weekly cap, why can’t we? That would be fair if the drivers would be able to enter the CBD as often as they like knowing there is a cap.

    1. Govt law requiring 50% farebox recovery and perhaps high operating costs mean that AT are heavily incentivised to charge high prices if they want to expand services.
      Adding a cap won’t help them with thst. Although I fully agree that we should have one. Just the way the system is set up at the moment means it woild be very unlikely to happen

  19. Here we have this traffic congestion report and what is its main aim?
    That is to charge you the rate payer/tax payer who has already paid for the privilege of traveling on roads that you have paid for.
    These roads were inadequately built in the first place and now they, the builders and designers are blaming you who paid in the 1st place.

    How much have we paid already for this report and too whom? Who will pay for the enactment of this scheme and to whom? What private organisation will make millions for year after year for the privilege of charging you the taxpayer for traveling on the roads that you paid for in the first place.

    $7 per day max = $49 per week = $2548 over 52 weeks, 1 year. And that is just the starting point. Who can afford that?

    No doubt as time goes on and charges increase more options for taking your hard earned money off you will emerge. But traffic congestion will remain.

  20. In stead of charging for contributing to congestion, why not turn the whole scheme on its head.
    I wonder what would happen if every motorway off ramp became a T2 or even a T3, so that only vehicles with 2 or 3 persons may use the off ramp.
    Sure there would be a shift in the congestion to those off ramps outside the city area which would in turn increase the congestion between them and the CBD.
    BUT! Surely in a relatively short period people will find that this new congestion is increasing their commute time and will shift to alternative options.

  21. We need to be testing all vehicles for tailpipe emissions at WOF/COF inspections, by adding a charge related to the km’s travelled since the last check and the ammount of Carbon deemed to hae been emitted over that period.
    This charge can then be increased to help achieve the emissions reductions we are aiming for from the transport sector.
    The same can be doe for the agriculture sector, where the deemed emissions pper animal is reduced by the mitigating effects of on farm carbon sinks. (trees, soil carbon deemed to be added to the soil by farming practices and the result of measurement amples every coule of years)

  22. What about the residents i.e. downtown apartment owners. Will we be charged every time we cross the border, even if going against the traffic flow

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