On Monday the government will release their Emissions Reduction Plan (ERP) following the release of their emissions budgets a few days ago. A draft ERP was released and consulted on last year and the final version:

“will set out exactly how the Government plans to deliver on the first emissions budget. The Minister of Finance will also outline the first investments from the Climate Emergency Response Fund on the same day”.

Transport is expected to play a large part in the ERP, in part because it was one of the few sectors where quite a bit of effort had been put into the draft ERP. The draft set out four high-level transport targets though there may be changes to these in the final version:

  • Reduce vehicle kilometres travelled (VKT) by cars and light vehicles by 20 per cent by 2035 through providing better travel options, particularly in our largest cities.
  • Increase zero-emissions vehicles to 30 per cent of the light fleet by 2035.
  • Reduce emissions from freight transport by 25 per cent by 2035.
  • Reduce the emissions intensity of transport fuel by 15 per cent by 2035.

In reducing fuel taxes and public transport fares recently the government hinted that the PT fare drop, or something like it, may become permanent. Yesterday the Herald revealed a second likely policy, introducing road pricing.

The Government is expected to announce congestion pricing in Auckland next week, paving the way for motorists to be charged to drive on inner-city roads as soon as 2025.

If successful, officials believe charges could help tackle vehicle emissions and take 12 per cent of traffic off the city’s choked roads, easing Auckland’s $1.3b congestion problem.

A congestion charge of some form has been backed by Labour, National, the Greens and Act, but even its strongest supporters are wary of piling more costs on low-income households.

One of the loudest backers, Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, said his support was conditional on ensuring transport options were available and phasing out the city’s 10 cents a litre regional fuel tax.

Ministers are expected to announce some form of congestion pricing when they deliver their final Emissions Reduction Plan on Monday next week – a congestion charge was proposed in the draft plan published last year.

Infrastructure Minister Grant Robertson dangled the possibility of congestion pricing last week after the Infrastructure Commission warned New Zealand needed to get better use out of existing infrastructure, rather than continually building more.

The Commission also recommended the Government implement congestion pricing, to which Robertson responded it was already “looking at” the policy.

We’ve long supported road pricing as has the potential to provide significant benefits to Auckland, most notably from providing more reliable journeys but also in either reducing travel demand or encouraging greater uptake of alternative modes. These outcomes will help in reducing emissions, improving safety, improve efficiency for both freight and public transport services, and long-term benefits to our health system as a result of more people using active modes. There is also the added benefit that in reducing demand it reduces or removes the need for large road projects in the future.

Active modes have the potential to play a massive role given around half of all trips are less than 6km in length, a distance easily achievable by bike, while further 25% of trips are 6-12km in length, a distance easily and efficiently served by e-bikes.

Given it’s in the news, it’s useful to have a reminder about just what was proposed for Road Pricing by a joint working group of government and council agencies.

The scheme is initially expected to start around the city centre but expand out to other parts of Auckland over time. The first phase is timed to come after the City Rail Link has been completed and when combined with other PT and bike improvements, will ensure there are good alternative options available for most people – there will always be some that it won’t work for.

It would work by having cameras with Automatic Number Plate Recognition on major corridors and you would be charged if you were picked up on one (or more) of them. The fee charged would be the same regardless of how many cameras you were picked up on. Given most trips would need to cross a major corridor at some point, this would mean there is little opportunity for rat-running – and if rat-running were to occur, it would likely be fairly easy to fix it with the addition of additional cameras. It should also be noted that this is not a cordon like exists in places like London where you pay only for crossing a boundary, and so people making trips that are wholly inside the charged area would still get charged.

As for prices, these were the indicative prices but they would need to be confirmed as part of the next phase and would also likely be subject to regular reviews.

If the government do announce road pricing next week it will still require legislation to enable it and a lot more work will need to be done to fully design the scheme and then roll it out. That scheme design will need to include aspects like how it addresses issues of equity as well as issues like what pre-conditions for expansion of the system are, such as the quality of public transport available.

Given the concept was unanimously supported by Parliaments Transport and Infrastructure Committee there is the potential for the legislation to pass fairly easily.

Finally in some I’m sure not coincidental timing, the Helen Clark Foundation have just released a report into the potential for congestion charging in Auckland and Wellington. It supports the concept with the title of the report even reflecting this, called A Fair Charge for Better Cities. The report has three overall recommendations:

  1. Congestion charging should be part of the policy mix to improve our cities and help meet our climate goals
    • International evidence shows congestion charging can be an effective policy to reduce congestion and emissions.
    • Equity concerns need to be addressed before implementation, and robust community engagement and strengthened alternatives like better public transport must be done at the same time.
    • It should be implemented alongside complementary policies like investing in frequent public transport services and rapid transit, and creating low-traffic neighbourhoods with lower speed limits – congestion charging will not fix our transport issues alone.
  2. Congestion charging could be implemented in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland’s CBD fairly
    • City-specific modelling shows that a congestion charge will meaningfully reduce traffic and emissions in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland.
    • Analysis indicates that there are sufficient alternatives for those travelling to and from Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland’s CBD, and that lower income communities largely do not commute to the CBD, so a charge will not impact them.
    • However, a charge outside the CBD is unlikely to be justified due to the lack of public and active transport alternatives.
    • Further analysis and modelling needs to be done for Te Whanganui-a-tara Wellington, as the initial research indicates there could be equity issues with a CBD charging zone.
  3. Equity should be embedded into the design of any congestion charging scheme in Aotearoa New Zealand
    • There should be sufficient public and active transport alternatives before a charging zone is enacted in any particular area.
    • Revenue should go back into improving transport options for the city implementing it and funding mitigations.
    • Robust community engagement is essential and should not be passive.
    • There should be daily caps on charges, and the operating hours of the scheme should be limited to between, just before morning
      peak traffic, and after afternoon/early evening traffic to avoid unduly impacting on shift workers.
    • Exemptions should be limited to public transport, emergency vehicles, and those who provide mobility for disabled people.
    • The above key principles should be enshrined in the enabling legislation.
    • A pilot scheme or smaller initial rollout would be helpful to showcase the benefits and monitor the equity impacts.

It will be interesting to see just what’s announced on Monday and what other supporting measures will be included in the ERP.

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    1. Really? The CBD is dominated by PT users already and there is talk of this replacing the Auckland fuel tax. This benefits a heap of people.

      1. The CBD (since Covid with many working from home) isn’t congested. Building and maintaining a camera network is such a waste of funds. If the goal is to reduce emissions, have an annual increase of petrol tax and use these funds exclusively to improve infrastructure of active transport modes and Public Transport.

        1. My old boss in London said the congestion charge actually saved him money because he needed less delivery drivers.

        2. Yea not having to build cameras is a big plus. The way to control car use I think is put the tracker on the cars. A smart phones worth of technology in each car, could be dynamically charge road use depending on how busy it is. It could also automate enforcement of parking and speeding.

          Before a Tesla bro tells me that this is Orwellian. Modern cars already pretty much have this.

        3. The problem with building a network of cameras is when the the boundaries are changed, as they will, the cameras will be in the wrong place, or do we just build yet another ugly gantry.
          Surely looking at this in conjunction with the move to create a better and fairer RUC system would be to install a GPS system in to every vehicle and when changes are made or new areas added it’s just a matter of having the system update its boundary maps and the change happens almost instantaneously

        4. GPS tracking system into every vehicle isn’t going to be the answer. I’ve had 2 phones where the GPS has failed. So when that happens (and I’d suggest people will find ways to intentionally disable or shield it) then it will look the car is not in moving. There’s also the privacy issue of putting trust in those with access to the data.

    2. With all parties in support? Act would surely be at the fore-front of this – user pays charges etc

      1. ACT will find a reason to oppose. They are libertarians in name only, what they really want is to fine enough Epsom (and/or right-wing fringe) voters to keep them in parliament. Probably THEY would latch onto the “Orwellian!” argument as a smokescreen.

        But keep an eye out for them to also suddenly claim it’s so inequitable, it should never be done.

    3. I think Labour has given up on reelection and just want to do some useful reforms before they are thrown out.

        1. The problem with unpopular policies is that you bring them in during the first year after election. Get the pain over – so people either forget it, or hopefully even see the benefits after 2 years later.

        2. Or if you are bloody minded, you do them when you are so unpopular you know you will be in opposition for 6 to 9 years regardless.

        3. “Or if you are bloody minded, you do them when you are so unpopular you know you will be in opposition for 6 to 9 years regardless.”

          Well yeah – but that’s not exactly the kind of mind-set that I see in a Labour Party whose most suitable adjectives for describing their actions over the last couple years were “timid” and “hesitant”.

          Plus, even as a purported strategy it is rather debatable – if you pass legislation that is deemed too radical by National, they will just cancel it once they come in. They, sadly, are not “timid” or “hesitant” when it comes to what they believe in.

  1. Happy with the CBD part, but they shouldn’t have even suggested the other stages before it had been implemented for years in the CBD successfully.

    I’m for the CBD charge (the area surrounded by motorway/harbour rather than the bigger map they seem to intend for stage 1), just not for the rest of the city, and I don’t think the city is ready for it either. Think they might manage to torpedo a proposal supported by most parties by suggesting that everyone from Manurewa to Albany will have to pay.

    1. I agree. I don’t think congestion charging for the rest of the city should even be considered until it has been rolled out in the CBD and PT has improved outside of the CBD. I live in the Devonport-Takapuna area, where the govt is considering rolling congestion charging out to after the CBD and everyone I know is up in arms about it. My main issue is that in our area, we only have one road in/out, so the PT connection isnt the greatest. I use my bike, the bus and ferry to get around but struggle to get anywhere further than milford without my car because of the travel time.

        1. its difficult to actually get bus lanes considering its generally one lane each way the whole day down Lake road…

          we have cycle lanes but they are not protected. this does put some people off which is unfortunate, but I understand why.

        2. If Lake Road had a bus lane then maybe so many people would not have to drive? A better bus service than every 30 minutes might help. Paid parking in Devonport might mean that bus services are better patronised and so can be more regular. As most of the Lake Road trips are apparently on the peninsular maybe a congestion charge would encourage people to use the bus.
          There are always answers to can’t.

      1. Improvements in public transport services (and also other infrastructure) tend to follow increased demand, rather than vice versa. A congestion charge will encourage people whose journey can be completed by public transport to use public transport. This will free up road space for journeys that cannot easily be completed by public transport. And result in enough users for more frequent bus and ferry services.
        Everyone in Devonport is always up in arms about everything. As one local put it, they enjoy living in a quiet and difficult to access place, then complain that access is difficult. With better roads they would complain about more visitors. They seem to have managed to avoid any suburban intensification taking place on the peninsula.

        1. yes, i know. Now they’re upset that certain areas are losing the special character overlay, but its their own fault because these people have renovated their historic homes to the point where its not even considered as being historic anymore. Of course they can’t understand that..

      2. I live in Devonport too. I don’t really know what all the fuss is about. It’s a 15 congestion free hop on the ferry to city centre. My partner commutes to Newmarket/Epsom on the ebike, takes less than 40 mins door to door. When you suggest this to locals here they say they couldn’t possibly ride and insist on driving up lake road and then getting stuck on motorway on ramp, more often than not after having driven their kids the 1-2 km to the local school. The only investment Devonport needs is
        more paid parking, some bus preemption at a few traffic lights and separated bike lanes. If they could bring in an ebike share scheme that would be great. Job done.

        1. The bike hire scheme in London and Paris over 10 years ago was fantastic. I’d like to think AT could do one in Auckland using eBikes. That would be great.

    2. The London congestion AND emission charges are for any vehicle MOVING within the zone whether the vehicle is based in it or not BUT if you are using one of the main arterial routes through the zone North-South or East to West you are NOT charged the congestion fee, on the emission.

      I feel sorry for people who would need to use SH1 through Auckland because they live in South Auckland but have to work on the North Shore with the proposed system as public transport will not help their commute.

      1. Wait surely the CBD charge only applies if you exit the motorway into the CBD not just carry on along it

  2. With concerns about the cost of living trumping basically everything else at the moment, I wonder if the government will actually pull the trigger on what on the surface reads as another tax.

    My non-transport minded leftist friends I’ve raised congestion charging all think it’s a terrible idea, and I think that’s reflected in some of the polls I’ve seen over the past day.

    1. From a left-wing perspective opposing congestion charging, it is “privatising public realm.”

      From a right-wing perspective, it’s “penalising freedom of choice”.

      It is very important to articulate the benefits of congestion charging from a left AND right-wing perspective.

      1. The leftist argument is normally based on poor people can’t afford to pay for it. Similar argument for paid parking. From and equity point of view both of these measures support lower income areas more than they disadvantage them

  3. So someone who is driving a two tonne ute will pay the same toll to drive into the CBD as my three door Mini? Despite it being almost half the weight and literally half the size?

    1. Bring in a congestion charge, then add a pollution charge/large vehicle penalty later, on once the system is up and running. That is basically how the London Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) was introduced. It would have been almost impossible to introduce from the get-go, but was a more straightforward (relatively speaking) intervention as a “next-stage” project.

      1. Not when you’re parking. It also generates more wear and tear and increases the overall safety risk for peds and cyclists.

        1. London does not differentiate unless your in a proper truck. Ute’s, SUVs and cars are treated the same. It’s the age of the vehicle and it’s emission category that matters. We should be dissuading all unnecessary vehicles.

    2. Yes, same congestion charge because driving either creates the same congestion.

      Not to say there shouldn’t also be something to account for emissions.

      1. Takes up more space when parked, less parking spaces available, more cruising for a park, more congestion

  4. Kia Ora. That’s fine for Auckland but what about the rest of NZ? I really think that introducing a fuel voucher system and decreasing the amount of fuel available on a regular basis will be a better way for the whole country to share the burden of reducing emissions by reducing the amount of vehicle kilometres travelled. Any system that is price based will burden lower income households. The wealthiest, who contribute the highest amount of emissions will be able to afford any price increase whether it is a fuel tax or it is a congestion charge.

    1. I generally agree with more quota based systems, however there are also serious inequities with such a system. Low income households are often in the outskirts far away from workplaces and also poorly served by public transport, making it harder for these households to make the switch.

      I do think however we should be more open to carbon quotas in general on things like electronics, travel and even food.

      Another alternative to the congestion pricing is that you set vehicle kilometres travelled restrictions on the people who live within the inner city boundary. The logic again is that people in the inner city have (comparably) excellent public and active transport so should be able to get around without a car.

  5. Looks great, let’s go.

    The go to; “great idea in the theory, but…” is people keep saying something like we need to invest in PT first. While this is true, the level of investment in Auckland PT has been massive over the past decade, and is now something reasonable to use (even more so with CRL). This never gets mentioned, and know too many people completely unaware of how much better Pt is now.

    Is there a ball park figure for how much how much has been invested in PT since AT started?

    1. Well it went from “useless” to “at least you can now use it if you’re in a pinch” (and you have to appreciate this progress), but we’re a long way from being able to, say, get one car less and rely on PT to get around.

      I don’t know a ball park figure but I can make a guess on how it compares to a ball park figure for how much has been invested in roads for cars.

      1. Agree Jak – it has to be both – improvements to PT and active modes AND the congestion charge.

        Monitoring congestion after the charges are implemented might mean that some of the PT improvements aren’t as urgent as buses might not be stuck in as much traffic …

      2. I am 6 years deep on carlessness (zero car household). I know how to drive and have the money to buy a car, but not I don’t need one, this because of the PT which I buy into by living close to a rail station. I understand that not everyone is like me.

        I would not be surprised if it is actually more that has been spent on Pt in Auckland than roads.

        1. It is a numbers game. There is not a lot of homes in Auckland where you have independent mobility without a car. Case in point, only a small amount of homes are close to a station because so far we have been too dumb to build higher density housing near stations.

          I always tried to find one where you can at least do daily errands without a car, but they are in short supply. The only reason I could actually get one is that most people don’t care about this so you don’t pay through the nose if you want to be a kilometre closer to the town centre.

        2. I disagree that there not many homes in Auckland where being car free is an option. Everywhere within a 1k of a frequent transport line, pretty much is. That’s probably describing more half of Auckland and the frenquent bus roll out with have 90% of homes with 500 meters of a frequent PT connection (hilariously my house will be one of the 10%).

          The cost to drive a car is simply far far too low. That’s changing.

        3. Well technically living car free is an option in every house, but in some houses it will cost you more mobility than in others. You have to draw the line somewhere. At some point the time it takes to do a trip without a car becomes so punishing, or the environment for walking or cycling may be so hostile, that people just stay home and don’t go out anymore.

          1km from a frequent transport line is a really low bar. I am within 1km, but I wouldn’t dream of recommending any of my neighbours to go car free.

          I think the “close to a frequent line” argument is a bit disingenuous, link to the longer explanation in my blog post here → https://wrongsideofmycar.blogspot.com/2022/03/the-isthmus-buses-really-are-better.html

        4. The cost to drive a car is simply far far too low.
          Yes, the problem is car ownership. After you buy a car and are already paying all the fixed annual costs (insurance, service, wof, rego, age depreciation), the cost to use it vs not use becomes a non decision. Will a few dollars cost of congestion charging reduce car ownership, not substantially is my guess.

        5. “I would not be surprised if it is actually more that has been spent on Pt in Auckland than roads.”

          Then you will have to stay unsurprised, because the cost of motorways, new roads, and road maintenance across Auckland dwarfs what has been spent on PT. Lots of articles over the years here on this blog to find the numbers on.

          Yes, PT has gotten better, but it seriously isn’t and hasn’t been getting the lion’s share.

  6. It is important to allocate the revenue raised to the corridor it is collected in to provide alternatives to driving in that corridor. If money is taken from Manurewa and spent in Massey then the system starts to look like a tax machine rather than a means of changing demand and mode.

    1. Ring fencing is dangerous, just because a region has a lot of road vechicle trips doen’t immediatly mean the PT network in that area is poor.
      Is it a tax, maybe? depends on semantics, but it is monies colleced by a govenment agency. Even ring fencing it for PT improvements is problematic, as the better the chares work, the less money goes to supporting the very thing it was intended to promote. PT should have its own defined budget, and not be reliant on the top ups from congestion charging. Potentially it could be used to top up the farebox recovery, or instead offset PT fares maintaing the reduced fares for longer?

      1. Ring fencing makes it an easier sell when introducing the scheme. Once it is in you can chose to pay the fee and drive or change your behaviour and benefit. It also makes it harder for a tax cutting government to reduce the charge and prevents the road building lobby from promoting new roads to spend the money.

        1. I think you need to be really clear if the purpose of the congestion charge is to manage demand with the revenue being a byproduct or whether the objective is to raise revenue to fund transport improvements. I sort of agree with Miffy, it’s better to reinvest the money raised in the area which is subject to the charge from a public buy-in perspective.

        2. I agree although ringfencing to one particular corridor is probably too tight. Ringfence to alternatives that people using those corridors could use, which at a network level is in, around and parallel to in quite a broad way.

          First step is to make pretty much all buses frequent all the time, so that everyone has that good basic transit access as a backstop. That wouldn’t actually cost much, maybe 50% more opex.

          Then look at other improvements to the PT network, capital works on footpaths and cycling etc.

        3. Ring fence for PT fare reductions, the more collected, the cheaper the fares are, reviewed yearly or something. So the more that is collected the more attractive an alternative is.

  7. I see this as just re-announcing what was consulted on several months ago. 2025 has been the roll out date for the first stage of congestion pricing for a long time.
    I’ve been hoping that they might bring it forward. The technology is established so the only thing needed is putting up some gantries. Surely it could be in place by the end of the year?

  8. We are getting de facto congestion charging now,the price of fuel,a fairly blunt instrument,but if temporary tax relief is dropped after 3 months,$3.50 a litre not out of the question.
    Politics will have a fair bit to play on what happens next,but would seem odd to support congestion charging,while subsidizing fuel cost.

  9. Even with congestion charging there is a case for retaining a portion of local fuel tax.
    In some ways fuel tax is a blunt instrument but in other ways it is remarkably sharp.

    There are two distinct problems at play.

    That which gobbles time, amenity and fuel.
    Here, congestion charging, is the way to go.

    These are directly proportional to the amount of fuel burnt, and in general their harm is independent of time of day.
    Here fuel taxes incentivise lighter, more fuel efficient vehicles, or complete change of vehicle type.

    The provision of better PT, walking, cycling alternatives is common to reducing the harm from both problems.
    And of course so is urban intensification.
    This both reduces journey lengths and facilitates the provision of the alternatives.

  10. Luxon was on the morning shows saying National are generally supportive of congestion charge in Auckland….so this will hopefully have broad political support (depending on the detail)….

    1. Please forgive me if I have this wrong, but doesn’t the Congestion charge only kick in when you cross the border from one area to another? So people outside the centre will have to pay when they come into town, but on the other hand, if you already live in the centre and are just driving around completely within the central area, then you won’t have to pay the Congestion charge? So if you are going from home in Parnell into the City, you’ll not be paying that charge? Is that a correct assumption?

      1. There will always be anomalies.
        It will always be a trade off between minimising the cost of the required infrastructure and the cost of any anomalies.
        In the case you give, Parnell to the CBD, I am unconvinced that there would be many such trips. So much easier to jump on and off a bus, you don’t need to park the bus. Or walk, and if cycling infrastructure is improved, cycle, or e scooter/cycle.
        Now if the trip is into a company provided carpark, then tax the carpark enough to make it a disincentive.

        1. An example of such trips is the fact that you have to pay for parking in the city but it’s free in all of the surrounding city fringe, so for a car owning apartment dweller, driving across to Ponsonby for instance, each day for work, is cheaper than leaving the car parked on a central city street. It’s the perverse outcome of street space being completely undervalued and handed over for parking anywhere but the central city.

        2. In reply to BBC.
          Conceded that CBD fringe parking costs have absolutely sub minimal relationship with the value of the land occupied compared to immediatly adjacent land at approaching $10000 per sq m2.
          But is the effect of these trips actually enough to finance the required fine grained detection and charging system required to sufficiently deter them?

        3. Parnell to the CBD. DonR I say that you are wrong. I had many a wasted hour when I worked in Parnell and sat in a bus to the city that was stationery because of cars all around.

      2. “It should also be noted that this is not a cordon like exists in places like London where you pay only for crossing a boundary, and so people making trips that are wholly inside the charged area would still get charged.”

      3. Guy M, no it’s an area scheme so driving entirely within the zone also accrues the charge. It’s not just crossing the border.

  11. > Active modes have the potential to play a massive role given around half of all trips are less than 6km in length, a distance easily achievable by bike, while further 25% of trips are 6-12km in length, a distance easily and efficiently served by e-bikes.<

    Is this an Auckland only measure or is it all of NZ?

    1. Using ANPR on motorways would leave this solution open to rat running.
      I live on Gt North Rd. The road is busy enough without having extra vehicles using it as an alternative.
      I believe it would be better to use a GPS based solution with geofencing

    1. lol tread lightly, while burning this enormous scar through the countryside. I think it’s a dumb goal anyway, but its objectively never going to be met with any massive new corridor.

      I wonder when they are going to release the next business case. The last one estimated the project at a 1/3rd of what they are thinking it’ll cost now, so the old 0.6BCR isn’t really that hot any more. I suspect the worst benefit cost of any large project in the last 40 years.

      Going back and making up with another billion in benefits is really going to test those business case makers, but needs must.

      1. Talking of scars through the countryside, does anyone know why New Zealand is so reluctant to use tunelling on its motorways? The overriding impression of Transmission Gully is of a looooong climb to a steep cutting slashed through the hillside, with unsightly slope stabilisation.

        This could and should have been tunnelled. Is it really cheaper to bore tunnels compared to carting away whole hillsides? Tunnels are more resilient than steep cuttings in a rainy, earthquake-prone landscape.

        Look at motorways in Spain, Italy or Japan – tunnels are so commonplace as to be unremarkable. What’s the difference here? Any ideas?

        1. Is it cynical to say that NZ companies probably wouldn’t get the tunnelling job, so they prefer to get a large earthworks job?

          It probably is cynical. But you could certainly see some designer / tenderer going “Well, we don’t really have the expertise here, so there’s a risk depending on overseas companies with this kind of design…”

        2. Yes, it is more way more expensive to tunnel than to cart away soil. Remember that TG was aimed at being a net zero sum gain – dirt dug out of hillside was used to fill in holes elsewhere.

          Next question?

        3. Tunnels are great, but significantly more to build and multiples of the cost to operate.

        4. Next question: Why aren’t we willing to spend the extra money to dig tunnels?

        5. Because motorways are already ridiculously expensive with a poor return, but they want to build lots of them. So they go as cheap as possible.

    2. But to be honest, the current road is more like a country lane, one lane each way, and shared with tractors etc. It is hugely unsafe, for anyone that is not familiar with this neck o the woods (probably most of your readers). And before you say “take Public Transport instead” there is only one train, the Capital Connection, which goes something ridiculous like twice a day, each way. I have to go from Wellington to Palmerston North next week (a 2 hour drive) and will have to hire a car and drive both ways. Too short to fly. Too long to cycle (no way would I ride that route anyway, without a death wish!). No train at the right times. The Bus is awful, and again, wrong times. Down here, we honestly have little choice but to drive a car.

      1. Thats a false equivalence. In your logic: The train currently isn’t very good, so its not an option, so the only option is to spend 1.5B on the road?

        What about a more reasonable comparison, investment in both scenarios, spend a few a half a billion on the rail corridor? What would that buy? Double tracking, curve easements, electrification, rolling stock… Might not be the ridiculous twice a day train any more then? A parallel cycleway thrown in for good measure?

        Really though, my main issue with O2NL is the safety side. The opportunity cost is absolutely massive. We could buy far, far more lives saved with 1.5 billion than that new corridor. Could do median ropes and side barriers from Levin to Taupo with that kind of dough. A 90% reduction in DSI over 280km is going to be vastly more than a 100% reduction over 25km.

      2. Guy, sorry to say that the Capital Connection runs only once per day, each way. That’s your choice of train north of Waikanae (bearing in mind that the Northern Explorer, that runs once-per-2-days each way, is currently not operating). Things surely can only improve?

  12. I’m a big supporter of congestion charging – it should remove those low value car trips, while freeing up road space for higher productivity vehicles (like trucks and services)

  13. Dealing with tradies: the difficult thing is to identify when a trip is truly for business. This is necessary to be able to exempt essential vehicle trips, not only for congestion charges but also for the tax advantages of light trucks, to stop incentives for uses for non-trade activities. Trade PHEV, if not BEV, should be widely available by the time congestion charges start, especially wider areas outside city centre.

    1. Isn’t it the easiest if they just pay the charge like anyone else? And if I want to have a plumber visit me during rush hour I will have to pay those extra few dollars as part of the call-out fee.

      1. Agree, cleaner to just have them pay like anyone else to avoid creating loopholes in the system. Really there shouldn’t be any additional cost for them to pass on either. If the congestion charge actually reduces congestion then they will be saving enough travel time to offset the impact on their call out rates.

        1. Yes. The tradies argument is ridiculous. They benefit from clearer roads where they DO have to drive – and otherwise they just charge it on. It’s a pretty level playing field. There won’t be THAT many tradies inside the boundary (if that even exempts them from the congestion charge) as to give them any real competitive advantage. Who’s going to chose a Ponsonby plumber over a Otara plumber ON THE BASIS of one of the two having to on-charge 3 bucks?

        2. Nailed it! They should be the ones most supporting the scheme bcause of the time (cost) savings they will get.

        3. A plumber charges minimum $100 an hour +GST in Auckland.

          Paying $3.50 to travel at peak times is worth it if it saves them just two minutes on average.

          Or to put it another way, even if Mr Plumber paid the full peak rate twice a day every day, it would cost them $35 a week. So they would only need to be able to do an extra hour of work *once every three weeks* for it to break even.

          Tradies should be screaming for this to happen, they are the ones that really need their own vehicles for their gear, they are the ones that need to get around a lot of different sites, and they are the ones that get hammered by congestion.

      2. Yup. One of the absolute cornerstones of congestion charging is that it is as simple and universal as possible.

        Keep exceptions to an absolute minimum; they make the system appear less fair, leave it liable to loopholes and are costly to administer.

    2. There should be no exemptions for “essential trips”.
      Businesses arguably have far more to gain under a system that charges them than individuals.
      If you charge 80$ an hour for your work then you don’t have to save hardly any time at all to make it all back instantly.

      Its like saying heavy trucks should be exempt from RUC’s or something because its needed. In this case businesses using valuable and expensive space on the roads? then pay up. If its not worth it then thats perfect, don’t use such valuable space.

    3. The fee will be off-set by the travel time savings on the call out. I suspect many times over based on the rates tradies are charging. It should work out cheaper for the tradie and the customer

  14. Is congestion charging based on 2-hour intervals in place anywhere? Sounds quite innovative.

    Any thoughts was the impact of $7 a day would be?

  15. Its worth remembering that we effectively already have congestion charges in Auckland. Ramp signals on motorway ramps just charge you time instead of money and in doing so have a hugely disruptive impact on the local network adjacent to motorway interchanges as well as causing a lot of fuel wastage with cars idling in queues. It would be much better if we used pricing to remove some of the vehicles from the road in the peaks and decongest those areas.

    I for one would be happy to see congestion charging replace the

    1. You would only remove the signals if (and only where) the congestion charge is high enough to remove the need for them.

      But they WOULD be active a lot less, everything else staying the same.

    2. Yep, currently we take the soviet bread line strategy of pricing, infinite queueing. Both on and off the motorway.

      1. Indeed! Would anyone choose to allocate food by willingness to queue? Not if they can help it. When articulated in this way, it appears absurd that we ration road space by willingness to wait around until it is free.

        1. It is even worse in case of parking, where it is not merely queueing up, but cruising around in circles and being a massive nuisance to everyone else.

          It is also a trivial observation that a lot of people prefer cruising around for a stupid amount of time, over paying a few dollars.

        2. Illogical Captain. People always queuing in supermarkets. And the better the supermarket, the longer the queue, as the food is better quality so the longer wait is worth it.

  16. “As for prices, these were the indicative prices but they would need to be confirmed as part of the next phase and would also likely be subject to regular reviews.”

    Yes – they need to be regularly reviewed. Singapore is best practice and regularly reviews the pricing.

    The main objective is to manage congestion, not simply collect revenue.

    1. I believe that Singapore works with a transponder system as does Sao Paulo. Isn’t that much more efficient than cameras everywhere? The transponder system does not require administrative follow up because it is pre-pay.

  17. There is logic behind congestion charges when the PT system is truly rapid and widespread. The eight, yes only eight!, cities in the world that have implemented congestion charging all (except maybe Dubai) have comprehensive citywide metro systems (Dubai’s is rapidly expanding).
    However most of Aucklands congestion is not actually in the CBD and we really only have a pretend rapid transit system. The charges are just a tax. It wont really reduce congestion until it covers a wider area. It would certainly need to capture all traffic that crosses the CMJ.

    1. If the implementation of congestion charging waits until everyone agrees that we have a great transit system it won’t happen in my grandson’s life time.
      The need to drastically reduce emissions means that Auckland has to do something. I think it should start with the premise that the further you travel the more you pay, such as going through different boundaries. It will be equitable because I could almost guarantee that it isn’t the poorest in our community who travel the furthest.

      1. Charging people to travel further is easy. Start an annual increase of petrol tax. We already have the systems in place, so it can start now with no extra capex or opex costs. It also penalizes people using more petrol in higher emission vehicles. It’s predictable with gradually increasing motivation (costs) for people to change their behavior to fit NZ emission reduction targets. In principle I don’t support more tax, but congestion charging is just another form of tax.

  18. Seriously, traveling from North West Auckland to the CBD by public transport has been made virtually impossible by years of WK and AT and AK council ambivalence to the Norwest while at the same time pocketing millions in rates and developer contributions from rampant development and Regional Fuel Taxes – it is absolutely obscene and probably illegal that they could foist congestion charges on the Norwest. The latest obscenity is the close a major dangerous and severely congested intersection (buses and cars alike) rather than fix it despite it being funded in 2015 at the same time encouraging more development (Fletcher’s proposed Riverhead development). Where’s the transport hub at Westgate? Where’s the bus lane/way on the NW. Where’s the train to Huapai? Where’s the roading improvements from the NW mway to Waimauku? Where’s the RFT money gone?

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