The business section of the NZ Herald is full of opinion. Among the more opinionated of all is the ex-Minister of Transport, ex-Minister of Railways, ex MP for Auckland Central (1975-93, Labour), Wellington Central (1996-99, ACT, then list-2005), ex-leader of the ACT Party, uncle to actor Antonia, the veritable granddaddy of reckons himself: Richard Prebble CBE.

Of course, with that lifetime of achievement behind him, he can claim to have had considerable influence on the state of our cities and transport networks over the decades. So it was with excitement that I started reading his opinion piece yesterday (paywalled), with the compelling and accurate title:

Traffic congestion is not inevitable – it is a choice

Huzzah! I thought – at last, some sense about traffic congestion.

The op-ed begins by hailing the new government’s self-ordained and sweeping powers to override the planning process, by saying, and I quote “Governments are poor at picking winners”. Ummm, okay?

But quickly, we come to the matter at hand. “The impact of having planning laws that can be used to block needed infrastructure.” he writes, “is enormous.”

In my experience Auckland’s traffic congestion is worse than New York’s. Auckland’s gridlock is not an accident. The city’s planners planned it.

Ignoring the New York thing for a moment: so this is why in all those powerful roles he failed to achieve anything much? Dastardly city planners! If only there were, say, a well-funded central government transport agency with sweeping powers to build transport systems through our cities, to override these pesky planners. Or even, heaven forfend, a railway system, with indeed its own minister?

There comes some confusion about dates, with Prebble recalling a meeting with planners from the Auckland Regional Council before that organisation existed, at which they reportedly laid out their sneaky plan to prevent anyone getting to the airport. Fair enough, could happen to anyone.

A snippet from Richard Prebble’s opinion column in the NZ Herald, 13 March 2024

Things then get even more confusing, as Prebble claims that despite his 30 years of trying: “There is still no road connecting the east to the airport.” You sure about that now?

SH20B, connecting from the east directly to the airport.

Suddenly it becomes clear that all this airport reminiscence is in aid of the new government’s promised resurrection of the world’s most expensive and lowest value road: the proposed East-West Link between Mt Wellington and Onehunga (arguably sort of in the airport-ish area, at a stretch). Prebble does concede that this highway has a poor cost-benefit ratio, but moves on by incanting: “Using assets more efficiently is a no brainer.” (Ed to Richard: You’re not really selling it).

Thankfully, then we get a flash of clarity:

“It is nuts to spend over $5b on the central (sic) rail link tunnel and then not remove [level] rail crossings…”

I fully agree with this point – as does Mayor Wayne Brown, who has argued that the opportunity cost of funding the East-West Link is too high, when we could improve both road and rail networks through level crossing removal with that money instead.

A snippet from Mayor Wayne Brown’s response to the new RONS, as reported by Oliver Lewis for Businessdesk, 7 March 2024.

We’re on a roll now, as Prebble turns out to also be in alignment with the Mayor on the question of an additional harbour crossing, and says so explicitly:

“And the Mayor is right. A second Harbour Bridge is far cheaper than a tunnel”

Ah, but sadly we’re soon wandering off piste again, where our august author returns to the matter of cost-benefit analysis. He praises the idea of economic evaluation to ‘take the politics out of decision making’, except when it come to buses, because:

“You cannot take freight on a bus”

Alrighty. Let’s just leave that insight and move on. Because now we come to the peak reckon, the nub of the piece, and the source of the headline:

The problem with this bit of touristic anecdata is really too obvious to bother unpacking, but here we are.

Interestingly, I had a similar experience in Copenhagen, where a friend insisted on picking me up from my hotel in the very centre of the city in his car, despite my certainty that this would be hopeless given how the streets were all given over to bike riders and pedestrians, and anyway, the Copenhagen train system is so good that shouldn’t i just jump on one to get to his place?

Exactly, he said, that’s why the drive will be easy, no one much is doing it. And so it proved. Nothing, as the theory tells us, improves the efficacy of urban driving more than heavily investing in all the alternatives, so the roads are more free for those who need or want to drive.

(And as any Aucklander knows, driving somewhere is easiest when fewer people are trying to do it at the same time as you.)

I delivered Prebble’s Tokyo-related gem on Twitter, where the hive mind did its thing, as expected. Russell Brown chimed in, with facts:

and, via Leigh Hunt:

Indeed. We call it “mode share”, and the fewer cars relative to other modes, the easier one generally finds it to drive. It’s not rocket science. See, Richard, if you can spot the difference between Tokyo and Auckland on the chart.

“Traffic congestion is not inevitable – it is a choice”. This is indisputable. What we feed grows. If we build new or expanded roads we get more driving, and more congestion. When we have a wildly imbalanced urban transport mix – as we do in Auckland and other cities in Aotearoa – the only way to reduce congestion is to reduce driving, because too much driving is literally what congestion is.

To reduce driving, we really have few options. First the sticks.

We can make driving more expensive, in terms of money (aka demand management), or in terms of time (oooops, well, this is congestion, we already do this, and then we also wonder why it eases somewhat during school holidays).

Or we can improve the alternatives to driving, the carrots, so that some people will choose them by preference, for some trips, some of the time.

Or… we can do both – surely the best choice, as we want to retain accessibility even as we improve road efficiency.

Be like Tokyo, or Copenhagen.

There is also the key role of urban form; allow and enable a more compact city: there is literally no faster and more efficient mode of transport than none at all; being there already. Proximity trumps mobility every time.

Again; be like those cities with mixed use dense urban forms with all transport modes strongly supported.

The quiet and productive streets of central Copenhagen

At this point in the op-ed (stay with me here), we see the return of Based Prebble. Yass! “We need road user changes and congestion charges.” he says.

Quite right. The thing is that although none of us (least of all me) believes it personally, the driving system is subsidised, very hard to feel that’s case when you’re buying, insuring, repairing, parking, or fuelling a vehicle. But the construction and maintenance of our road and streets are subsidised from other than direct transport taxes.

Yes, the driving system is funded partly through direct taxes, fuel tax and road user charges – but it’s also subsidised, and increasingly so, via property taxes, and general taxation (at the expense of more funding for funding hospitals and schools).

And then there are the harder-to-see compounding costs that driving dumps on society and the environment, through ongoing harms – the toll of deaths and injuries, the impacts of air pollution, the increasingly alarming effects of microplastics (most of which come from tyre dust), and the generational health impacts of foregone activity, and the existential challenge of climate change.

The reality is that drivers are not so much burdened, as we often feel ourselves to be, and as our new transport minister often likes to claim, but pampered. Other parts of the economy fund us daily to go brrrrroom brrrroom. And sit in gridlock.

Our op-ed champion, the decorated and many-partied ex-minister Prebble, has our back on this. Well, sort of.

While he is fully tika in supporting road pricing, Prebble also seems to have fallen into the great road pricing trap, which is thinking of it as simply another way to raise funds. Yes, it can be that. But first and foremost, road pricing is a demand management tool.

If a “good” (and connection and access is indeed good) is under-priced, then Economics 101 tells it will be over-subscribed. And so it is with urban driving. People will drive 400m for a latte, and make all sorts of other low-value and/or easily walkable or bikeable journeys by car, because it feels “free”, and because the alternatives are underdeveloped.

It isn’t “free”, of course, for all the reasons outlined above. But that’s the vibe, because the real costs of driving – both financial and social – are largely buried and hidden from us, as we gaze through the windscreen and trundle down the road.

So, the first great and positive impact of almost any form of road pricing is to help people decide, for some of the time and for some journeys, to not drive: to use an alternative way to get there, or to Zoom instead, or to save up their errands for one trip, or to time-shift their travel, or some or all of the above.

Thus, as a demand management tool, road pricing actually reduces the pressure to spend ever greater sums on building and widening roads. It brings driving back from the brink, especially at the peak of the peak. Mostly we already have a lavish supply of roads and lanes, and it’s only at peak times that the system breaks down into infarction. Road pricing, especially targeted at times and places that rich in alternatives (like the city centre), means we can have a more efficient and productive driving experience, at a lower ongoing cost on roading.

To be really effective, of course, pricing needs to be rolled out in parallel with improvements to the alternatives to driving.

The good news is that some of that is happening. We’ve improved things a lot for public transport this century, and for bike riders, a little – the happiest and most efficient commuters of them all.

The new government says it will complete a good number of rapid transit projects begun under its predecessors: CRL, the Eastern Busway, Airport to Botany (on that non-existent road), and the Northwestern Busway. Great. However, it also says it will also reduce the funding to operate the very services on these networks, weirdly, because it must instead build many more massive highways. This it says is because public transport is subsidised, and subsidies are bad. Well all transport modes are subsidised, especially driving. Subsidises are really financial transfers used to unlock economic value. The question should be of where is better economic value rather than claims of one mode being subsidised and another not.

To truly serve the city of Auckland, and especially its drivers, it would be better if the new government didn’t spend billions on the two expensive and invasive urban motorways it has chosen, without any up-to-date cost-benefit or alternatives analysis, that will induce more driving and make traffic congestion worse. Instead, it should improve those areas more subtly at lower cost, while funding public transport services well, and speedily help complete the (currently fragmented) bike network, to really make the promised road pricing work brilliantly.

After all, the new government, according to its leader, is wisely focused on emulating countries with much more balanced transport networks:

“The two things are not mutually exclusive, right?” Luxon said. “I mean, if you look at the top five countries with the highest-quality roads, they’ve seen a fall in their emissions over a number of decades now.

If you’re looking about Netherlands or Switzerland or Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, you know, those kinds of places, they can have both and, you know, we are totally committed to net zero 2050 goals – no doubt about it.”

Want better driving, and less traffic congestion? Invest wildly in the alternatives, especially in cities, and also between them. And price driving properly. This is exactly what those top five climate action countries with the highest-quality roads have done.

On this, we can all agree with the venerable Richard Prebble CBE:

“Solve traffic, and Auckland is the best city in the world.”

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  1. I am not sure whether they are stupid or just pretend to be stupid. Either way, when Luxon says that “Netherlands or Switzerland or Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore” are countries we want to emulate he does NOT mean that we want to have a train system like Japan or Switzerland, the two countries with the best train networks in the world, or we want great public transit in cities, which of course Hong Kong and Singapore achieve and most cities in Japan, Netherlands and Switzerland as well, nor does he want the bike lanes of Dutch cities or Swiss cities (which have surprisingly well developed bike networks, even though as per NZ opinion these should not work, since Switzerland has hills…).

    And for sure he does not mean the 100000 US$ you have to pay for a car license in Singapore to be introduced in New Zealand… (see e.g.

    What he wants to sell to the average (stupid) voter in NZ that those countries build lots of roads, roads work there just fine and everyone can drive (without mentioning that most don’t drive) and these are of course rich countries and climate change conscious, so driving has no downside either. So either he is gaslighted or he is gaslighting.

    1. They *pretend* to be stupid. Because it farms engagement. It gets the likes of us fuming, and writing mega-articles like this refuting every point, and it doesn’t matter because they didn’t actually believe it, and they get all the clicks and laugh at us.

    2. I don’t know the exact number now, but it must cost over NZD50k to drive a car in Singapore. That’s before , you get it out of the garage and fill it up/charge it. That’s just for the right to drive.

      Try suggesting that the next time someone has a “let’s be like Singaopore” moment.

      They have a great MRT though…

    3. Also a very important aspect is that those countries take transport system is a whole where not every system is profitable in it’s own unit, but it offssets large costs somewhere else. The notable exception is Japan, the trains there were setup to BE profitable.

      So national often says PT should pay for itself, I think that is a fair argument. But then you have to go back to the drawing board and decide how to setup the system so it is. You cannot simply say this part is not profitable, where it was always a part of a greater whole, and was never designed to be atomised.

  2. Prebble writes the way he speaks. A series of short sentences that occasionally have some relationship with each other or an overall topic. I think he is trying hard to be the John A. Lee of our time.

      1. Actually, some of the stories out of Prebble’s colourful past would definitely be as entertaining as anything! I used to live in the same street as Richard Prebble, and one morning the street woke to the sound of our central city MP being chased down the road by… no, I can’t go on. Too graphic for a modest family institution like this. But highly entertaining to his neighbours / constituents…

    1. John A. Lee’s books convinced me of the case for socialism. He was a hilarious and talented writer. He was also an anti-Catholic conspiracy theorist and famously didn’t play well with others.

      1. John A. Lee outlived his peers and then wrote nasty stuff about them. Prebble is going the same way. Mary Lee (John A.s mother) wrote a The Not So Poor which is a good rebuttal of The Children of the Poor. I preferred it. It is disturbing in its own way.

      2. “He was also an anti-Catholic conspiracy theorist…”
        Ah. That’s why the memorial public housing, John A. Lee Corner, in Pt Chev is right next to the parish church and school.

  3. I’m no fan of war, but John A Lee served.
    Prebble smells like the kind of person who would send your son to war if it served his purpose.

  4. I think we should make driving impossible; that would shift mode.
    Queen Street is far more pleasant with pedestrian dominance, but it has not stopped car drivers from peacocking at all hours. But peacocks are not the majority, most of the population would like to move about safely; and cars reduce the safety we feel when not inside one (although inside a car is not a safe place either).

    As some refer to, it is a cultural shift that is required.

    We still receive cheap imports from Japan and Korea that make car ownership more accessible than anywhere else. Then we complain that there are too many cars on our roads.

    One fifth of us do not drive, we live in apartments, we ride bikes, we catch trains. We somehow negotiate surviving in a car dominated city (almost) every day.

    Auckland Transport is flooding their propaganda channels with mixed mode alternatives to trains; as West Auckland goes train-less this year for some months.

    If we could start the grand conversion of car parks into apartment buildings, we can build towards a city that values its citizens. And not the isolation of driving, that must be part of our suicide problem.

    We are a sad nation, we need human warmth and energy, only mass transit and pedestrian boulevards can provide this!

      1. I assume they are referring to the drivers who drive up and down, and use various means – flashy LED light displays, lowered bodies and sound systems to attract attention to themselves.

    1. There’s a reason many Aucklanders don’t think inner city living is the way they want to go.

      Only today an empathetic individual apparently brandished a firearm warmly at another downtown Aucklander. The police also responded warmly by bringing firearms of their own and some very friendly puppy dogs. They also shut down the street presumably to create a temporary utopian pedestrian paradise. After a two hour street party the guest of honour was energetically handcuffed and warmly escorted to a waiting squad car.

      1. Apparently nobody goes to schools any more. If we believe the latest stats they are emptier than a cycleway in rush hour or a suburban bus.

  5. “You cannot take freight on a bus”

    Unrelated to the point of the article, but you actually can take freight on a bus. Across Latin America intercity busses are not just the primary means of moving people between cities, the private bus companies also serve as package delivery companies, with packages travelling between cities in the bus cargo holds.

    1. Same in South East Asia (Cambodia, Vietnam, etc). Most of the long distance buses are packed with freight. Some of it is travelling with passengers, while the buses also make regular delivery stops. They work well to serve smaller communities who can’t justify a regular full scale freight service.

    2. And it just shows how out of touch he was as the minister of Railways, given NZR owned a number of composite coaches designed to carry parcels. With today’s technology, the setup of the railways department would have been the fastest way to move stuff. Pretty much the first service to head in the general direction of which your package was moving (could be bus, truck or train), it would be on it.

      1. It was true of NZ’s early road public transport, too. It is a model that could be used in our rural regions as a shuttle service to the main coach or rail lines.

        There are still some organisations that offer both parcel delivery and (on demand) passenger services: . I wonder if they ever combine the two.

      2. Not only NZR coaches, but Newmans and Mt Cook landlines coaches provided the bulk of light freight services along their routes. In the top of the South Island the Newmans, and Wadsworth Motors depots were thriving freight terminals receiving daily consignments of top up orders for the general stores enroute, which would also act as the local depot for inbound and outbound parcels.

  6. Can’t these old boomers just go retire in quiet without reminding us how they screwed up everything while in government?

    1. Leave this ageist shit in the drawer. We currently have a transport Minister, barely out of nappies, who will be the most economically and environmentally damaging that NZ has ever had. His government will ensure this as they bulldoze through roads (yeah literally and figuratively) that added together will struggle to have a BCR of 1.

    2. I and many others who comment on this site are boomers, but unlike Richard Prebble were never Rogernomes. In fact, many of us were affected negatively by Dodgy/Roger/nomics. So please try not to stereotype and generalise other people

    3. Nah, it’s not ageist. Boomer is a mentality of a certain type of entitlement, it is no longer a marker of age.

  7. I literally coughed on my coffee yesterday when I read Prebble’s bit about Tokyo.

    Not a single mention of the subway (and bikes) that everyone uses over cars.

    1. I’m pretty sure Auckland has far more tarmac per capita than Tokyo. So I can only assume Prebble wants us to decrease ours to their levels.

      1. The article wasn’t all bad….

        Congestion charging and RUCs for all (immediately), trucks must pay their way, BCRs matter (unless its the East-West Link) and that money should be spent on maximising the CRL (removing level crossings).

        But he doesn’t quite get it, and that comment on Tokyo showed it. And the NBR readership would have just been left with the impression that more roads are the answer.

        He had an opinion piece a few years ago, from memory it was that passenger rail should fold and we should concentrate on freight making a profit. I asked, in the comments section, as to why rails needed to make a profit but roads did not.

        To my surprise he responded with “Interesting question…”

  8. Prebble’s babbling seems to suggest that some of these politicians do perhaps believe the guff they come out with. It is kinder to presume that they are deluded, rather than that they are cynically selling the utes, trucks, bitumen and petrol that their sponsors are pushing onto them. For this reason, expert commentators do need to repeat the obvious (and not so obvious) – such as that buses take cars out of the way of freight carriers.

  9. Good to see you back, Patrick. Seems that being on the board of NZTA effectively silenced you for several years!

  10. I believe he also claimed to have introduced road user charges even though they started in 1977 when Richard Prebble was an opposition MP.

  11. More evidence (if any is needed) that his generation have very little left to say when it comes to infrastructure, economics or equity.

  12. One reason may be that to be able to register a vehicle, one has to demonstrate that they have a parking space available for it.

      1. If only that rule applied across NZ, Australia and Europe too(UK, Ireland, France, Italy etc all just as bad).

        Everyone’s life would be better. Less stress, cheaper rates/council taxes, better looking built environment and lots less pollution for the planet to deal with.

  13. Johas Eliasson in his great little TED talk ( – just 8 minutes, suggests you don’t try and plan the details of where and how people might travel if they are not driving at peak times – just give them a nudge in the right direction (with peak hour congestion charges on arterials) and let them sort it out – many trips will evaporate, some people will work from home a day or two a week, some will bike, some will take PT, some will move closer into the city centre so they can easily walk, scoot, bike or e-bike to work. But we don’t have to plan all this just like we don’t have to plan Londons bread supply (see the TED talk) – its self organising.

    1. Thanks – this really is a great little video.

      A great quote at the end:

      “Travel patterns are much less stable than you might think. Each day, people make new decisions, and people change, and the world changes around them each day, and all of these decisions are nudged ever so slightly away from rush-hour car driving in a way that people don’t even notice; they’re not aware of it themselves.”

      Traffic flow is not water-in-a-pipe; it is the sum of human decisions.

      1. Yes thanks for the reminder about that vid.

        And George: bullseye, a lot of the failure of traffic engineering can be traced back to its foundational misconception of traffic as a liquid and not what it is really; a gas.

        Fluid dynamics is primarily governed by gravity, shit must flow downhill, if blocked it will back up- no other option. Traffic is only like that in short time periods, over longer time intervals drivers (who, unlike shit, have agency) will stop trying to drive when they can’t or where it is very slow.

        Gas is a better metaphor; it will expand and contract to fit the space available. More lanes; more driving. also the opposite; ‘disappearing traffic’, which repeatedly results from traffic lane removal. Drivers make other arrangements like in Stockholm, sometimes without, as mentioned, even realising they are. Drive a different route, at different times, don’t take that trip, use another mode, or even a whole other medium; say a call….

        1. Traffic in Franklin where i live, is not a liquid, or gas its a solid.

          With near one way in and one way out, and only one mode for movement, its parked up. It thaws periodically but soon solidifies.

          We’re not gassy, we dont make other arrangements, We’re not liquid, thugh until last week – we were held up with the now just completed Aniversary flood repairs, seems liquids smash solids.

          We’ve one mode – and being solids – we just drive earlier and earlier. Just heard – we’re getting a bus 2026. (its been N+2 for 10 years now)

        2. “we just drive earlier and earlier”. Thats a classic gaseous response right there, changing the time of driving (or in some cases not driving at all).

          Your bus got even further away now I fear, the government has just induced a large budget cut by pulling regional funding.

  14. Fresh from doing nothing at NZTA, Patrick Reynolds criticizes someone else for doing nothing.

    At least it’s called NZTA again. Progress.

    1. Big call, maybe your right but I’d like solid evidence to back it up not just some classic “hearsay”.

    2. More roads don’t ‘Induce More Driving’ they just serve un-met demand up until the point where you have sufficient road capacity to meet the demand for journeys with a particular cost and travel time. Patrick has fallen into the rookie trap of thinking induced demand is anything other than just good old fashioned demand for any product.

      It’s a well proven result that if you build sufficient roading capacity to exceed demand then the roads are un-congested. When new roading capacity is instantly used, it’s actually a healthy sign that existing demand is being met and the choice to add the road was a good one at least with respect to building a product people wanted to use. More people travel but those people were already wanting to travel and just being held back by the poor state of the network. They’re not new desires to travel that magically appeared because a road was built. An analogy would be refusing to build more hospital capacity in an overburdened system because it’d only result in you treating more patients and that capacity too would soon be full.

      Like any product with any form of ‘price’ elasticity as the ‘price’ of it goes up, less will be used and as the ‘price’ goes down more will be. If effective substitutes exist there will be less demand, if the substitutes are bad fewer people will choose them. In any case the decisions of millions of users will drive the choice towards the options that work best for them personally. ‘Price’ in this case is not just dollars and cents it’s also intangible items like duration and awkwardness of the journey, e.g chance of being uncomfortable or even assaulted on public transport, much longer PT journey times and so on. One way to reduce driving is to intentionally make it slower, more awkward and more costly so PT has a lower bar to jump. AT loves this approach. Another however is to make the PT system a more effective substitute for driving so it is voluntarily adopted as the better choice by more users. AT is not good at this approach.

      Of course some times increasing that capacity past a certain point may be difficult or expensive. It may be more cost effective to do things to smooth out demand to make better use of existing capacity e.g encourage commuters to spread their commute over a wider time window or not even commute at all. Alternatively you can do things that improve flow on roads (remove parking on arterials, require business parking lots, bus stops etc to be out of the flow of traffic, remove under-utilised cycle lanes to return capacity to preferred modes etc.) But that’s not an either/or. You can increase road capacity, remove existing impediments and choke points and improve PT all of which will help users make the choice that works best for them.

      1. “More roads don’t ‘Induce More Driving’ they just serve un-met demand up until the point where you have sufficient road capacity to meet the demand for journeys with a particular cost and travel time.”

        Was there more driving before, or less?

        “It’s a well proven result that if you build sufficient roading capacity to exceed demand then the roads are un-congested. When new roading capacity is instantly used, it’s actually a healthy sign that existing demand is being met and the choice to add the road was a good one at least with respect to building a product people wanted to use. More people travel but those people were already wanting to travel and just being held back by the poor state of the network”

        Applies the same to PT. Even more so if you have gripes with the poor state of a network.

      2. Absolutely agree. But also what do you see more often in Auckland during the day: an almost empty arterial road, an almost empty cycleway, an almost empty train or an almost empty busway? This indicates capacity in many of those modes is not the issue.

        PT is a substitute product for driving. You need to ask not just how to mindlessly make more of it but also what would make the product more attractive.

        AT seems to know mostly one way, making the alternative products worse so PT appears to be comparatively better. The concept of improving the product offered appears to be lost on them.

        And sure there was more driving after, but the road was not the root cause. People already wanted to travel somewhere. The new road just allowed them to do it at a time cost they were prepared to pay. And every journey imparts some economic benefit to them or fulfils a need or desire otherwise they wouldn’t be travelling regardless of how long it took. The fallacy is that building the new road somehow caused that desire and that magically ‘new’ demand appears. The demand to travel given a particular journey time was always there and traffic volumes reach a new equilibrium given that new capacity.

        Any research will tell you that once true excess capacity exists people don’t travel more just because it is there. The excess capacity just goes unused. Otherwise you’d see roads jammed full off peak and in the middle of the night due to people being ‘induced’ to used that empty road just because of its emptiness.

        1. If you think AT is choosing PT quality over cars, you don’t live in Auckland.

          And if roads are not full in and out of peak, new ones aren’t needed. Let’s just better manage the ones we have during peak through time of use charging.

        2. What I said is AT is intentionally degrading or not upgrading the roading network to try to force mode shifts rather than improving the PT network to make mode shifting more desirable. And it’s not one thing or another you can improve both roading and PT. Congestion charging would increase the cost of travel and reduce demand. But essentially that’s an admission of failure, that you have customers that want your product but you can’t deliver enough of it to satisfy them so you have to find ways to turn some of them away. Every dollar gained from congestion charges should be put back into roading improvements to reduce congestion not siphoned off elsewhere to support some supposedly more virtuous mode that isn’t good enough attract customers on it’s own.

        3. Making decisions on adding peak capacity before implementing congestion charging, is fraught with danger of malinvestment. It is extremely likely that much of the peak capacity we would build people would not be willing to pay for if they faced the full cost of those additional trips.
          In the status quo we have terrible price discovery, essentially it boils down how much people their “off the clock” time. Not how much that trip is actually worth to them. We charge someone driving on extremely low cost highways with no congestion, low maintenance requirements, the same as someone that drives through the $1.4 billion waterview tunnel at 8:30am. What kind of price signals does that send? Cost the state as much as you like, you pay the same.

          If your concern about congestion charging is that it raises total cost of driving, would you accept that a scheme that was revenue neutral would be an improvement on the status quo?
          Ie fuel taxes were lowered to match the expected revenue of congestion charging. And the congestion charging scheme actually charged a dynamic market clearing price.

          Congestion charging is an “admission of failure” in the same way that the NZ economic reforms of the 80s were an admission of failure that the state is able to make investment decisions without price signals. Yeah. Good.

          “that you have customers that want your product but you can’t deliver enough of it to satisfy them so you have to find ways to turn some of them away” yes this is how market clearing prices work for every good or service ever. This is why the wholesale electricity price varied from $60 a MWH at 1am this morning to $270 a MWH at 9am. Things cost different amounts at different quantities and at different times.

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