Tolling Is Best Way To Pay For Auck Region's Roads
Media release 18 August 2003
TOLLING IS BEST WAY TO PAY FOR AUCKLAND REGION'S ROADS
Manukau mayor Sir Barry Curtis is convinced that tolling is the fairest and most effective way of paying for the new motorways and arterial roads needed in the Auckland region.
He says overseas experience indicates it is the best alternative. He has recently returned from a study trip to Europe and North America where he examined ways of funding roading and other transport projects.
"All the problems the Auckland region is facing have been solved elsewhere in the world. We do not have to reinvent the wheel.
"Cities everywhere are wrestling with the problem of how to quickly build and then pay for large one-off projects which are invariably expensive and cannot be paid for out of current income such as rates.
"Tolling motorists is the best way to raise money to build the infrastructure. Authorities can then borrow to start projects early.
"Businesses borrow to get themselves started and that is the approach local government in the Auckland region should take. We cannot expect ratepayers to fully fund all these projects out of their rates. The building programme is too costly.
He says the Norwegian city of Oslo is a good example of what can be done. "It has a similar-sized population. It's built a very effective toll ring around the central city which has funded the projects that have ended the gridlock and long delays of the past. Oslo borrowed because there wasn't enough money in the public purse - if they had waited for funding from the traditional road building sources, it would have taken 35 years. Instead, construction took just a few years.
"It's been a very effective solution. The charge for using the toll route is around $3.50 per trip but there is a maximum charge per day. It has widespread public acceptance and, once the construction bill is paid off soon, the toll will be dropped. At the same time, public transport has been well funded and remains strongly used.
"There is widespread acceptance among road users of the tolling, as the daily user charge is small and the funding raised goes only for further improving the transport system.
"The situation we are facing here is virtually identical. The Auckland region needs to build more roads but is facing long delays before our motorway system is completed, and we must find alternative sources of funding.
"Building all the roads needed, as well as improving public transport, is going to cost 5 billion dollars. We know where half of that is going to come from, but do not have a source yet for the other two and a half billion.
"Borrowing against the tolling revenue is the logical solution. We then have to consider how to repay those loans. Of all the alternatives, I believe tolling is the logical choice.
"If Auckland drivers stuck in traffic are asked to choose between ever-worsening traffic on non toll roads, or paying the cost of a cappuccino per journey to free up the traffic, I am pretty certain what their choice would be."