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Council endorses road pricing as long term option

12 April 2006

Council endorses road pricing as long term option

Auckland needs to continue working with central government to explore road pricing as a tool to address the region's transport challenge, Auckland City's Transport and Urban Linkages Committee agreed today.

The committee considered the Ministry of Transport's road pricing study released on 17 March 2006, and the desirability of implementing tolls in Auckland.

The committee's chairperson, Councillor Richard Simpson, says the recently released study demonstrates that road pricing could make a significant contribution towards relieving congestion in Auckland.

"Auckland's transport needs make it a strong candidate for road pricing, raising much needed funds while reducing congestion significantly," says Mr Simpson.

The committee believes it is necessary to continue investigating various funding options for Auckland's current and future transport needs, while accelerating current public transport and roading plans.

"We need to ensure we keep our long term funding options open," says Mr Simpson.

"A gap of around $2.25 billion already exists for current plans to develop Auckland's transport network over the next 10 years, so we need to ensure today's decisions and actions don't constrain additional funding opportunities in the future.

"There is a lot of work to be done before we will be ready to introduce tolls to raise funds for new initiatives, and challenge people's travel behaviours. "The models presented by the Ministry of Transport need more analysis before deciding what the best solutions for Auckland are, and when these solutions should be implemented.

"More consideration needs to be given to implications of road pricing on Auckland's economic development and urban growth," says Mr Simpson.

The committee supports improving public transport in Auckland before introducing tolls and recognises that new revenue streams are crucial for sufficient investment in public transport, implementing agreed roading projects and mitigation measures.

"A world-class public transport system must be accessible, frequent, reliable, and user friendly. Such a system is necessary before we can ask people to pay tolls," says Mr Simpson.

"Public transport needs to offer a real alternative to driving. The network needs to be a convenient substitute to taking your car. Developing such a network is going to take investment, time and innovation.

"Road pricing mechanisms such as congestion charging can assist in achieving this vision, creating a future Auckland that is less reliant on the car.

"People are right to think tolling Auckland's roads is a real possibility, but only in the long term.

"Our support of tolling is based on the expectation that our public transport network will be improved before the introduction of any tolls.

"We must accelerate and realise public transport plans, to create an efficient and extensive network that gives people sustainable travel choices," says Mr Simpson.

The committee is advocating for the refinement of options, legislative change to enable road pricing, and the urgent implementation of the proposal the Auckland Mayoral Forum presented in March. This included:

* exploring options for debt financing by all parties, with the creation of sustainable revenue streams for servicing debt
* tolling of new roading infrastructure
* new and enhanced local funding sources
* increasing the regional fuel tax.

The committee's recommendations will be presented to full council at the end of the month.

Auckland City will be making a formal submission to the Ministry of Transport's road pricing study.


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