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Road pricing, with provisos

20 April 2006

Road pricing, with provisos

Some form of road pricing for the Auckland region has won provisional support from Waitakere City Council.

Having considered a recently released Ministry of Transport’s road pricing study that says road pricing can significantly reduce congestion, the Council adopted a report accepting the principle of road pricing with the following ‘bottom lines’:

If road pricing is introduced:

- fast, frequent and reliable passenger transport should be in place to give people an alternative to their cars.

- road pricing and any road tolls should be fairly applied across the region
- social impacts on Waitakere City residents need to be assessed
- any surplus revenue is to be reinvested in transport projects in the Auckland region
- road pricing should be offset by a reduction in petrol tax or road user charges.

The Council will now make a formal submission to the MoT.

With over half of Waitakere City’s workforce commuting out of the city to work, these ’bottom lines’ are necessary to safeguard residents’ interests, says Deputy Mayor Carolynne Stone.

That is because parts of the City were deliberately developed as a dormitory suburb for Auckland during the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s. People came to Waitakere City to live but there was very little work.

Road pricing measures suggested by the MoT include a cordon (boundary) around parts of the region where congestion is at its worst. Vehicles crossing the boundary during morning rush hour (6am-10am) would be charged.

“Basically we accept that some charge is going to be necessary to reduce traffic and give us a balanced transport system,” says Cr Stone, who is also Waitakere’s representative on the Regional Land Transport Committee.

“We believe that road pricing is the most effective solution to reduce congestion but first alternatives to travel by car need to be available and attractive. If people are going to get out of their cars they must have inexpensive and convenient alternatives. There must be a job close to home or a bus or a train when they need it - or a car-pool or a cycleway.”

“We are working very hard on building up the local economy but that won’t happen overnight and that means many of our residents have no choice but to work elsewhere. Any form of road pricing will hit them in the pocket and that could have serious social consequences as family budgets take yet another hit,” says Cr Stone. “Public transport can provide a cheaper alternative to running a car and the region will have to work hard on improving that system over the next eight years before it is in a position to introduce a road pricing scheme.”

Cr Stone says the Council recognises the need to come up with regional solutions to Auckland’s transport problems but those solutions cannot disadvantage Waitakere City residents. “Our mandate is to look at how any policies will impact on our part of the jigsaw,” she says.

ENDS

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