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More work needed before the price is right

More work needed before the price is right for our roads

April 27, 2006

North Shore City Council's submission to the Ministry of Transport's Road Pricing Study acknowledges there may be potential benefits from the introduction of congestion charging, while recognising risks and uncertainties that need to be addressed.

North Shore City supports further investigation of road pricing, but says it is also essential that a greatly improved public transport system, including integrated ticketing, is in place before any such scheme gains traction.

The council's submission says North Shore City residents and businesses won't accept road pricing until these steps are taken.

Tony Barker, chairman of North Shore City's infrastructure and environment committee, says road pricing is potentially an effective means of reducing traffic congestion, but he and his council are concerned about the effectiveness, cost and equity of the options presented.

"Our submission states that greater attention and priority needs to be given to other means of reducing travel demand and providing transport alternatives, before serious consideration is given to introducing road pricing options.

"We've outlined a range of priorities which need to be implemented, including the better integration of both ticketing and public transport services.

"Less congestion brings obvious benefits to our residents and businesses, so we've carefully studied the five road pricing options," says Councillor Barker.

North Shore City's main concerns focus on:

* Need to provide for transport alternatives (particularly public transport) prior to introduction of road pricing measures * Equity for North Shore residents and businesses * Ability for sections of the community to pay * The need for positive outcomes for the regional and North Shore economies * Implications for the City's urban growth strategy

The council also wants an assurance for the Auckland region that the introduction of road pricing would not reduce Government funding for Auckland transport.

Of the individual road pricing options put up by the Ministry of Transport for public discussion, North Shore City's submission states:

* The single and double tolling cordon options are likely to be unacceptable to the North Shore public in the form presented, who would face a substantially higher toll for crossing the Harbour Bridge than motorists crossing the cordons in the west and south.

* The network tolling option would have a major negative impact by diverting traffic from the motorway to the already congestion local street network.

* The parking levies option presents significant practical challenges and unfairly encourages development in areas where parking levies are not applied. Council recommends this option not be pursued further.


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