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Western Ring Route Mobile Information Centre

Transit New Zealand Media Release

27 October 2006

Western Ring Route Mobile Information Centre in Onehunga next week

Locals can visit the Onehunga Community Centre next week to find out more about Transit New Zealand's proposal to use tolls to speed up construction of the Western Ring Route.

A 48-km motorway between Manukau and Albany, the Western Ring Route will provide a south/north bypass of State Highway 1, the CBD and the Harbour Bridge. If Aucklanders support tolling the Western Ring Route, it could be completed and opened by 2015.

Public consultation on the toll concept started on 12 October and people have until 4 December to submit a response form.

Transit New Zealand's General Manager Transport Planning, Wayne McDonald, says there has already been a lot of public interest in Transit's toll concept.

A freepost response form was included in information sent to all Auckland households last week and Transit has already received more than 8,500 forms back.

"This is a project of regional and national significance, and it's good to see such a high level of interest," Mr McDonald says.

Mr McDonald says all households in the Auckland region should have received Transit's consultation material in their letterbox by now.

"We have been concerned to hear that some households haven't received their packs. Anyone who has missed out can visit Transit's website, which has an online response form facility, contact us and we will post an information pack, or pick one up from the Mobile Information Centre in Onehunga."

The Mobile Information Centre, with detailed information materials, maps and specialist consultation staff, will be open at the Onehunga Community Centre, 83 Church Street, Onehunga, Monday 30 October – Friday 3 November, 10 am to 4 pm.

Mr McDonald says Transit has an open mind about tolling and welcomes informed debate.

"There are important issues for Auckland to consider: traffic congestion causes lost productivity and has significant negative environment and social impacts. It means too much time stuck in traffic and not enough for home, work and play."

Ministry of Transport figures have measured the total cost of congestion to Auckland at $700m per year.

As well as bringing completion of the Western Ring Route forward by as much as 15 years, Mr McDonald says tolling offers other advantages.

"A tolled Western Ring Route will deliver a five percent improvement in traffic speed across the entire Auckland road network. However, if the Western Ring Route was un-tolled, it would quickly become as congested as State Highway 1. Tolling will provide motorists with more reliable travel times."

"Tolling also works well with public transport initiatives. Not only will public transport be exempt from tolls, passengers will benefit from more reliable travel times."

The cost of traffic congestion in Auckland:

• The total cost of congestion to Auckland is $700 million a year [Ministry of Transport, Surface Costs and Charges study, 2005] • The direct out-of-pocket financial cost of congestion in Auckland – the impact congestion makes on a business's bottom line – is $200 million a year [Auckland Road Pricing Evaluation Study, 2006].

Key features of Transit's toll concept

• Entire Western Ring Route opened by 2015.

• Average speeds for a completed, tolled Western Ring Route in peak periods are forecast to be around 80-90 kilometres per hour. This compares with current peak period speeds of between 40-50 kilometres per hour on State Highway 1.

• Transit is estimating that by 2021, for a peak-time charge of $7, a completed, tolled Western Ring Route would save motorists 35-40 minutes on the full-length trip between Manukau and Albany ($2006).

• Tolls to be adjusted up and down to manage demand, within a cap of $10 for the entire route and no more than $2 at any one toll point ($2006).

• Reduced tolls in off-peak periods.

• No tolls for public transport and emergency services.

• Electronic toll collection.

• Manukau Harbour Crossing and Upper Harbour Crossing to remain un-tolled, to ensure free alternative routes are available for local trips.


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