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Mobile Information Centres draw to a close

Transit New Zealand
Media Release

22 November 2006

Western Ring Route Mobile Information Centres draw to a close in Auckland city next week

Locals can visit the Pioneer Women’s Hall in downtown Auckland next week to find out more about Transit New Zealand’s proposal to use tolls to speed up construction of the Western Ring Route. This is the final opportunity that Aucklanders will have to visit an information centre during the consultation phase.

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.

“The Western Ring Route is one of the largest projects that Transit has ever undertaken, and it is essential that we get this right”, says Mr Spies. “At the end of the day, we want to deliver the best possible solution for Aucklanders and for the city. For this to happen, we need to know what people think.”

The level of feedback Transit has received regarding the toll concept to date shows just how important this issue is to Aucklanders. So far, just under 20,000 response forms have been received by Transit, following a mail-out of information on the toll concept to all businesses and households across Auckland.

In addition to the public response forms, Transit is also receiving feedback from stakeholders and members of the public who are taking the opportunity to present at the Listening Sessions which are now underway, says Mr Spies.

The Auckland City Mobile Information Centre will provide an excellent opportunity for Aucklanders who live and work in and around the CBD to find out more about some of the wider benefits the toll concept would provide for the city, says Mr Spies.

“While people who choose to pay a toll will benefit from faster more reliable travel times, the extra capacity the route will bring will also have a positive effect on the entire regional network and help to address some of the city’s congestion issues.”

The provision of a free-flowing and reliable alternative to SH1 will help free up the city centre, says Mr Spies. “At the moment, only 18% of the traffic that goes through Auckland's CBD each day is made up of travellers who have the CBD as their final destination. The rest only go there because that is where the state highway network currently takes them. The Western Ring Route will give people a bypass option”.

It is also expected that the additional capacity the Western Ring Route will provide will deliver an average speed increase across the regional road network of five percent, says Mr Spies. “This would be significant in terms of economic growth through business productivity gains, not to mention the obvious social benefits shorter travel times would bring.”

“What we are interested in finding out is do people support tolling as a way of opening the Western Ring Route by 2015? Do people want to spend less time stuck in traffic and more time at home, work and play?”

The Mobile Information Centre, with detailed information materials, maps and specialist consultation staff, will be open at the Pioneer Women’s Hall, Freyberg Place/High Street, downtown Auckland, Tuesday 28 November – Saturday 2 December, 10 am to 4 pm. A late night session will be held on Thursday 30 November when the Centre will be open until 6.30pm.

People have until 4 December to submit a response form.

ENDS

To obtain a WRR information pack:
• Phone 09 358 8647
• Email WRRconsultation@transit.govt.nz
• Visit the Transit website at www.transit.govt.nz - make an online submission
• Visit the Western Ring Route Mobile Information Centre in Auckland city.

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.


Ends

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