Submission to Transit on proposed Ring Route
4 December 2006
Submission to Transit on proposed Western Ring Route tolling strategy
Auckland International Airport Limited (AIAL) has made a submission to Transit New Zealand (Transit) on the proposed Western Ring Route (WRR) tolling strategy outlining a number of concerns.
AIAL strongly supports Transit’s objective to complete the WRR by 2015, or earlier, acknowledges the need for increased funding to enable early completion and is supportive of tolling in principle.
Having reviewed the material in support of the WRR tolling strategy, the airport has concluded that the proposal contains some serious flaws, and should not proceed, says chief executive officer Don Huse.
“Auckland Airport’s overall impression is that the WRR tolling strategy has been severely compromised to comply with an ill-suited legislative environment. The result will probably fail to meet Transit’s statutory requirement to operate the State highway system in a way that contributes to an integrated, safe, responsive, and sustainable land transport system”.
AIAL believes that it is important that tolling is introduced as part of a comprehensive approach across the region as a whole, and not as an ad hoc response to a specific funding shortfall in one part of the network. It is important that tolling schemes do not result in distortions or inequities between different parts of the network, or between different communities.
AIAL acknowledges that existing legislation requires that tolls be applied only to new roads and that free alternative routes be available. A comprehensive approach, which has the benefit of allowing demand to be managed over the full network, would require tolls to be applied to existing roads, so changes to legislation would be required. AIAL acknowledges that such changes will take some time to put in place, but does not wish to see the implementation of the WRR delayed while this occurs.
AIAL is deeply concerned at suggestions that key elements of the WRR may be delayed if the current tolling scheme is not approved. The airport believes this directly contradicts the undertakings established in the Budget 2006, and is completely unnecessary.
AIAL favours the introduction of some short term interim funding mechanisms that would provide the revenues needed to service Transit’s debt and give certainty to its programme until a more robust tolling regime can be put in place. This could be either through a targeted regional fuel tax, or an additional Crown allocation to ensure completion of the WRR within 10 years.
The demand for travel to the Airport is projected to double over the next 10 years. AIAL is working with territorial, regional and government planners to foster improved road and public transport infrastructure to enhance airport access, including development of a more efficient connection with central Auckland and key regional hubs.
Auckland Airport is New Zealand’s international gateway, handling more than 70 percent of the country’s international passengers. It is the second-largest cargo port by value in New Zealand. The airport handles 11 million passengers a year, and around 154,000 aircraft movements. The number of passenger movements is projected to be 24 million by 2025.