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Speed needed in addressing Auckland congestion

17 March 2006

Business Council urges more speed in addressing
Auckland congestion

The New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development welcomes the continued discussion and resolve to find a solution for Auckland’s congestion which impedes commuters every day.

Peter Neilson, Chief Executive of the Business Council said: “Today’s report on the findings of the Auckland Road Pricing Study confirms what we already know - that the city’s congestion is not going to be remedied by a re-arrangement of deckchairs on the Titanic.

“The five options provided by the discussion paper present solutions which have reduced car usage in other cities around the world notably Melbourne and London where well advanced public transport systems were already in place. In contrast a congestion charge or parking levy in Auckland would need to be accompanied by a significant increase in bus, train or ferry utilisation to reduce the number of cars on the city’s roads. The study assumes that funding is available for this required increase in public transport.”

The Business Council supports the introduction of economic incentives to change people’s behaviour and to encourage people to consider alternative forms of transport however these need to be in place before any road charge is introduced. Money raised by road pricing must clearly be directed back into sustainable transport projects if this is not to be seen as a revenue earner for government.

The report itself highlights the importance of the next stage and the need to design a solution carefully because each of the options will deliver different results and have different impacts. The Government has left its options open about its preference or recommendations however doing nothing is not one of its options.

Neilson added: “We welcomed the launch of this study back in December 2003 and suggested at that time some early things that could be done immediately to reduce the road gridlock such as the introduction of hot lanes. These are lanes on the existing motorway or arterial routes which are reserved for high occupancy vehicles that can use the lane for free and other vehicles that pay a toll to use the road. Our proposal to Government about how they might incentivise low emission/low fuel usage vehicles develops this further.

“Congestion has in fact worsened over the period and it is of concern that the study aims to ensure that 2016 congestion levels will be as good as 2012 levels. This assumes that things will get worse before they get slightly better.”

The Business Council will now develop a more detailed response to the study and will continue to work with local and national government to develop the best solution for Auckland.

ENDS

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