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Direct charging for road use a win-win for Auckland

Direct charging for road use a win-win for Auckland

Media Statement
15 July 2013, embargoed until 3pm

“The principal finding of the Consensus Building Group that unless Aucklanders are prepared to accept significantly higher rates increases and heavier congestion, introducing some form of road pricing by 2021 will be required is strongly supported by NZCID,” says Stephen Selwood CEO of the New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development.

“Road pricing outperformed other funding options the Group investigated because it not only raises revenue but can also be used to improve traffic flows, providing a better level of service for commuters.

“The CBG has recommended two road pricing options be progressed to a new phase of detailed analysis. One, a cordon toll around the Auckland isthmus, the other, an access charge on motorways.

“Both options would vary the amount charged by time of day depending on the level of congestion. This will encourage users to think about when and how they travel. Every driver who decides to travel at a different time, car pool, switch to public transport, or walk or cycle, means a faster trip for those who choose to pay.

“Network or cordon charges are also more efficient than tolls on new roads because they enable more effective pricing across the road system. Tolls on new roads alone can distort traffic flows as drivers seek to avoid one-off fees. And they also raise real questions of fairness - some communities have to pay road tolls while others have their roads built and maintained by everybody else through taxes.

“Fuel excise and road user charges are user pays and are very cheap to collect. But these charges have almost no effect on when and how people travel and are therefore less economically efficient than road pricing.

“Furthermore, improving fuel efficiency is reducing the amount of tax many commuters pay per kilometre driven, particularly for users with the option to purchase newer vehicles. Fuel excise increases are therefore required just to keep inflows to the national fund constant, but these higher levies are going to be disproportionately met by those drivers with older vehicles, making the tax regressive and raising further questions of equity.

“These reasons in combination with improving technology make road pricing a question of when, not if. Government should now seek to partner with Auckland Council in the next phase of evaluation to ensure the best pricing option for New Zealand is progressed.

“If as a nation we can leverage Auckland’s unique mixture of topography, urban form and transport demand to deliver a comprehensive, cost effective network solution, New Zealand has the opportunity to move to the forefront of international thinking on the biggest and most universally vexing of transport challenges… managing congestion,” Selwood says.

ENDS


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