Toll Roads To Solve Auckland's Traffic Crisis
ACT is the only party openly acknowledging that New Zealand, and Auckland in particular, has a transport crisis. Our roading system has a third more cars than it was designed to meet. In Auckland the motoring system and the Bridge are now beyond the design limits. Traffic speeds are down to 10 mph at peak periods in the key bottlenecks. Ernst and Young estimates Auckland's traffic congestion costs $755 million a year.
Elsewhere in New Zealand congestion is growing. The Hutt highway is down to walking speed. My house in Tinakori Road overlooks the Wellington motorway. At 8.00am every day the traffic is stationary. In a rainstorm at 5.00pm the whole city grid-locks. We are not as bad as Auckland but we are catching up.
ACT is the only party is courageous enough to say that public transport solutions, even a rapid rail scheme, will not solve the transport crisis. Even if Robbie's famous rapid rail with underground tunnels had been built, only 8 percent of transport movement would be by public transport. The1965 De Leuw Cather report recommended an extra 175 kilometres of motorway by the year 2000, but only 110 kilometres have been built.
Only ACT is saying New Zealand needs more roads. Roads are not free; they must be paid for. ACT supports a system of motoring tolls, like they have in Melbourne, to pay for Melbourne's new ring road freeways.
ACT would give the go-ahead for a new second Harbour crossing paid for by tolls. In Melbourne the tolls are collected electronically. There is the ability to vary the toll on the time of day travelled. If you travel out of peak times, you pay a lower toll. I want the same for Wellington. We Wellingtonians want Transmission Gully and we are willing to pay for it.
On transport, as on other policies, Labour is now saying two different things. This week Labour leader Helen Clark has said that Labour will consider allowing the private sector to build new toll roads and allow the developers to collect the tolls to repay the cost and transfer the roads back to the state after they're paid for. It's what's known as BOOT scheme - build, own operate, transfer. When ACT first put up this proposal, the Labour party derided us as being the party of extreme capitalism.
Now Labour is saying that they are prepared to consider a proposal first advanced in New Zealand by the ACT Party.
Let's be positive. It shows that ACT is the party of new ideas and even influences the Labour party. But on the other hand I'm bound to point out that Labour is also saying the direct opposite.
Labour's President, Bob Harvey of CIA fame, has promised quote "no more motorways." Only ACT is saying yes to a second Harbour crossing, to a new eastern motorway, to Transmission Gully and to any other new road that is needed. Tauranga has boomed since they built their toll road, the only one in the country. It is an issue not just for Aucklanders but the whole country.