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Commission Notes Community Feedback To Road Pricing Concept

The Tauranga City Council Commission has noted the largely negative community response received Through long-term plan (LTP) submissions on SmartTrip variable road pricing and has agreed not to proceed with a proposed business case investigation on the concept.

However, at today’s LTP deliberations meeting, Commission Chair Anne Tolley noted that subsequent to the LTP consultation document being issued for community feedback in November last year, the new coalition Government has indicated that road charging legislation will be considered as a way of reducing congestion and improving travel reliability in New Zealand metropolitan centres.

“Tauranga is the only council in the country which has consulted on the road pricing concept, which would likely be very similar to the congestion charging proposed by the Government,” Anne says. “We therefore have some rich feedback to pass-on to central Government as it considers how best to reduce the economic and social effects of traffic congestion; the need to reduce carbon emissions from transport activities; and generate future funding for transport network improvements in metropolitan centres like Tauranga, which will reduce the growing dependency on rates funding.”

She says the Council has now been approached by the NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi and, together with other local authorities like Auckland Council, invited to work on a nationally consistent approach to road pricing.

“Given that Government policy is likely to take this matter out of our hands, the Commission’s view is that we should investigate the key concerns expressed by our community about the cost of road pricing charges; the quality and availability of alternative transport options; the locations and times charging could apply to; and equity and wider network impacts.

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“That process will provide invaluable information to inform the work to be undertaken by NZTA, the Ministry of Transport and other councils on a national approach to road pricing and our expectation would be that any outcomes of the forthcoming investigation would address the concerns raised by our community,” Anne adds.

Following today’s LTP deliberations, the Council will propose the inclusion of a budget of $500,000 for each of the first three years of the LTP, to investigate ways of addressing community concerns and participate in a national approach to road pricing legislation. The timing of that funding will be subject to review as part of the Council’s next Annual Plan (for the 2025/26 financial year); and the availability of any subsidy or external funding to reduce the cost to Tauranga ratepayers.

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